Numbers ’09: Subpixel font smoothing, but not in print view

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 12th, 2009 • 6:49 pm

After noting last week that Apple has finally added support for subpixel font smoothing in Pages ’09, I should note that Apple has also added support for subpixel font smoothing in Numbers ’09.

It comes with a twist, however. In Numbers ’09, subpixel font smoothing only works in the regular view mode. In print view, Numbers reverts to greyscale font smoothing only, which produces less-than-satisfactory results on LCD screens.

It would have been a problem for me, because I used Numbers’s print view mode to display repetitions of my header rows for large tables, so that I would not lose track of which column was which when scrolling down beyond the document section where the header rows were visible.

However, Numbers ’09 also supports header row freezing now, so that solves this particular problem. If I want both subpixel font smoothing and header rows that are visible at all times, I can switch back to the regular view mode and use header row freezing instead.

So the print view is now only needed for its original purpose, which is to preview documents before printing them. Arguably, in such a context, the absence of subpixel font smoothing is less of an issue.

I am not sure why subpixel font smoothing is not supported in print view in Numbers ’09. I remember that, in the discussion about the lack of subpixel font smoothing in previous versions of Pages, we talked about transparency issues and the fact that subpixel font smoothing and transparency were somehow incompatible.

But Pages ’09 now supports subpixel font smoothing in all its view modes, as far as I can tell. I don’t really use Pages’s page layout features, so I don’t know if they took anything away in terms of Pages’s support for transparency, but I somehow doubt it.

Maybe Numbers has additional features that need to be rendered in print view mode and require things that are incompatible with subpixel font smoothing. Or maybe the Numbers developers simply never got around to adding subpixel font smoothing to Numbers ’09’s print view mode.

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