Real World Font Management with FontExplorer X

Posted on May 15, 2007 in type | 29 Comments

Font Management applications are the best help one can have to get control over the fonts on the mac, both the fonts you actually want to work with and the fonts the System needs to run. Few applications are available to do this task, FontAgent Pro, Suitcase Fusion and Linotype FontExplorer X. Each of them have different ways to get the work done, different looks, different features etc. But when they succeed they are actually managing the same stuff.

Full understanding in Font Management requires some reading and studying and for me – if I wanted to write about it in full, would take me days. The worst part is that only a few would read it and learn it and probably those who would read it to the end would most of them know this stuff already. In many cases much better than I do.

Instead of talking about Font Management in detail, I am going to go through the installation of one of those programs, Linotype FontExplorer X. FEX as it is often called is free and it has some very nice tools for font managing. I am not saying that FEX is better than Suitcase Fusion or Font Agent but I have used it with 20 other designers for many months and it is save to say that FEX is a very good tool.

At the end of this article you should have FEX installed properly, you will have taken some right decisions and Font Management should be working for you even if you only know bare minimum about Font Management. FEX includes a nice and short Help documents that are available after you have installed so it’s not of a much use while you are installing. When and if you read the Help file you may find out that you have not chosen the best setup to suit your needs and would have to change it afterwards or even reinstall. I hope his little article will help you with the installation and help you to take the right decisions.

Start by downloading Linotype FontExplorerX (FEX).

When the download has finished the disk image will open up and you will see the applications icon.

FEX01DragToApp.jpg

Drag the FEX to Applications folder. Open the Applications folder and find FEX. This is a good time to drag FEX to the Dock.Start FontExplorerX. A window of the Linotype FontExplorerX Setup Assistant opens up. There is a text in every window that explains all but I know that many will want somebody to hold their hands anyway and tell them everything is save. I will try to guide you through the installation.

First a Introduction window will appear. Hit the Continue button.

FEX03IntroductionNext we are faced with the License Agreement window. Click the checkbox at “I hearby agree…” The Continue button will light up. Click it.

FEX04LicenseNow we get to the Manage font files window. We see three buttons and we need to choose only one.

The first button says: Don’t manage font files. This means that fonts you choose will be activated where they are, in your font collection or where ever you have put it.FEX05ManageFontFilesI used to like my font management to be this way, fonts activated “in place” like AdobeTypeManager and Suitcase used to do it and I hated when font management applications wanted to control where my activated fonts were. But later I changed my opinion because I discovered that the best way to manage fonts is to have a separate place where the activated fonts are kept. The main advantage is that the original font collection is untouched and the fonts in there are never “busy” when you need to reorganize or copy them.

So, let’s choose the: Manage fonts by copying files button. In short this is saying that a font you add to FEX will be copied – not moved, to a place on your computer, specified by the path in the little window below. The default path is: /Users/YourHomeFolder/FontExplorer X/Font Library. You can choose to place your fonts in a different place via the Change button. Personally I prefer the default way in this case.

A copy of every font you add to FEX goes into this Font Library folder and into subfolders organized in an alphabetical order. It’s these fonts who are activated, not the ones in your font collection. Please do not fiddle with that folder manually. This folder is for FEX only. But all the same, later if you want or need to, you can safely throw this folder into the Trash because as I said, it only carries copies from your otherwise untouched precious font collection.

For the same reason you should NOT choose the last button: Manage fonts by moving files, because you will risk loosing the only copy you have of your font.

In the next window Add Fonts, FEX shows you what font folders it has found and offers to take care of for you. Three folders are grayed out. These are the most important font folders included with the system and three of the most likely to be a source of font conflicts on your computer. There is no point dismissing them. We want font management don’t we?

FEX06AddFonts01If you are new to font management it’s not a bad idea to look briefly at the grayed out path. It shows you where the folders are on your computer. It is really quite logical if you think about it.

  • /Users/YourHomeFolder/Library/Fonts This folder is on every users Home directory. One folder like this will appear in the list for every account.
  • /Library/Fonts Fonts in this folder appear to every user of the mac and this is the folder where most of the fonts included with the system are placed. FEX can clean out this folder too, to the minimum.
  • /System/Library/Fonts The system needs a few fonts at all times and they are kept in there. Actutally there are more fonts in there than needed and FEX can clean the folder for you later on.

