Font Management in OS X Panther
for Desktop Publishing and PrePress

Macintosh OS X panther has a much higher potential for a font problem than Mac OS 9. So, hold on to your mouse, understanding and managing fonts will be harder and more complex than ever before. This tutorial will help you understand and control your fonts with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther.

Font problems are CLEARLY the number one quality problem in the graphic arts. Font management in OS X is more complex and challenging than ever before, and chances for a font problem in a desktop publishing job is greater than ever. If you are a publisher, printer, or service bureau, prepare yourself and learn all you can about how fonts work in Mac OS X.

To that end, let's start with the new things in Mac OS X and then we'll look at font management fundamentals that are just as important with macintosh OS X as they were in Mac OS 9.

- About The New Stuff in OS X-

Multiple Font Folders - In OS X, fonts are managed in multiple font folder locations to support the overall system design as a multi-user OS. In designing the OS to support this multi-user functionality, apple has greatly complicated our font management issues by creating so many locations. This just sets the Mac OS X user up for font conflicts, duplicates, and lack of font control.

File Permissions - The multi-user functionality and security issues of OS X panther require file permissions. File permissions have brought new issues for Mac OS X users that they were not used to before. A simple file permissions problem can easily keep a font from working. If you are going to use OS X panther, you must also educate yourself about file permissions and how it can affect you at any time, like during a deadline. . .

These multiple font folder locations in Mac OS X panther, combined with potential for file permissions issues, need to be understood in order to control and manage your fonts effectively on your Macintosh OS X workstation.

So, the potential for a font problem with Mac OS X is very high. Then there's support for Unicode (a good thing), i think? If your work makes extensive use of fonts, an understanding of how OS X manages them is essential.


- OS X Panther Has Font Book -

OS X panther comes with Font Book, it is included with OS X 10.3. If you have a limited font collection, this font management utility is straighforward and reliable. Demanding font users like printers and publishers will want to use a commercial font manager like Extensis Suitcase X1 or Font Reserve. Font Book is good for a general business, or consumer user.


- OS X Supports Many Font Types -

PostScript fonts - PostScript fonts are used for high-quality output and is the standard preferred font type of printers and desktop publishers. Each PostScript font requires two files, one for the screen font and one used by the printer. The most common problem with these fonts is that it requires a pair (screen and printer) to work. One or the other is useless by itself when outputting high res work.

Multiple Master fonts - Multiple Master is a flavor of PostScript font which can create variations, such as font weight or style, from a single instance of the font. Multiple Master never took off and should be avoided, banished from your machine.

Macintosh TrueType fonts - a TrueType font file contains both screen and printer font data needed. Although many designers still prefer Postscript fonts, TrueType fonts are of high quality and are OK to use when no Type 1 PostScript is available. The extension for TrueType fonts is .ttf. 

Windows TrueType fonts - a Windows TrueType font file contains both screen and printer font data needed. Although many designers still prefer Postscript fonts, TrueType fonts are of high quality and are OK to use when no Type 1 PostScript is available. The extension for TrueType fonts is .ttf. 

dFonts fonts - These are OS X new TrueType font technology. dFont is a type of  TrueType font containing data in its data fork instead of the resource fork. While dFonts are of high quality, their existance has caused naming conflicts with legacy PostScript or TrueType fonts. So, when there's a conflict of duplicate font names, the dFont can be removed. , the extension is .dfont.

OpenType fonts - OpenType fonts are yet another new font taking advantage of Unicode. This new format from Adobe and Microsoft can contain 65,000 different glyphs, OpenType fonts have particular value for non-Roman languages such as Chinese or Japanese, the extension is .otf.


- Font Locations, Who's On First? -

Font search order of OS X - When OS X 10.3 panther is looking for a font, panther will use the first font with a matching name that it finds, searching various font folders in this order. To be sure you know of ALL font locations on your startup disk, do a "f" + Command, search for "Fonts", click the "+", and add type "Folder". This will find all your various types of "Fonts" folders scattered all over your Mac. Wow! look at that!

Application fonts - Some applications have their own font folder. For that application only, fonts stored in the font folder will take precedence over other fonts on the system.

