Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Mac OS X

Get Acquainted with Font Book

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.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020