This is part one of a two-part article series.
I had a recent experience that I thought I would turn into a two-fold article. The first part is today, while the second part is next week. And just so I don’t bore you all to death, I’m giving out a prize at the end of the article. So, there’s a little pot sweetening involved!
But first, let’s get to the meat of the situation. Last week on Reddit, I had a situation where I came across an article where a redditor had posted a link to another website out there offering 2000 webfonts. Upon reading the article, myself and several others had a great laugh at the idiocy of the article, though another redditor had pointed out something very salient (which I will discuss next week.) But let’s get to the first part of all this.
Here is the paraphrased quote from the offending website (I’m not going to give the exact website or the exact quote, as I don’t want this guy getting any more traffic than necessary).
How to Install the Font Bundle in One Easy Step?
- Download the bundle
- Unzip the file
- After unzipping go to the fonts system file and press Ctrl-A to select all fonts
- Right click and install fonts for all users
Yup, easy alright…except if you’re on Mac (in which case it’s Cmd-A, if I recall correctly, or Linux, which it entirely depends on what keyboard you’re using). But that’s not the point. The point that it’s easy!
Yup! Easy…to break your system.
Seriously. If you follow this one easy step, I don’t care how what bleeding edge PC or just-off-the-shelf Mac you got. I don’t care if you’ve finetuned your Linux box into a beast. The fact is, if you’re stupid enough to dump two thousand-plus fonts into your system fonts folder, you’re playing with fire. Anytime you’re doing that into a system folder, you’re blowing vital resources and slowing down your system immensely. Maybe your system can keep up, but I really, really, really doubt it. After all, gamers complain about specs all the time and watch out for even the tiniest thing that will slow down cycles and processing. When you’re doing graphics design, working with video or something equally as intensive, don’t you think you should be working with a bit more processing power? Don’t you want your system to move faster than a begging-for-help 386DX?
Well, ignore the above, because I have a real easy solution for you. Not one step, but much more intelligent.
It’s called…a font manager.
What’s a font manager you may ask? Well, it’s as the name says – it’s meant to manage your fonts. Particularly:
- They let you automatically install/activate or uninstall/deactivate fonts without having to mess with the systems folder
- Helps you to organize your fonts more than just alphabetically (which is how the systems folder works)
- Identify corrupted fonts and in some cases, let you repair them. Some will even repair the system registries for said fonts as well!
- Lets you see how the whole font works. Yes, you might really like that A for the logo design you’re working on, but does the q work as well for your needs? Your choice is to either take the shot…or plan ahead and look through your font manager
- Lets you rename the font file, if you prefer to do so. Some font creators (like myself) name our font files through different means (e.g. XRO-RE.ttf is the file name I use for the regular weight of my Xero font. You might actually want to name it “Xero Regular.ttf” and letting a font manager do the work helps make things easier)
- Most importantly…it lets you keep the fonts in a separate, non-system folder and prevents you from having to clog up your system fonts folder, with, say, two thousand-plus fonts!
As a designer and a type designer, I’ve been using them for years. As a disclosure, I have used four of the ones that I will be discussing below. That’s not to say that I particularly suggest one or the other; ultimately that’s up to you (especially since two of them are Windows-only, as far as I know, so you Mac and Linux folks may want to broaden your search). But this is mainly to get your feet wet.
AMPSoft FontViewer (Windows)
My first experience with a font manager and what made me a believer in font management. This one is pretty much sadly abandonware at this point (it’s been 3.86 for close to a decade now and it still talks about Windows Vista as if it were a thing), but if you have an older system, this is probably the best choice for you. Chances are, though, if this is your best bet, you should also be looking at massively upgrading your system to begin with.
Xiles Nexusfont (WIndows)
Another oldie but goodie. This one isn’t anywhere near as old as the above, and it’s pretty well kept up. I know plenty of people who still use this and it’s a good go to. It can be clunky at times, but it’s still solid. It also has a portable version of flash keys as well.
Fontbase (WIndows, Mac)
This one is my laptop mainstay, as it’s lightweight and effective. It’s also for Windows and Mac. There’s a subscription version available that will add some extra features, but to be honest, it can easily stand on its own. The organization in this font manager is a beauty and I love that it taps seamlessly into Google Fonts.
High-Logic Maintype (Windows)
If you’re a pro for Windows, this is your best bet (it is for me, as I have it on my desktop.) It comes in three flavors, and the most basic one is free. The other two are the medium and professional ones and the thing I love most about this one is that this does registry repair when you have corrupted fonts. Plus, I can never have enough good things to say about High-Logic in general, so this is my highest recommendation!
Right Font (Mac)
This came recommended from a friend who uses Macs. This only comes in a pay version, but what it does, it does well. And it also handles color fonts, which I have yet to see any of the Windows ones do. That in itself sounds like a reason to get it if you’re a Mac user!
Fonty Python (Linux)
Ayne maintains a Linux box and so uses this for it. Aside from the endless Monty Python references within the app, it seems fairly solid. Development for this is slow-going but steady and per the website, a new version should be coming out within this year or early next.
Extensis Suitcase Fusion (Windows, Mac)
Here’s your enterprise software. If you’re part of a design company or an extensive freelancer, you probably already know this name. Made for both Windows and Mac, this is your “everything including the kitchen sink” solution. However, it is a bit pricey and if that’s not for you, you may want to look at some of the other ones above.
Of course there are other solutions out there, from the cloud-based FontYou to browser-based gems like Wordmark. But they all do their job and they do it splendidly. And they definitely won’t end up with you nuking your systems font folder in the process!
So now that we’ve covered the reason why you want to save your computer by not installing 2000-plus fonts into your systems font folder via That One Easy Step!™, next week we’re going to want to talk about why you want to save your skin by not installing them.
As in, the legal ramifications of why.
Thanks to Erwin Denissen and the great folks over at High-Logic for doing this!