How to Manage Mac Fonts With Font Book

Use Font Book to create libraries and collections of fonts

Font Book showing the All Fonts library

Coyote Moon, Inc.

Fonts may be second only to bookmarks when it comes to things that tend to accumulate on a computer to the point of being out of control. Part of the problem with fonts is that there are so many free ones available on the web, it's difficult to resist the urge to accumulate them.

Even if you have hundreds of fonts on your computer, you might not have just the right one for a particular project. Here are some ways you can use Font Book, the Mac's font manager, to organize your collection of typefaces.

These instructions apply to devices running OS X 10.5 and later.

How to Create Libraries of Fonts

Font Book comes with four default font libraries: All Fonts, English (or your native language), User, and Computer. The first two libraries are pretty self-explanatory and are visible by default within the Font Book app. The User library contains all of the fonts installed in the yourusername/Library/Fonts folder, and accessible only to you. The Computer library contains all of the fonts installed in the Library/Fonts folder, and it's accessible to anyone who uses your computer. These last two font libraries may not be present within Font Book until you create additional libraries in Font Book.

You can create additional libraries to organize a large number of fonts or multiple collections and then break out smaller groups as collections.

  1. Open Font Book from your Applications folder.

    macOS' Applications folder with Font Book highlighted
  2. Click the File menu, and select New Library.

    The keyboard shortcut to create a new library is Option+Command+N.

    Font Book with New Library under the File menu highlighted
  3. Enter a name for your new library and press Return/Enter.

    Font Book with a new library highlighted
  4. In your new collection, right-click and select Add Fonts.

    Option menu in Font Book with the Add Fonts option highlighted
  5. Navigate to Macintosh HD>Library>Fonts and select the items you want to add to your new library.

    To select multiple adjacent fonts, hold Shift and click the beginning and end of the range. To highlight items that aren't next to each other, hold Command and click each font you want to add individually.

    Mac hard drive with the Fonts folder highlighted
  6. Click Open to add the selected fonts to your library.

    Font selection in Font Book with the Open button highlighted

How to Organize Fonts as Collections

You probably have favorite fonts that you use frequently. You may also have ones that you only use for special occasions, such as Halloween, or special fonts, such as handwriting or dingbats, that you don't use often. You can organize your fonts in collections so that it's easier to find a specific font, without browsing through hundreds of items every time you want to use it.

The font collections you create in Font Book will be available in the Font menu or Fonts window of many applications, such as Microsoft Word, Apple Mail, and TextEdit.

You'll notice that Font Book already has some collections set up in the Collection sidebar, but it's easy to add more.

  1. Click the File menu, and select New Collection, or click the plus (+) icon in the bottom left corner of the Font Book window.

    The keyboard shortcut for a new collection is Command+N.

    Font Book with the New Collection and plus sign highlighted
  2. Type in a name for your collection and press Return/Enter.

    Font Book with a new collection highlighted
  3. Click the All Fonts entry at the top of the Collection sidebar.

    Font Book with the All Fonts library highlighted
  4. Click and drag the desired fonts from the Font column to your new collection.

  5. Repeat the process to create and populate additional collections.

How to Make a Smart Collection

Like the Smart Playlist feature in iTunes, Font Book has a feature that automatically populates a collection based on criteria that you set. Here's how to create a Smart Collection.

  1. Open the File menu and click New Smart Collection.

    Font Book with the New Smart Collection option highlighted
  2. Type a name for your collection in the text box.

    A new Smart Collection in Font Book with the text box highlighted
  3. Set conditions for Font Book to add typefaces to this collection. Your options are:

    • Family Name: the name of the font (e.g., Helvetica, Palatino).
    • Style Name: the version of the family (e.g., Condensed).
    • PostScript Name: a variation of a font's full name that you can find by selecting a font and pressing Command+I. An example of a PostScript name is "NuevaStd-Cond," which is an abbreviation of "Nueva Std Condensed."
    • Kind: the file type of the font. Examples are TrueType, OpenType, and PostScript. A single font can fall under multiple kinds.
    • Languages: the languages that a font supports.
    • Design Style: similar to Style Name but with more specific options (e.g., sans-serif).
    Smart Collection in Font Book with the criteria highlighted
  4. To add more conditions, click the plus sign.

    Conditions can be either additive (e.g., "contains") or subtractive (e..g, "does not contain"). Adding more will give you fewer fonts in your smart collection.,

    Smart collection in Font Book with the plus sign highlighted
  5. Click OK to create your smart collection.

    Smart collection in Font Book with the OK button highlighted
  6. To edit the conditions for a smart collection, right-click it and select Edit Smart Collection.

You can also use this menu to rename your collection, disable it, delete it, or create a new one.

Font Book on a Mac with the Edit Smart Collection option highlighted

How to Enable and Disable Fonts

If you have a large number of fonts installed, the font list in some applications can get pretty long and unwieldy. If you're an inveterate collector of fonts, the idea of deleting fonts may not be appealing, but there is a compromise. You can use Font Book to disable fonts, so they don't show up in font lists, but still keep them installed, so you can enable and use them whenever you want. Chances are, you only use a relatively small number of fonts, but it's nice to keep them around, just in case.

To disable (turn off) a font, launch Font Book, right-click its name and select Disable from the menu. To remove it entirely, choose Remove.

You can disable multiple fonts simultaneously by selecting the fonts and then selecting Disable Fonts from the Edit menu.

Font Book with the Disable and Remove options highlighted

You can also disable an entire collection of fonts, which is another reason to organize your fonts in collections. For example, you might create Halloween and Christmas font collections, enable them during the holiday season, and then disable them for the rest of the year. Or, you might create a collection of script/handwriting fonts that you turn on when you need it for a special project, and then turn off again.

In addition to using Font Book to manage your fonts, you can also use it to preview fonts and print font samples.