1 2 Previous Next 24 Replies Latest reply: Jan 22, 2009 7:20 AM by Kurt Lang
PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (29,640 points)
I have not yet found the magic solution that lets me reliably manage large font libraries in OSX.

If anyone has got a solution, or is even merely coping, please pass on some tips.

Thanks,

P.

Aluminium iMac 24" 2.8Ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.5)
  • 1. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    John Dougan Level 1 Level 1 (90 points)
    Font book is a basic font management included with the OS. For a more comprehensive solution you need Extensis Suitcase or Font Agent Pro.
  • 2. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    iBod Level 7 Level 7 (29,340 points)
    Hi Peter,

    It might be useful for others here if you mention what you have been trying to do so that folks don't offer suggestions you've already tried.
  • 4. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    Peter Breis1 Level 1 Level 1 (110 points)
    I've had several shots at this and they all screw up in one way or another. As a designer I have large font libraries which I would like to get clean access to, much I as I used to enjoy in the Classic Mac oS using Adobe ATM.

    I have tried *Font Book* more than once. It is extremely slow, last shot a few days ago it sat hours without showing any signs of progress until I force quit it. This totally screwed my fonts, particularly in Safari. I tried to clear out the mess in Font book by deinstalling all but the essential fonts, although many seemed to be installed without showing up in the lists. After this failed, it removed many of the standard fonts as well, I did an archive and reinstall of OSX which introduced further problems, now some fonts are missing that were there before and others that aren't part of v10.5.6 seem to be installed.

    I have also tried Suitcase (not for a while) it was also slow and somewhat unpredictable.

    *Linotype Font Xchange* looks nice but I can't figure out how it is interacting with fonts in Font Book and there seems to be issues with open fonts not showing up in applications.

    Truth to tell I have never overcome the problems of font management in OSX. Is there no way of at minimum just coping with the problems of OSX fonts and at best getting back to the relatively smooth management of Mac Classic?

    btw if I am now appearing under a different user name it is because after the reinstall it has latched onto a previous log-in which I can't shake off.
  • 5. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    Robert Vance2 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Chances are, if you're having issues managing your fonts (eg: if they load slowly or slow down your machine, you simply need to either 1) follow the links as mentioned by baltwo to find out how to make things more efficient, or 2) weed some out.

    I purchased a 3500 font package and found that having that many fonts installed is just way too much. Especially when I go into an application and want to select a font to use, the list is infinitely long and hard to get to the one I want to select.

    It's probably best to have them saved somewhere accessible on your computer and simply move ones to your font directory when you need them for a project. Once the projects done, leave them there. This way you only have ones that you've used before, rather than every one in the universe.

    Hope my two cents helps. Good Luck!
  • 6. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (29,640 points)
    I believe that is what we are supposed to have, which is the fonts linked (via a Font manager), but not open, and either opened as we need them manually or automatically as the application calls for them.

    I am not even succeeding in getting them neatly listed in the Font Manager. I am still recovering from the last attempt to do this and do not want yet another archive and install to waste away another day.

    Previously when I did manage to get the fonts in, serial conflicts ruined the arrangement. Various Apple apps. seem to require odd fonts which as a print designer I would prefer not to want to have installed. It is these fonts I think that are causing the flakey on again off again appearances of fonts in apps.

    I have tried to limit my fonts to just .otf in the hope of having only modern fonts with the maximum compatibility, but this causes mismatches with designs that use the older postscript versions, so you can't escape them completely.

    Also there is no way of knowing in some apps whether you have just opened a TrueType .otf or PostScript .otf. The first has way too many control points for good design and except for some Adobe apps the fonts do not combine into font families in font lists.

    I can not do what I did in Classic which is have all the font variations in one suitcase and open and close them in one click.

    I can not understand the silence on this topic. Is everyone suffering the same problems and thinking this is just natural or just chucking in the towel and despite the wealth of fonts now available, using a limited manageable few?
  • 7. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    baltwo Level 9 Level 9 (60,115 points)
    If you're mucking with OS X fonts, you're asking for trouble. Start with this, http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1642 and ensure they aren't disabled or moved from their original location.
  • 8. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,995 points)
    I have tried Font Book more than once. It is extremely slow, last shot a few days ago it sat hours without showing any signs of progress until I force quit it. This totally screwed my fonts, particularly in Safari.


    This is consistent behavior for Font Book when you're trying to handle a lot of fonts. It just isn't very good at that task. Every single font you open with Font Book gets copied to the Fonts folder you chose in its preferences. Since both are considered "always on" folders by the underlying Unix system, Font Book also keeps a database of all installed fonts to determine which should be enabled and which are not. If this database gets damaged, fonts that Font Book says are enabled still don't show up in lists, causes long hangs at startup and other problems.

    I did an archive and reinstall of OSX which introduced further problems, now some fonts are missing that were there before and others that aren't part of v10.5.6 seem to be installed.