One folder there FEX has found is not grayed out. Since I have Adobe Creative Suite 2 on my computer this font folder has been installed. Plenty of fonts are included with the suite and we want of course to be able to get some control over those fonts. That is why we should accept to include this folder.At this point we have the option to include more folders on that list. One important font folder is missing from the list if you have Microsoft Office installed on your computer. With the Office suite come a lot of fonts, among them many you may expect when you receive files from Window users. And also, there are fonts in it that may conflict with other fonts you might want to use later.

Let’s add it now, either by clicking the + button or by dragging the folder into the list window of FEX.

The path to the folder usually is:

Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts.

FEX07AddFontFiles02

Now, one more folder you might want to add now is your own font collection. Even if you have many fonts, let’s say more than 5000 you can safely add it to the list. What your gain by adding your collection it at this stage is that all of your fonts will be analyzed against the system fonts. They will all be added to the FEX Library and can be activated quickly at any time. On the other hand, if you decide not to add your collection now or the Office fonts you can always add it later by option-dragging it later into FEX.

When you have added these folder into the list, click the Analyze button. You can watch how the folders turn red while FEX runs through the folders. When FEX has analyzed the content of the folders it starts to import the fonts.

Most likely you will get a warning sign, Import Warning saying that you are trying to install a font that is already on the system. It may be a font that was installed with MacOSX and you have a new font brought in from the Office fonts collection and FEX wants to know if you want to keep the first one or replace it with a new one.

FEX09ImportWarning02

FEX informs you what is happening and shows the paths of the already installed font and the path to the font it is trying to install. Here we have to take care.

  • If you are not installing your own font collection your best bet is to click the: Use already imported font and check also: Use this setting for all remaining fonts. I advice not to check: Use this setting for all remaining imports. We want to keep all options open for the future.
  • If however you are installing your own font collection too (probably because you prefer to use it and probably because they have been used in the past for your previous work), you should take notice of the path from where the fonts are coming from and make sure that if there are conflicting names there, to choose the fonts from your collection. This can be quite a work. In this case you would choose the button: Remove existing font from FontExplorer X and import new font. No other buttons are needed.

If you choose the first method you will probably want to add your collection into FEX. Then, when installing you will most likely get this Import Warning window. In that case you will most likely want to use other options like Remove existing font from FontExplorer X and import new font or even Import fonts as duplicate (not recommended). In short, this means that you choose method 1 during the installation of FEX and delay method 2 until later. This is the method I use.

When the import procedure is over we click the continue button and move over to the next panel, Plug-Ins. Here we see a list of available auto-activation plug-ins for the Adobe applications and QuarkXPress. FEX show here a list of already installed plug-ins, your version and the version it has availale. Some people may even have both CS and CS2 on their mac so here you have the option to control the plug-ins. Be sure to let all the applications have the latest version of the plug-ins. When finished, click Continue.

FEX10PlugIns

In the next window Updates you have the option to make FEX check for latest updates and also when checked to send information about your system to Linotype. It’s important to know that FEX is internet connected. Some people are very sensitive about this matter. The main reason FontExplorerX is free is that it offers font buying directly via the application it self in a similar way iTunes does. In my opinion, if you are buying music with iTunes, why not buy fonts with FontExplorerX? Information provided about your system to Linotype only helps to make FontExplorerX better. Click Continue when you have made your choice.

FEX12Updates

Conclusion panel. Now we have finished the install and are ready to start using FEX. There is however one option left: Clean caches. I advice you to check that box and then click the Finish button. A Restart is required after this.

FEX13Conclusion

I will talk about cache cleaning later on, but I think it’s best to allow it right now, because you have installed a huge number of fonts during the install and possibly done some replacement of fonts too. Older cache can hold on to a previously installed font and prevent a different font with same name from displaying correctly. You will be asked for authorization because the cache files are buried in many places where you don’t have full access from the Finder. So, clean the cache now and tolerate the restart.

As you can see on the list that appears, font caches are kept all over the place. It’s a great thing that FEX does this cleaning for us in few seconds. Cleaning it manually would require a lot of time and hair pulling permission game.

