Os X Fonts


Encyclopedia of digital Type!

Encyclopedia of digital Type (fonts)!

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Fonts in Mac OS X

Font Formats

Mac OS X supports PostScript Type-1, TrueType und OpenType fonts without additional utilities. ATM Light, which was used in Mac OS 9 for rasterizing PostScript fonts, is no longer needed. Even PC encoded TrueType fonts can be used in Mac OS X, but not in the Classic environment (because Mac OS 9 was not able to use those fonts). To use PostScript Type-1 fonts in the Classic environment you still need ATM Light.
To install fonts, you have to copy the font files in specific font folders.

Font Folders

In Mac OS 9 there was one font folder, which was a part of the system folder. Because Mac OS X is multi user capable, there are three places where fonts can be installed:

Here you find all fonts which are used by the system. This folder is “read only” for all users.

The fonts residing in this folder are available for all users of the system. Only admin users can modify this folder. For all other users it is “read only”. During the installation, most fonts are placed here by the operating system. In the Classic environment, these fonts are not available, because they are in dfont format (a TrueType format with special packed recources) that is not supported by Mac OS 9.

This is the user owned font folder, which will not be touched by the system installation.
In difference to Mac OS 9, where all fonts had to reside in the font folder directly, Mac OS X is able to use fonts in subfolders of the font folder, too. But this is limited to one level below the main font folder.
Another font folder is the font folder of the Classic environment and there are also application specific font folders (i.e. Adobe applications create the folder “Library:Application Support:Adobe:Fonts:Reqrd:Base”). Here you find the well known MultipleMaster Fonts AdobeSansMM and AdobeSerifMM.

Font Menus
There is no version of Adobe Type Reunion (ATR) to display the font families in Mac OS X. This causes long font menus. But meanwhile there is an alternative: A tool named FontCard, which reduces the font list to the font family names in Cocoa and Carbon applications. A demo version can be downloaded from Unsanity.

Font Management

For font management in OS X Extensis Suitcase X1 is available. There is no version of ATM for OS X.

FontCache Management

Font updates may leed to difficulties, because Mac OS X is not able to overwrite old font data, especially when the font name has not changed. This is because the system caches it's font list and may not be able to clean the font cache during the update.
To make shure that all old font data are removed from the cache after an update, you can use a special tool: Font Finagler. You can download it from here: Versiontracker

Adobe applications have their own font cache, which will not be purged by Font Finagler. When closing an Adobe application, cache files are stored in different places. The name of these files always has the same structure: “adobefnt[nn].lst” (where [nn] stands for a 2-digit number). After a font update, close all Adobe applications and delete all Adobe font list files (adobefnt[nn].lst). No reboot is necessary here, whereas you need to reboot your system after using Font Finagler.