A sample of desktop icon text effects

Raymond Chen


It seems

everybody and his brother has an obvious solution
to the desktop background problem
Of course, none of these people actually
tested their solution to see if it actually was usable.
Because geniuses don’t need to test their grand pronouncements.
That’s why they’re called geniuses.

Let’s see how well these geniuses fared. I sat down and
implemented their brilliant suggestions since I am myself
not a genius.

From left to right, the effects are as follows:

  • Solid background + text. (This is what Windows uses.)
  • Black text, no effects. (As a baseline.)
  • Xor.
  • Simple drop shadow, drawing black at (+1,+1), black at (0,0)
    then white at (0,0).
  • One-pixel wide outline.
  • Two-pixel wide outline.
  • 50% alpha.

To my untrained eye, the only readable ones are the first one
and the “two-pixel wide outline” (which nobody suggested but which
I just made up). The enormously popular Xor is completely useless.

Of course, all but the first three are expensive operations,
requiring multiple drawing passes,
so they are unsuitable for the “high performance” drawing
scenario that I described in the original article.

Therefore, the only drawing method that looks good and is also fast
is the first one. And it so happens that’s what Windows uses
when it needs to be fast.

Raymond Chen
Raymond Chen

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