Windows

Change the font Windows XP displays in Windows Explorer

Windows XP uses the same font for desktop icons and Windows Explorer. If the font is too hard to read, you can change its size or the font itself with a few mouse clicks. Here's how to adjust the look of your system fonts.

Windows Explorer and My Computer display the same font that Windows XP uses for icon titles on your desktop: Tahoma, 8 point. If you want to change the font or font size used in Windows Explorer, follow these steps:

  1. Access the Display Properties dialog box by right-clicking the desktop and selecting the Properties command.
  2. Select the Appearance tab and click the Advanced button.
  3. Select Icon from the Item drop-down list.
  4. Use the Font drop-down arrow to select a font from the list.
  5. Click OK twice -- once to close the Advanced Appearance dialog box and once to close the Display Properties dialog box.

You can see the new font by launching Windows Explorer or My Computer. If you don't like what you see, repeat the steps and select a different font.

Note: This tip is for both Windows XP Home and Professional.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

40 comments
afajardo
afajardo

And what about the "window" font? Suppose i would like it to be bold? And, no, there is no setting for it the 'normal' way. This would most likely require a registry hack. Does anyone know how to do this?

zdnet
zdnet

This is such crap. I'm really sick and tired of dealing with an operating system that runs at a level only suitable for the lowest common denominator. I'm forced into this crap at the office but run real OS's at home. My '95 version of OS/2 has more capability and flexibility than any existing version of windows out there. Modify the "ICON" text to change the display font.. CRAP.... bounce around the OS a bit... you'll find other things changed negatively such as email font, notepad font, etc..... too bad micro$oft didn't have real programmers instead of marketers and outright thieves... maybe they could get their OS to change fonts as easily as OS/2 did back in the mid 90's...

HalHummer
HalHummer

What is the process for Vista

darksidesh007
darksidesh007

What about changing the font color? This "hack" does not allow that.

scot.mckibbin
scot.mckibbin

Nice, but how can you change the font size in Office applications Spell Check dialogue boxes? The list of suggestions are too small for me to read easily.

MARKWIDERSTROM
MARKWIDERSTROM

OK HOW DO I DO THIS TO PRINTING. SOMETIMES PAGES ON THE WEB PRINT SO SMALL YOU NEED A MAGNIFIFING GLASS

richard.gorman
richard.gorman

How do you fix the email, and web page font which is often too small

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Hi Rob. Why "too Late"? Everyone has his favorite. Mine is Free Commander. It does everything you say and a lot more. I've been using it for quite some time and haven't yet exploited all the possibilities it has on offer. For example: I haven't delved in the Tabbing possibilities, but I believe I could achieve the same thing as you did with your favorite. I especially like FC's direct access to lots of things, even XP's "Computer Management". But my favorite is the icon bar between the two panes that offers folder Compare as well as File Copy, Move, View and Edit. And, again, I still have to delve into the "Favorite" folder system which also appears here (if you want to). But then, if I can adjust lots of colors, including fonts colors, I was not able to change the latter to other species (agreed, I may have overlooked some feature...). But then an interesting side effect of the present tip is that it also changed the font in... Free Commander as well, except for the Directory View which I use in one of my panes, to mimic Win Explore's use (which gives me the best of two worlds). That's still Tahoma, even after a restart! By the way, Greg, on my XP installation, this tip did not change the menu fonts in Win Explorer. It did in Free Commander though! Funny isn't it...

Rob C
Rob C

As Michael Caine would have said - 'Not many people know that' I have searched for that ability for years. It even effects the wee 'Save As' (etc) dialogs. You are an Oracle. However it is too late as I am now a convert to - XYPlorerFree http://www.xyplorer.com/free.php It does not require Installing, it just runs. It is free. It leaves Windows Explorer for dead, as a File Manager. You can change the font and size. You can change the colors (eg I have the whole selected line in a special color). It has Tabs. I have a Tab locked to a Folder called Downloads. All my downloads go into that folder. I have it(just that Tab) sorted by Date, so most recent are at the top. So say I was on a web page, describing a program. I can save the web page, and then click the download link. Later when I go to that Tab, the two files will be adjacent to each other, and I can move them to where I choose. And if you had the focus (in your normal tab), on the folder where you wish to move them, you can just drag them to the normal folder's Tab. For searches - - It does not build a pre index. - It is very fast. When you wish to do a search, you press F12 A panel appears at the bottom, defaulting to where you had the focus in the File Manger. You set the file names eg *.txt You set the contained words you are looking for, and start the search. It is a much simpler interface than the Windows one. You can filter on lots of other criteria. You will put me in your will, if you try this program. Rob

dandbrobinson
dandbrobinson

I am satisfied with my fonts, but how do I change the size of the text? DRAR

Fauno
Fauno

Nice tip! Thank you!

fncatsailor
fncatsailor

I cannot resist. After reading the tip & before perusing ?comments? I made a silent bet with myself that someone would have to make the typical snide or arrogant remark regarding the simplicity of the tip. Why bother with non-productive negative and demeaning comments? I believe we all have advanced in computer expertise in varying degrees and have probably forgotten many of the ?simple basics? if for no other reason then we just don?t go there (use them) anymore. I understand and appreciate TechRepublic?s efforts to serve a broad base of computer user be he/she beginner, intermediate or advanced. It is likely the true beginner has not yet found the site but hopefully will in the near future. As I continue these remarks I am reminded of the currently popular TV show . . . ?Are YOU Smarter than A Fifth Grader?! I rest my case.

fo2no1
fo2no1

Very helpful for my bi-focal eyes. Thanks

geotundo
geotundo

Just a question...Are there any psycological models out there that discuss about how people relate to computers or systems in general.In general theres the ergonomics aspects that are very generalized for everyone but do you think how we design systems or use systems can be altered or affected by our psycoogical inclinations.

