Improved appearance of text on retina screen in Yosemite OS

William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
edited November 2014 in Technique and Theory
All text on my 15" MacBookPro retina screen looks significantly better since I upgraded to Yosemite. Does anyone know what was done?


  • Maybe you really like Helvetica?
  • Apple mentions a "Retina optimized" version of Helvetica but I haven't seen any specifics. I hope it means the type got slightly heavier.
  • On my non-Retina screen, Lucida Grande looks significantly worse (i.e., fuzzier). (I used Adam’s script to put Lucida back in place.)
  • No, this has nothing to do with Helvetica, which I have just replaced with Input: I am not talking about system fonts, but the appearance of *all* fonts on my screen, including my own Williams Caslon Text. The problem Rainer mentions of his text looking worse now on non-Retina screens I have also seen reference to when I googled this question. The point is, something has changed in text rendering in Yosemite, which seems to improved the appearance of text on Retina screens, and made at least some fonts worse on non-Retina screens. The question is, what has changed in the rendering?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,082
    Based on Rainer's description, it sounds like Apple have moved to a stronger antialiasing. This will produce smoother outlines at retina resolutions, but more fuzz at low resolution.
  • William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
    edited November 2014
    John, your explanation sounds likely correct, as it accounts for both the better Retina rendering and the worse non-Retina performance. It also makes sense—kind of—that they are favoring the newer screens. Googling, I find many complaints about the non-Retina performance, but not much love and appreciation about the better Retina performance. Human nature I guess :)

    I am not knowledgeable in this area. Can you give or link to a simple explanation of "stronger" antialiasing. Darker? More pixels involved?
  • Just speculating: I vaguely remember that there was some hinting info in Apple’s Lucida Grande, very specific, just for rendering in OS X. Perhaps, Yosemite now treats all fonts equally, including system fonts.
  • I just made some screenshots in 10.9 and 10.10 on Retina.
    The HelveticaUI looks much better and has at least one pixel more spacing per glyph. And the alignment of he uppercase letters is mucht better (at lease at the size used in the email list in Mail).
    Other font, like Avenir, looks exactly the same (in Mail). Aslo Safari uses the same rendering for webfonts.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,082
    Ideally, Apple would enable users to tune antialiasing to their own preference, so one could get the kind of antialiasing appropriate to one's device, colour sensitivity, etc..
  • To me, all text looks better on my Retina screen after Yosemite—both smoother and cleaner edges. Initially I was disappointed by the Retina screen on the Mac Book Pro that I got at the end of last year, when my old one died. I had hoped that it would blow me away as had the Retina screen on the iPad. But to me it looked still fairly fuzzy, whereas the iPad was shockingly good—the first decent screen-rendered type I'd seen. Now with the upgrade to Yosemite, it has that impressive clean look that the iPad Retina does, at least to my eyes. I also have a 27" 2560 x 1440 Thunderbolt second screen. Before, the second screen and the iPad were pretty equal how they looked. Now the text is a little better on the Retina Laptop, which is 15" and 2880 x 1800.

    I wonder why Apple didn't do something to please users with both old screens and new Retina screens, as John says. I would guess money, but maybe there are big obstacles. I still don't know what is going on, though.
  • I will do a but more comparison screen shots on different machines.
    Maybe the settings for the anti aliasing were messed up on 10.9 and the installer for 10.10 fixed them?
  • William BerksonWilliam Berkson Posts: 74
    edited November 2014
    That is possible as I think the machine which I got in late 2013 had 10.9 on it. I think when the 15" Macbook Pro with Retina screen was first sold it was before OS 10.9 (Mavericks), but I don't remember ever having a close look at that. It is also possible that more recent machines than mine worked better with Mavericks. As I said, I don't know what is going on, but *something* is.
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