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How To Repair the Google and Gmail Bold Font Issue

Here’s a tricky problem I had to face today and I know I’m not the only one this has happened to:

All of a sudden, the font for Google websites turned bold in Firefox.

Pretty much all Google sites were affected including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google search, you get the picture It was strange because I didn’t modify a thing and it just happened. Although I found the solution, it wasn’t easy so rather than keep it to myself, below I’ll explain what happened and how I fixed it.

First off, here’s what it looks like when you get hit with this strange font bug.

Note: The issue also occurred on my WordPress blog interface… freaky

 

Root cause?  Why did it break anyway?

The cause seems to be a font issue with the Verdana and/or Arial fonts, but reinstalling them didn’t do a thing for me. On the other hand, it could also be related to hardware acceleration in Firefox. In different cases, only one of the two solutions above actually worked, so if the first one doesn’t solve it for you, the second one should.

Now that we agree we have a problem, let’s see what we can do about it.

Solution 1

Step 1

Close Firefox then Right-Click the Firefox.exe or FirefoxPortable.exe executables then Click Troubleshoot compatibility from the Context menu.  If you don’t know where these files are located, by default Firefox installs them in the Program files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox folder. However, if you’re using the Portable version of Firefox via Dropbox like I am, you will need to track it down to where you dropped it in your Dropbox folder or USB Drive.

Step 2

You’ll get a window just like the one below.  Click Try recommended settings

Step 3

Click Start the program

Note depending on your settings, you may be asked to give it permission

Hey!  What do you know? The problem’s gone and it’s all back to normal!

Step 4 – Save the fix!

Hopefully everything looks right again so be sure to Click Next to save the config changes and close everything out.

Mystery AND problem solved!

Now if for some reason you want to undo to the changes you just made, just Right-Click the Firefox executable again, Click the Compatibility Tab and Un-check the Run this program in compatibility mode for check box

If that didn’t work for you, check out the second solution below.

 

Solution 2

Step 1

First of all, provided you’ve done all of the above, make sure you uncheck the Run this program in compatibility mode for… option.

Done?

Step 2

Now, go back to Firefox and press the Alt key to show the top menu and click Tools, then Options.

Step 3

In the Options window that comes up, click Advanced in the top icons, then select the General tab. Now, you will want to uncheck the box next to Use hardware acceleration when available.

Step 4

Now, restart Firefox and things should be back to normal.

 

 

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12 Responses to How To Repair the Google and Gmail Bold Font Issue

  1. grooveDexter May 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    That is a weird one! I wonder why this only hit Firefox and not other browsers.

    • Bogdan May 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

      A weird one it is. Never happened to me on Chrome, though. And I use it a lot, too.

  2. Nik0las October 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    That is definitly odd! I had this issue in IE and Firefox, but not in Chrome… Interesting… 😉

  3. LuxVoodoo November 14, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    I just had this happen to me and your second solution fixed the problem. Definitely weird since my Firefox had been upgraded days ago and there were no problems afterward and I didn’t do anything to adjust any of the fonts. etc. It just happened. But thanks for putting this info up. You just saved my sanity. 🙂

  4. Jeremy December 12, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Thank you Bogdan. After following your directions the fonts on the affected websites have gone back yo normal. Are the Firefox develovers reatrded that they cannot apply such a fix to the browser itself?

    Thanks again,

    Jeremyu

  5. Kyle January 16, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    I’m running into a similar problem on my mac, any way these steps can be utilized on a mac?

  6. shikhar July 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    thank you. It works

  7. Magpie September 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    The bold issue has cursed me for months on both Firefox and Safari. Unfortunately, I’m on a mac so your hints didn’t really help me so I’ve been searching everywhere in forums to find solution. Finally, I think I’ve worked it out.

    Mac users:
    Open your font application eg. Font Book, Font Explorer X Pro etc.
    Check your System fonts

    I found that Arial had been deactivated and Arial Bold was the only version of Arial that was activated. So, I:

    1. Deactivated Arial Bold
    2. Activated Arial
    3. Quit / closed my web browser
    4. Reopened my web browser

    Hey presto, the problem is fixed! This is such a relief; it was doing my head in.

    Hope this helps the mac users out there, particularly designers who are constantly using different fonts.

    Fingers crossed this is a permanent fix.

  8. Magpie September 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    The bold issue has cursed me for months on both Firefox and Safari. Unfortunately, I’m on a mac so your hints didn’t really help me so I’ve been searching everywhere in forums to find solution. Finally, I think I’ve worked it out.

    Mac users:
    Open your font application eg. Font Book, Font Explorer X Pro etc.
    Check your System fonts

    I found that Arial had been deactivated and Arial Bold was the only version of Arial that was activated. So, I:

    1. Deactivated Arial Bold
    2. Activated Arial
    3. Quit / closed my web browser
    4. Reopened my web browser

    Hey presto, the problem is fixed! This is such a relief; it was doing my head in.

    Hope this helps the mac users out there, particularly designers who are constantly using different fonts.

    Fingers crossed this is a permanent fix.

    • mdreyfus December 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      I had this problem after using “Resolve Duplicates” in Font Book. Activating Arial Regular fixed the issue, although it left an error “Multiple Copies of this font are installed.” I think I can live with that. Thanks for the fix!

    • CJ September 15, 2014 at 5:35 am #

      Thanks. This fixed it for me. I don’t know how Arial regular got turned off but sure enough, it did. I don’t even use Font Book. I use Extensis Suitcase so I have no clue how it got deactivated in Font Book. When I reactivated it all the fonts in my browsers instantly were corrected.

  9. James Smith July 10, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    The easiest and best solution is to stay away from anything Google. The sole purpose being Google is to collect as much personal information about you as they can, then sell it to anyone that asks. Or, give it to any governmental agency that hints they want it.

    Remember, “When the ‘service’ is free, the product is you.”

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