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Apple Mail fonts seem small

53680 Views 67 Replies Latest reply: Oct 1, 2013 6:56 PM by rh10023 RSS
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aRKay Level 2 Level 2 (205 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Oct 7, 2010 4:51 PM
I am in process of switching from MS Entourage to Apple's Mail and one
observation is the size of the font in the new message panel. I used to
use Verdana 12 point in Entourage and Verdana 12 point is really small
in Mail. I have to bump Mali up to 18 points to look the same size as
the 12 Point in Entourage.

I wonder if I have something setup wrong?
 24" iMac and 13" MacBook Pro both w/4GB , Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (59,150 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 7, 2010 6:46 PM (in response to aRKay)
    Mail->Preferences->Fonts & Color and set things up to suit your needs. I use Lucida Grande 12 for Mailbox and Message list w/o any issues.
    27" iMac i7 12 GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.6.4), G4 450 MP GB 1.5 GB RAM w/(10.5.8/10.4.11/9.2.2)
  • baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (59,150 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 8, 2010 10:48 AM (in response to aRKay)
    I have no idea since I don't use Entourage, so I have no idea how it or you set fonts up for display. For that kind of stuff, try http://www.officeformac.com/ProductForums/Entourage/
    27" iMac i7 12 GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.6.4), G4 450 MP GB 1.5 GB RAM w/(10.5.8/10.4.11/9.2.2)
  • Gary K. Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 9, 2010 3:37 PM (in response to aRKay)
    Apologies for the Long Post:

    So, here is what seems to be the case between Mail and Entourage:

    The biggest show stopper for me over the years in adopting Apple's Mail as my email client has been the font size. Every so often I try Mail again and keep coming back to that. The problem for me is that when I compose email in Entourage, the fonts look just right to me when I set the proportional font preference to Trebuchet 10 pt. type. When I send the email that way, I get no complaints from others (who I suppose are mostly Microsoft users) so I adopted that typeface and size. In trying Mail, when I set the Font size to Trebuchet 10 pt. in preferences the font size rendered on my screen is very very tiny--totally unusable. But I figured that Mail would send HTML mail using that typeface and size, so I contemplated a tedious process of composing email in 14 pt. type and then selecting it and changing it to the 10 pt. size before sending. Otherwise it would arrive at another email client looking all big and blocky wouldn't it?. So I was put off Mail. I figured my 50+ year old eyes weren't good enough for Mail and so I have stuck to Entourage.

    Recently, I decided to try MobileMe, mainly for the calendar and the photo gallery features. These were so good that I wondered if I might not take yet another look at Mail and see if I could do something about the font situation. One of the striking discoveries when I started searching for font size solutions was that there weren't a lot of people complaining. In fact, most of the complaints were about Entourage and Outlook, especially Outlook 2011. However, I did glean that there are subtle differences in the effects of application font preferences on the rendering and composing/sending of HTML email messages. There are also differences in the ways that Entourage 2008 and Apple Mail 4 control font sizes in sent email. Finally, the two applications natively render the same size of a given font at wildly different sizes on the screen. Once I was able to understand all of these variables I was able to overcome the problems I was having with Apple Mail.

    Font Preferences:
    First, the applications interpret your settings for proportional fonts in much the same way. When you set a typeface and size, you have set the default font and size for reading as well as composing HTML emails. If an HTML email arrives with no particular font or size specified by the sender, then it will be rendered using the font and size you set in Preferences. Again, the appearance of the font size on the screen is much smaller in Mail than it is in Entourage and this has led to plenty of confusion.

    For HTML email sent from Entourage, the default proportional font size and typeface used for actual message composition is the same as the font settings in the application's Preferences. For HTML email, Entourage actually codes the size and typeface of the default proportional font into the email message. It also codes other fonts that may be expressly formatted and sized in the body of the email as well as the signature, assuming the signature is composed of live type.

    For HTML email sent from Apple's Mail, the default proportional font size and typeface are what you see on the screen only. You can set this to any pleasing size and style. Unlike Entourage, these settings are not coded in the outgoing email and this is the crucial difference that I had missed. For an HTML message sent from Mail, the recipient's email client is left to decide which font to use per its own preferences. However, if you select some email text and format it expressly, then Mail codes that particular text with appropriate tags the same as Entourage.

    To take a hyperbolic example, suppose you set Comic Sans 18 pt. as your default font in Apple Mail. Incoming HTML mail with no formatting applied would be viewed as Comic Sans 18 on your screen. When you compose an email, your typing would also be rendered in Comic Sans 18. Suppose you select some text in your email and formatted it as Verdana 12pt. That would be coded into the email and would also render on your screen as Verdana 12 pt. The same would apply to signature type, etc. However, unless the recipient had the same taste as you, the email text that you did not specifically format would render on that screen according to the preferences set in the recipient's email client. Assuming the recipient has good taste, Comic Sans would not appear. Again, the crucial difference is this: If you composed the same email in Entourage, then the recipient would see the default Comic Sans 18 along with the specific formatting you may have applied to the other text in the email message because Entourage codes the default settings as well.

