Font smoothing is something that macOS does to make your fonts look slightly bolder. This has the side-effect of messing with carefully designed character shapes produced by font creators, and makes text more blurry. See the font smoothing section of Nikita Prokopov’s excellent article for more details.
On previous releases of macOS, you could disable font smoothing from the General pane of the System Preferences app, but this option has been removed from macOS Big Sur (as reported on by publications including MacRumors and Ars Technica).
This annoyed us, so we made a tiny app that lets you easily choose what level of font smoothing you would like, or disable it altogether.
Absolutely. If you’re comfortable using a terminal, you can also use the following commands to set your desired level of font smoothing instead of using the app.
Under the hood, The Font Smoothing Adjuster app uses Core Foundation's Preferences Utilities APIs to achieve the same result. All the app does is provide a helpful and intuitive graphical frontend for anyone who is less comfortable running terminal commands.
Disable font smoothing:
defaults -currentHost write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int 0
Light font smoothing:
defaults -currentHost write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int 1
Medium font smoothing (default):
defaults -currentHost write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int 2
Heavy font smoothing:
defaults -currentHost write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int 3
Reset to default font smoothing level (medium):
defaults -currentHost delete -g AppleFontSmoothing
You will need to log off or restart your Mac for any changes to take effect.
The Font Smoothing Adjuster app is free. We have also open sourced the codebase under the MIT License. To view, download, report issues or contribute to the codebase, head over to the repository on GitHub. We'd love to hear from you.
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