    You can reinstall just the fonts that came with OS X without having to resort to an Archive and Install. See my article which baltwo first linked to above. Any other fonts you've added should have remained where they were. They probably are still there, but a damaged Font Book database is likely keeping them from appearing. You can reset Font Book. Follow the steps in Undoing Font Book. Note that you will lose any font collections you have created. Doing this will also clear the font cache files for your user account. Since Font Book's database is reset, all fonts will in your Fonts folders will be active, regardless of their state beforehand.

    I have also tried Suitcase (not for a while) it was also slow and somewhat unpredictable.


    Versions X and X1 weren't the best, but Fusion is very stable.

    Linotype Font Xchange looks nice but I can't figure out how it is interacting with fonts in Font Book and there seems to be issues with open fonts not showing up in applications.


    I have to assume you mean FontExplorer X, since there is no such title as Font Xchange. Big mistake though that a lot of people make. Font Book is just another font manager. It has no special ties to the OS. If you do decide to use a different manager, delete the Font Book application from your hard drive. It's always best to have one, and ONLY one font manager on your system at a time.

    Truth to tell I have never overcome the problems of font management in OSX. Is there no way of at minimum just coping with the problems of OSX fonts and at best getting back to the relatively smooth management of Mac Classic?


    I find font management just as easy in OS X as OS 9 was. Well, once I learned why there were so many different folders all called Fonts, and why they are separated the way they are. Once you get that, it's a piece of cake.

    I believe that is what we are supposed to have, which is the fonts linked (via a Font manager), but not open, and either opened as we need them manually or automatically as the application calls for them.


    Agreed. Both Suitcase Fusion 2 and FontExplorer X work that way (actually, you need to tell FEX to use that method). While FEX is free, I still much prefer Suitcase. The biggest reason being that it ensures the same version of a font will be used the next time you open a document in an application that supports auto activation. That I know of, FEX can't do that. It has an auto activate feature, but if you use a different version of Bookman, it can't tell the difference. It sees Bookman and assumes all is okay.

    Also there is no way of knowing in some apps whether you have just opened a TrueType .otf or PostScript .otf.


    Almost all professional apps tell you the difference. TrueType fonts will be shown with a blue double T icon. OpenType with its green and black letter O. Type 1 PostScript with a red letter A. The only confusion comes from OpenType. Those can be created in TrueType or PostScript versions. The PostScript ones have .otf as their extension. TrueType versions have the same .ttf extensions as the original TrueType fonts of years ago. While you can of course see the difference between them by file name, programs don't differentiate them. They both get the same green/black letter O icon in font lists. There's no way to tell if it's a TrueType or PostScript OpenType font from there.

    I can not do what I did in Classic which is have all the font variations in one suitcase and open and close them in one click.


    Both Suitcase Fusion 2 and FontExplorer X will open complete sets in one click.

    You can download FEX and play around with it as much as you want, being free. If you want it to open fonts in place, just make sure when you first launch it to choose the option "Don't manage fonts" (or something like that). It's kind of a strange way to state the option, but that's the one you want. Suitcase Fusion 2 can be downloaded and used as a fully functional demo for 30 days. It's only method is to open fonts in place. That or open in place and add the fonts to its Vault (the default). I personally see no use for the Vault and use only the open fonts in place option.
  • 9. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (29,640 points)
    Thanks Kurt,

    This is very helpful feedback, it at least gives me some context in which to work.

    1. When I read the information that came with Font Book I thought there was an option, which I thought I chose, not to copy the fonts to the various Fonts folders. How slow is the importing process, there are 1300 fonts in the Adobe library alone, how long should I give it to get the job done? When I tried it seemed like it was in a terminal spin cycle with no progress after 1.5hrs.

    If damaged databases cause the problems you describe, and which I think previously I experienced, is there any point using Font Book, as it is a recipe for trouble?

    2. When I reinstalled the system fonts, there was no path other than the archive and reinstall, that I could find. In fact from memory I only had two choices Archive and reinstall, & Wipe and reinstall.

    After the reinstall I am having trouble with missing fonts, which may be due to no longer having fonts from some application installations, I am not sure.

    The link you gave has no reference to Leopard. Have things changed for Leopard, or do I just follow the advice for Tiger?

    3. I will give Suitcase Fusion a retry.

    4. Sorry I had Font Xchange on my brain, it is a utility from Morrison Software that converts fonts to .otf. Yes I meant FontExplorer X, which has now gone Pro and is being charged for.

    Thanks for the advice about Font Explorer's inability to differentiate fonts of the same name, that was driving me nuts.

    5. I can't identifying font types in Cocoa apps and I am not sure about the file extension, in my experience both the TT and PS versions of open type get the .otf extension.

    6. The open-in-one-click method I was referring to was all fonts in one suitcase in Classic dragged to ATM or Suitcase would already be bundled as a collection. In OSX sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't, why I can't tell and with huge libraries that can get damaged easily this seems a lot of work to fix.

