Does anyone know which monospace font in the Terminal program or iTerm is the best to use at very small font sizes?

  • I don't understand why this was voted down. Could whoever did so explain so the "newbies" amongst us can learn? – TJ Luoma Oct 10 '11 at 5:41
  • 1
    It probably has something to do with not having a single definitive answer. – Jason Salaz Oct 10 '11 at 5:52

My choice would generally be Lucida Grande or Anadale Mono; Some days I'm more in the mood for Monaco though too. If my eyes start getting tired I ditch the small fonts for a few days if possivle. Depending on the shell I'm running, I've had Anadale Mono cranked all the way down to 5 point and still readable (provided I have access to an electron microscope as backup).

Mono spaced text

  • +1 for "provided I have access to an electron microscope as backup". Ha! – Jason Salaz Oct 10 '11 at 3:06
  • 5
    I use fonts so small I'm unable to simultaneously determine the position and momentum of the characters – Kyle Cronin Oct 10 '11 at 3:31
  • Lucinda Grande, while eminently readable, is not a monospaced font, as requested. But good choices! – Daniel Oct 10 '11 at 3:37
  • 1
    @KyleCronin Ah, the Gutenberg uncertainty principle. – tobych Jun 26 at 17:03

This depends somewhat on your definition of "best" and "very small size," but at 9 or 10 points, I'd have to give a shout out to Monaco, one of the fonts from the original Mac. The font is bitmapped so it is specifically designed to be readable at 9 and 10 points (that said, Terminal doesn't take advantage of the bitmapped 9-point Monaco, and scales the vector version instead -- I don't know what iTerm does. You can tell the difference because the bitmapped 9-point Monaco has a rounded capital A, but the bitmapped 10-point has a pointy A.). In general, a bitmapped font well crafted for a particular number of pixels will display better at that size than a scaled vector font.

Getting smaller than that, Monaco loses its edge. Subjectively, I find Menlo, the default Terminal font in OS X Snow Leopard and beyond, to be much more readable at 6 point than any of the other monospaced fonts on my system. enter image description here

  • I like Menlo too; I always forget about it for some odd reason. Probably because it's the default and I wore it out. – l'L'l Oct 10 '11 at 2:40
  • Menlo works in both the Mabook Pro (retina), and the old Air (without retina), with VIM, Sublime Text, and PyCharm. – Apalala Jun 6 at 3:56

Inconsolata-dz at 7pt is still legible to me on my MacBook Air (1440 x 900 x 32) in iTerm, if I use anti-aliasing.

I'm not saying that I'd actually choose to use it for any length of time, but if I had to… I could.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .