Just got my first Mac and am loving it except for the extremely annoying fact that fonts get messed up on my secondary monitor.

The strange thing is that when I drag a window over from my laptop monitor, the fonts look fine on the secondary monitor until I finish dragging, then they get all messed up... some kind of driver issue?

Here's some samples. In both images the left hand side shows how the image looks on my secondary monitor while it's in the process of being dragged over from my laptop monitor, and the right hand side shows how it looks after I drop it:

Any ideas what the hell is going on here? I've tried changing the font smoothing with defaults write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int <1-3>, no dice.

  • What type of secondary monitor do you have? An official Apple display? Or a non-Apple display. I hate they way Apple punishes the use of non-Apple products. Dec 1, 2013 at 20:09
  • 1
    Update: setting the font smoothing to a higher setting (6 seems to work... most resources I've read don't give any indication that it goes higher than 3...) assuages the problem significantly (at least in Chrome, it makes no difference to the Terminal), but the issue is still present on e.g. the Related links on the right hand side of this page. Setting the smoothing any higher doesn't seem to help. Dec 1, 2013 at 20:18
  • @JakeGould It's a non-Apple display. Dec 1, 2013 at 20:18
  • New comparison image, you can see the right hand font is stretched vertically slightly: i.imgur.com/Fxvob2D.png Dec 1, 2013 at 20:34
  • I guess the problem here is that OS X renders fonts differently for secondary displays... but here the usual rendering looks far better... so how do I make it not do that? Dec 1, 2013 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


You're moving from a retina display to a non-retina display, which changes how things are rendered.

If you didn't have this issue pre-Mavericks, it might have to do with the new "Displays have separate Spaces" setting. Try disabling this in System Preferences => Mission Control.

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