Chrome 16 dev: degraded font rendering on the Mac

Since this morning, Chrome’s font rendering on the Mac has changed. It is now horrible! I am running ver. 16.0.891.0 dev (this is the “dev channel”, i.e. in-development version); here’s a snippet from Daring Fireball as rendered by today’s Chrome:

And here’s the same snippet, as rendered by Safari 5.1:

Another example, this time from a Wikipedia page I reference below: today’s Chrome…

…and Safari:

Until last night, I could not spot any difference in the rendering (or, if there were differences, they were not so jarring to my eye). Now, there are two key differences.

At the “macro” level, fonts as rendered by Chrome look thinner. Subjectively, they are not as legible. They also look slightly washed out.

At the “micro” level, if you magnify the Chrome and Safari snippets a few times, you will see that Safari uses subpixel rendering: loosely speaking, this means that the “edges” of character shapes (glyphs) are actually drawn in different colors, not just different tones of grays. On the other hand, Chrome seems to have inexplicably switched to purely grayscale rendering of fonts. [Note: the difference is even starker in the original TIFF screen captures, but you should be able to notice in the WordPress-friendly JPEG pictures posted above.]

The “micro” view explains the “macro” perception. Subpixel rendering is used precisely as a way to increase the perceived resolution, and—if used tastefully, as it is on Mac OS X—to achieve greater typographic fidelity. For whatever reason, today’s Chrome dev build seems to have switched that off.

Please, Google, bring subpixel-rendered fonts back, or I’ll have to switch to Safari. You already took away the ability to move between bookmark menus; please don’t take away my nice fonts!


11 responses to “Chrome 16 dev: degraded font rendering on the Mac

  1. grr it took me half an hour to realize it was a Chrome issue, I thought it was a system-wide issue happened after a(nother) Lion crash (yes, Lion is being awful)
    I might switch to the beta channel, hopefully this issue is not there

  2. Never mind, Versions/Time Machine saved the day once again. I’m back to 16.0.889.0 and everything looks great—until the next Chrome restart, but now I’ll keep a safe copy handy.

  3. Crap! As soon as I updated I noticed. They look fucking strange right now, right? Don’t fuck with my fonts, Google!

  4. Pingback: Do web pages in Google Chrome look odd to you? - Computing - Scott Matthewman

  5. how does Firefox look?

  6. new update out now, back to good old font 🙂

  7. Pingback: Mac Chrome fonts back to normal! | Tech, TeX and Theory

  8. It’s not just Mac.
    On Windows they also changed some font rendering and on some sites and some fonts it looks really bad.
    Here’s side-by-side screenshots of Firefox7 and Chrome16.0.891

  9. Try BeeFont to choose the best font for rendering, It is the ultimate font utility for users who require a quick, easy and comprehensive overview of all their fonts on Mac.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s