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How to Install Fonts in OS X

New and Fabulous Fonts Are Just a Click or Two Away

By Tom Nelson and Mary F. O'Connor

How to Install Fonts in OS X

One way to install a font in OS X is to double-click the font file, which will launch the Font Book application; then just click the install font button to install the font.

Screen shot courtesy Coyote Moon, Inc.

The web is a gold mine of free and low-cost fonts, and we firmly believe you can never have too many. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to find just the right font, even if you have hundreds to choose from.

You don't have to be a graphics pro to need or want a large collection of fonts. There are many beginner-friendly desktop publishing programs (or word processors with desktop publishing features), and the more fonts and clip art you have to choose from, the more fun you can have creating greeting cards, family newsletters, or other projects.

Installing Fonts

OS X can use fonts in Type 1 (PostScript), TrueType (.ttf), TrueType Collection (.ttc), OpenType (.otf) fonts, .dfont, and Multiple Master (OS X 10.2 and later) format. Even if a font is described as a Windows font, if it's a TrueType font (with a .ttf file extension), it should work in OS X.

Before you install any fonts, quit all open applications. If you don't quit an application before you install new fonts, you may need to relaunch the application before it will see the new font(s).

Installing fonts in OS X is a simple drag-and-drop process. There are several places to install fonts; the location to choose depends on whether or not you want other users of your computer (if any) or other individuals on your network (if applicable) to be able to use the fonts.

If you want fonts to only be available to you, drag them to the yourusername/Library/Fonts folder.

If you want fonts to be available to anyone who uses your computer, drag them to the Library/Fonts folder. You will need to supply an administrator password in order to make changes to the Fonts folder.

If you want the fonts to be available to anyone on your network, your network administrator will need to copy them to the Network/Library/Fonts folder.

Installing Fonts With Font Book

Font Book is an application that comes with the Mac. Font Book lets you manage your fonts, including installing, uninstalling, viewing, and organizing them. You can find Font Book at /Applications/Font Book, or by selecting Applications from the Go menu, and then locating and double-clicking the Font Book application.

In addition to installing a font by clicking and dragging, you can also install a font by double-clicking the font file, which will launch the Font Book application and display a preview of the font. Click the Install Font button in the lower right corner of the preview window to install the font. Note: This will install the font in your user Fonts folders; it will not be accessible to anyone else who uses your computer. If you want the font to be available to everyone, click the Font Book menu, select Preferences, and then select Computer from the Default Install Location dropdown menu.

One advantage of using Font Book to install a font is that it will validate a font before installing it. This lets you know if there are any problems with the file, or if there will be any conflicts with other fonts.

Previewing Fonts

Many applications display previews of fonts in their Font menu. The preview is limited to the font's name, so you don't get to see all the available letters and numbers. You can also use Font Book to preview a font. Launch Font Book, and then click the target font to select it. The default preview displays a font's letters and numbers (or its images, if it's a dingbat font). You can use the slider on the right side of the window to reduce or enlarge the display size.

If you want to view the special characters available in a font, click the Preview menu and select Repertoire.

If you would like to use a custom phrase or group of characters each time you preview a font, click the Preview menu and select Custom, then type the characters or phrase in the display window. You can switch between Preview, Repertoire, and Custom views at will.

How to Uninstall Fonts

Uninstalling fonts is as easy as installing them. Open the folder that contains the font, and then click and drag the font to the Trash. When you try to empty the trash, you may get an error message that the font is busy or in use. After the next time you restart your Mac, you'll be able to empty the Trash with no trouble.

You can also use Font Book to remove a font. Launch Font Book, and then click the target font to select it. From the File menu, select Remove (name of font).

Where to Find Fonts

One of the easiest ways to find fonts is just to use your favorite search engine to perform a search on "free Mac fonts." To get you started, here are a few of our favorite sources of free and low-cost fonts.

Acid Fonts



Font Diner




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