Hack 119. Use ClearType for Better Laptop and LCD Resolution
Stop squinting at your laptop or LCD screen. Make any laptop or LCD screen easy to read.
Many people who use laptops complain that text is particularly difficult to read on LCD screens. Making matters worse is that many laptops are designed to work at very high resolutions (for example, 1400 1050 pixels), and at those resolutions the small type is particularly problematic on an LCD. The problem gets increasingly worse because laptop screens keep getting larger and their resolutions keep increasing. On my 15-inch laptop with 1400 1050-pixel resolution, it's almost impossible to read text. Desktop-style LCD screens also have the same problems.
A simple hack will make text easier to read on both laptops and LCD screens: use Microsoft's ClearType technology, built into XP. To enable ClearType, right-click the desktop and choose Properties. Select Appearance Effects. The Effects dialog box appears. Check the box next to "Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts." Select ClearType from the drop-down box, click OK, and then click OK again. You'll notice the difference in how type is displayed.
You can use ClearType on a normal desktop PC monitor as well as on a laptop, but I don't recommend it. On a normal monitor, it makes text appear blurry, and people have complained that using it gives them headaches. I've tried it and can vouch for thatheadaches quickly ensue.
The basic ClearType settings don't work equally well on all systems, but you can download and use the free Microsoft PowerToy called the ClearType Tuning Control to fine-tune how ClearType looks on your system. Download and install it from http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ClearTypePowerToy.mspx. After it's installed, when the first screen appears make sure the Turn on ClearType box is checked, and then click Start Wizard.
You'll come to a page with two different samples of text. Click the one that looks best on your system, and then click Next. You'll come to a page that displays a block of text in six different ways. Click the text that looks best and then click Finish. You'll come to a final page that displays text in four different fonts. If you're satisfied with the way the text looks, click Finish; you're done. If you want to try a different setting, click Back, and you'll come to the page that displays a block of text in six different ways. Choose a different text block, click Next, and if you're satisfied, click Finish. Otherwise, keep going back to the page with six blocks of text until you choose one that's best for your system.
From now on, if you want to fine-tune ClearType again, choose Control Panel Appearance and Themes ClearType Tuning, and the ClearType Tuning Control will run.
13.6.1. Hacking the Hack
When you enable ClearType, it's available only after you log on. So, the fonts displayed before logon won't benefit from ClearType. You can, however, use a Registry hack to enable Clear Type fonts even before logon. Run the Registry Editor [Hack #83] and go to HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop. Open the FontSmoothingType enTRy and change its value to 2. (The default is 1, which means font smoothing is enabled, but ClearType isn't. A value of 0 turns off both font smoothing and ClearType.) Exit the Registry Editor and reboot.