Improving Image Quality on AOL

If you are an AOL user, you may find that the photographs on this site (and others) look blurry or distorted. Please be assured that there is nothing wrong with your eyes, your computer, or your monitor. My images really are sharp and colorful.

AOL’s “client” software includes TopSpeed®, which compresses any graphics it gets from the Web. This compression is meant to make pages and images display faster, particularly on slow machines or those with slow connections to AOL. You can disable image compression on some versions of AOL software by entering the AOL keyword Browser Settings. This will bring up a dialogue box with a TopSpeed® tab. Select the “Never compress graphics” radio button, and un-check the “Turn on maximum graphics compression” box. See the AOL help article on browser settings for more information. The article specifically refers to version 9 of the AOL software. If you have a different version, AOL’s customer service may be able to guide you through the steps of disabling compression with your particular software. Since I’m not an AOL user, I can’t provide any more advice than that.

If you have some computer expertise there may be another option. You can install another browser, such as Firefox or Opera, and use it for viewing graphical Web sites. When you enter a Web address (as opposed to an AOL keyword) in the AOL software, AOL actually starts Microsoft Internet Explorer. The compression is built in to the interface between AOL and Microsoft Internet Explorer, so graphics will get compressed even if you start Microsoft Internet Explorer from your desktop instead of within AOL. But running any other browser will bypass the compression. AOL provides a compatible Internet connection for another browser (or for an application such as Real Player) as long as you start it first.

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