Workshop - Improve Windows Font Display

By Team Digit Published Date
26 - Mar - 2009
| Last Updated
26 - Mar - 2009
Workshop - Improve Windows Font Display

GDI gets your windows fonts to look like text on OS X


GDI is a font rasteriser that looks better than Microsoft’s font rasterisation, and even ClearType. The application is written to make fonts on Windows appear the way they do on a Mac OS X. The application is open source, free and can be downloaded from GDI itself is a 70 KB download. All you need to do, is drag-and-drop any other EXE file onto GDI .exe.


GDI uses a royalty-free font rasteriser called Freetype 2. It routes all font parameters through GDI .dll instead of GDI32.dll, which is the default rasteriser for Windows. The improvement in everything from word processors to Web browsers is startling. GDI does away with the sharp, jagged edges of fonts in Windows by using sub-pixel rendering and increasing the weight of the fonts by up to four points. Each pixel on the screen is made up of three sub-pixels, which are cells of a particular colour. Pixel rendering turns the entire pixel on or off, whereas sub-pixel rendering turns on or off individual cells that make up the pixel. This increases the resolution of each character by three-fold, but under magnification, letters acquire a colour fringe, with a colouration of the specific sub-pixel that is used.


However, this artefact is not easily noticeable by the naked eye. Dragging and dropping Word onto the GDI .exe will rasterise all fonts in Word through GDI .dll. All other applications are unaffected by these settings, not even another instance of the same application. There is a utility called gditray.exe that applies the settings of GDI .dll globally, to all the applications that run on Windows, and Windows itself. By using this application, Explorer, the desktop and every application that uses fonts will be affected by the settings. Note that images of text will not be affected. The application nests in the system tray and can be conveniently toggled on or off from here.


Another application that uses GDI is gdixxTuner.exe. This is a great application that allows a user to fine tune many aspects of the font rasteriser used. The application can work either through the GDI .dll or through the default GDI32.dll. There are sliders available that lets you give a specific value to how much weight is added to bold text, how much weight is added to the default text, and the degree of slant added to the text that is italicised. There is also an 8x and 16x view of the rendering, which shows clearly the sub-pixel rendering and the amount of colour fringing created. Using gdixxTuner.exe along with gditray.exe lets you apply fine tuned global settings to all the programs that run on Windows and Windows itself.

If you don’t want to use gdixxTuner.exe for changing the settings, you can do it directly by editing GDI .ini. Open the INI file in Notepad, and enter the values that you want. After this, either run GDI .exe or use gditray.exe. You can also fine tune some parameters from here that are not allowed by the gdixxTuner.exe application.


If you don’t want to use the different font rasteriser for all programs, but instead want to use it only for a few programs, there are many ways to do this. In the command prompt (Start > Run > cmd), enter the path of the gdi .exe, followed by the path of the application you want to run it in, and enclose it in inverted commas. To rasterise text in Internet Explorer through GDI .dll, right click on the desktop, go to New > Shortcut and in the location field enter C:\gdi \Gdi \ gdi .exe "C:\Program Files\ Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE" and click on OK. You may use this method for any other software, by replacing the path for that software. Another method to achieve the same result, is to create a batch file, type in G:\gdi \Gdi \gdi .exe "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE" in a text file. Save it as a BAT file. Now, double-click on this file every time you want to run an application through GDI .dll.


Be careful when you are using this application. The text does become slightly blurry, and because the edges are not clearly defined, it might give people who are used to the normal text display on windows a headache.

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