Skip navigation

HT2509: Mac Basics: Font Book

Learn about Mac Basics: Font Book

HT2509 Font Book seems to be stuck. It won't load or delete fonts or respond. Can it be reinstalled?

8437 Views 22 Replies Latest reply: Sep 1, 2013 10:35 AM by Kurt Lang RSS
1 2 Previous Next
lhpamski Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Sep 7, 2012 1:11 PM

I was loading font collections and now it seems as if I overloaded Fontbook. It acts as if it is processing but it is virtually frozen. Can I delete and reinstall Fontbook without re-installing system software? Help. I'm stuck!!

iMac, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.1), Font Book is frozen
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,510 points)

    Reinstalling the Font Book app itself wouldn't help. Almost 100% of the time, what you're experiencing is due to a hosed Font Book database. To reset it, do this:


    Restart your Mac and immediately hold down the Shift key when you hear the startup chime to boot into Safe Mode. Keep holding the Shift key until you see a progress bar towards the bottom of the screen. You can let go of the Shift key at that point.


    OS X asks you to log in (you will get this screen on a Safe Mode boot even if your Mac is set to automatically log in). Let the Mac finish booting to the desktop and then restart normally. This will clear Font Book's database and the cache files of the user account you logged into in Safe Mode.

  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,510 points)

    When a reset doesn't help, it's because of a couple things you already mentioned; 1) too many fonts for Font Book to handle, 2) corrupt fonts, which will in turn corrupt the database all over again.


    By default, Font Book copies all fonts you add in a normal set to the Font folder in your user account. So create a new folder on the desktop, or another location within your account and move all fonts out of the Fonts folder and into the new one. Then follow the steps again to reset Font Book's database.

  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,510 points)

    If you can't startup from the main drive, you'll have to do a reinstall, or a restore from a backup.

  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,510 points)

    You can reinstall all of the fonts OS X came with without having to reinstall the entire system. Since you inadvertently removed fonts from the System folder, I would suggest doing both that folder and the root Library folder. The instructions are at the bottom of my article, Font Management in OS X. You'll just need your Snow Leopard DVD, and to download Pacifist.


    I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.

  • julesbluemoon Calculating status...

    Kurt and ahbin's posts have helped solve my problem so for the sake of others here is my particular problem / solution. 


    Mac / OS:  Leopard 10.5.8 on a 2008 Core2Duo iMac. FontBook (FB) only used as a font handler on this Mac.

    Problem cause:  I had minimal fonts in Font Book except the / Library/ Fonts which are available in FB via the All Fonts collection. I had one personal collection with just 8 fonts loaded. Everything working fine. I went to load a new font and whilst very tired inadvertantly double clicked my personal font collection archive on an external drive..... FB began to import all of these fonts! At 3,700+ I force quit it to stop the process. After a reboot, FB was slow to launch and would no longer add or delete any fonts. The fonts it did show as active were not loading within applications (e.g. Photoshop) and Safari had defaulted to a very weird display font.


    Solution: Having read these posts I initially did the safe mode database / cache clear which cured Safari but did not resolve FB. Reading Kurt's posts again I caught the point "too many fonts for FB to handle" and checked the user / library / fonts... sure enough before the force quit, FB had imported thousands of fonts into the folder and of course they were still there. This meant that on restart, FB was attempting to reload them all once again.


    I booted from a backup OS to allow access to the system, went to the  user / library / and removed the folders 'Fonts' and 'FontCollections' (this latter being the source files for the individual collection sets within your FB. I then accessed my last full Backup for the Mac in question and copied over these two folders - effectively restoring them to the condition they were before I overloaded FB. I then did a further safemode restart to clear the font cache and database on my primary OS.  Everything is working again.


    I may have been able to just empty these two folders and run the safemode clean but it felt better to restore them from a previosuly working copy. The point is that Kurt is correct - it isn't an issue with the application Font Book itself or the Mac overall (other accounts still ran fine during this problem) - rather it's a User account issue with the Font folder / cache and database - clear these and your good to go without any kind of full system restore which I have seen some people suggesting - that would work because it would clear the font folder but its overkill for this fault.