Library Fonts - /Library/Fonts is intended for shared fonts. Unless you are sharing your computer, do not put fonts here.

System Library Fonts -
/System/Library/Fonts contains essential fonts the system needs for menus and dialog boxes. To delete these fonts, you will need to change the permissions on the folder.

User Library Fonts - /User/Your_UserName/Library/Fonts contains your personal fonts. This is the place to store your fonts, unless you are using Suitcase. If you are using Suitcase, organize your fonts in a new font folder, with a name such as 'My fonts,'  in your /username/Library.

Classic System Fonts - System Folder/Fonts.  Classic applications require fonts in the Fonts folder in the Classic System Folder/Fonts folder.

Network Library Fonts - Network/Library/Fonts (when available) is located on another computer on the network. Unless you are sharing fonts across the network, you may ignore this folder.


- Never Move Adobe Required Fonts -

Please be aware as you move and organize fonts in mac OS X that there is one folder used by Adobe products that should not be messed with. If you move or delete these fonts, you will no longer be able to use Adobe InDesign CS.

- "Adobe InDesign is missing required system fonts or CMap files. Please reinstall InDesign."

If you get this message, you can simply copy these files off of another machine in this location. Be sure to set permissions right, that is all you need to do. Installing InDesign CS only from the InDesign CD, using a custom install DID NOT fix the problem. I grabbed the "Reqrd" directory off another PDF-X-Robot workstation and inserted it into the same location on my PDF-X-Robot workstation and viola!


- Using/Sharing New dFonts With OS 9 -

This secion may be useful when sending jobs to service bureaus or working with others that are still in Mac OS 9. There are over 250 new dFonts and OTF (Open Type Fonts) that will come with your Mac OS X and Adobe Creative Suite products installed on a desktop publishing Mac. This is a great batch of free fonts to use as a standard library. The problem is that it makes it hard to share documents with others in your workgroup, or send files out to a service provider that may still be using Mac OS 9. Mac OS 9 does not support Open Type Fonts (OTF) or .dfonts that can be used by ou in Mac OS X.

For the sharing and supporting of these great new dFonts with Mac OS 9, there is an answer to the problem. It is a freeware application called dfontifier. dfontifier is an application that can convert Mac OS X Datafork TrueType fonts (.dfonts) into ordinary Mac OS 9-style TrueType fonts and vice versa. So, you can also use it to convert old Mac True Type Fonts into dFonts. But since you can already use old style True Type Fonts with Mac OS X panther, it isn't necessary to convert the old to new.

Most font managers for Mac OS X like Extensis's Suitcase X1, Alsoft's MasterJuggler, Insider Software's FontAgent Pro, or Font Reserve, have the ability to "bridge the gap" between the Mac OS X native and Mac Classic environment. They can make fonts you've activated available to both environments, but Mac OS X panther and these font managers, seem to be limited when it comes to data fork fonts (.dfonts). Example, if you have AppleGothic.dfont installed in your Classic "/System Folder/Fonts/" folder or enabled in your font manager, it'll be available to native OS X applications, but since Classic doesn't know how to make use of data fork-based .dfonts, OS X or your font manager can't make it available to Classic.

dfontifier can help solve this problem by allowing you to convert your .dfonts into regular resource fork-based TT fonts. That way, when you install your fonts, or use your font manager to enable your fonts, (including what would be many default, Apple-installed .dfonts), you can be certain that you're using the same exact font set in the native OS X environment as you are in the Classic environment.

dfontifier now has a full interface and acts like most any other OS X application. You can download it and its documentation at the following link. Mac OS X download of dfontifier

- Mac OS X File Permissions & Fonts -

You will run into problems from time to time moving, using, or deleting fonts and font folders. One of the first things you need to verify and or change file permissions. Here's how to do it using the Mac OS X Panther Finder.

(A) Select the font, file, or folder in question.
(B) Press Command-I.
(C) Open the Ownership & Permissions tabs
(D) Click on the lock icon.
(E) In the dialog box, enter your administrator password.
(F) Look at who the file or folder says is the owner
(G) if other than your login, Change owner to your login name.

