OSX Font Management

over 9 years ago from , Design System Lead at YouCaring

I'm getting a new laptop this week and figured it'd be a good time to revisit my font workflow. I've used Font Explorer, Suitcase Fusion and (the now unsupported) Fontcase but they've all had their issues.

I know some designers who don't manage their fonts though and just throw everything into Font Book. Is font management a thing of the past? What do y'all do?


  • Jake ChapmanJake Chapman, over 9 years ago

    Been using "Fonts" by Bohemian Coding since it came out. Love it.

    5 points
    • Vinh LeVinh Le, over 9 years ago

      is it good? im reluctant because of the bad reviews on the app store

      1 point
      • Jake ChapmanJake Chapman, over 9 years ago

        I've not had a single problem with it. Haven't read the app store reviews. I can tell ya that it does seem like a more "Personal" management application. Don't think it can tag into a server or anything like that as some of the other font management apps like Font Explorer X or some others do.

        0 points
  • frank kolodziejfrank kolodziej, over 9 years ago

    I don't even use Font Book. I copy fonts to/from my ~/Library/Fonts folder as needed.

    It means no auto activation, but it also means no overhead of a management app always running.

    My fonts are well organized so this method works well for me. Might not work well for others.

    4 points
    • Devin BoyleDevin Boyle, over 9 years ago

      I concur. Good reply.

      0 points
    • Marcos OjedaMarcos Ojeda, over 9 years ago

      i had a similar realization sometime in grad school and it was incredibly liberating. I'll add to your suggestion the following:

      everyone has different opinions about how to organize fonts and i've taken the route, after a long time, to organize them by foundry because it became troublesome and often counterproductive (even though very type-a stimulating) to categorize almost all fonts.

      The example i like to give is jonathan barnbook's virus fonts which have blackletter and inscriptional influences but are thoroughly modern in execution and design. How do you organize something like that? even with fontexplorer's tagging features, it became troublesome to have a stash of tagged fonts and then realize that half of them needed some other tag, so like mp3 tagging, i ended up in this ridiculous cycle of tagging and untagging fonts.

      maybe that's not a problem you have, but it's a huge time suck because, to be honest, the only important classification that any of barnbrook's fonts have is that they were all made by him. and when you understand that, it's like spotting an eames chair, an m.i.a. track or, to get real pretentious, the 'distinctive notes' for a beer or wine. foundries have similar styles, like record labels or fashion brands.

      anyhow, i'm going to second using ~/Library/Fonts/ and organizing type, in the finder, by foundry. i have a screenshot and slightly more detailed explanation of this on quora.

      0 points
  • Lance Cheng, over 8 years ago

    I use RightFont every day, it's super convenient. http://rightfontapp.com

    3 points
  • Chris MousdaleChris Mousdale, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    I have been working with macs + fonts for over 15 years, and I have pretty much tried all those at some point. The one I have been using for the last 5+ years is Font Xplorer. I like it's activation features and its organising, and best of all its clean up / sorting options. (I have 15,000 + fonts btw and it works great with them)

    I love the look of fonts from the Bohemian Coding guys, but when you have a lot of fonts you can't really use an app like that.

    EDIT: forgot to say that Yes, you really should look at font management when you start to use a variation of fonts, as the system really starts to slow down when you have a lot of fonts to choose from in your apps.

    2 points
    • Matt Felten, over 9 years ago

      So fonts still do slow the system down? I remember that being a thing years ago but I've heard from a few people that it's not really a problem anymore with modern machines. Haven't really seen any evidence either way though.

      0 points
  • Chris DonerChris Doner, over 9 years ago

    Somewhat unrelated, but It blows my mind that photoshop and other programs don't have any sort of font organization built in. Being able to have "favorites" or "serif" folders for instance would rock my world... And I can't imagine that would be a difficult thing to accomplish.

    2 points
    • Hanu Man, over 9 years ago

      yeah ... this is so frustrating.

      0 points
    • Blake PerdueBlake Perdue, over 9 years ago


      Seeing a giant, unsorted list in Photoshop or Sketch is really annoying. A native OS way to organize fonts into folders or an app-specific solution would be so awesome.

      My workflow is I manually copy fonts into/out of /library/fonts. Then, I sort my fonts into "Collections" within Font Book app. When I'm trying to pick a font for a project, I open up Font Book and look through fonts and try out different text with various fonts.

      Not the best solution. But, I tried various font management apps and hated how clunky they were and how much memory / CPU cycles they absorbed.

