OS X Yosemite Helvetica Neue comparison

One of the visual changes which Yosemite got was that the traditional Lucidia Grande font has been replaced with Helvetica Neue, to be more consistent with the current iOS design. That’s not a problem in it’s own, but I felt always very awkward when I saw it. I was not sure on a conscious level, only a small part of my brain told me, that something is not okay.

Then a few days ago I’ve found it. Looking at one of my mails, the header contained the same text as the mail body, and the difference was clear: something is wrong with the letter spacing. Individual letters are too far from each other.

I took my PhotoShop and simulated the interface with PhotoShop’s default letter spacing, which is of course the same, as we used to see in Mavericks. The difference speaks for itself:

(Click on it to see in full size!)

Interesting enough, the difference is not this big on iOS, it’s almost the same:


I think the older (more tight) letter spacing is much more pleasant to the eye. I believe, that the change was introduced to have more similar label widths using Helvetica Neue to the old font (which is important for supporting old software). I hope it’s only transitional and we eventually get the standard (0) letter spacing version by default soon.

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