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How to Increase the Font Size of your Nokia N9 (Update)

Update: My messaging application has been crashing after I increased the font size, so I had to flash back in order to read some text messages I could not open. I recommend you proceed with caution… Other apps seem not affected.

I was having a great time with N9 but for one thing: the font sometimes became too small to read while walking, talking, or even just sitting down. I know I am not the only one having this problem, many of you have even directly complained to Nokia about the N9’s small fonts. To my knowledge (after browsing forums and blogs),  there’s was no solution to increase the font size on the Nokia N9.

I came up with a method to increase the font size on the N9 with the help of @msameer (big thanks to him); the problem is that it is not straightforward because the way fonts are coded in the N9 is not straightforward: there’s no magic file that governs font sizes across the system. Well, there is, but changing that won’t change all the fonts on the N9. Basically what you have to do, and I’ll explain more in detail in a second, is browse the theme files on the N9 and separately edit font sizes on different files. Disclaimer: I am absolutely not responsible if you brick your N9, this worked for me and I am sharing it to use at your own risk. If you don’t know how to work with VIM (or don’t even know what is is), I don’t recommend you proceed.

The N9 has two themes that work together: base and blanco. Base has all the base files, and blanco seems like a theme created to override some files in base. The file that supposedly governs all the fonts in the N9 is called constants.ini and can be found in:

/usr/share/themes/blanco/meegotouch/constants.ini

Changing fonts here should fix all the fonts, but it doesn’t. Only some fonts are changed… That’s why I had to edit separate files.

Blanco and base are in /usr/share/themes. All the theme files that need to be edited to change font size are in the meegotouch file inside blanco and base. For example, here are the base files on /usr/share/themes/base/meegotouch

Most of the files you see there contain a subfolder called /style and then a .css file inside. In order to edit a font size for a certain app, you need to edit that .css file. Let say you want to increase the font size in the mail application. So you go to mail/style/mail.css and edit mail.css. You will see there are font sizes in pixels, what I did is adding 6px to every font I found… and there you go, boot up the phone and the mail application has bigger text. The body of an email itself won’t have bigger text as it’s a separate html file, you can still pinch to zoom though. So there’s the basic idea behind it, now let me take you through a small tutorial on making the SMS thread fonts bigger:

1. Connect your N9 to a network and SSH to it, gain root access. (Steps 2,4, and 5)

2. type: cd /usr/share/themes/base/meegotouch. You can now type ls and see all the files. To edit the messaging threads, you need to go into libmessagingwidgets0. So type cd libmessagingwidgets0 now here’s the /style folder I was talking about earlier: cd style and finally edit the css file by hitting: vi libmessagingwidgets0.css.

3. Here’s when you better know what you are doing, vi is not easy to use the first time. But here’s a crash course: you are just in viewing mode right now, you need to hit a to start editing the file. When you are done editing the file, hit ESC and then :wq, that will first take you out of editing mode, and then saving the file and exiting. (To save the file just hit :w)

4. To change this particular font, you need to go to line 134 and change the font to any value you want. I did 30px. Then same thing on line 145, 208, and 230. That will change text inside the bubble, but what I did was changing every font 6px up. Thanks to msameer!

5. Now exit the file by saving: Esc and :wq

6. Reboot your phone and see it for yourself!

To increase the font size on the notifications view, you need to edit a file in /base/meegotouch/meegotouchhome/style/meegotouch.css around the lines in the 730’s. I don’t know exactly what file edits what font, but you can guess that the file mail.css inside mail/style/mail.css will have something to do with the mail app. I have updated many files and my N9 now has generally bigger font, but for the Twitter and Facebook app… If anyone finds the file to edit those fonts, please let me know!

I know is not what you expected, but it’s the only way I could figure it out. I still don’t know how to increase the font size on the Twitter or Facebook app, but will keep working on that. If you find a better way, voice it down in the comments!

  • desakov

    Thanks!
    Where  is font size for feed reader? can’t find any info in feedreader.css…

    • Anonymous

      I think it was in some file named default.css

      • desakov

        Can’t find right place :((

  • Tomáš Pavelák

    Thank you very much for your help! It is functioned.

  • Juice

    Thanks, this worked well.
    I increased all the SMS fonts by 10px, and now it is much more readable.
    One question though, is it possible to restart just the SMS application without booting the device to see the change?

    • http://nokiamobileblog.com/ Edward U.

      yes, it is possible but I don’t know the code.

    • Anonymous

      if I remeber correctly its:
      killall -KILL messaging-ui 

  • Didi

    Great, it works fine! And I love editing files with vi ;-)

  • tiptyper

    You could use the more safe free ‘Chorded Keyboard GKOS’ application from Ovi
    store to have a larger font for typing SMSs. On gkos.com/meego website
    there is also a draft upgrade of that same app where you can see the
    latest received SMS in large font.

  • emmatech

    but how do i get to the theme,by upgrading the firmware? do ovi provide code app.?

  • Kim Igel

    a little above these font definitions in constants.ini there is a section with something like
    FONT.. = $FONT_something ;24px

    Havent got it here so I can’t check exactly, but note the semicolon before the size… Does your constants-ini have the samme ? I did actually increase the fontsize as described here, AND moved the total obvisously wrongly placed semicolon to after the fontsize.. well, I suggest you don’t try that as my phone got bricked… and I can’t even reflash it (unable to downgrade it says)…. so. it’s enroute to a Nokia servicecenter to hopefully be re-flashed.. :-( and I’ll probably need to restrain myself not to try it again…. :-) (I boots.. a billion times, until it says “Too many reboots” and get’s stuck there, – and I have flashed phones before without problems. maybe Navifirm just haven’t got the latest firmware yet….. but it’s a risky business…) 

    • http://nokiamobileblog.com/ Edward U.

      If you miss a semicolon the phone won’t boot up, same problem here, but I re-flashed it without a problem.

  • Gero P

    great help for me, thanks allot !