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Desktop pictures & fonts OS9.1

Jaris

Member
Hi,

I am trying to find a way to use a photo as a desktop picture in OS 9.1. I tried Decor, but it doesn’t seem to work in OS 9. What file format are desktop pictures in general? Is it possible to place a photo in desktop pictures folder (using a proper format) and make system use it somehow?

And second question only slightly related is why screen fonts look so bad on old Macs (in comparison to modern Macs), and is it possible to make them look really sharp? I know a little bit about font smoothing, but apps like ATM don’t improve font appearance drastically IMO.

So the question is in general can we make our old Macs look better?

Jaris

 

Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
GraphicConverter imports and exports just about anything. If you're not doing photo retouching or heavy duty filter crap it makes Photoshop an unnecessary luxury for light duty applications.

When you've got an image open, the "Picture" menu has the option to "Put Picture on Desktop" at the bottom. A PICT is automagically scaled and placed on the desktop. With the proper aspect ratio, it fills the screen. I edit wallpapers at whatever size by tweaking to the proper aspect ratio, menu bar adjusted, from outputs generated in a simple Appleworks spreadsheet after having input either height or width of the graphic in pixels as the initial value.

I'm currently using GraphicConverter 4.4.4 under 9.2.2 on a Quicksilver. It's a little more modern than the version I loved on the Digital Audio for so many years, but I haven't yet bothered to upgrade the App back to my preferred lower rev number. [}:)] ]'>

 
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rsolberg

Well-known member
When you say screen fonts, are you referring to the appearance of user interface text such as menus, window titles, file names, etc?

If that's the case, you want Appearance Manager. It allows you to select different interface fonts, and adjust anti-aliasing settings. By default, anti-aliasing is only enabled for fonts larger than 12 points. Menus, titles, etc, are usually 10 points. You can increase the font sizes used or allow anti-aliasing to smaller text.

Edit: Appearance Manager is a Control Panel and it can be found in System/Control Panels. It is usually installed with Mac OS 8.0 and later unless it is deselected in a custom install or if the minimal install option is used.

 
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Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
I believe on Mac OS 9, you can set any JPEG as the desktop picture. 

About the fonts: Do you have a screenshot of what it looks like? In general, they probably won't get better. What modern Macs are you comparing with? For the past few years, Apple has been very very rapidly increasing display quality, and typography has been getting better in Mac OS X for at least fifteen years.

It's something Apple has worked very very hard on.

 

rsolberg

Well-known member
Here's a screenshot of the Mac OS 9 Appearance Manager. Note the Fonts tab.

macos90-1-1.png

As for wallpapers, you want the Desktop Pictures control panel. It's usually found in the System/Control Panel directory too. It will let you browse for images. I know JPEG and PICT are supported file types.

You may also find anti-aliasing is enabled and is making fonts look ugly. On some monitors I've found this to be the case.

 

Jaris

Member
GraphicConverter imports and exports just about anything. If you're not doing photo retouching or heavy duty filter crap it makes Photoshop an unnecessary luxury for light duty applications.

When you've got an image open, the "Picture" menu has the option to "Put Picture on Desktop" at the bottom. A PICT is automagically scaled and placed on the desktop. With the proper aspect ratio, it fills the screen.
OK, that's right...it works! I've got version 3.9, but it does the job. Thanks.

 

Jaris

Member
When you say screen fonts, are you referring to the appearance of user interface text such as menus, window titles, file names, etc?
No, I mean fonts in text editors like Apple works, Claris works,  Text edit and all PDFs. Well, probably pdfs are worst - very blurry.

In text editors anti-aliasing doesn't seem to work. I installed ATM, but really can't see any difference so far. Is there a way to improve this?

 

rsolberg

Well-known member
Try turning off anti-aliasing if fonts are looking blurry. It effectively blurs the edges of characters to render them more smoothly. On some lower resolution / lower pixel density displays, I find it leaves text looking slightly out of focus. If you're accustomed to anti-aliased text on 100+ dpi LCD panels, it'll look ugly on a 72dpi CRT in comparison.