      0 points
  • Andreas DruschelAndreas Druschel, over 9 years ago

    Fonts from Bohemian Coding :)

    2 points
  • Kenneth JensenKenneth Jensen, over 9 years ago


    2 points
  • Marc Stress, over 7 years ago

    Surprised that no one is mentioning FontAgent Pro. We've been using it for years shortly after Adobe stopped developing Adobe Type Manager and Adobe Type Reunion.

    FontAgent pro does a great job of managing large libraries, minimizes load on the OS and handles auto-activation. If you need it, there's also a server version for larger workgroups.

    Completely agree with other that have mentioned how messy the OS native rendering font menus are. Hard to believe that this issue is not solved better at the OS level first, and that major devs like Adobe don't seem to be putting effort into font management.

    TypeKit is closer, but it feels like a thinly veiled sales pitch every time it pops up.

    0 points
  • Ernest GErnest G, over 9 years ago

    I like Font Explorer http://www.fontexplorerx.com/macfeatures/

    0 points
  • Lee JoramoLee Joramo, over 9 years ago

    If you are moving a large number of fonts you have gathered over the years. I recommend that you check out FontDoctor

    It will check your fonts for a variety of problems, but more importantly given some of the suggestions others have provided here, FontDoctor will sort the fonts into folders organized by Foundry, Alphabetically, and/or Family.

    0 points
  • Daniel SieradskiDaniel Sieradski, over 9 years ago

    I use Suitecase Fusion. It does the trick. The only issue I have is that every once in a while, some fonts get deactivated for some inexplicable reason. But if you setup fontsets for each of your projects, it's easy enough to manage.

    0 points
  • Hanu Man, over 9 years ago

    All this Font Managers seem not to be "designed" by designers.

    0 points
  • Ashraf AliAshraf Ali, over 9 years ago

    Fonts might look beautiful but don't be fooled. It is a frustration to use (Bohemian Coding's previous FontCase was lovely but also somewhat buggy). I highly recommend Suitcase. It's a bit bulky as a piece of software but the myriad of experimentation tools, in-depth character view and information revealed from fonts (along with Auto-Activation of fonts so that you don't have to have all your fonts installed in one run, load on demand) makes for a solid piece of software.

    0 points
  • Alex YakirAlex Yakir, over 9 years ago

    Organising my native fonts folder and keeping clean works best for me. Just drag it to the sidebar of your finder (on a mac) so you'll have quick access.

    0 points
  • Marc JenkinsonMarc Jenkinson, over 9 years ago

    Thanks for the responses. Needed this as well and 'Fonts' is amazing.

    0 points
  • Oliver ChankOliver Chank, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    When I first started, let's say ~9 years ago, you would really need to prevent your computer from starting with a bazillion fonts activated, and not all of them softwares were good at that.

    Over the years I have tried many versions of Font Explorer, Suitcase, and Fontcase (until the latter destroyed and corrupted my entire library)... and now I have either one of them at home/work. Thus, they pretty much do the same thing: allow me to easily activate/deactivate...

    As far as browsing and shopping, I do like others have mentioned here: look at them at the vendors' sites.

    0 points
  • Ricky SynnotRicky Synnot, over 9 years ago

    Hey Matt - yeah Font Book is nice, but it lacks in usability. Bohemian's new 'Fonts' is awesome - because it basically extends the Font Book app.

    It doesn't have a separate vault or anything, just mirrors whats in the Fonts folder. It allows you to Tag and Star fonts, and make collections, which I find is a very important feature.

    Sure, Font book does this, but its ugly and has a boring UI. Fonts has built in glyph examination and copying to clipboard / HTML, With your native setup, you have to use the awkward character inspector.

    Fonts FTW! https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/fonts/id724408341?mt=12

    0 points
  • Craig RozynskiCraig Rozynski, over 9 years ago

    Hi Matt,

    I've also used Suitcase, Font Explorer, and Fontcase. For the last 6 months I've been using FontBook. If you can get past the basic UI all the features you need are there. Plus its native and free.

    There is a common misconception that Apple's FontBook is missing critical features but that's no longer the case. Enable/disable, categorisation, full character table preview etc are all there. Auto-activation isn't, but I was surprised to find I didn't miss it.

    0 points
  • Stefan SohlstromStefan Sohlstrom, over 9 years ago

    Newest version of Font Explorer's been working wonderfully for me. It's not like I'm jumping for joy every time I use the app, but she gets the job done

    0 points