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Make Mathematica's interface less blurry?

Posted 5 years ago
21 Replies
36 Total Likes

I run Mathematica 11.2 in Windows 10. I have a 4k monitor (resolution 3840x2160) at work and another at home running at recommended 150% scale. The Mathematica interface looks really blurry and it is painful to read (see attached image, the window behind Mathematica is the browser window where this message was being composed. Browser text is very sharp, as is the rest of Windows. Mathematica text is blurry).

My laptop (Surface book) runs at a resolution of 3000x2000 and 200% scale and Mathematica there looks even blurrier.

High dpi monitors have been out for many years and Mathematica has always been blurry for me on them. Is there a way of making it give good text? Am I missing some non-obvious setting that improves this?


POSTED BY: Luis Rademacher
21 Replies
Posted 5 years ago

There is a setting to change the display fonts size in windows 10. I noticed that MM doesn't really work with that set. So I use the default 100% and only use the MM scaling only. Still not ideal but much better then any combination with the Windows font size setting. I don't have a very high res monitor (1920). enter image description here

POSTED BY: l van Veen

I tried that. I doesn't fix the issue for me. At 100% every app and interface element in Windows looks unreadably tiny. A 4k monitor typically has about 4 times as many pixels as a 1920 and therefore a scaling like 150% is more or less necessary. At that scaling almost every programs in Windows looks great, with sharp fonts and good size, except Mathematica.

If I use MM scaling as suggested (with Windows scaling at 100%), everything else in Windows is still tiny and many elements of Mathematica's interface (e.g. menu bar) are still tiny.

POSTED BY: Luis Rademacher

Thanks for the reply. I had already seen most of those links and they don't fix the issue. Is there an actual fix in any of them? When I tried their suggestions, they would improve some aspect but make others worse.

I noticed that in one of the suggested links, it is stated:

UPDATE: Answer from a Wolfram Technology Engineer

Mathematica's front-end does not support 4K resolution monitors fully and is known to have some issues when used in 4K resolution monitors. Our developers are currently working on this issue.

I'm confused by this statement, as high-dpi displays have been mainstream for more than 5 years (e.g., MacBook Pro with Retina display). One of the 4k monitors I'm using has been out for more than 3 years.

POSTED BY: Luis Rademacher

As I said above:

"Also I am running mathematica 11.2 on my MacBook Pro (2012, Retina display, macOS Sierra 10.12.6), and there the OS has no problems, everything is perfect as it should be."

The problem is Mathematica on Windows with 4K Monitors!

Posted 4 years ago

Glad they are working on this issue.

My monitors:

  • Main monitor: P2715Q, 27", 3840x2160, landscape mode, DPI 200%;
  • Secondary monitor: P2415Q, 24", 3840x2160, portrait mode, DPI 225%;

I prefer to put Mathematica notebooks on my secondary monitor as it is in portrait mode, perfect for Mathematica notebooks.

I wish Wolfram engineers make Mathematica a true DPI aware software, UI should not be blurry no matter the DPI settings of each monitors.

Many DPI aware software on Windows 10 display correctly on main monitor, but UI looks blurry on secondary monitors (if DPI settings of main monitor and secondary monitors are different).

For example:

  • Many (if not most) Microsoft's own software (including Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office 2016, Visual Studio 2017, Process Explorer...).
  • JetBrains Rider;
  • JetBrains WebStorm;
  • SmartGit;

There are other software works perfectly no matter what DPI you use on main monitor and secondary monitors.

For example:

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Windows Store apps (e.g. Microsoft Edge, Todoist...)
  • Visual Studio Code (based on Electron, they fixed this issue recently)
  • Neo4j Desktop
  • PotPlayer

But does Mathematica look blurry on your primary (boot) monitor or you found a way to make it work at least within one High DPI monitor?

As you mentioned, most applications look great at 200% within main monitor. Say, for me Microsoft Office, SmartGit look perfectly sharp. Not Mathematica, not even in primary monitor (see screenshot in my first post).

