Typography on computers has improved tremendously in the last ten years. Microsoft came out with ClearType with Windows XP (spurring endless debates about whether Apple’s or Microsoft’s sub-pixel rendering technology is better), and then with an amazing set of typefaces with Windows Vista. Meanwhile, Apple’s done its own share of shipping new typefaces in OS releases. And most Linux distributions now ship the excellent DejaVu typefaces.
Thunderbird, however, hasn’t kept up at all, despite the fact that its primary job is to display text to you. On Windows, it still uses the ancient Times New Roman and Courier New fonts, even though Microsoft itself has moved on.
This is all about to change. Starting Thunderbird 3.1 beta 2, the default typefaces for emails in Unicode and Western encodings have changed from:
Windows Vista and 7
Mac OS X
- Proportional: Times to Lucida Grande
- Monospace: Courier to Menlo on Snow Leopard and later, Monaco otherwise
- Proportional: System default serif typeface to
DejaVu Sanssystem default sans-serif typeface
- Monospace: System default monospace typeface
to DejaVu Sans Monohasn’t been changed
These typefaces provide a fresh, modern look to Thunderbird, and make the experience of reading email that much better.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a solution for Windows XP yet, mainly because ClearType isn’t enabled by default and neither are ClearType typefaces always available. There’s a bug on file to upgrade Windows XP users to something better than the current defaults.
Thanks to Alex Faaborg for first suggesting the idea of changing the default fonts, dmose for driving it over the line, Mossop for suggesting the defaults on Mac, and Blake and Bryan for reviewing it in time ;)
I’d also like to thank Gurpartap for allowing me access to his Mac server over VNC to take screenshots. (No thanks to Apple for making connecting to Snow Leopard Server from a non-Apple computer a PITA, though.)
Update: The Linux defaults have been reverted to whatever the system specifies.