Lemme fix: Blurry Fonts on High-DPI Displays in Windows

It can be pain in the ass when you have a good monitor which displays the fonts blurry because your Windows OS or an application ‘pixelrate’ them. Many 1080p displays, especially smaller screens and laptops seem to suffer from blurry fonts e.g. under Windows. This little lemme fix shows what options you get in order to correct this behavior.

Steam
Older Steam versions had blurry fonts, this is fixed by now the application was optimized.

The Problem

Windows has offered DPI scaling support for quite a time and got improved, but many external Windows desktop applications never took advantage of it. Microsoft is (still) working on the problem and constantly tries to improve it. In the meantime here are some settings you can change to make applications look better.

Older operating systems such as Windows 7 and 8 have more problems because there not ‘optimized’ to address this, Microsoft itself changed a lot how the scaling mechanism are done over the years. Please keep this in mind before you blame the application, it might simply get fixed by upgrading your Windows OS.

You don’t need any programs!

People which following my Blog for quite some time know that I’m always critical when it comes to external third-party software, because in my security philosophy I prefer and recommend my viewers to use as less apps/software as possible because the chance of getting infected will be reduced by 100% (no download -> no malware). And it’s always questionable if external programs often adding ‘useful’ functions, in fact some application are risky (no shit sherlock!) However, Microsoft is fixing old bugs more and more but if you’re not on the latest Windows major updates you might give Windows 10 DPI fix a try. The tool works until Creators Update, on newer versions it’s not necessary.

The tool basically just only changes some registry values (no voodoo!):

REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /v DpiScalingVer /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00001018 /f
REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /v Win8DpiScaling /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000001 /f
REG ADD "HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop" /v LogPixels /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000078 /f

The Solution

  1. Right click the application (or it’s shortcuts) of those apps where you see blurry fonts and click Properties.
  2. Go to the Compatibility tab.
  3. Check the option ‘Disable display scaling on high DPI settings‘.
  4. Click OK and now retry running the app to see if the blurry text issue is gone.

Fix-blurry-fonts-in-Windows-10-per-app

4-58dee24e8ee4a
The old options are gone.
  • Application: Windows will leave the application alone, which means this will disable DPI scaling for the application itself, and it will appear tiny, but not blurry. This option was previously known as “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings” (see screenshot above) and it does exactly the same thing.
  • System: Windows will use its normal integrated behavior. Applications that don’t respect system DPI settings will be “bitmap stretched” to appear larger so they’re more easily readable, but will often appear blurry or pixelrated. This is Windows default behavior.
  • System (Enhanced): Windows will scale applications in a more intelligent way. This option will result in crisp text and some other elements in applications that would normally appear blurry with normal System scaling. In the Creators Update, this only works with GDI-based applications. This new feature is why Device Manager and other system tools finally don’t have blurry text within Creators Update.

In Since Spring Creators Update (Redstone 4) you’ll get more options in order to address the issue, you see a new tab ‘Change high DPI settings’ instead of just only a option, clicking this reveals a bunch of options you could try.

feff

If this doesn’t work try to adjust your Display Scaling Settings

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to SystemDisplay.
  3. Set the trackbar for “Change the size of text, apps and other items:” to the left position. The value should be “100%”, as shown below:
Windows Blurry font
The older options. You’ll find it in outdated Windows versions.
Scale and layout
The new options, gives you more control.

Fix scaling for apps

The advance settings give you several more options. The dialog might looks different or hasn’t as much options as shown in the screenshots, Microsoft has changed and improved it over the time.

UWP apps scaling better

Windows 10’s new Universal apps (UWP) are available in the official Windows Store, those apps scale nicely on larger high-DPI displays. But few developers have embraced Microsoft’s application platform, and Microsoft is still struggling to drag all those old desktop applications. Even some old Win32 applications itself are not optimized. Shame on your Microsoft! shy

Microsoft Device Manager
Even Windows own applications looked blurry, this is fixed by now with newer Windows major versions. Redstone 3 or higher.

So what it means is that you also can ‘fix’ blurry apps if you ditch old applications and replace it with UWP apps (if possible). Of course it’s a matter of taste, some people say UWP apps have potential some say there garbage.

Warning: This doesn’t work on all applications

Before you start saying ‘this shit doesn’t work‘ keep in mind that I already mentioned that this is depending on two major factors: First the OS and second if the application itself is optimized. The Steam application is a good example and and it got fixed over the years. It even looks good now on 4K.

What you additional can do about it:

  1. Contact the developer, maybe he isn’t aware of it. Ask him if he offers a fix in upcoming versions. You have nothing to lose if you ask someone for help.
  2. Don’t use shitty tools, check again all the options Windows offers you.
  3. Some drivers have an option/toggle to change or override Windows own scaling mechanism for the OS or applications. Review what options you have. There is an nVidia guide available here. Intel provides some information here.
  4. You may need to tun off or to readjust ClearType settings. The name of the option you need to enable is called “Smooth edges of screen fonts” (explorer.exe shell:::{C555438B-3C23-4769-A71F-B6D3D9B6053A}). AMD users can try this, or just check your CCC panel if it has an option called “morphological filtering” if yes, ensure it’s disabled/off.
  5. Check your Theme! If you’re on a patched theme you might see that Explorer.exe looks ‘strange’, some themes patch the Explorer.exe or replacing it in order to bypass Microsoft’s Theme restrictions (official no external ‘homebrew’ Themes) are allow so you need to patch uxtheme.dll etc. in order to allow it.

Keep in mind that Windows scales a lot of better than compared to other operating systems like Linux. Windows somehow handles it better especially on really high resolutions, I’m not going to say with this that Windows is overall better, I only try to say with this statement that this seems in general a ‘problem’ across several operating systems.

Resource

Advertisements

One thought on “Lemme fix: Blurry Fonts on High-DPI Displays in Windows

  1. fantastic, fast enough to post this
    many tricks, I have solved (partially) with the code in the registry
    this works for the 125% factor
    for 110% which is the code?

    Thanks again

    Like

Comments are closed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: