Fonts in Mac OS X
With Mac OS X, fonts may be stored and used by the system in a number of locations.
Fonts in this folder are used by the OS, available to all users of the system, and in general should be left alone. Some of the fonts in this folder are absolutely required by the OS and removing them will cause the OS or certain applications to crash or behave erratically. Other fonts may be safely removed from this folder. See page 6 of this guide for a list of required fonts that cannot be removed. Fonts stored in this location are always active and available to the OS and all applications.
This folder houses any fonts available to any user who logs-on to the system. Fonts stored in this location are always active and available to the OS and all applications.
Fonts in this folder are not required and available only to the specific user who logs-on to the system. Each individual user who has an account on the system has his/her own User Fonts folder. Fonts stored in this location are always active and available to the OS and all applications.
This folder exists only on PowerPC machines with the Classic environment installed, and houses fonts available to all users of the system. These fonts are specifically for use with the Classic environment.
Note: Fonts in this folder are active even if the Classic environment is not running.
In addition to these system font folders, individual applications sometimes also store fonts in certain locations for their own use. With Mac OS X, applications can keep a private store of fonts for their own use.
Of particular importance to the professional creative, print and publishing community, are the Adobe CS2 (and earlier) applications, which store fonts in: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts
These fonts are active and available to any Adobe CS2 application running in Mac OS X – but not available to non-Adobe applications. Adobe CS3 and CS4 applications store fonts in the /Library/Fonts folder.
Can duplicate fonts be retained in the various system and application font folders? Yes, but it’s not a good idea.
If duplicate fonts are stored in multiple font locations, Mac OS X will use the first instance of the font based on the following hierarchy:
- A specific Application’s font folder: /Library/Application Support
- The User font folder: /Users/[name]/Library/Fonts
- The Local font folder: /Library/Fonts
- The Network font folder (if configured by a network administrator) /Network/Library/Fonts
- The System font folder: /System/Library/Fonts
- The Classic font folder: /System Folder/Fonts
The Application Support font folder is the “highest” font location, and the classic font folder is the “lowest” font location. This means, for example, that if you have a font of the same name (a duplicate font) in both the /Users/[name]/Library/Fonts folder, and the /System/Library/Fonts folder, Mac OS X (and all running applications) uses the version of the font in the /Users/[name]/Library/Fonts folder, since that is the “higher” font location.
Following is a brief synopsis of all font formats supported by Mac OS X:
PostScript Type 1
These have long been the de-facto standard for professionals in the creative, print and publishing environments. Each PostScript Type 1 font is made out of two parts, a suitcase font file (sometimes called the screen font) and the corresponding outline font file (also called the printer font) in order to work correctly. Both the suitcase and corresponding outline files must be in the same physical folder in order to work properly in Mac OS X.
TrueType fonts contain the bitmap and outline information, as well as all the required font metrics, in a single font suitcase, making it somewhat easier to utilize than traditional PostScript Type 1 fonts. Some older TrueType fonts are not as widely accepted in professional creative, print and publishing environments, yet most new TrueType fonts will function properly in a professional workflow.
OpenType is the newest font format. There are several significant advantages to the OpenType format. First, as with TrueType, the entire font is housed in a single file. Second, this file is cross platform – the same file can be used on a Mac or Windows platform with consistent results. Third, an OpenType font can contain either PostScript or TrueType outline data, so professional publishing environments can continue to use PostScript fonts. Fourth, OpenType fonts can contain thousands of glyphs and language information including high quality ligatures, swash glyphs, and other advanced typographical features. They are based on Unicode, the universal cross-platform character encoding standard. These are significant benefits over PostScript Type 1, which is limited to 256 encoded characters, and does not directly support Unicode. Mac OS X natively supports OpenType fonts and Unicode information, making OpenType an excellent choice. However, moving to OpenType fonts does require a financial investment since you cannot simply convert your existing PostScript Type 1 or TrueType fonts to OpenType. Many font vendors now sell OpenType versions of their font collections, and many are only developing OpenType fonts at this point.
With Mac OS X, Apple introduced yet another font format. The Dfont (Data Fork TrueType Font) is essentially a repackaged TrueType font. While these Dfont format fonts are often high-quality fonts, this format is essentially only used by Apple and, in effect, these fonts are just used as system fonts. We do not recommend using Dfont format fonts within professional creative, print and publishing environments.
PostScript Multiple Master
This special PostScript font allows modifications of one or more font parameters to create variations of the original font. While Multiple Master fonts are supported by Mac OS X, they have been falling “out of favor” and are no longer being actively developed by Adobe (the original creators of Multiple Master fonts). They have been known to cause various issues and problems in professional workflows, and we recommend not using Multiple Master fonts if possible.
Mac OS X also supports Windows TrueType fonts. These fonts are similar to Mac TrueType fonts, but with a different internal organization.
Windows TrueType Collection
TrueType Collection (TTC) files contain multiple OpenType fonts in a single file. TrueType Collections allow multiple fonts to share glyphs, and result in a significant saving of file space. True Type Collection files are not supported by Mac OS X.
Best Practice Using Fonts in Mac OS X
In Mac OS X, professional workflows involving fonts have become seemingly more difficult and confusing, resulting in delays and problems for users. Fonts in OS X are located in a myriad of locations on the system, and fonts are activated by a very specific font hierarchy that can make it very challenging for users to accurately verify when and if the correct font is in use. Several fonts are also required for Mac OS X to properly function. Removing these fonts can affect the stability of your system.
What can I do about it?
This guide contains detailed recommendations and instructions that can help you work efficiently with fonts in Mac OS X, configure your system to minimize font problems and improve your workflow.
Manually organizing your fonts
If you prefer to manually organize your fonts, you can organize all of your fonts in the Finder. If you decide to manually organize your fonts, it is best to choose a strategy before you set out to organize your font library. The following are typical strategies that users implement to organize physical font files. Keep in mind that some levels of organization are better suited to be implemented within a font manager.
Alphabetically by family name: Often used by designers or creative professionals, this is often the easiest way to find a particular font. With this method, the library is often further divided into a number of subfolders within the My Fonts folder, for example A-D, E-H, etc. If you like this method, FontDoctor can automatically organize fonts like this for you.
By classification: Often used by typographers, or designers who are well versed in typography. Depending on the level sophistication a set of subfolders with names such as Serif, Script, or Ornamental can be used.
By job name or number: Often used in production environments like service bureaus or print shops, you would create a set of subfolders for each job name or number in your workflow.
By client: Often used in design shops with many clients, where each client uses a specific set of fonts for all their jobs. It is sometimes required in these environments, to physically separate the different font files for each client. Suitcase Fusion 2 includes the optional to add these fonts temporarily and activate them “on-demand”.
Whichever way you decide to organize your font library, you must ensure that you keep all PostScript font components (suitcase fonts and outline fonts) together in the same folder. Mac OS X requires that the suitcase font files and corresponding outline font files to be in the same physical folder in order to function correctly. This level or organization is typically managed by your font manager, for example Suitcase Fusion 2 won’t even allow orphan fonts (PostScript fonts missing a component) into the Font Vault.
Manage Your System Font and Application Font Folders
When not using a font manager, fonts are stored in any of the Mac OS X System Font folders or in any of the Application Font folders. These folders are managed by the operating system. The number of locations for fonts in Mac OS X can lead to confusion and cause problems. Within the professional creative, print and publishing environments, it is strongly recommended that you use a font management tool to manage all of your available fonts, with the exception of required system fonts.
For detailed information about the many locations where Mac OS X can place and store fonts, see the Mac OS X and Font Locations section of this article.
Suitcase Fusion 2 includes features that allow you to activate and deactivate Mac OS X System Fonts.
Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 Font Book preferences
Font Book is the built-in font utility for Mac OS X. Font Book version 2.1 that is included with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) includes some new features that can interfere with professional font management. Two Font Book auto activation preferences act like system-wide system preferences in Mac OS X 10.5. Depending on your choice of font management applications, to avoid activation conflicts, these options may need to be adjusted.
Suitcase Fusion 2 automatically disables these Font Book preferences, so if you’re using Suitcase Fusion 2 to manage your fonts, you can skip the following procedure.
To update Font Book preferences:
- From the Applications folder, launch Font Book.
- Choose Font Book > Preferences.
- From the Preferences dialog box, disable the following options
- Automatic font activation - this option interferes with professional font managers and does not allow for automatic font activation across all applications. Your font manager should still allow you to use plug-in based automatic activation for each supported application.
- Alert me if system fonts change - when enabled, this option will automatically place “protected” fonts back into your system font folders even if you remove them. It also can prevent a professional font manager from effectively managing or overriding your system fonts.
Manually cleaning up your System Font and Application Font folders
In order to manually clean up your System Font and Application Font folders, it is necessary to remove all fonts that are not absolutely required for Mac OS X to operate. If you manually clean out these folders, we recommend that you create a folder named Moved from System Font Folders. Whether you will be using these fonts in the future or not, it is good practice to save these fonts and not discard them just in case you do need them at a later date.
To manually clean up your system fonts:
- For Local Domain Fonts, create a folder called Library Fonts within the Moved from System Font Folders folder.
- Move all fonts that you find in /Library/Fonts to your new Library Fonts folder.
- For User Domain Fonts, create a folder called User Fonts within the Moved from System Font Folders folder.
- Move all fonts that you find in: /Users/[name]/Library/Fonts to your new User Fonts folder.
- To move System Domain Fonts, you must authenticate with Mac OS X as a user with Administrator rights. If you aren’t sure your login level, check the Accounts page of the System Preferences. For more information, see the Mac OS X documentation.
- Create a folder named System Domain Fonts folder in your Moved from System Font Folders folder. WARNING: Removing required fonts from your System Domain Fonts folder can have adverse effects. This includes not being able to launch the operating system and in case of a mistakenly deleted font could require you to reinstall the operating system.
- Copy the selected fonts from the System/Library/Fonts folder to your new System Domain Fonts folder
- Move the selected files from the System Folder to the trash. At the prompt, enter your Mac OS X Administrator password and click OK.
About Helvetica and Helvetica Neue
While Helvetica and Helvetica Neue are not required system fonts, some applications still require an active version of these fonts in order to operate correctly. If you regularly use any or documents that require these fonts, once you remove them from your system font folders, be sure to activate your preferred versions using your font manager. It doesn’t matter which font format you use (PostScript, TrueType, etc), but for professional creative, print and publishing environments, we recommend using a PostScript version of these two common fonts. Working with Helvetica and Helvetica Neue is different in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). In Mac OS X 10.5, Apple introduced a new feature called System Font Protection. This feature is always enabled and prevents a user from removing critical fonts from the /System/Library/Fonts folder by automatically replacing them with backup copies.
This is the list of “Protected” fonts in Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6:
We do not recommend removing all of these fonts; In fact, doing so will prevent your system from functioning properly. However, the versions of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue supplied with Mac OS X 10.5 can cause problems with versions of these fonts you already be using in documents. If you are working in a professional print or publishing environment, you will most likely want to replace these with another version. You have two options for activating your chosen replacements:
1. Override these system fonts with your font manager. (Suitcase Fusion has the ability to do this.)The only risk associated with this option is, if you disable the version you activate with your font manager, the dfont version will silently reappear. You may also see more than one choice for these fonts, which can be confusing. This may be your only option, if you do not have permission to remove the dfont versions of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue.
2. Remove the font from both /System/Library/Fonts and the system’s ProtectedFonts folder. Once you do this, you’ll want to keep your preferred version of the fonts that were removed permanently active in your font manager (always on). In fact, some version of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue must always be active for Mac OS X 10.5 to function properly.
