Font management software

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Font management software is utility software that computer users use to browse and preview fonts and typically to install and uninstall fonts. In addition, depending on the individual font management program's capabilities, users can also:

  • activate and deactivate fonts (users can do this manually; sometimes programs will do this in conjunction with specific software, such as Adobe's InDesign)
  • protect fonts that are required by the system by preventing them from being uninstalled
  • organize fonts by groups and libraries
  • find and uninstall corrupt fonts
  • rename font files
  • view fonts that are not currently installed
  • print font samples or font books illustrating some or all of the fonts on the system
  • sort fonts according to different criteria
  • search for fonts meeting specific criteria

Uses[edit]

Fonts - and therefore font-management programs - support people in a variety of professions: graphic designers, publishers (such as book publishers and news and periodical publishers), web-site designers, interface designers, illustrators, packaging designers, typeface designers, letterpress printers (using plates made from page layout programs), motion-graphic and film-title designers, advertising agencies, signage and wayfinding (environmental graphic design studios), industrial designers, and architectural firms that have in-house 2D design-staff who work with signs and typography.

These people require fonts as a basic part of their job. They purchase their fonts and typefaces either directly from type foundries large and small, such as Adobe Systems, Monotype Corporation, Carter & Cone, FontBureau, Font Shop, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, Linotype, Paratype, P22, Stone Type Foundry; or from websites specializing in selling fonts. Eventually, they may end up with tens or even hundreds of thousands of fonts; hence the need to manage those fonts. Effective, reliable, and easy-to-use font management can help.

Objectives[edit]

Most operating systems come with basic font management abilities, limited to installing or uninstalling; however, people who use many typefaces need font management software with more capabilities.

Ease of Finding and Evaluating Fonts[edit]

When there are hundreds or even thousands of fonts on a system, font management software makes it easier to find, organize, and evaluate specific fonts. Using font management software, people can organize their fonts in ways that suit their needs. They can also view specific fonts in a variety of ways, such as by character or size, to better evaluate a font's suitability for a specific purpose.

Once a font is found, a person can view the individual glyphs (letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and other components of a font), and can visually compare two or more fonts with each other.

Font management software often provides details on fonts such as how many glyphs are in the font, whether the font can be embedded (such as in PDFs), and the person or foundry that created the font.

System Stability[edit]

One of the valuable uses of font management software is to improve system performance. Keeping thousands of fonts active can slow down many systems. In taking advantage of a font manager's ability to activate fonts when they are needed (either individually or in groups, such as a group of fonts for a specific project), users can reduce the system's font load.

This capability is especially important on older versions of the Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems, as with those systems, fonts are normally always active and available to all programs that use or display text. However, these operating systems have internal limits on active fonts; beyond that point, you may experience system problems.[1][2]

Some font management programs can activate one font, several fonts, or a specific group of fonts when a specific application (such as Adobe's Creative Suite series) or document is launched. When the application or document is closed, the font management software can deactivate those same fonts. That way, fonts that are needed only for specific applications or projects can be made available on the fly, then put away when not needed, thereby reducing the load on the operating system.

Linux-based operating systems generally do not pre-load fonts on a system-wide basis. Instead, each application loads them as it needs them, leaving no need for a font management program. However, current Linux desktop environments (such as KDE and Gnome) manage fonts for applications using their internal framework library calls for font display, thus allowing management of fonts centrally and comfortably via the GUI.

Many Linux distributions supply a font server program (such as X Font Server) for distributing fonts over a network.

List of font management software[edit]

Note: Surprisingly, information on supported fonts is not readily available from many manufacturers. However, at a minimum most of the major commercial programs support OpenType and TrueType fonts.

