Firefox 4 font rendering

25 Mar 2011

The much anticipated Firefox is out in the wild waiting to be downloaded. The feature list is long and exciting. Lifehacker has a nice article about what’s new and awesome in Firefox 4.

One thing I didn’t like was the Opera-like menu button. Opera is a respectful and innovation leading browser, it doesn’t look good to replicate exactly the Opera’s menu button changing only the color. Anyway, I can live with that, I love Firefox, I use it everyday. But… there is another thing… that is really annoying, the font rendering. Yep hardware acceleration support (Direct2D and DirectWrite is only available on Windows 7 and Windows Vista SP2) made the fonts blurry that in some cases causes astigmatism.

I don’t know if it is a Firefox bad implementation or a Windows 7 – Microsoft bug. I have read that the blame is on Windows and an update patch is on the way. Until then, there are solutions:

  1. Disable the gfx.direct2d. Write “about:config” into the location bar (url input). Filter out direct and change the gfx.direct2d.disabled value to true. Restart Firefox.
    disable the gfx.direct2d on Firefox 4 to fix font rendering
    You lose direct2d hw acceleration (cross reference - the Hardware Acceleration Test) but you keep your eyes healthy. I am on this solution waiting for an update addressing this problem.
  2. Some propose this add-on anti-aliasing-tuner. I tried it, I didn't like it. It's my personal opinion.
  3. Others notify you to fine-tune windows 7 ClearType. How to 1 - How to 2. It didn't work for me but that’s a setting you have to tune in any case if you are on Windows 7.