FEX19SetViewAfter the restart we open FontExplorer X. Let’s look briefly at what we see here. In the side window the Source we see a number of font sets.At the top is the Library, a set that shows every font that FEX is handling. If you are searching for specific font this set is the one to select.

Next one is the Store, a brilliant feature that streamlines font buying.

System fonts. These are the font folders that were grayed out during install in the Manage font files. The font folders. If you select one by one to get to know them, you’ll notice that some of the fonts have lock on to prevent you from changing their status.Tell more about what fonts to close etc what is needed etc.

Activated fonts. This is a Smart Set and what is shown in there depends on the rules that are applied to the set. Check the rule by holding the right-button off your mouse. You will see that there are many options and if you like one or two of them go ahead and make a new Smart Set.

Adobe Fonts. The Adobe folder FEX found.

Fonts. This is the fonts folder from Office. Actually the screenshot is made after I renamed it from Fonts to MSFonts. I like to know where the fonts come from.Optionally you might have added your own font collection and if so it will be there too as a set of its own.Installation is done. Next thing would be to look at the Preferences. In my opinion you should at this point only check that box that makes FEX load at startup and also set up your account for the Store if you plan to buy fonts. Even if you do not plan to buy fonts it is fun to browse the Store. Most of the other settings in Preferences are just fine but as you get to know FEX you might find something in there that you would want to change.

This would be a perfect time to check out the Help file and learn something about the abilities of FontExplorerX. It’s short but explains quite well most of the features of the program. Linotype.com also has a FAQ page that gives answers to many questions that might pop up. Linotype FontExplorer (unofficial) Discussion Board might also have answers to questions regarding some problem that you may encounter.

Best practices.

One thing I have not seen discussed anywhere is best practices. I guess the reason is that people tend to make their own personal system on how they organize fonts in a font management application or even as I see most often – use no system at all. Just open fonts when they are needed and never turned off again.No matter how easy and fun the font management application is, it will become a burden to see the font menus of the applications get longer and longer with fonts that you are not using. FontExplorerX is a nice tool to preview fonts before you decide to activate them. Applications like Illustrator, InDesign or Word take much longer to open if they have to index a long list of fonts each time they are opened.

Here is a simple three folder system with subfolders you could try out to organize your fonts. You can then make your own variation that suits your needs.

  • In the Sources List (the left side window) make a folder called Clients or Customers. Inside it make a folder for each client you work for. Just make it as it comes to you. This takes minimum of time – don’t try to do folders for all the clients you remember of. Inside these folders you import the fonts used for this client, either from the Library or as a new import/open. This means it’s easy to deactivate the client’s fonts later on if you are not dealing with him for some period of time.
  • Make another folder with A, B, C.. folders inside. Call it Alphabetical or what ever you feel like. Into these folders you can add fonts not specified for any job or client. Just a nice collection of fonts you like to keep handy.
  • Another folder I always make is Test folder. Here I allow me to be messy and disorganized. Throw anything in, downloaded free fonts, fonts included on cd’s with magazines, what ever. You can close everything inside the folder in one click. And when the time comes you can simply right click and choose: Remove Folder and contained Sets and Fonts and start a new Test folder.

You get the idea.

Make many macs with the same setup.

It is not so complicated to set up one mac just as described here above. After you have set up one you might want another or maybe many macs to have the same setup. Obviously you would start by copying your font collection to all the macs you are installing on. Also: Put FontExplorer X into the Application folder. The items we need to move are (not a bad idea to .zip or .sit the folders before you move it):

FEX20MovingSets01

  • FontExplorer X Font Library. The folder is by default on the users home area: /Users/YourHomeFolder/FontExplorer X/Font Library.
  • FontExplorer X database: /Users/YourHomeFolder/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X. The database is inside this folder but copy it all.

Move both of these to the new mac and put the files in the same place on the second mac. If you had Font Explorer X on that second mac you will have to overwrite the old folders, so be sure FEX is not open when you overwrite.

