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Ahmad Awais ⚡️
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Fixing Terrible Blurry Font Rendering Issue in macOS Mojave #OneDevMinute

Just updated to macOS Mojave only to find out that there is a terrible font rendering issue for almost all the ElectronJS based apps like VSCode my code editor of choice.

After researching a little bit, less to my surprise, I found out that Apple has disabled Subpixel antialiasing for text in macOS Mojave. It's gone.

Little more research led to a fix, all you have to do is open up your Terminal application (COMMAND (⌘) + SPACE then search for Terminal) and run the following command.

defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO

5 Macos Mojave Font Rendering Issue Fix

This will lead to the font smoothing to be enabled — especially for non-retina external monitors. You'll thank me later. You need to sign out and sign back in or restart your Mac before you can see your changes after running this command. That's pretty much all.


Explanation: What's Happening In there?!

Some folks in the comments asked about how I stumbled upon this fix, so for the sake of technical know-how, I am updating this post with more details.

🎯 Apple's macOS normally has a set of defaults that you can change programmatically. I have such an opinionated workflow for whenever I install my OS from scratch. That's a story for another day.

🤖 I remember in the past, with High Sierra, I had to enable subpixel font rendering on non-Apple LCDs. That was the AppleFontSmoothing option which I set to true, or one could directly add -int 1 for that option.

🤔 I was unable to find that setting in macOS Mojave defaults. I kept looking in there. Especially in the Apple Global Domain settings, since that's where the old setting was.

🙃 Aha! I found a new setting in there, it's called CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled — it's quite evident what this setting does. Disables the rendering of smooth fonts. It was set to 1 which means it was set to TRUE or YES.

Macos Mojave Cgfontrenderingfontsmoothingdisabled 1

So, all I had to do to try my luck was to disable this font smoothing disabler, i.e. enable to font smoothing on non-Apple/non-retina LEDs. For that I wrote this following command:

defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool FALSE

  • defaults — access the Mac OS X user defaults system
  • −g | −globalDomain | NSGlobalDomain — Specifies the global domain. ’-g’ and ’-globalDomain’ may be used as synonyms for NSGlobalDomain
  • CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled — the setting which I wanted to disable to enable the font smoothing
  • −bool [ean] — Allows the user to specify a boolean as the value for the given preference key. The value must be TRUE/YES or FALSE/NO

I ran this command, checked if it worked, by logging out and in, and boy it did. Super happy. I wish Apple fixes this instead of disabling this option altogether in the near future updates.

Macos Font Fix Cgfontrenderingfontsmoothingdisabled

🎉 Since I am a big fan of VSCode I did a before/after --diff of the defaults and it seems the setting is now set to 0 and it works so hurrah!

Macos Mojave Defaults Changed Font Fixed[/ecko_fullpage_image]

⚠️ Some folks also recommended enabling the font smoothing option in the General font settings but that didn't work for me. It was already enabled and did nothing to improve the situation.

Font Blur Issue Macos Mojave

Peace! ✌️

This was first posted at Fix macOS Mojave Font Rendering Issue

Top comments (23)

briankephart profile image
Brian Kephart

After reading this, I noticed that the fonts on my website were thicker in Safari than they were before the update on my retina-equipped MBP. Other browsers were unaffected. I turned OFF font smoothing, and things returned to normal. Weird.

ahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

Glad it helped. 👌

jhegs profile image

(Instead to come and claim for credits here, like others) I came here to say "thank you", I often use an external monitor and I was having this weird issue.

ahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

You're most welcomed! 🙌

maedahbatool profile image
Maedah Batool 👩‍💻

Thank you, Ahmad, for fixing it. Sorry, it ruined your day but it was so much fun to see you so frustrated and when your arms were up in the air with the Aha moment! 🤣

ahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️


heejongcho profile image

Thank you!

milesbenson profile image
Maetrik/Ben • Edited

This worked for me until today, now the fonts are to thin again, even if the value says 0.
I can see it very clearly in iTerm/Terminal.

Edit: NVM, this is a iTerm2 issue.

ahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

I am not updating my primary laptop.

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