The font rendering in iBooks (version 1.0.1) on my Mac (Mavericks 10.9.1) is outright horrible. The text is jagged and rough looking. I've tried changing the font but that doesn't help, it still looks bad. Does anyone have a solution to this problem, or have I just gotten too used to the smooth look of iOS iBooks?

Edit: This is on an early 2008 Mac Pro, on a 22" screen with 1680x1050 resolution, and on a 24" screen with 1920x1200 resolution. Font or font size does not matter. I've only seen the problem in iBooks, not in any other app. Notes and other UI text is fine, it's just the actual text I want to read that's jagged. As a comparison, my mid 2011 27" iMac shows the text beautifully.

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  • What screen size (")/resolution are you experiencing the problem on? And is it present in anything other than iBooks? To be, owning a Retina Macbook, all SD screens look awful. As reference here are screenshots of the samme book on retina and SD screens with the Iowan font.
    – Lasse
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 15:23
  • Are you sure it depends on what Mac you use? On my late 2012 iMac, text is rendered the same way as in your screenshot in some epub files but normally in others. I can't figure out how the files are different though. The font is set to Iowan for all files.
    – Lri
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 14:37
  • @LauriRanta: You might be correct, I just assumed since all the files I'd opened on the Mac Pro looked awful that it was related. However, trying one of Apple's own e-books (related to Objective-C), the text shows up beautifully on the Mac Pro. I haven't yet found an "ugly" book on the iMac, but I shall try it this weekend.
    – Lizzan
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 12:58
  • @LauriRanta I believe you are correct, trying one of the ugly books from my Mac Pro (at work) on the iMac (at home) showed the ugly rendering. If you add such an answer I can award you the bounty.
    – Lizzan
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 19:31

3 Answers 3


It seems that there is are others that report a problem with font rendering in the iBooks app when using epub files under OS X Mavericks (10.9.x). As in your experience, the problem seems isolated to Macs that don't have a Retina Display, such as your Mac Pro.

The solution is fortunately a simple one: Go to

System Preferences > General

and uncheck the box that says Use LCD font smoothing when available.

This should clear up the jagged text you've been experiencing in iBooks on your Mac Pro.

(Note: You may need to quit and restart iBooks and/or restart your Mac for these changes to take effect.)


I am leaning towards a issue with the monitor profile(s). The iMac has an installed display and Apple maximises their programs to run the best on their hardware. I am therefore assuming that if you put the iMac in target display mode and use that on the Mac Pro (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3924?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US) you won't have an issue with how the font looks in iBooks. What might be necessary is to borrow a screen calibration module and first capture the date from the iMac in TDM and then calibrate one external display to match that quality. If that resolves the issue then you can calibrate the other monitor based off of the update profile for the pair you just had.

The other thought that comes to mind is the PPI ration from your monitors, if they are too variant from Apple's lowest PPI (which is supported for iBooks) then calibration might not be enough.

I am taking your words as a note of caution as I am currently creating a rather intensive iBook but I am doing so on a 15" MacBook Pro from 2011 and hope to somehow test the iBook on a retina display before it gets released.

Sorry if I gave some rather bad news but trying Target Display with the iMac might help show if it is a hardware issue with the Mac Pro's graphic card or a software/driver issue with the monitors attached to the Mac Pro (personally I think it is a issue with the third party monitor resolution and color).


Evidently this is a bug in iBooks that ONLY manifests on non-Retina Macs. That also means non-Retina native Mac displays. Retina displays shouldn't see this.

I can't comment so this has to be an "answer"... If you turn off "Use LCD font smoothing when available" then other Apps that rely on it (like Tweetbot) will look like crap. If iBooks is the only App needing this workaround, then Apple needs bugreports. LOTS of bugreports.

So: if you notice that all your other Apps "look bad" or their fonts ligatures 'too thin' then remember to turn Smoothing back ON.

In my experience, a restart was not necessary.

This is not about monitors or profiles because I can see it on my MBP. Native monitor, native calibration, and every other App looks... fine. Except when I turn off LCD Font Smoothing.. then iBooks looks merely okay while every other App (Safari, Tweetbot-Mac) looks like crap.

  • "Evidently this is a bug in iBooks that ONLY manifests on non-Retina Macs. " I have a Mac mini connected to a Thunderbolt display and don't suffer from this problem.
    – user10355
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 9:41
  • @cksum The problem is only evident in some books, apparently. Like the ones from O'Reilly, mentioned in the link in GrowlTiger's answer.
    – Lizzan
    Commented Jan 16, 2014 at 15:00

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