  • Start FontExplorer X.
  • Make sure you have Conflicts set on: View>Show Conflicts. Select the Conflicts View. As you see all of the fonts appear in red.
  • Just under the red fonts list, set: Conflict: Fonts listed in FontExplorer X but deleted in Finder
  • Select one font and note down the path to it. Current Path: /Users/YourHomeFolderOnYourPreviousMac/FontLibrary/… etc. You see that the path points to the first mac. This is what we have to change.
  • Select all the fonts, command+A. We now get two input fields. In the first we put the path of the first mac: /Users/YourHomeFolderOnYourPreviousMac/FontLibrary (note that this is not the full path of the one font we chose before)
  • In the second field we put a new path that fits the second mac: /Users/YourHomeFolderOnYourSecondMac/FontLibrary
  • Click Apply

FEX21MovingSets02

Not so difficult, was it?

Tools of the trade.

It is the users job to keep things clean and working efficiently. Although FEX is a good tool it can not prevent all possible illness that your fonts may have or may cause. But FEX has some built in tools to help you solve problems that may pop up from time to time.

FEX22ToolsUnder the Tools menu you will find an arsenal of powerful tools to do the job. A good description about these tools is in the Help file but I am going to run briefly over few of the items in the menu and explain in short what they do.

  • Clean System Fonts folders… All kinds of applications install fonts on your mac and most of them put it into the Library/Fonts folder. This menu command clean out such fonts and puts it into a folder on your desktop called FontsRemovedFromSystem, plus the date. Now, since you may possibly still want to have access to some of those fonts, the best practice is to move that folder into your font collection, then option-drag it into FEX. Then activate those fonts in the folder you need.
  • Clean Manage folder… A bit confusing, but The Manage folder is the Font Library located at: Users/YourHomeFolder/FontExplorer X/Font Library. If you have been opening and closing fonts a lot, it’s very likely that you still have in this folder left over fonts that you have disabled and don’t want to use any more. This menu command cleans out these fonts after having compared with the FEX database.
  • Clean System font caches… It’s happening from time to time: The System caches “remembers” fonts that are long gone and that memory may be in the way for a new font you are trying to install. Or some cache has become garbled and fonts in menus are twisted around. It’s good to
  • Clean application font caches… Similar as above. Applications cache holding on to wrong information about previously activated font, often with the same name you are trying to install.
  • Optimize database. This menu command it to rebuild FEX database so it holds only information about currently installed fonts.

Use these commands when you get into trouble and it is also a good practice to do the cleaning as a part of regular maintenance of your computer even nothing is apparently going wrong. Just as you should do Repair Permissions every other week or so.

The final curtains

This article is based on my experience using Linotype FontExplorer X for about a year. Please comment if you see something obviously wrong here. Also, as English is not my native language you are welcome to comment on how things might be better said. Or what ever…

29 Comments

  1. stephanie
    24.05.2007

    This was absolutely the assistance I was searching for before installing FEX and was written so clearly. Thank you for freeing me from the headaches of font management!

    s.

  2. paul
    28.05.2007

    Still using FEX. It’s great. Your how-to helped enormously. Thank you

  3. Abraham
    29.05.2007

    Nice text, but unfortunately it’s not correct :(

    > … So, let’s choose the: Manage fonts by copying files button. In short this is saying that a font you choose to activate is copied to a place on your computer …

    That’s not true. ALL fonts are copied/moved while importing them, not only the activated ones! The behaviour is exactly like in iTunes: you can choose if the program manages all of your files or leave them where they are. The activation is a completely different step.

    Sorry for correcting you, but I think this is an important difference!

  4. Sigurdur Armannsson
    30.05.2007

    Abraham. Thanks for your comment. I am looking at this to see if the text needs some change.

    In the meantime, lets have this at least clear (taken directly from Linotype’s Help File):

    (Quote)

    Manage Fonts: If activated, Linotype FontExplorer X uses the specified folder to manage all fonts on your computer (excluding the System Fonts). If not activated, fonts are not managed and stay in their original location.

    Copy: With this option selected, all fonts will be copied to the Linotype FontExplorer X font folder. Thus, the font files will still be present in their original location.

    Move: With this option selected, all fonts will be moved to the Linotype FontExplorer X font folder. Thus, the font files will be removed from their original location.

    (Quote end)

    The danger is, that if you choose Move, the fonts are moved from it’s original place and if you delete some fonts later from FEX you could loose it all together. So: Choose Copy.

  5. Abraham
    30.05.2007

    Sigurdur:

    Your quote is right. But it could be misunderstood: “if activated” and “if not activated” doesn’t mean “activated fonts”. It just means the checkbox “manage fonts” in the preferences :) if the checkbox is activated -> checked, ALL fonts will be copied/moved. Maybe it isn’t very clever to use the word “activated” in reference to the state of a checkbox.

    BTW: i have been part of the development crew (you can find me in the credits), so I should know what I’m talking about ;-)

  6. Sigurdur Armannsson
    30.05.2007

    Aha. I’ll take a look at this text tomorrow and adjust it. Thanks very much for your advice, Abraham.

  7. Sigurdur Armannsson
    31.05.2007

    Changed the text a bit to make it more exact.

  8. Patrick Horn
    13.06.2007

    A very good article! Thank you! Especially the part to rename the font paths when moving a library from one mav to another. I didn’t found this feature by myself …

    Small misspelling: “Select all the fonts, command+A. We now get to input fields.”

    I think, it should be “We now get TWO input fields.”

  9. Sigurdur Armannsson
    14.06.2007

    Ahh. You are right. A small w can make a difference. Thanks.

  10. James Walters
    24.08.2007

    Very useful article thank you. Following this article finally allowed me to get to grips with fontexplorer. A month or so back I installed it on a couple of Macs. To those reading the article and thinking ‘gosh this looks difficult’ I’d say. it may be takes an hour first time you try it, but if you’re dealing with lots of fonts it’s so very worth while. On a Mac at least start up time is reduced both for the Mac itself and a number of programmes. I’ve finally gained control of my fonts. Thank you.

  11. hcabbos
    29.09.2007

    Hi. Excellent article. There’s just one glaring problem (as I see it) with Font Explorer (FE). Let me explain:

    If you’re importing and you choose “Remove existing font and install new font” when prompted, the new font ISN’T COPIED into FE. FE is instead going to REFERENCE the path of the new font you stated should be used in place of the already installed font. Think about that. This, to me, is terrible. After all, I’ve chosen Copy in my advanced preferences thinking that it would COPY all of the stuff I wanted to bring into FE. The implications in the case of someone choosing Delete Files Immediately is profound.

  12. Darrell
    23.12.2007

    Thanks for sharing the “Best Practices” section. Although you share with us a simple organization method in FEX, what about in the file system? Would u suggest we follow the same rules?

  13. Sigurdur Armannsson
    25.12.2007

    Darrell : Thanks for asking. Actually I have not really written anything about file organizing except about fonts for two main reasons. Primarily because English is not my native language and secondly because so much has been written about that subject in English by people far better than I am in those two subjects.

    But to answer this question in short:

    In the best practices for FEX, the first part is what I use myself. Every font I install is dragged to a folder by the name of the client, which are subfolders of a folder called Clients. Easy to turn off and on when needed.

    My file system is not very unlike that and based on a similar concept. If you look at folder 3 in the description below, you see there is a similarity here.

    I use mainly five primary folders inside Documents. The names and purpose is as described:

    0.Inbox. Everything new concerning work, downloaded or not, clips, anything is put here.

    1.Actions. I take stuff from the Inbox and sort into subfolders here. Those familiar with the GTD system will recognize the names and purpose of some of the folders:

    @_Brainstorm

    @_Calls

    @_Errands

    @_Home

    @_Mac

    @_Mac_Design

    @_Mac_Fonts

    @_Mac_Online

    @_Mac_Write

    @_Office

    @_Reading

    @_Someday

    @_Waiting_for

    @_zArchive

    (These are folders that suit my needs but everyone has to find out what fits best)

    2.Incubate. Folder I store projects or ideas I am developing

    3.Current_Projects. Now, this folder is similar to the setup I talk about in the best practices. Here every client gets a folder with subfolders if projects are more than one.

    4.Archive. When a project is done I move it here and it is filed to a DVD or similar for later reference

    So, as you guessed, I am using similar system on all of my computerwork. Maybe I should consider to write more about this. But until then, keep in mind that the purpose of a system is to get more done in less time without being a slave of your own system setup.