    Ultimately I do not want a collection to be all the styles of one font family, I want it to be all the fonts from a font publisher divided up into all the styles of one font family.

    The fact that discussion of what to do can be as involved as this in OSX belies the relative ease of font management in OSX and Classic, so on that point I guess we agree to disagree.

    Thanks for your help,

    Peter
  • 10. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    bdmarsha Level 4 Level 4 (2,585 points)
    Peter,

    This discussion caught my eye because I just went through some font organization by following the guidelines in this book: <http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/leopard-fonts.html>. I think that you might find this resource valuable in your quest to better manage your fonts.

    bd
  • 11. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    PeterBreis0807 Level 7 Level 7 (29,640 points)
    Thanks bd,

    Yes I have got the Take Control Book and am currently trying to digest it.

    Peter
  • 12. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,995 points)
    1) Unless Apple has changed the way Font Book works in Leopard in later updates (I haven't checked), then no. Every font you activate gets copied to either the /Library/Fonts/ folder, or the Fonts folder in your user account.

    Font Book just isn't meant to handle large volumes of fonts. It's database simply gets to big and because of it, more susceptible to damage. If any font you activate is damaged, then the database gets damaged. There's no way to fix it at that point. All you can do is determine which fonts are bad, remove them from whichever Fonts folder they're in and reset Font Book.

    2) From the options on the OS disks, no. As mentioned, the directions to install just the fonts is at the bottom of my article, Font Management in OS X. It involves downloading a shareware app named Pacifist, and then using it to install the fonts from the OS X disks.

    3) I think you'll like it. If you don't, you haven't lost anything since you don't to purchase it to experiment.

    4) I was wondering when that would happen. As advanced as FontExplorer X had gotten, I couldn't see it remaining free for long.

    Yes, that's the big, BIG difference with Suitcase Fusion 2 and FontAgent Pro. They both have a method of determining if the fonts you last opened are exactly the same as the version you used before. Rather than just relying on the correct internal name, it also checks many other types of identifying data saved within fonts. Date of creation, who created it, copyright info and other data.

    5) Nope, .otf is always a PostScript OpenType font. That's the only way to tell the difference between the two. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that smaller apps don't show you which type of font you're using. I do prepress work, so I'm always using higher end apps (Photoshop, InDesign, Quark, etc.). They all show you icons of the fonts you're using. You would think the de facto MS Office suite would, but it doesn't.

    6) Ah! In Suitcase Fusion 2, drag and drop your fonts onto the the "Font Library" icon in the left pane. It will create a single folder set for those fonts. Then you can turn the whole group on or off at once. Actually, I think it will create a set for every individual folder if you do it that way. Instead, first create a folder for all of the fonts you need for a project. Collect all of your fonts into that folder. Then drop the folder containing all of the fonts into Suitcase. Then you'll get a single font set with the same name as the folder you dragged in.

    Following these steps, you'll be able to accomplish what you want. You can either activate the whole set at once, or if you click on the set, then you can move to the pane on the right and activate just the family of fonts within a set you want on.

    The fact that discussion of what to do can be as involved as this in OSX belies the relative ease of font management in OSX and Classic, so on that point I guess we agree to disagree.


    And many would likely agree with you. I've been in prepress for 25 years now and have been handling fonts on the Mac for almost as long. I guess it just seems easy to me.

    The link, or one of the links above directs you to my personal web site. While the information is free, it does ask for a contribution. As such, I am required by Apple's rules for these discussions to include the following disclaimer.

    I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.
  • 13. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    bdmarsha Level 4 Level 4 (2,585 points)
    Kurt,

    Just a couple of minor points: Font Book is a much more useful manager in Leopard than in earlier incarnations and you can have active fonts in locations other than the usual font folders. Also, open type fonts (files with .otf extension) can contain either TrueType or Postscript outlines.

    bd
  • 14. Re: How do YOU manage fonts in OSX?
    Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (31,995 points)
    Also, open type fonts (files with .otf extension) can contain either TrueType or Postscript outlines.


    Not according to Adobe, creator of OpenType. From their web site:

    Do OpenType fonts use PostScript outlines?

    To date, all OpenType fonts produced by Adobe contain PostScript outlines. Other font developers may choose to develop PostScript or TrueType-based OpenType fonts. PostScript-based OpenType fonts use an .otf file name extension, whereas OpenType fonts with TrueType outline data use a .ttf or a .ttc file name extension. In general, Adobe applications provide same level of support to these two flavors of OpenType fonts.


    Font Book is a much more useful manager in Leopard than in earlier incarnations and you can have active fonts in locations other than the usual font folders.


    I do have Font Book on an external drive I use for maintenance chores. I know in Leopard it could at first still only work in one of the two Fonts folders and had added a check box to auto mount fonts. Apple must have done some more modifications to the program. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for letting me know.
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