I'm having a problem where my ClearType settings made with the built-in ClearType Tuner won't apply to any other applications, or even the operating system.

I've set my Cleartype so that the text is anti-aliased but monochrome: Monochrome setting Monochrome setting 400%

But when I finish this setup and I go back to Windows (even after reboot), the settings remain the same. Even in Windows Explorer:

Not monochrome 400%

How do I make sure the ClearType settings apply?

edit I also tried to run cttune.exe as administrator with elevated privileges, but that doesn't work either.

  • 1
    It's pretty trivial, but are you using the admin account? – matan129 Sep 22 '13 at 13:12
  • @matan129 Yes, see the edit I just made – Jochem Kuijpers Sep 22 '13 at 13:12
  • Does the ClearType stays the same with all applications (i.e. not just Explorer)? – matan129 Sep 22 '13 at 13:22
  • @matan129 Yes, even the start menu of Windows still uses the 'colored' ClearType. Also, the ClearType Tuner window doesn't remember my settings.. Seems it doesn't save at all.. – Jochem Kuijpers Sep 22 '13 at 15:05
  • 1
    It's very odd, I wasn't able to find a solution anywhere :\. I'll post if I'll find one, of course. – matan129 Sep 22 '13 at 15:06

If you want monochrome text which is antialiased, then you should turn ClearType off.

Uncheck the box:

Cleartype box unchecked

You will see that it is monochrome:

Cleartype magnified

Then click next on every screen and do not change from the defaults. Then it will apply without need to reboot:

System screenshot

And it is now grayscale, yet still antialiased.


ClearType uses sub pixel rendering. Sub pixels have colors. The trade off is improved intensity variation by sacrificing color fidelity. There will always be some color artifacts depending on the font - some display fonts were designed with ClearType in mind and look better in this regard.

Also keep in mind a zoomed in bitmap capture of the text isn't a true representation of how the subpixels are lit on the actual LCD screen or how they are perceived by the viewer. Same type of effect can happen if you run the desktop at a non-native resolution of the LCD panel or when ClearType is wrong about the subpixel layout of an LCD (the tuner is supposed to fix this).

  • I know how sub-pixel rendering works. I want to have anti-aliased rendering without the sub-pixel colors. Can you give examples of situations where the print-screen does not represent the same colors as the pixels on the screen? Because if I take a picture of it and I zoom in, the pixels are lit exactly as on the screenshot. (including the monochrome text in the tuner). It is working fine, except the tuner isn't saving the settings. My question is: How do I make sure these settings remain valid. – Jochem Kuijpers Oct 1 '13 at 21:32
  • I won't accept this as an answer because it's not an answer to my question. It's just a bit of information about sub-pixel rendering. I'm afraid my bounty will go to you anyway since people don't know the answer to this question and I'll remain stuck with this issue :( – Jochem Kuijpers Oct 1 '13 at 21:34
  • It is an answer to your specific question: ClearType can't provide the gray scale anti-aliasing that you want. It isn't a solution to your problem of getting gray scale anti aliased text in Windows. – Brian Oct 3 '13 at 21:50
  • it can, it does right there in the settings window.. it just doesn't save the settings properly. – Jochem Kuijpers Oct 4 '13 at 12:46

According to Winaero: https://winaero.com/blog/change-cleartype-settings-windows-10/

Note that Universal Windows Platform apps do not use ClearType text rendering, but instead rely on greyscale antialiasing. So the parts of Windows 10 which use Universal Windows Platform like the Start Menu or tray applets will not see any difference in text rendering even after you tune ClearType. Only those desktop apps that do not explicitly use DirectWrite, continue to use ClearType.

additional tips: Tips for improving your WPF text rendering experience https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/text/2006/10/18/tips-for-improving-your-wpf-text-rendering-experience/

  • Upvoted since it's a more relevant answer these days, but I'll leave the accepted answer as is since it's originally a windows 7 question from 2013. – Jochem Kuijpers Mar 22 '18 at 1:03

This might be eventually a monitor issue too. On one of my monitors (HP w2207h) I can get rid of those colored fringes by resetting the monitor to factory defaults. I have ClearType enabled (Windows XP) and done some simple profiling in Windows using Adobe tools. Under normal circumstances the sub pixel rendering is only visible using a magnifying glass. To the naked eye all characters appear monochrome and quite sharp.

Nevertheless after some months the monitor settings degrade for no obvious reasons and I might see color fringes. A reset to factory defaults usually helps.

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