  14. Paul
    06.06.2008

    This is exactly the kind of guide I was looking for, thanks so much.

  15. Jared Christensen
    12.06.2008

    Great article, the “Make many macs with the same setup” is very handy.

  16. Fed Up With Fonts
    13.09.2008

    Hello Sigurdur,

    THANK YOU for your excellent article which I’d found after typing “Can I pay someone to setup FontExplorer for me” in the Google search box. My computer came with both FontBook and FontExplorer installed. I loved using FE and had no problems until I added my Postscript fonts like Helvetica which I need for a few large projects that use these old fonts. Didn’t know how to use FontBook and had so many crashes that I wiped system clean so I could start over. Can you help me?

    p. s. Your English and spelling is better than some Americans I know.

  17. Sigurdur Armannsson
    14.09.2008

    Thank you and all for your kind words. I am glad I wrote this article in English because it seems helpful to so many. At least this is the most read post on my site.

    – – – – – – 

    By the way, there is a FontExplorer Forum at http://www.fontexplorerx-board.com .

    – – – – – –

    Now, that Helvetica problem. Here are few points:

    – MacOsX has included a few widths of the Helvetica Neue font. These are perfectly safe to use as it is point by point the same as HelveticaNeue LT from Linotype. The problem here is that if you have the Helvetica Neue packages (1, 2 and 3) from Adobe, (which btw. is the same font too) you will get some naming conflicts. You can however open single fonts from inside the Adobe Helvetica Neue and everything should run fine. Buying and installing Helvetica Neue LT allows on the other hand to have the whole set open without any conflicts. Even better is to buy the nice Pro version (OpenType version).

    – In the case of Helvetica (not Neue) there is no way to get rid of the four Helvetica fonts that are included. They are by the way not bad as such, big fonts with eastern Europe extra characters.

    But if you don’t want to use it and are stuck with some old jobs that need to be in Helvetica, consider to buy a Open Type version of Helvetica. It will not conflict and you can simply open up your old job and do a Find&Replace font and your problem should be solved.

    – It is not recommended to remove any fonts from within the /System/Library/Fonts folder.

    – Apple has made this worse in Leopard and if you try to remove fonts from the system the system will reinstall the fonts.

    – If you are daring enough and insist on using your PostScript Helveticas (t1) you CAN remove the System Helvetica and Helvetica Neue. Go to http://www.jklstudios.com/misc/osxfonts.html and use those directions.

    – Hope this helps a little.

  18. BJ
    04.10.2008

    Great article. Even for someone who hasn’t been managing fonts since 2003. This only took me 45 minutes to go through and import my 2,000 fonts. cheers.

    • Sigurdur Armannsson
      08.10.2008

      @BJ

      Great to hear!

      Btw.: If some English speakers would be interested to see some of the Icelandic articles in English, please let me know. Just comment on the articles and I will consider it. The English articles get much more reading anyway.

  19. Steve
    21.01.2009

    Thanks for all of these best practices. Pretty cool and interesting stuff.

    Here’s something that i’m wondering. Now that Font Explorer isn’t free any more, is it still the one that I should go with? I’ve used both Suitcase Fusion and Font Agent in the past. They’re both pretty decent. Right now my office uses Suitcase Fusion, and I’m tempted to keep using that for my contract work at home.

    • Sigurdur Armannsson
      22.01.2009

      I have been thinking about this too since the Pro version was shipped. I have to admit that selling it now puts it back on the same level as the two you mention. I think all three are more and less of the same quality and that now it’s up to the users’ taste to decide.
      I am currently trying out the FontExplorer X Pro and I really like it. The new things are not very obvious ones and it works very similar to the previous version did. I like it still.
      I am also trying out Font Case (http://BohemianCoding.com). It’s very mac-like and totally different approach than the other mentioned. It will be in the same price range as the other +/- 80 Euros/Dollars (reduced price 39 out Feb).
      What I wished was in FEX is now in Font Case: Tagging ability. What I would also like, that I know Suitcase Fusion has is font style database. Everyone would like that I guess.
      I think for you it’s best to use same program at home if you like what you have at work.

