Mac Font Basics and Sources

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What fonts work with Mac OS X?

There is built-in support in Mac OS X for legacy Mac TrueType and Postscript Type 1 fonts, Mac .dfont files, Windows TrueType fonts, and the newer OpenType format.

Mac OS X cannot directly use Type 1 PostScript fonts intended for Windows or Unix, but they can usually be converted without much effort. The same software can be used to convert old Windows bitmap fonts (*.FON files) to TrueType.

Alternatives to Font Book

  • FontAgent Pro is available in standalone and workgroup versions.
  • FontExplorer X from Linotype offers an iTunes-like interface and works remarkably well for a free-of-charge program. It has an integrated Linotype font store, much like the iTunes Store, which is fortunately unobtrusive. An older version is also available for Mac OS 9, with a different interface.
  • Suitcase by Extensis has long been a popular commercial Mac font management solution. A server component is also offered for workgroup and company environments.

Font editors

There are several programs available that allow you to modify fonts, add custom characters, or design your own from scratch.

Three capable editors are offered by FontLab Ltd., including the longtime favorite Fontographer. FontForge is a very nice free alternative, but its X11 interface may be uncomfortable if you prefer to stay inside the Mac environment.

Fixing invalid fonts

The Font Book validator may find problems with fonts, especially the freeware variety. Sometimes the problems are minor, and can be fixed simply by loading into a font editor and saving back out to a new file.

Where to Find Fonts

Commercial offerings

These firms licence fonts for a fee.

Free offerings

Many of the fonts available from these sites are offered free of charge. Check the usage terms for each font, some are only free for non-commercial use. Non-free fonts will occasionally be uploaded to sites like this without permission of their owners, so take care to look at the copyright information embedded in the font files.

See also