Actually in order to set permissions on an entire library after you build it, you should run BatChmod. BatChmod is a permissions utility for manipulating file and folder privileges in Mac OS X 10.x. It allows the manipulation of ownership as well as the privileges associated to the Owner, Group or others. You can drop your entire font library folder on BatChmod and set the settings as shown. It will resolve any permissions problems that may exist in your font library in one easy move. Download a free copy of batchmod here

BatChmod allows one to change any specific privilege or ownership without affecting the others. It can recursively affect all enclosed folders and files in one move. It can Force Empty the Trash when it contains locked files. So, whether you use it for fonts or not, BatChmod is an essential tool for Mac OS X users.


These are the settings for your font library, click apply.


- OS X and Corrupted Font Cache Files -

There is a known problem with Macintosh OS X versions 10.2 and higher that is very common. This example occurs where incorrect or corrupted encoding vector information is being used.

If you're having font problems like in the image at right, your font problem is most likely caused by corrupt font cache files in Mac OS X.

When Mac OS X maps the character codes input from the keyboard to the glyphs they represent in your problem font, if that cached data is corrupt, you get the problem in displaying the font. You can run a freeware application called Font Cache Cleaner. Font cache Cleaner will purge these cache files in an attempt to restore normal behavior. If you use Font Cache Cleaner but the problem remains, then it could be caused by another issue, like a Mac OS X font conflict, or by a corrupt or poor quality font.

If you have this problem, and Font Cache Cleaner does not remedy the situation, start removing or deactivating fonts in extensis suitcase X1 to help identify the fonts that are causing your font display problem. You may have a font duplicate conflict causing display issues.

Before using Font Cache Cleaner, be sure to close all applications and check in the Apple Menu > Force just to be sure nothing but the "Finder" is running. Then, after using Font Cache Cleaner, you'll definitely need to restart after purging your font cache files.
Mac OS X download of Font Cache Cleaner


- OS X, Some Things Never Change -

Some things never change about basic font management. So, the following is pretty common to how I recommend that fonts be set up on OS 9. On the top of my list of good font management rules is to strip down the permanent system fonts. Both OS X and Mac OS 9 require certain fonts for dialog boxes, menus, windows, and basic interface needs. Always move all the fonts that were installed with the OS (except the required fonts) into a common location that is under FULL CONTROL of your font manager.

Whether OS 9 or OS X, take all the standard, common fonts that install with your OS and put them in a NEW folder. Then, use your font manager, like Extensis Suitcase, to activate and de-activate the fonts as needed. If you don't do this, you really can't manage the use of those fonts, they will be permanently running and cannot be turned on and off as needed. This is also true of the fonts in your Mac OS 9 Classic's System Folder.


- Relocate ALL Mac OS X Fonts -

As outlined above, there are so many places that fonts reside on your system in Macintosh OS X panther. Same as the common fonts in your system, all fonts need to be collected and organized into a common place. So, next, if you don't have a font library, you need to create a common place for fonts.


The location of this main library will be neutral to the OS font search order. So, either a library like this in the root level of your HD, or in your User/Documents folder. If there are no other users on your machine, go ahead and use your Documents Folder in your User or Home folder. If you have more than one user on your Mac OS X workstation, make a library in your HD like shown in the screenshot above. Also, don't move the fonts in the "Reqrd" folder, the Adobe Required fonts, see more info below, (Don't Move Adobe Required Fonts).

-never move - /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Reqrd (Adobe Required)
- relocate all fonts from /Library/Fonts (shared fonts)
- relocate all fonts from Users' Library folders
- relocate all fonts from all application folders
- relocate all EXCEPT LISTED BELOW in the /System/Library/Fonts:

Mac OS X
Mac OS 9
Courier.dfont
Geneva.dfont
Keyboard.dfont
LastResort.dfont
LucidaGrande.dfont
Monaco.dfont
Symbol.dfont
ZapfDingbats.dfont
Charcoal
Chicago
Courier
Geneva
Monaco
New York


- Dealing With OS X Duplicate Fonts -

When you relocate fonts or OS X system fonts, remember an important fact. many will have the same name as TrueType or Postscript fonts you own, such as Futura, Helvetica, Times, Zapf Dingbat, Symbol and many others.  You need to realize how fonts are managed and used. Fonts are managed and used by name only.