  20. Kathy
    01.02.2009

    I wish I had read this before I installed FEX. Somehow I removed a bunch of iWork fonts and I don’t know how to get them back. I should’ve set up Time Machine, but I hadn’t, so I’ve lost a lot of fonts now. Any assistance you can offer?

    • Sigurdur Armannsson
      01.02.2009

      Hi Kathy.

      If you actually took the fonts out of the Library/Fonts folder and trashed it before you installed FontExplorer there is no way back but to reinstall iWork.

      The fonts will install again to your mac. They will be installed into the Library/Fonts folder. It’s not a bad idea to Label (color) all the fonts that are already there so you can easily see what is being added. Then, after the install, drag the iWorks fonts into a new set in FontExplorer and after that you will not have to worry because fontexplorer will make a copy of the fonts into the User/FontExplorer X folder.

      If you removed the fonts out of the Library/Fonts folder after you installed FEX, a copy of the fonts should be inside the User/FontExporer X folder and should be ready when you need them for iWork.

      However, although the templates used in iWork ask for certain fonts and complain about it when you open a template you can easily use any other fonts from your computer. After you save your file the complaints will/should stop.

  21. christine
    02.10.2009

    Dear Sigurdur,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! … for taking the time to write this clear and concise tutorial. I wanted to install FontExplorer a while back but got stuck on the set-up assistant. I didn’t know what to choose for any of options. Your article explained which options were best and more importantly, why. Can’t remember when I have read such good instructions and your English is perfect.

    I really appreciate your work!!.

  22. Sigurdur Armannsson
    04.10.2009

    @christine Thank you for your nice words. Fortunately FontExplorerX still works, at least in Leopard. Not sure about Snow Leopard. The FontExplorer Pro version had some problems, but they have been fixed by now.

    I am hoping to find some time to write about FontExplorer Pro. The installation is exactly the same as described here but there are some very nice features that the paid version has to offer.

    Apart from that I really love that the free version still works fine.

  23. Old school designer
    21.10.2009

    Hi Sigurdur,

    I commend you for the time and expertise you put into this blog on Font Management. I have for some time labored over how to manage the fonts on my computers ( personal & office). Your insight to the use of the FEX Mngt application is very insightful. If you have the time to council me and other like me how to clean up years of font goulash I would be ever so grateful. Let me explain: Years ago I use to think of myself as a Mac system expert ( in the days of 0S 6-9, Suitcase and ATM, Inits, and QuarkXpress). Then I started a small business and had to leave much of the computer management to the designers. Every designer used a different font management method and the computers fonts and issues migrated from one computer to the next as we upgraded over the years. Now we have “font goulash” on all the computers – And as I try to work on the computers from time to time I don’t know what font manager to use. All the computers have at least 3 managers on them ( Suitcase, Font Book, FEX, etc) because of the designers preference. Are there system-Font conflicts with multiple font managers ? After reading your article I am beginning to understand the Font Managers again. It was a lot easier when I only dealt with Type 1 fonts and could edit suitcases and manage a clean ONE-Location Font Library ( I kept copies of my Suitcase library preferences in case it became corrupt and for copying to another computer) and I only had minimal fonts in the system – I hated programs that installed fonts into the system because I wanted to protect my system resources by only turning on Fonts that were used.

    Now 12 years later I don’t know what is best any more. Please help me determine the fastest work-around to cleaning up several messy computers. I have Suitcase Fusion v12, FEX v 1.2.3, and Font Book 2.1 all running on every computer. I cannot compel any of the designers to use one or the other because I don’t know any of them well enough myself to teach their advantages. However one of the designers said that the Linotype’s Font Explorer is best MNGR to use and it is (or was) FREE. That is how I came across your article – trying to figure out how use FEX to standardize several OS-10.5 iMac computers in the office.

    What should I do Next ? On one computer I performed a Clean-remove-system fonts and clean all caches, Yet hundred of fonts are duplicated and incomplete or bad font family exist everywhere.