POSTED BY: Luis Rademacher
Posted 4 years ago

I don't know how to make UI of Mathematica scales correctly and not blurry at the same time. But there are 2 good workarounds (probably mentioned in the links above):

(screenshots below are from my main/boot monitor, 3840x2160, DPI 200%)

1) Change DPI scaling behavior to "System (Enhanced)", and increase notebook "Magnification": Most part of UI looks sharp (except the notebook), and seems everything scales correctly.

enter image description here

2) Change DPI scaling behavior to "Application", and increase notebook "Magnification": Everything looks sharp, most parts of UI don't scale correctly but most contents of notebooks scale correctly.

enter image description here


Thanks for the workarounds. They are not obvious at all. Workaround 2 is interesting, as it eliminates blurriness generally, though it leaves many things improperly scaled (e.g. the options inspector, searchbar in help, autocomplete). Items not scaled up are tiny in my laptop screen (which needs 200% Windows magnification). This means it is not really usable there, but might be usable in my external monitor at 150% Windows magnification.

POSTED BY: Luis Rademacher
Posted 4 years ago

(The forum scales my screenshots, makes them look more blurry, try copying them to your local machine and zoom in 100%)

@Luis Rademacher, I noticed you used 150% DPI on your 4K monitor. You may not want to do that as it will make non DPI aware software look more blurry.

I'm not a computer or math expert, so I could be wrong, but I think for those non DPI aware software, when you set DPI to 100%, 200%, 300%, etc, to scale their UI, operating system only needs to clone original pixels. But when you set DPI somewhere between 100%, 200%, 300%..., OS needs to do some calculates and create fake pixels, makes UI look more blurry. I have tested this many times for non DPI aware programs.


I agree that integer multiples of 100% work better for the reasons you mention. Unfortunately 150 is quite far from 100 and 200, so not really an option to jump to the nearest value (I have a 28" monitor that looks great at 150%, at 200% would be quite wasteful of space).

POSTED BY: Luis Rademacher

Everything above 100%, doesn't matter if 200, 300 or something in between produces blurry fonts in Mathematica notebooks on Windows with 4k monitors.

What one can also try is to change the screen resolution in the mathematica preferences.

Posted 4 years ago

Screenshots below are from my Dell P2715Q, 3840x2160, "DPI scaling behavior" and "Magnification" are default values.

Under 150% DPI:

enter image description here

Under 200% DPI:

enter image description here

As you can see, under 150% DPI, UI is painfully blurry, but under 200% DPI, you can see the pixels, but it's kind of usable.

Same is true for other non DPI aware software, for example: Fusion 360.

That's why I always keep my main 4K monitor 200% DPI.


There is no fix for this problem, but hopefully version 11.3 will make Mathematica support modern monitors.

POSTED BY: Mike Sollami

I would like to note that 11.2 works pretty well on a 8K display in Linux, with super-sharp text. Here I have set 300% zoom. However, some of the user interface elements are laughably small at this resolution. Note: it's a 11.6 MB image:

POSTED BY: Andrew Watters
Posted 4 years ago

It does not solved in version 11.3. It is disappointing.

POSTED BY: Hwanyong Lee

Is there any plan to address this in upcoming releases? I'm on a trial version now and am considering purchasing but this bothers me somewhat.

POSTED BY: Stephen Pegoraro
Posted 3 years ago

No one will like this solution... I had a Dell 4k monitor and this affected too many applications on Windows 10, by chance I kept my Eizo 27" display with a native 2560 × 1440 resolution.. after a year I went back to the Eizo.

Problem solved.

I can say my 27" iMac with a 5k display does a much better job across the board for all applications.

The Dell 4K is on craigslist at a deep discount :)

POSTED BY: Guy Madison

You were right, I dont like this solution :)

POSTED BY: Samuel Jones
Posted 3 years ago

I warned people. :)

Apple worked on HiDPI interfaces for years, I worked in the Core Graphics group while I was at Apple... it's not an easy challenge. You can take the naive approach and scale lower resolution content but thats really not enough because you end up with all the problems described. With LCD monitors you have to take into account a lot of edge information for RGB components of the LCD panel, layouts of glyphs and additional font information. Apple HiDPI actually works at a sub-pixel level to correct font placement for true type, which makes it look more accurate.

A typical 4k monitor display can actually display at 16k for 4x sampling, I know my Dell 4K monitor will display a 16k resolution but thats typically reserved for hardware oversampling a 4k resolution which just doesn't work for all situations well.

With 30 years in computer graphics my eye picks up all the errors and it just annoys me to no end to see these scaling issues, so I would rather live with a pixel accurate display than one that isn't.

To do it right the application has to render at the target resolution and not rely on naive scaling implementations between them and the user.

POSTED BY: Guy Madison
Posted 2 years ago

Disappointing to see no improvements in 12.0, despite saying that "engineers are working on it" 2 years ago.

POSTED BY: Rebecca Turner
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