Above, Below, and Beyond Tech Talk

by Rahel Lüthy

September 16, 2010

Java on the Mac: Tips & Tricks #1

Two months ago, I volunteered to be the Mac guinea pig in our team. We are developing UI intense Java applications, and have learned from past experience that it might pay off having someone permanently develop on the OSX platform (in addition to the existing XP, Vista & Linux variety). I was lucky enough to get a brand-new iMac, with a gigantic 27-inch display.

Long story short: I love it.

However, there obviously was (and still is!) a learning curve, and I’d like to share some of my experiences. Starting with:

Tips & Tricks #1: How to increase the font size in Eclipse’s Package Explorer

27 inches of display diameter are a blast, but have one big caveat: Everything is ridiculously small! While it is possible to tweak font sizes in most applications, it is in fact not possible to change the font size of the system menu bar (Hard to believe, isn’t it? But no, I am not willing to change the resolution, nor use zooming just to read some labels. Nor am I willing to use Tinker Tool to tweak some hidden features, just to end up with labels overlapping the UI widgets, c’mon!).

Unfortunately, Eclipse (my Java IDE) is a nicely written application, which – instead of defining its own fonts – blends in nicely with the OS. As a consequence, browsing through a gazillion of source files in the Package Explorer, at a font size of felt 8 pt, is impossible.

Until Apple has fixed the issue, there is a hidden Eclipse property which can be disabled: Remove -Dorg.eclipse.swt.internal.carbon.smallFonts from your $ECLIPSE_HOME » Eclipse.app » Contents » MacOS » eclipse.ini – doesn’t exactly solve the problem, but makes things bearable.

Any actual solutions are greatly appreciated!