    One of the complaints about OUtlook 2011 for Mac is that the fonts render on the screen as much smaller than they do in Entourage. Sound familiar? I have not tried Outlook 2011. However, if it hard codes the default proportional font ala Entourage, then a user would have much the same problem as I thought I had with Mail vs. Entourage. Thankfully, I am not going there.
    MacBook Pro 17" Unibody, Mac OS X (10.6.4), MBP 1,1; 32 GB iPhone 3GS; Vintage Macs & Devices
  • Tom Gewecke Level 9 Level 9 (70,815 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 9, 2010 4:19 PM (in response to aRKay)
    Bumping up the font size is not an option because
    they would be too big when received.


    Actually they are not. When you set the font or font size in Mail > Preferences to suit your own viewing taste, this has absolutely no effect on what is seen at the other end.
    iMac Intel/2C2D, eMac G4/700, Mac OS X (10.6), 10.5, 10.4, 10.3, 9.2
  • Nick_Gilbert Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 10, 2010 3:19 AM (in response to Tom Gewecke)
    Tom Gewecke,

    Do you use MAIL on a MAC PRO? Do you receive email from Outlook users?

    Is your FONT tiny or have you found a magic setting somewhere that fixes this well known Apple Mail issue?

    Every single forum post about Apple MAIL is saying the exact same thing. There IS an issue with Apple MAIL.

    I think someone needs to take ownership of this issue and respond in a timely manner, to the many users, who are trying to use Apple Mail over another product.

    I have a MacBook, an iPad and an iPhone. I use mail on all these devices. The only time I have trouble is when I use my Mac Pro to read email in Apple Mail.

    Can you please tell us all, how you manage to read email clearly on a Mac Pro, with Apple Mail.

    Could you supply a screenshot of your Apple Mail Preferences?
    MAC PRO, Mac OS X (10.6.4), Apple Mail Font To Small
  • Tom Gewecke Level 9 Level 9 (70,815 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 10, 2010 6:05 AM (in response to Nick_Gilbert)
    Do you use MAIL on a MAC PRO?


    No, I don't have a Mac Pro. Nobody else who posted in this thread seems to have one either. But the hardware should be irrelevant for Mail problems.

    Do you receive email from Outlook users?


    I don't know.

    Is your FONT tiny or have you found a magic setting somewhere that fixes this well known Apple Mail issue?


    My font size for incoming email is determined by my settings in Mail > Preferences, except where the sender is using html mail, in which case I am stuck with the size they chose, which sometimes is quite small. I don't know of any fix for that (other than perhaps to use Terminal to set Mail to display plain text only).

    I think someone needs to take ownership of this issue..


    These are user-to-user help forums, so none of us can do that. To tell Apple what you think about Mail, best use the channel they have set up for that:

    http://www.apple.com/feedback/macosx.html
    iMac Intel/2C2D, eMac G4/700, Mac OS X (10.6), 10.5, 10.4, 10.3, 9.2
  • Gary K. Level 1 Level 1 (85 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 10, 2010 1:08 PM (in response to Tom Gewecke)
    For a given message, you can just go to View > Message > Plain Text Alternative if you run across one where the font is too small (or too silly looking). There is keyboard shortcut for this which is Option + Command + P. You can also use the familiar Command + = to magnify the formatted text in the message window.

    I wonder if the situation with the Mac Pro may have to do with the likely large size of the displays or density of pixels on the kinds of displays likely used with these high end machines. Just a thought.
    MacBook Pro 17" Unibody, Mac OS X (10.6.4), MBP 1,1; 32 GB iPhone 3GS; Vintage Macs & Devices
  • Tom Gewecke Level 9 Level 9 (70,815 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 10, 2010 1:16 PM (in response to Gary K.)
    For a given message, you can just go to View > Message > Plain Text Alternative if you run across one where the font is too small (or too silly looking). There is keyboard shortcut for this which is Option + Command + P. You can also use the familiar Command + = to magnify the formatted text in the message window.


    Good points!
    iMac Intel/2C2D, eMac G4/700, Mac OS X (10.6), 10.5, 10.4, 10.3, 9.2
  • dcrohrer Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 11, 2010 7:54 AM (in response to Gary K.)
    Gary K.,
    Thanks for you extensive and informative message. I've run into this same font issue and it drives me crazy sometimes. My issue is that I work with many PC users. I prefer Apple Mail, but I constantly run into the crazy font issue when sending them mail, specifically in regards to my signature. The text of my messages translates fine (PC Outlook simply decides how to display it according to it's users preferences), but my signatures are always screwed up. The usual issue is the signature is translated into a very large font on their end. I assume this is because Apple Mail encodes the font specifically for the sig and when passed on to the PC users, it's displayed in a much different fashion than on the Mac. I've tried the little check box to always match the message text, but that doesn't work. Have you run into this issue or found a way around it? Just curious as you seem to have explored the issue so much.

    Thanks so much for any tips,
    -Dan
    MBP 2.66 GHz i7, Mac OS X (10.6.5)
  • Eddie Strauss Level 3 Level 3 (990 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 11, 2010 8:06 AM (in response to dcrohrer)
    Wow. A thread about this. I do use the 'cmd =' and 'cmd opt p' to help make teeny fonts (sent from PC users?) large enough to actually read on a new Macbook Pro with a dense screen resolution.

    But the odd thing to me is that on an iPhone or iPad, those fonts appear a more natural size. I was thinking perhaps there is a minimum size set on the phone and 'pad? I could never understand why the mail was more readable there.
    Unibody 17 matte, Mac Pro Quad core, Mac OS X (10.6)
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