    I’m not sure how to get FEX to perform a computer-wide catalog of all the fonts, And if I do, will I be able to tell if the font folders (or suitcases) are incomplete or corrupt. This is what started it…

    I have an Indesign catalog job with a unmatch or corrupt Univers type 1 font. I started the search for a clean font family of Univers- I found the missing outline font but was not able to remove or link the suitcase font with the matching outline. Trying to removing the individual font from within the suitcase – FEX would only allow me to trash the entire Univers Family suitcase. I could have repaired it with the older Suitcase II, or even rebuilt separate suitcases for each Type 1 outline font but I can not figure out how to do this in FEX.

    Also I can not figure out how to repair or remove the “RED” ( not available) fonts from my Library – can you explain what is going on…. Some of the “red” fonts seem to be true-type fonts and so they can not be missing the paired outline font.

    Your expertise with these issues would be invaluable – If you had a video-action script-tutorial it would be worth selling to novices like me or licensing to a software developer because I have yet to find a video tutorial on font management. And operating systems have not come to the point of managing fonts much better than in the early days.

    Attached: screen shots showing difficulties (I was afraid to loose these comments -while downloading Gravatar- so I’ll attach to another comment.

    Best regards,

    Old School…. I also hope to be able to contribute back to the community too.

    P.S. I leaned something from Google.. I thought Iceland’s language was English or French – I only new the DeLorean came from Iceland. That shows what many Americans know.

    • Sigurdur Armannsson
      22.10.2009

      I have done this kind of a cleaning for a few companies, print-shops and newspaper publishers. They all had similar problem, users had installed the fonts they needed each time, sometimes the fonts came with a job etc.. Then, when another user was opening the same file it called for certain fonts. A font with same name was found and replaced in the file and all was good for that user. Then maybe the file was opened by a third user and the same process went on and on. Sounds familiar.

      What I do in this situation is to collect all fonts from each computer. I take it to my computer and do some sorting. I start with the fonts from one user. Then I drag fonts from the next user over this first folder but don’t allow replacement. Set the remaining fonts aside, just in case, and in the end I will burn the remains to a cd or dvd just for safe-keeping. On to the next users fonts, drag his fonts over to the first folder and so on until I have what would be a complete set of all the fonts in the company.

      In all cases I have dealt with I was using FontExplorer X. I make a new user account and open FontExplorer X after that. I go through the process described here in the article. I install all the fonts into FontExplorer in a Set which I might call Complete091022. Notice that a set is a set of aliases to the Library set at the top. So all the fonts will be available there too. If FEX complains over some or any of the fonts I check that problem, see if a font with a same name is fine from some of the other users and replace it if that’s the deal.

      What we have now is a complete set of all the fonts in the company. Delete all fonts from each computer to start fresh with the new font install. If you want to be super nice you would also make a nice font sets for each of your biggest clients so every designer would find their fonts right away. But FEX auto-activation would find the fonts anyway in most cases. From here you should be able to continue following the section: Make many macs with the same setup.

      When this is done you should not have many red fonts or at least very few.

  24. Old school designer
    27.10.2009

    Thank you Sigurdur for addressing my frustrating font issues. Your explanation of the font clean up and re-activation on several computers sound easy – Yet there is a lot of work ahead for me. In the meantime could you comment on running multiple font managers at the same time. Does this cause conflicts and corrupt fonts? And lastly how do I delete a single font out of a suitcase if it is corrupt or missing it’s type 1 outline.

  25. admin
    23.06.2010

    Comments that didn’t make it over to this version of my site:

    charles says:
    17.06.2010 at 21:08
    Hi. nice post. but i have a question.
    Well, I have FEX installed but when I import fonts, those are deleted from its source, and place them in FEX by default path. And i would like just a copy. and my original fonts stay in order to have always my original coleccion intouchable.
    Sorry about my englis. xD. thank y I will appreciate any help.

    Sigurdur Armannsson says:
    17.06.2010 at 22:01
    charles: When you install FEX you have the option of copy or move your fonts. It looks like you have chosen Move.
    But you can change this any time in the Preferences. Go to FontExplorer > Preferences and check Manage font files and click on the Copy button.
    If this is not working as this you should delete the preferences for FEX. You will find it in your Users/”You”/Library/Preferences. Do a search for “linotype” and another search for “fontexplorer”. I am now using the Pro version myself but if I remember correctly there are two .plist files for FEX.
    Hope this helps a little.

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