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Get Acquainted with Font Book

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Font Book is Tiger's font-management utility. Its obvious raison d'être is to install and remove fonts without your having to run around to all the Fonts folders. But it does more than just installation chores: it checks fonts for corruption, indicates and resolves duplicates, displays a font's complete character set, copies designated fonts into a separate folder to accompany your document to a printer, and generally helps you wade through the hundreds of fonts you'll have just by installing a Microsoft or Adobe application or two.

To do anything beyond blindly installing a font, you need to know at least the basics of Font Book, covered in Tour the Interface. To really take control of your fonts, and to make the most of Font Book's features, you'll eventually need to learn more about its general capabilities, described in the rest of this chapter; they aren't immediately necessary, but they'll help you work more efficiently. I cover other Font Book capabilities, such as disabling fonts, handling duplicates, and creating collections and libraries, in related topics in Chapters 4 through 7.

Tour the Interface

It's easy to get started in Font Book, because its surface behavior and interface are predictable. But that friendly surface belies both its versatility and its—let's be kind and call it quirkiness—in some behaviors and interface elements.

Font Book is in your Applications folder, and opens automatically when you double-click on (the right kind of) font file (Figure 8); if you do a lot of font wrangling, keep it in your Dock for easy access.

Figure 8

Figure 8

Font Book's basic-looking interface belies both its versatility and power. The numbers and letters are keyed to descriptions in the text.

  1. The Collection list: Shows standard and user libraries above the line (a) and actual collections below it (b); click an item to display its fonts in the Font list. Disabled items (c) are dimmed.
  2. The Font list: Click a font name to see a sample in the preview area. Duplicate fonts are marked with a dot (d); disabled fonts are dimmed (e). Click on the triangle to expand and collapse a list of a font's typefaces (f). Double-click on a font name to open a separate Preview window for it.

    Warning! The typefaces listed under a family name are ganged together even if they're from different files in the same or different Fonts folders. So, in Figure 8, the Baskerville typefaces could be from two separate files: one in the User Fonts folder that has the four basic faces (Bold, Bold Italic, Italic, and Regular) and another one in the Library Fonts folder that includes only SemiBold and SemiBold Italic.

  3. The preview area: Provides three types of samples, and an Info view, available through the Preview menu. The sample views are Sample, the alphanumeric set shown in the figure; Repertoire, the entire character set; and Custom, a type-it-yourself option. In Sample and Custom views, there's both a Size menu (g) and slider (h). You'll love the slider: in some views, moving it up decreases the font's point size, while in others you move it down to make the text smaller!

    Show or hide the preview: You can lop off this entire section of the window with Preview > Hide Preview (Command-Option-I).

  4. The Action menu: The commands are context-sensitive; all are also in the regular menus, where their keyboard equivalents are noted.
  5. Search: The search is relatively well behaved (compared to the Finder's Spotlight searches); details are a little later in Learn Font Book's Search Function.
  6. The Collection list plus.jpg button: Creates new collections—the items below the line.
  7. The Font list plus.jpg button: The equivalent of File > Add Fonts.
  8. The check.jpg button: This Disable button toggles to the box.jpg Enable button; they act on the font(s) selected in the list.
  9. Font count: This is the number of fonts currently showing in the Font list, including disabled ones. Since the list reflects the currently selected library or collection, it's a quick way of seeing how many fonts you have in any category.

Decode the Collection list

Font Book's interface is not always a thing of beauty, and the Collection list is one of its more obvious flaws (Figure 9). Despite the title, it lists actual collections only in the lower area, below the line. Above the line, it lists two kinds of libraries: default and user-defined, the latter a concept new in the 2.0 version of Font Book that shipped with Tiger.

Figure 9

Figure 9

The Collection list can be confusing, as the items above the line do not all stand for the same type of library, and the default libraries don't always correspond directly to a single Fonts folder.

These are the components of a typical Collection list:

  • All Fonts: Lists the fonts available through Font Book—those included in the other items above the line in the Collection list. This does not include fonts in application Fonts folders, like /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts.
  • User: Shows the fonts in ~/Library/Fonts.
  • Computer: Includes the fonts from /System/Library/Fonts and /Library/Fonts. If you find this confusing, it's not you. It is confusing, since the system fonts have several restrictions that don't apply to the other fonts, and no matter your administrator status, you can't install into /System/Library/Fonts from within Font Book. In addition, the library doesn't parallel a specific single folder, as do the items immediately above and below it.

    The important thing to remember is that if you put a font into the "Computer" library, whether by dragging it there or by making it the default installation location, the fonts are sent to /Library/Fonts.

  • Classic Mac OS and Network: Appear in the list if you have a Mac OS 9 System Folder installed or you're on a network; they refer to the folders /System Folder/Fonts and /Network/Library/Fonts, respectively.
  • User-defined libraries: Listed alphabetically, reordered as new ones are created. Note that this list doesn't reflect the order in which the libraries are accessed in case of duplicate fonts; they're accessed in reverse order of creation.
  • Collections: Finally—the eponymous items, listed alphabetically. Font Book starts with a half-dozen default collections, but you can add as many as you want.
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