So, a Helvetica.dfont from OS X, and a Helvetica True Type font from your Classic Macintosh OS 9 will be in a conflict, by name. Just know that at any time, you could accidentaly be using the wrong font. Some fonts with the same name may actually be the same, but most of the time, it will cause a text reflow if the wrong one is used.

This is a problem that will have different solutions depending on what you are doing. Most people will prefer, and for good reason, to keep only one copy of each font by name. This can keep from having regular substitutions. If this is what you want to do, discard based on this order of preference: Type 1 PostScript, TrueType, dFont and then OpenType. In other words, if you have a Helvetica Type 1 PostScript font, kill all other copies of Helvetica because Type 1 postScript is the preferred type of font.


- Make a Good Clean Font Library -

As you accumulate additional fonts over time, duplicates are a certainty. In most cases, duplicate fonts will cancel each other out when activated. Additionally, fonts can have a numerical ID conflict that can cause them to both fail. Even if they are actually two different fonts, nothing wrong with either, a duplicate font with same name or font ID number can cause both not to work right. The fact that two different fonts could easily have the same ID assigned will be a problem in managing and activating.

Font Doctor is a preferred utility used to verify and re-organize your mess of fonts into an organized (clean) and compatible library. It is important that you use a utility like this to straighten out your fonts.

Before you begin, back up all your old fonts. As you proceed, you need to maintain a BACKUP of your fonts in case of any unforeseen problems.

Additionally, you must go into the settings and set the preferences to NEVER discard or rather optimize the screen font sizes. These kind of utilities CAN and WILL discard some of your larger point size screen fonts, UNLESS you make sure the settings are set to protect these extra screen fonts.

For example, in a type 1 postscript font, you can have a screen font for each of 10,12,14, 18, 24, 48, etc. etc. pont sizes. If you allow a font utility to discard the larger sizes, keeping only the 10 point, when that font is used in a large size for like a headline at 72 point, the screen display will be practically illegible. When printed, will look OK, but you need these extra sizes to display large point sizes well as you design.



Immediate Mac OS X User Support
for all
PDF-X-Robot™ Users

Support and training is Software-Robotics expertise. Below are the top three ways in which you can get support. We guarantee our software products and will do what it takes to get you up and running. Below are the recommended steps when you need support from us.

(1) PDF-X-Robot Users Support Forum - We want all tech support funneled through our user to user support forums. All problems and help there are kept in a searchable support database. You can easily search out error messages and problems and easily find solutions. Additionally you can get help from many seasoned users who have used PDF-X-Robot™ since beta testing! We watch this board all the time and you will be helped in short order by a technician or another user in our community.

(2) support@software-robotics.com - Please Do not delay in emailing us, anytime. We want to know what problems you are having and assist whenever possible. Whenever you email, BE VERY SPECIFIC as to exactly what is happening and what was the last thing that worked PRIOR to the problem. After emailing us, we recommend that you proceed to search in our user forums.

(3) software-robotics.com/docs/ - We have a support docs directory on our servers with HTML pages of support info. There's not much here that you can't find at the support forum, but, we like to have several points to access to support information for you. Additionally, there will be a folder named "docs" in your PDF-X-Robot application folder that has HTML help and support pages for easy access and use.


the Apple logo is a registered trademark of Apple Computer Inc., all other registered trademarks, tradenames, and logos are the property of their respective owners, Dual Stream Publishing™, CataBot™, PDF-Robot™, PDF-X-Robot™,Workflow Robots™, Software-Robotics™, PageBot™, PDF-Agent™, and Page-Agent™ are all trademarks of Software-Robotics.com
All Contents © 2004 SoftwareRobotics.com All Rights Reserved Under US CopyRight Law




Mac OS X Tiger Blog - Quark Xpress Resources - InDesign Resources - Adobe Acrobat Blog

Quark Xpress Stuff - Computer to Plate Blog - Prepress Equipment - Quark Xpress Tutorial