 

Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
Running GraphicConverter and choosing/changing your desktop pic from a folder's contents displayed in its window almost has to be far easier than using any "standard" interface.

Question: when choosing a desktop image by standard control panel processes, does the image need to be at the native resolution of the display or is it scaled from any size image as done in GraphicConverter?

 

Jaris

Member
Well, I installed ATM because I didn't like the look of screen fonts. Anyway, if it has to look like that is this because only bitmap fonts are used by the screen?

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
When you use the built in control panel, the image you use can be any arbitrary size. You can elect, if I'm remembering correctly, to center, stretch, tile, or fit the image, and they each do different things.

It's nice if you can get an image at the exact pixel dimensions of your monitor (and it used to be easy, at least for me when I was on the iMac/233) but it's not necessary.

 

rsolberg

Well-known member
IIRC, you shouldn't have more than one font smoothing application enabled at the same time. You may also want to check out SmoothType. Here's an article on LEM from 2001: http://lowendmac.com/2001/smoothtype-anti-aliased-type-for-the-classic-mac-os/

EDIT: As far as I know, Adobe Type Manager only smooths PostScript fonts. SmoothType (as linked above) smooths PostScript and TrueType fonts and is supposed to do a nicer job of it than than the OS-level utility. I have a feeling that PDFs might be at the mercy of whatever version of Acrobat Reader you're using.

 
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Jaris

Member
IIRC, you shouldn't have more than one font smoothing application enabled at the same time. You may also want to check out SmoothType. Here's an article on LEM from 2001: http://lowendmac.com/2001/smoothtype-anti-aliased-type-for-the-classic-mac-os/

EDIT: As far as I know, Adobe Type Manager only smooths PostScript fonts. SmoothType (as linked above) smooths PostScript and TrueType fonts and is supposed to do a nicer job of it than than the OS-level utility. I have a feeling that PDFs might be at the mercy of whatever version of Acrobat Reader you're using.
This article is interesting but, SmoothType doesn't seem to work, well. It makes fonts very uneven and blurry. ATM is better. If I turn off font smoothing in Appearance control panel and enable ATM, fonts look sharper, but all curves and diagonals look rough. A capital "V" letter looks like a staircase. Does it have to be like that? If not, what is the matter?

P.S. I use Acrobat reader 5.1, and I don't think any higher version would run on my PM 9600/350.

Thanks

 

beachycove

Well-known member
Are you by any chance running a large monitor in 640x480 resolution, or similar? Your screen fonts really should not look that bad, assuming your system (physical and software) is configured normally.

 
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Jaris

Member
No, it's 17" Samsung SyncMaster 172S. My PM has a Village Tronic graphics card (16MB I think), and OS 9.1 is configured normally. I have also 2 other disks with OS 9.0 and 8.6. Can't see any difference.

 

beachycove

Well-known member
Fair enough. The answer is simply that screen fonts on these old machines cannot match the clarity we have today.

My own strong preference for text work on old machines is the free Microsoft font Verdana, which was designed in the early 1990s specifically for, and which is nicely adapted to the inherent limitations of, old hardware. Numerous problems are thus avoided -- e.g., not being able to tell if an italicized word is followed by a period, which is regular with Hoefler, Times and the like, is nicely avoided with Verdana.

It is not a great font in print, however, so the trick would be to change the font used before committing a document to paper.

However, while Verdana is great on an old Mac, it can't compete with the fonts on screens today.

The attachment is from advertising in the years your 9600 was on sale. The limitations of the screens and fonts as rendered on them were simply accepted at the time. Even the Apple looks like crap when magnified in this way.

IMG_0100.JPG

 
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Trash80toHP_Mini

NIGHT STALKER
PostScript fonts always looked pretty crappy in page layout at Apple's WYSIWYG 72 DPI, but they looked great coming out of the LaserWriter at 300 DPI!

 
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