[OS X TeX] Skim - improving font smoothing

Richard Seguin riseguin at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 30 14:37:13 EST 2015

The TeXShop team managed to improved font rendering by momentarily moving magnification level up and down a bit every time a PDF file was opened or refreshed. There’s an option in Skim that seems to have a similar effect. I never used  the “Automatically Resize” option in the PDF drop down menu until two nights ago and discovered that it did seem to improve appearance. (You also have to select “Use Current View Settings as Default” in order to make this permanent.) You may have to adjust the window size so that there is a little bit of grey background area surrounding the white page area. It seemed to work for me in both single and continuous page views. The effect is most dramatic if you have “Anti-alias text and line art” turned on in Skim, and either:

(1) Have “Use LCD font smoothing when available” (on the Preferences/General panel) turned off, which may affect other applications negatively;


(2) “Use LCD font smoothing when available” is turned on and you use this applescript to execute Skim:

do shell script "defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 0"
tell application "Skim"
end tell
do shell script "defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 3”   <—— or 2 instead of 3

Option (2) does not affect other applications negatively. This gets you very close to the way TeXShop displays type, though TeXShop may still be a hair better. The applescript can be put into the script menu that goes in the top Finder menu on top of the screen, or could be put into the BBEdit script menu. It’s almost painless using the applescript to boot Skim after a short period of adjusting habits.

The next morning I discovered a short discussion of the use of “Automatically Resize” and font rendering here that confirmed my experiments:


The mystery to me is why Skim is sensitive to “Use LCD font smoothing when available” and settings of AppleFontSmoothing (mainly in a negative way), but TeXShop and Preview are not.

Richard Séguin

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