ClearType, one of the new technologies included in Windows XP, enhances the use of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) found in notebooks and desktop computers. LCDs consist of thousands of pixels too small to be discernible by the human eye alone. In traditional font rendering, each pixel is either "on" or "off;" when the computer displays a character on the screen, it turns these pixels on or off.

Every pixel on an LCD screen is comprised of three smaller elements called subpixels: one red, one green, and one blue (RGB). When put together, the human eye sees the color white, or some other color as the pixels are adjusted.
ClearType manipulates these individual subpixels, which allows for much smoother fonts as the human eye blurs the subpixels into the larger image.

Note however that ClearType is designed only for LCD screens. Users will regular monitors will typically experience worse viewing quality using ClearType.

To enable ClearType:

  • Right-click on the desktop and select Properties.
  • Go to the Appearance tab.
  • Click the Effects button.
  • Check this option in the Effects dialog box: Use The Following Method To Smooth Edges Of Screen Fonts.
  • Select ClearType from the drop-down box.
  • Click OK.

After you close the Display Properties dialog box, Windows XP will turn on ClearType.

After ClearType is enabled, fonts will usually appear smoother and without sharp edges. The final output on the screen varies from LCD to LCD but is typically quite an improvement.

May 2002

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