How to Fix Blurry Fonts in MacOS Mojave for Non-Retina Displays

Sep 26, 2018 - 15 Comments

How to adjust font smoothing settings in macOS Mojave

Do you think fonts and screen text looks fuzzy, blurry, or excessively thin in macOS Mojave? If so, it may be due to changes in anti-aliasing in Mojave, particularly for users with non-retina displays. If you are running macOS Mojave on a Mac without a retina display, or with an external monitor that does not have an ultra-high resolution screen, you may have noticed that some fonts and text can appear as fuzzy, blurry, or excessively thin and difficult to read. Fortunately, with a little effort you can make some adjustments to how MacOS Mojave handles font smoothing and anti-aliasing which may improve the appearance of text and fonts on your Mac screen.

We’ll show you a few tips on how to adjust font smoothing in MacOS to attempt to remedy any problematic font rendering or blurry text in macOS Mojave for non-retina displays.


These font smoothing settings are not recommended to change on a Retina display Mac, though if you feel like doing so you certainly can experiment with the settings on a Retina Mac as well, if you do then please report your experiences in the comments below.

3 Ways to Adjust Font & Text Anti-Aliasing in MacOS Mojave

We’ll cover three different methods of adjusting font smoothing and text anti-aliasing settings in macOS Mojave. The first is quite simple through a preference panel, but the latter options are more advanced and require using the Terminal. You can use any or all of them, and how each appears will differ depending on your particular Mac and the screens you use (and your personal preferences and perhaps eyesight).

How to Enable Font Smoothing in MacOS Mojave

  1. First, go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
  2. Choose “General” preference panel and check the box for “Use font smoothing when available” to that is enabled (or disabled)

How to enable font smoothing in macOS MOjave

You might instantly see a difference in simply toggling that setting on or off, and that alone may resolve the issues you are experiencing with fonts in Mojave.

The animated GIF below shows the before and after effect of simply toggling this setting, which looks better to you depends on your particular screen and individual preferences, but in this animation you can see the ‘enabled’ setting has a slightly bolder font that includes more anti-aliasing:

animated gif of font smoothing on macOS Mojave enabled or disabled

If that settings adjustment is sufficient you likely won’t want to proceed further, however there are more tweaks and adjustments you can make to how macOS Mojave handles font smoothing and text anti-aliasing.

How to Enable Font Smoothing in macOS Mojave by Terminal

If the above trick doesn’t resolve your blurry fuzzy fonts issue, then proceed with the more advanced tips further below to adjust how font smoothing works further.

  1. Open the “Terminal” application, found in /Applications/Utilities/
  2. Enter the following command syntax exactly:
  3. defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO

  4. Hit Return, then log out and log back in (or reboot the Mac) for the font smoothing settings to change and take effect

This particular change was extremely subtle for my particular Mac, screen shots in animated GIF form attempt to capture the difference with the thicker bolder font the result after the defaults command was issued and the thinner version before:

Font smoothing defaults settings enabled or disabled in macOS Mojave

Again some Mac users may notice this change alone is sufficient to remedy any complaints they have about font blurriness, fuzziness, font weight or text being too thin or hard to read.

But for some Mac users they still may have complaints, in which case you can also go further to manually adjust anti-aliasing settings in Mac OS.

How to Adjust Mac Font Smoothing Settings via Defaults

Next you can also manually attempt to change the strength of font smoothing settings (anti-aliasing) in Mac OS, this also relies on defaults commands entered into the Terminal.

Strong font smoothing defaults command:
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 3

Medium font smoothing defaults command:
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 2

Light font smoothing defaults command:
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 1

You will want to log out and back in again, or reboot the Mac, for the changes to take effect.

How obvious or subtle the changes will be for you depends on your Mac, the display in use, and perhaps even individual preference and eyesight. Thus if you have any issue with the way fonts appear in macOS Mojave you might want to try each of the settings individually to find what works best for you.

Remove all adjustments to font smoothing in Mac OS and return to default settings

This command will remove any custom font smoothing setting:
defaults -currentHost delete -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing

This command will revert the change to rendering font smoothing settings back to the default in macOS Mojave:

defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool YES

Again, restart the Mac or log out and back in again for the change to take effect.

All of this may or may not apply to you and your particular Mac, screen, and display, but the cause (if this does apply to you) is apparently due to a change in how macOS Mojave handles font rendering and anti-aliasing.

Variations of this tip have been covered here at OSXDaily.com many times before, in fact many users originally noticed way back in Snow Leopard that font smoothing settings had changed in Mac OS X then, and again later (and still relevant today) when a Mac screen sometimes looks blurry or fonts appear fuzzy, and yet again in Yosemite where font smoothing became an issue too, and here we are with macOS Mojave with a similar round of issues with fonts not looking quite right.

These changes to font smoothing were first noticed during the beta period of Mojave, but persist today. Thanks to dev.to for the Mojave specific reference to this tip and the CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled defaults command string.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

15 Comments

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  1. Phil says:

    Thanks. I just updated to Mojave and noticed that Times New Roman 12 pt. in Scrivener looks thicker and blacker, almost bold. It’s pretty ugly. I’m using an HP2511x monitor, so I’ll give some of the terminal commands a try. Turning off font smoothing in preferences looks slightly better, but a bit fuzzy.

  2. vdiv says:

    The OS X fonts on a Sony Triluminous LCD TV panel always look fuzzy due to the pixel element layout and use. If I use font-smoothing the fonts look better on a white background, if I turn it off they look better on a dark one. Windows used to have a font optimizer that one can run and be presented with various font rendering options, so they can pick the one that looks best on the particular display. OS X needs something like that.

  3. Phil says:

    Update: Used the first command (defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO) and text looks significantly better. Thanks again.

    • Rn says:

      Excellent tip!

      I used this command (and confirmed that enabled Font Smoothing in settings, it was already enabled for me) and logged out and in and the fonts look much better:

      defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO

      Thanks! I guess this means Apple will soon only sell retina displays for Mac? I use an external monitor so even if that is the case I will continue to have several great HD external monitors to use moving forward, these tips will be handy then too.

      • Capn says:

        Yes! This worked perfect for me as well. I am running a retina MacBook Pro through an Apple Thunderbolt display and everything is nice n’ crisp. Thank you!!!

  4. Monty says:

    The commands to adjust the amount of font smoothing aren’t working for me. When I enter this into Terminal…

    defaults -currentHost read -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 1

    I get the following error:

    The domain/default pair of (kCFPreferencesAnyApplication, AppleFontSmoothing) does not exist

  5. The U-Man says:

    You should read (sic) “write” NOT “read” ;-)

    defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 1

    Typo in the original article…

    • Paul says:

      Not sure how that happened, thanks for the correction! They have been fixed. You’re correct, the use of ‘read’ is to see the value, while ‘write’ is used to change the value, and ‘delete’ is used to remove it.

  6. Thank you very much :)

    I use an Asus monitor on my Mac mini Late 2012. Now everything looks much better.

  7. Richard Crisp says:

    I have a Thunderbolt Display and “defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO” did such a good job I think it looks better than OS X 10.13!

    Great fix thanks!

  8. John says:

    My Dell U3415W display now renders text much more clearly with Mojave after I ran the first command you suggest:

    defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO

    I already had “Use font smoothing when available” selected.

    Thanks for a really great tip!

  9. Toffy says:

    There is a side effect at least in Safari. For example, if you refresh this page https://laravel.com/docs/5.7/contributions few times you would see partially blurry fonts: https://imgur.com/a/bowFIYk

  10. Stephen Briglin says:

    I was finding reading system font in mail app and news app on my MacBook Air. Used the terminal input suggested and what a huge difference. Thank you.

  11. Nikola Mihajlovic says:

    Thanks, the first terminal option fixed it.

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