If you want to remove Mac OS X 10.5 protected fonts, the versions of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue you choose as a replacement must contain multiple weights such as Regular, Bold, Italic, Bold Italic, etc. It should also be a modern, high-quality font. For most purposes, We recommends a PostScript Type 1 font. However, an OpenType version of these fonts will offer greater flexibility for newer documents and applications.
To remove Helvetica.dfont and HelveticaNeue.dfont from /System/Library/Fonts:
- Log-into your Mac OS X computer with an Administrator account.
- Open Font Book.
- Choose Font Book > Preferences
- Disable the Alert me if system fonts change preference.
- Copy the following folder to a safe, backup location on your hard drive: /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/ATS.Framework/Versions/A/Resources/ProtectedFonts Note: Never delete your backup copy of the ProtectedFonts folder, in case it they are required by a document or application you encounter in the future.
- Open the original ProtectedFonts folder listed above and select only Helvetica.dfont and HelveticaNeue.dfont and move them to the Trash.
- Authenticate with your Administrator username and password.
- Open the /System/Library/Fonts folder and move Helvetica.dfont and HelveticaNeue.dfont to the Trash.
- Open your font manager and permanently activate (always on) your preferred versions of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue.
- Restart your computer.
Microsoft Core web fonts
There are a number of common fonts used by browsers to display web pages as intended by the designer. These fonts were part of the Microsoft Core Web fonts initiative, and are included with Mac OS X and Microsoft applications. It is a good idea to have a version of the following fonts active on your system not only for web pages, but also for many Microsoft applications.
- Andale Mono
- Arial Black
- Comic Sans MS
- Courier New
- Times New Roman
- Trebuchet MS
These fonts are commonly installed by Microsoft Office in Users/[Name]/Library/Fonts and by Mac OS X in Library/Fonts. These can be removed from either location and managed with a font manager.
Microsoft Office fonts
In addition to the Microsoft Core web fonts, Microsoft Office 2004 applications require a number of additional fonts to operate properly.
- MS Gothic.ttf
- MS Mincho.ttf
- MS PGothic.ttf
- MS PMincho.ttf
- MT Extra
The first time that a user launches an Office application, these required fonts, as well as others are automatically copied into the Users/[Name]/Library/Fonts folder. This only happens the first time every Mac OS X user launches any Office application on the machine, yet not thereafter. To prevent this from happening, you can rename the source folder of these files. Office will continue to function properly after doing so. For data integrity, do not delete these files, just keep them in a renamed folder.
To prevent Office from automatically reinstalling these fonts:
- Close all Microsoft Office applications.
- Rename the following Fonts folder: /Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts
- Add the Microsoft Office fonts to your font manager and ensure that the required fonts are active before launching any Office applications. Note: Additional fonts may be required when using templates installed with Office or from the web.
Adobe Application Fonts
It is likely that you have a number of applications from Adobe installed on your system. Adobe places fonts on your system that are required for Adobe applications to function properly.
Adobe Creative Suite 2 required fonts:
Adobe CS2 installs font files in a location that is only available to Adobe applications. You may remove most font files from /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts. However, do not remove any folders, non-font files or the following fonts from the Reqrd folder.
Other fonts in this folder can be removed and managed with a font manager
Adobe Creative Suite 3 required fonts:
Adobe CS3 installs font files in /Library/Fonts, so they are available to all users and applications. These fonts can be removed and managed with a font manager, but the following required fonts must be active when you launch Adobe applications:
These required fonts can be removed and managed with a font manager, but must be active when you launch Adobe applications.