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Go for Free Commander (as I suggested before) or XYexplorer (which I haven't tried as I am so very happy with Commander!) as advocated by another member. They do so much more! Your PC will even be a bit faster with Free Commander, since it has a fast search allowing you to turn off the resource gobbling index feature of XP.

VickyToo
VickyToo

Tech Republic gets a lot of people who are new to Windows. Changing the fonts using the Display properties has been around for a long time, but a Mac user who has just switched to a PC may not know how to do it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

In Firefox: 1. select Tools | Options and navigate to the Content tab. 2. In the Fonts and Colors pane, click the Advanced button. 3. Clear the "Allow pages to select their own fonts" checkbox and click OK. 4. Select the font and size you desire. Firefox will now print using this font and size. In IE: 1. Select Tools | Internet Options and navigate to the General tab (should be the default). 2. Click on the Accessibility button at the bottom of the window. 3. Check the "Ignore font sizes specified on webpages" box and click OK. 4. Click on the Fonts button and select the font and size you desire. IE should print using this font. Edit: opened (, but forgot to close )

francisvandenplas
francisvandenplas

Sorry Mr. Jasisnski: I should indeed have delved a little bit deeper! First, what I called "Directory View "(old habits never die) is in fact the "Tree View". Second the program offers font changes for this View as well! So, the only thing we are stuck with (as in Win Explorer) is the menu's Tahoma font. Or might I have overlooked something else?... As a tip on the tip: if you choose to reduce the impact of XP's visual effects, do so before you change fonts. You might probably get automatically switched back to... Tahoma. It happened to me. After reinstalling XP once more on this old (replacement) Pentium III machine, I had forgotten to deal with the Visual settings. Today Steven Warren reminded me that I could improve my slow machine. And that's where Tahoma came back... Anyone an idea to kick it off from my menus now? PS For those who don't know:Marc Jasinski is FC's author. Francis

kactuskooler
kactuskooler

Why say it's free when they charge 19.95 to 29.95 for the product? It is not free.

jose.schmoe
jose.schmoe

From reading the post above, it appears you do not have to install this stuff. My question is if I use it and then no longer want to use it, will regular explorer take over along with all its fonts & stuff or will it ruin explorer forever? I like fallback measures.

fncatsailor
fncatsailor

After you have made your selection for the desired Font, you will see to the right a Size dialog box with a down arrow. Select your size and to the right of that is another dialog box option for either Bold or Italics. As to color I think your stuck with basic 'goth' black.

older ****
older ****

Couldn't have said it better myself, my good and gracious man [person] !!!! I rebuild old computers for dis-advantaged kids [Win98], I run Win ME[+] on 1.4GHz/512RAM...[It screams] and usually the ones I "fix" are XP...the differences are subtle, but MANY!!!!

Falconeer
Falconeer

Of course we knew that 'having took, larned' that in Handbook 3.1. Seriously - knew that, just didn't make much use of those options 'cept for background colors. Now, I bet I've wasted an hour or so trying this, trying that. Shoulda' left the damn thing alone. What works on the main menu or explorer doesn't necessarily follow for the rest of the apps. Wonder if Windows will ever allow user to change the font for a particular program. Naa, I believe I'll let them continue to try to correct their mistakes thus far.

spin
spin

I'm one of those beginners who inadvertently found this site and I thank you for any tips I can use

catzgraham
catzgraham

Ohhhh puhhhhleaaaasseee! This was learned back in what .... Windows 98? ...ME? Kindergarten stuff! Give us meat! Oh, and keep up the good work.

DadsPad
DadsPad

There were discussions like this when the Personal Computer (PC) became popular. There was old school mainframe IT that resented losing control to users and the rest excited about all the new abilities. I believe that the more people were able to individualze their work environment (including the PC) the better they felt about technology. So it is the work environment and how the PC fits into it that is the psycological connection you maybe looking for.

weising
weising

you might want to check out those articles in SIGCHI, they talk a lot about Computer-Human Interactions. Besides, Addison Wesley has a book called "Human-Computer Interaction" by Jenny Preece...etc. It's quite useful to me

RodsMine
RodsMine

The key part of the tip is knowing that Explorer uses the same font assigned to Icon. Changing the font in IE + Firefox as indicated in earlier comments does not always work, because of CSS. There are plugins for both browsers that will disable CSS (among lots of other things): Firefox - Web Developer IE - Web Accessibility Toolbar (under Styles) It usually screws up the layout, but at least the text becomes legible.

norseconst
norseconst

This is a rarely seen tip, thanks partner.

seanferd
seanferd

You do not even have to have xyplorer as your default file manager, just run it at will. Doesn't remove any Windows components.

sml
sml

You can also change the font size of a page by selecting the View > Text Size menu option in the main Menu bar. This works on many site, except the ones that the developer has used hard-coded sizes in the HTML. An other nice feature of IE 7 is the "zoom" control at the bottom right corner of the window. It give percentages and one can even use "CTRL +" and "CTRL -" to zoom mouse-free! :-)

vince
vince

i was thinking back in win95, but it's been so long i could be very wrong. i checked out the tip, thinking maybe it was something not available pre-XP. maybe someday...

magnoliablossom4
magnoliablossom4

actually, i think the kindergarten class is a nice place to refresh the things i already know, haven't thought about in a long time, or maybe things i somehow skipped along the way. i enjoy these little tidbits of info. Thanks, TechRepublic for the "kindergarten" lessons!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Unfortunately, legible on the developer's 23-inch wide-screen is often vastly different from legible on a 14" CRT or an old laptop.

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