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Managing & Collecting Your Macintosh Fonts

One of the most common mistakes that designers make when submitting their files for professional printing is neglecting to include all fonts (subject to certain licensing restrictions) used in a document. Rather than picking individual fonts from any family, the entire font family should be provided since they are often needed due to a specific application's method of making font style selections (such as bold, italic, etc.). This can be a complex issue because there are often many types of fonts being used and they may be located in a number of different places on the computer or even on the network. For detailed information on fonts and font locations please refer to the Managing Your Macintosh Fonts section below.

Basic Font Tips

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Using Applications to Collect Your Fonts

Different applications offer different solutions to this problem. Some are more effective than others. The tools provided with QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign are excellent for determining the fonts that are being used in their documents. However, they are not always 100% reliable when reporting the font usage of certain placed image files (such as .EPS, .PSD, etc.), particularly if font style selections (such as bold, italic, etc.) were used.

It is not safe to rely entirely on these collected font files to be complete. You should always examine the results and add any font files or families that are either incomplete or missing altogether. In the end however, the most effective tool is your own font management techniques. It is a very good idea to always be aware of all fonts used in your document so that you may double-check your files prior to sending them to your printer.

For specific information about using your application to collect your fonts please see the Application Tips section below.

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Managing Your Macintosh Fonts

Macintosh operating systems also have native support for Postscript Type 1 fonts as well as TrueType and OpenType fonts. In System 9 the fonts were typically stored within the System Font folder. In OS X there are a number of places that your font files may be located (see below). You may also have fonts in other locations either on your system or on your network.

Macintosh font files may have a file extension such as: .bmap, .dfont, .ttf, .tt, .otf, or they even may have no extension at all. They will be generally identified in the Finder as either a Postscript Type 1 Outline Font or as a Font Suitcase (but not to be confused with the Extensis font management application which is also called also Suitcase). Depending upon the specific font, this Font Suitcase will contain either the screen fonts for Type 1 Postscript fonts or TrueType fonts. Don't forget that all postscript fonts require both the outline font and the screen font suitcase to print.

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Macintosh Font Managers

The Font Book application that is installed with OS X is a basic font manager but there are far more effective and reliable third-party managers available. The best known of these are:

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Macintosh Font Locations:

The Macintosh OS X system uses five major locations to store fonts. Some applications (notably Adobe) may also store fonts in other locations.


System > Library > Fonts


Library > Fonts


Users > [account name] > Library > Fonts


Network > Library > Fonts

Classic (or System 9.x):

System Folder > Fonts

Other Locations:

Some applications (such as those from Adobe) may also have their own font locations.These fonts are located in:

Library > Application Support > Adobe > Fonts

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Application Tips

For more information about managing and collecting fonts and for other helpful tips on using these applications, please follow the links below.

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