Adobe Creative Suite 4 required fonts:
Adobe CS4 includes fonts within the Adobe Illustrator and InDesign application packages. These fonts are required and should not be removed. Fonts in the Illustrator package: /Applications/Adobe Illustrator CS4/Adobe Illustrator CS4 application package/Required/Fonts/
- MyriaIta MyriaRom
Fonts in the InDesign package: /Applications/Adobe InDesign CS4/Adobe InDesign CS4 application package/Contents/MacOS/Required/fonts/
- Adobe Sans MM
Apple Mail Font
If you use Apple’s Mail application with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), an additional font is required in Library/Fonts to use of the Notes feature.
Add your fonts to your font manager
Once you have all your font files organized, and have removed all unnecessary fonts from the various System Font and Application Font folders, the next step is to add all these fonts to your font manager, so you can activate them as you need them.
Cleanup your Font Library
Cleaning up your font library is probably the most diverse and certainly the most difficult task of font management. Many font problems encountered in Mac OS X occur because of problem fonts. Any number of errors can occur because a font is actually corrupt, missing a outline font file, or is a duplicate of another font you already have in your library. Having a clean, healthy font library is your best bet to a seamless, problem free workflow.
Suitcase Fusion 2 comes with a full copy of FontDoctor. The main function of FontDoctor is to validate fonts, to fix any corrupt fonts that it is able to fix, and warn you about problems that it is unable to fix. Suitcase Fusion 2 also performs font corruption checking and repair as you add fonts. Even so, for that extra level of security, FontDoctor is recommended to ensure that your fonts are healthy and that missing components are identified and regrouped, if possible. Any fonts that are found to be corrupt should be discarded. Find and reload a healthy version of the font from the original media whenever possible.
PostScript fonts are comprised of a suitcase font file (sometimes referred to as the bitmap or screen font file) and a corresponding outline font file (sometimes referred to as the printer font). If either of these components is missing, it is referred to as an orphan font. Different applications deal with these orphan fonts in different ways, but to ensure a trouble free
workflow, both components are required. So one of the steps you should take in cleaning up your font library, is to either discard any orphan fonts you have in your library, or replace the orphans with a copy of the font from the original media. Once again, FontDoctor can help in this regard by locating and matching suitcase and outline fonts together. The final check should be done once you have added your font library to Suitcase Fusion. If you are adding fonts to the Font Vault, orphan fonts are not allowed. Orphans will not even be added to the Suitcase Fusion vault.
Two fonts that have the same name are considered duplicate fonts because it is often difficult to determine what – if anything – is different between the fonts. Many font libraries often contain many duplicate fonts, sometimes out of necessity (different versions of these fonts may be needed), sometimes simply because they have accumulated over time. To avoid confusion and errors, it is best to keep only the fonts – and the versions of fonts – that you need. Once all your fonts have been added to your font manager, you should decide which of these fonts – especially duplicates – you want or need to keep, and which you should discard. For example, most people have multiple versions of Helvetica — likely PostScript, TrueType and Dfont versions, and even possibly multiple PostScript versions of Helvetica from a single foundry, such as Adobe. This is not uncommon. There are, in fact, many versions of Helvetica available. If you work on client jobs using client provided fonts, then you will need to make sure you have the versions of these fonts provided by the client. So, if Client A requires Helvetica “A”, and Client B requires Helvetica “B”, it is necessary to keep copies of both Helvetica “A” and Helvetica “B” in your library. Suitcase Fusion can help you determine if fonts are identical and thus true duplicates. Font Sense technology examines fonts and gives you a unique identifier for each font. This way, even if fonts appear to be similar, you can be certain that they are unique.
While determining duplicates can be a time consuming process, it is definitely worth your while to examine your duplicates and decide which you need and which you do not need. If you do need to keep multiple versions of fonts in your library, you should probably use the keyword features of your font manager to tag your duplicate fonts with information to help identify the fonts required for each client and job.
System font cache issues
If your fonts occasionally appear garbled or you are seeing other strange behavior with your fonts, you may be seeing a problems with the Mac OS X font cache. FontDoctor 7 has the ability to purge font cache files for Mac OS X as well as Adobe, Quark and Microsoft applications.