    Thanks again -- great support

  • margaret.miz Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Kurt, I have read your article on Font Management and am convinced font conflicts with Office 2011 are causing problems. I am an ordinary user, not a graphics professional or techie. I had used font book to disable duplicates last fall, but on reading your article realized that it didn't necessarily disable the ones it should have, and there was an Office update since then which probably created more problems. I have already done the boot into Safe Mode. I have cleaned the font caches with Onyx periodically, reset user permissions and system permissions, and other cleaning/maintenance with Onyx.


    I am fairly comfortable with finding things in the Libraries, deleting preferences etc, pasting commands into terminal etc., but the task of manually culling the duplicate/obsolete etc fonts is quite daunting. I am interested in using a font manager program to help me with this. FontExplorerX Pro and Suitcase, the programs that sound like they would be most helpful, are expensive and are really overkill for me. I downloaded a trial version of Font Explorer X Pro thinking I would clean house and then go back to Font Book, but then realized that to reinstall it I would need a full Lion install disk/drive, which I don't have for my mid-2011 Macbook Air.


    I emailed Pacifist about whether you can run their program with the Lion Recovery disk on newer Macs shipped with Lion with no recovery/install flash drive. I had already created the recovery disk on an external USB hard drive with Recovery Disk Assistant, downloaded from the Apple site. (Who knows, maybe they developed a way to do this since you last updated your article.) I got this response from Pacifist:

    Fortunately, it's possible to get a full Lion installer from Apple's site instead of the stripped down recovery disk; unfortunately, the process is a royal pain. But it is possible.


    Here's a set of instructions:



    I looked at the instructions and they are indeed very complicated. Apple does sell a recovery flash drive, but it's $70 (I'm not clear if this is for the newer or older version of Lion).


    At this point I just want to complete a number of spreadsheets in Excel without it crashing and losing data, so I can finish my taxes.  It doesn't seem like there is a way to resolve these font issues that isn't either really complicated and time-consuming or expensive. Not sure you can help me, but even so, I thought the info from Pacifist might be helpful to someone.

  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,510 points)

    There's no doubt installing Office causes font conflicts as it installs a number of fonts which do just that. My article notes exactly which fonts to remove. Office automatically moves conflicting .ttc and .ttf fonts to a deprecated folder, so those are no problem. The ones you must manually remove are the nine I list which have no file extension.


    Changing font managers won't do you much good until you remove the fixed conflicting fonts. The Office updates have nothing to do with any further font issues since they do not install or update any fonts.


    If you want a Lion USB drive which can install the entire OS, you need to create it yourself. The thumb drive Apple sells is like installing from the Recovery drive.

  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,510 points)

    Sorry, you do want to move the fonts Office 2011 puts in the deprecated folder back into the /Library/Fonts/ folder, replacing those Office 2011 installs as they are older than the ones supplied with Lion or Mountain Lion. Make sure to restart as soon as complete moving and deleting the appropriate fonts.

  • margaret.miz Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thank you, I was confused about keeping the Office 2011 vs the Lion .ttc and .ttf fonts. It's great that you are so thorough with your explanations and instructions for different situations, and have been so consistent with updating the article through all the changes in OS and applications. It's just a lot of information to  absorb the first time around, and to sift through to find what's relevant to my situation. There are a few lists of fonts to keep or remove that look very similar - It sounds like I can just remove any without an extension without further thought, which sounds like a good place to start. I am creating a version of the article for my own purposes with the parts concerning prepress, postscript fonts, older OS's etc removed, so I can focus on what I need to know - I find it a helpful learning process to work with material in this way. I could share it with you if you are interested in posting a version specifically for non-professionals on Lion/Mountain Lion.


    Thank you again for your work - I really had not idea before reading your article and posts that fonts could cause such problems. I have a much better understanding now and feel like I can take it on.

1 2 Previous Next


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (1)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.