[OS X TeX] High Sierra Bug

Rowland McDonnell rowland.mcdonnell at physics.org
Fri Nov 24 14:58:01 EST 2017


Herb Schulz wrote:

>My main problem is that my older 21" iMac from 2011 doesn't have a
>Retina display and PDFKit under High Sierra gives a fuzzy display of
>PDF files. Strangely this was NOT the case with Sierra.

I don't see a fuzzy pdf display on my 27" iMac (late 2009 with a 
ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB graphics card).  It seems that it's a 
problem which affects some old-but-not-too-old Macs, or so I 
read here:


Under the heading "TeXShop Changes 3.90 and 3.91" Richard Koch writes:


I continue to get reports of fuzzy displays on some monitors. 
This problem has been with us through several iterations of OS 
X. It was extensively discussed in the changes document for 
version 3.55, where several TeXShop additions to deal with the 
problem are summarized in one spot.
Fuzzy displays have never been a problem on machines with Retina 
displays. This includes almost all of Apple's current machines. 
It includes the 5K LG Display, made possible by Thunderbolt 3. 
Older displays also work fine; I have the original Thunderbolt 
display which was not a Retina display and yet shows very clear 
text. I am no longer able to obtain fuzzy output on any of my equipment.

I suspect that Apple has stopped work on this problem because it 
will disappear as people upgrade their equipment. Let's recall 
an analogous situation. When color was first introduced on the 
Mac, it was 8-bit color which could only display 256 colors. 
This was not enough for high quality photographs, but the 
engineers had a work-around. Graphic display hardware contained 
a color table chip which could be programmed in real time. Thus 
the particular 256 colors available could be adjusted, depending 
on the requirements in the front-most window.

So Apple introduced very elaborate color management software. A 
program could request, say, 40 colors that it "absolutely, 
positively had to have", and then 25 colors that it needed only 
approximately, listing how much variation was permissible for 
these colors. Apple also reserved a small number of colors for 
the system. The rules for this color management software seemed 
to change from system to system. One critic said "I dislike the 
Macintosh because when I request a color, I can never be sure of 
the color I'll get back.''

And then memory prices went down, and 8-bit color became 32-bit 
color and the color management software vanished. If you lived 
through those days, as I did, you probably feel that all the 
time spent on color management was time wasted. I recently 
discovered that new hires in the mathematics department who know 
much more than I do about computers have never heard of 
programmable color tables.

With apologies to those dealing with the problem, I think the 
fuzzy display problem is a repeat of the 8-bit color situation. 
The problem has gone away for the majority of users, it will 
slowly go away for the rest of users, and it now longer makes 
sense to expect Apple engineers to deal with it. Sorry.


Hope this helps,

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