Name Operating system License Author Publisher Supported fonts Notes
Adobe Type Manager Light (ATM Light) Mac OS 8.6 through 9.1, Mac OS X Classic; Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4 Free Adobe Systems ATM Deluxe was discontinued in the mid-2000s[3]
Advanced Font Viewer Windows Proprietary Styopkin Software
AMP Font Viewer Windows Free AMPsoft OpenType, PostScript Type 1, TrueType
BDF Font Viewer Windows Freeware Komeil Bahmanpour Chortkeh
California Fonts Windows Free The Scone Company, LLC OpenType, Postscript Type 1, TrueType
DiskFonts Mac OS X (10.5+), Windows (XP, Vista, 7) Proprietary Anastasiy Bitmap, OpenType, Postscript Type 1, TrueType Font manager panel for Adobe Creative Suite (CS3, CS4, CS5), supports FontExpert groups
Elara Online Font Manager Linux, BSDs, OS X, Windows, and others Proprietary Everything Fonts TrueType, OpenType, PostScript Type 1, Woff and many other formats Works directly from the browser. No local install necessary.
FontAgent Pro 6.1 Mac, Windows Proprietary Insider Software OpenType, PostScript Type 1, TrueType Mac Windows Linx
Font Card Mac OS 10.4 (but not Mac OS X 10.6 Leopard) Proprietary Unsanity OpenType, PostScript, TrueType Modifies the Font menu and the font panel in Carbon and Cocoa applications. Supports FontAgent Pro, FontExplorer X, and Suitcase Fusion font sets.
Fontcase Mac OS X Proprietary Bohemian Coding Fontcase was discontinued in November 2013[4]
FontExpert Windows Proprietary Proxima Software OpenType, TrueType, TrueType Collections, PostScript Type 1, Bitmap and vector (*.fon) With plug-ins for Adobe Creative Suite products (Missing Fonts Loader plug-in, Font Info plug-in, etc.)
Font Explorer X Pro Mac, Windows Proprietary Linotype/Monotype
Font Fitting Room Deluxe Windows Proprietary Qweas Microsoft Windows (*.fnt, *.fon), OpenType (*.ttf, *.ttc, *.otf), PostScript Type 1 (*.pfm, *.pfb), TrueType (*.ttf, *.ttc)
Font Frenzy Windows Free Timothy Williams (computer programmer) SDSoftware
Font Manager Windows Proprietary Styopkin Software
Font-Manager Linux, BSDs GNU General Public License Jerry Casiano font-manager project Last update: 2014-05-01, programmed in Vala, depends on GTK+ 3
Fontmatrix Linux, BSDs, OS X, Windows GNU General Public License Pierre Marchand Fontmatrix.be OpenType, TrueType Last update: 2011-09-30, programmed in C++, depends on Qt
Font Pilot OS X Proprietary Qweas
FontRainbow Windows Proprietary Tony Wicks Everclear Systems MS TrueType / TT Collections, MS OpenType, Adobe Type 1, Adobe OpenType The first program to use Everclear System's "Rainbow Interface"
Font Safari Mac OS 9+ Proprietary Dreystone Software Last updated in 2006
Font Wrangler Windows Shareware/bookware Alchemy Mindworks TrueType
Font Xplorer Windows Free Ahto Tanner Moon Software TrueType, OpenType (only those with TrueType outlines) Does not support Adobe Type 1 fonts or OpenType fonts with PostScript outlines.
Font Xplorer Windows Proprietary Qweas TrueType (*.ttf, *.ttc)
Free & Easy Font Viewer Windows Free Styopkin Software Only views characters A-I, a-i, 0-9 and basic punctuation of installed fonts. See Advanced Font Viewer for improved features.
gnome-specimen Linux, BSDs GNU General Public License gnome-specimen OpenType, PostScript Type 1, raster, TrueType, vector
MainType Windows Proprietary High-Logic OpenType, PostScript Type 1, raster, TrueType, vector
MasterJuggler OS X Proprietary AlSoft Outline, OpenType, PostScript, printer, screen, TrueType
NexusFont Windows Free Noh JungHoon Xiles OpenType, TrueType, Type 1 Last update: 09.2010. Provides: Libraries and Sets, Tags, Find of duplicates.
Opcion Font Viewer Java Free P. Chiu Opcion Last update: 08.2007. Windows .exe installer may not work with current versions of Java (above 1.5.9).
Printer's Apprentice Windows Proprietary Bryan T. Kinkel Lose Your Mind Development OpenType, PostScript, TrueType Last update, 2/8/2013
Suitcase Fusion OS X, Windows Proprietary Extensis Was merged with Font Reserve
The Font Thing Windows Free Sue Fisher Sue Fisher TrueType A legacy font management program; has not been updated since 1999, though apparently is still popular among some users
Typograf Windows Proprietary Alex Neuber Neuber Software GmbH Truetype, OpenType, PostScript Type 1, printer, raster, vector
X-Fonter Windows Proprietary Blacksun Software Truetype, OpenType, PostScript Type 1, raster, vector

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1], TrueType Font Limits in Windows 95/98/Me.
  2. ^ [2], How Many Mac Fonts is Too Many and What Can I Do About It?.
  3. ^ ATM Discontinued
  4. ^ Retiring Fontcase


Further reading[edit]