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How do I make Windows 7 show Unicode all characters properly, like those in this question?

Right now I just see squares for some of them.

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@Downvoter: Care to comment? –  Mehrdad Jun 30 '11 at 6:35

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Web-browsers

You don't say explicitly but I imagine your question is about a web-browser, most likely Internet Explorer 7. Web browsers attempt to display a web page in a font specified by the web-page or in a font specified in the browser configuration (which can be set to override web-page directives). Sometimes, a web page contains a character for which the selected font has no glyph. The browser will usually attempt to find a glyph in other fonts installed on the computer. If it cannot find a glyph, it typically displays a square box.

Step 1 Firstly, use a Unicode test page (e.g. 2.0 3.2 to identify the names of the groups of characters you are having problems with.

Step 2. Then identify which browser you are using to view the Unicode data. Install Firefox and Chrome and compare results.

Step 3. Finally locate a font that contains the characters you wish to be able to view, install that font and re-test by accessing the Unicode test pages with the range of installed browsers.

An excellent source of help is Alan Wood's Unicode Resources


Update:

Other applications

Text editors and Word processors will display a square (or other stand-in character) if the current font does not contain the character. Changing fonts can solve the problem. Unicode has over a million characters. No single font has more than a few tens of thousands (Arial Unicode MS has the most of any common font). Most fonts have a few hundred only. You therefore often have to use mixed fonts if you want to display characters from more than one writing system.


References

Some good reading matter (mainly aimed at programmers but should be interesting for others)

Joel Spolsky
Tim Bray
The Unicode consortium and their Last Resort Font

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Am having the same problem on Win7 and I am using Chrome. In the 3.2 test, Chrome fails to display more than 10 groups. Firefox is slightly better. –  Arvin Jun 27 '11 at 10:36
    
On my computer running XP-Pro, IE8 fails to display about 60 groups, Chrome fails to display 40 groups. So on your computer running Win7 I'd say Chrome is doing pretty well. It all depends on the range of fonts you have installed. –  RedGrittyBrick Jun 27 '11 at 10:56
    
On my computer running Win7, IE8 does better, only failing on about 18 groups, Chrome fails on around 30. –  RedGrittyBrick Jun 27 '11 at 12:00
    
@RedGrittyBrick: I didn't say browser, since I'm talking about programs in general (browsers, text editors, Explorer, etc.). Also, are you saying that this is just a font issue and not a system issue? –  Mehrdad Jun 27 '11 at 15:53
    
@Mehrdad, Yes it is almost entirely a font issue. Text editors and Word processors will display a square (or other stand-in character) if the current font does not contain the character. Changing fonts can solve the problem. Unicode has over a million characters. No single font has more than a few tens of thousands (Arial Unicode MS has the most of any common font). Most fonts have a few hundred only. You therefore often have to use mixed fonts if you want to display characters from more than one writing system. –  RedGrittyBrick Jun 27 '11 at 16:15

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