To clean cache files with FontDoctor, choose
Tools > Clean Font Cache Folders. Administration authentication is required to clear font caches. Otherwise, you can manually clear your system font caches by deleting the appropriate cache files. Depending on which operating system that you are using, delete the appropriate files below and restart your computer.
Mac OS 10.5 - 10.6
Mac OS 10.3 - 10.4
Mac OS 10.2
Restart your computer after removing the files above.
Adobe font cache
If your font display problems are limited to Adobe applications, it may be due to a corrupt Adobe-specific font cache. Font Doctor can be used to clear Adobe font caches, or you can manually clear the font caches.
For more information, see the following Adobe Knowledge base articles:
Troubleshoot font problems (Mac OS X)
How to rebuild a corrupt font cache on a Macintosh
To manually clear the Adobe font caches:
1. Close all open Adobe applications.
2. Remove the AdobeFnt*.lst files from the following locations. Depending upon which applications you have installed, every location may or may not exist.
Warning: Do not delete AdobeFnt.db, FntNames.db or any other files from these folders.
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts/Reqrd/CMaps/ /Library/Application Support/Adobe/PDFL/8.0/Fonts/
3. Depending on your version of InDesign clear
AdobeFnt*.lst files from the following locations:
/Applications/Adobe InDesign CS2/Fonts/
/Applications/Adobe InDesign CS3/Fonts/
/Applications/Adobe InDesign CS4/Fonts/
[Home]/Library/Preferences/Adobe InDesign/Version 5.0/CompositeFont/
4. Depending upon your version of Illustrator, clear the IllustratorFnt*.lst file from the following locations:
[Home]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe IllustratorCS3/
[Home]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe IllustratorCS4/en_US/
5. Depending upon your version of Acrobat, clear the following files.
[Home]/Library/Acrobat User Data/8.0_x86/AdobeSysFnt*.lst
6. Relaunch the affected Adobe application. The Adobe applications automatically create new clean copies of the removed font cache files.
QuarkXPress JAWS font cache
QuarkXPress uses the JAWS PDF generation engine to create PDF files from documents. This PDF creation engine places cache files on your system that can become quite large and cause stability issues. To prevent and solve these issues, the JAWS folder can be cleaned. QuarkXPress will automatically regenerate any necessary files.
To clear the JAWS folder:
1. Close all Quark applications.
2. Remove the contents of the following folder based on the version of QuarkXPress installed.
QuarkXPress 7.1, 8 and newer stores the cache in each user’s home folder: [Home]/Library/Preferences/Quark/QuarkXPress 7.0/jaws/ [Home]/Library/Preferences/Quark/QuarkXPress 8/jaws/
Versions earlier than QuarkXPress 7.1 store the cache in the Application folder: /Applications/<QuarkXPress folder>/jaws/ttfont/
3. Re-launch QuarkXPress.
If clearing QuarkXPress’ caches don’t address your problem, updating Mac OS X may help. Mac OS X 10.4.11 (and later), includes an important update that improves compatibility when using OpenType fonts in QuarkXPress.
Quark also offers a free FontFace XTension for QuarkXPress 6.x that prevents incorrect substitution of a font face when a font face within a font suitcase is deactivated.
To download the FontFace XTension:
For QuarkXPress 6.5.2, please visit: http://www.quark.com/service/desktop/downloads/details.jsp?idx=581
For QuarkXPress 6.1 and 6.1.1 please visit: http://www.quark.com/service/desktop/downloads/details.jsp?idx=590
Microsoft Office font cache
If Microsoft Office documents are not displaying or printing fonts correctly, you may need to manually
clear the Microsoft Office font cache.
To clear the Microsoft Office font cache:
1. Close all Microsoft Office applications.
2. Depending upon your version of Office, remove the following files:
[Home]/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office Font Cache (11)
[Home]/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008/Office Font Cache (12)
3. Re-launch the affected Office application.