Something good for your eyes.

Do you feel your eyes getting stressed out after staring at the computer screen for too long? If you answered “Yes” to the question, then this is for you.
No, it is not another eye exercise, it is a nifty tweak for your Windows XP system that I happened to run across. It will take about 2 minutes of your time. Linux users need not worry, your systems probably already has this technology. Just in case it doesn’t, you can install it. It’s called FreeType. This is for Windows XP, Vista already has the new ClearType engine installed.

Recently I read an article about the new ClearType and OpenType technologies. The article caught my attention because it said that it made “reading enjoyable and less stressful for the eyes”. Being a computer programmer, I stare at the computer screen all day so any help to the eyes is a big plus. Microsoft has made the technology available for Vista by default, but what about the older Windows versions? After googling around a bit I found out that you could do the same for your XP systems.

First download the ClearType engine itself. It can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ClearTypePowerToy.mspx

The instructions on how to install and run the application are on that very same page.

After running and enabling the ClearType engine you will notice your fonts look a little bit different. Watch closely, they seem to have increased in contrast and look more pleasing.

There, you have successfully installed the engine. Now comes the time to take full advantage of it. Well as it goes, Microsoft has released 6 new fonts specifically designed to better the viewing experience with the ClearType engine. They are Constantia, Corbel, Calibri, Cambria, Candara and Consolas. Each is designed for a specific purpose and usage. Refer to the above mentioned article for details.

So where do you get these fonts? Well if you have a friend who has Vista, ask him to copy them for you. Each font is a set of .ttf files in the fonts directory. Or, I found a place you can download them. Its here. Scroll down and click on the “download” link [1]. Unzip the zip file and copy all the font files .ttf to your WINDOWS/Fonts directory. That”s it.

I am using Consolas with my Visual Studio IDE for the past 4 months and I love it. I have also set the same font for my Notepad and other apps that use Monospaced fonts. One thing I would like to mention tough, the above mentioned Vista fonts look hopelessly bad if the ClearType engine is not installed.

References
ClearType information on Microsoft’s site.
ClearType PowerToy.
The FreeType Project.
Adobe”s OpenType Fonts.
Bitstream Vera Fonts.
Information on each of the new Vista Fonts.

The new fonts are a big hit with me, hope you find this information equally helpful.

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