The Font Doc looks for tools!

SaraTips & Techniques

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I had a grand plan for this post.  We always have these great fonts and samples and help all the font junkies get their free font fix, but I never help control the addiction.  If you’re like me, things can get out of control and you can end up with font chaos!  Maybe you’re productivity software even starts crashing mysteriously because it can’t handle the 1200 fonts you’ve tried to install.  So, I had an idea.

I was going to find the top three or four font management tools for Mac and PC and talk about how they worked.  I’ve been gathering a bit of intel here and there over the past month.  Taking screen shots, getting my pal Chris to give me some tips….but guess what I discovered.   There are about as many font management programs as there are fonts!!  It was crazy when I tried to figure out which managers to try out.  I got overwhelmed just thinking about it.  (Not to mention all the fonts I ended up downloading along the way!)  So, I decided to showcase only two ways to do it and link you up to some great articles I found that list other Font Managers you can try out.

For both Chris and I, we decided we couldn’t have all our fonts actually installed on our computers.  Our computers simply didn’t like it when we tried.  But in order to find the kind of font we want quickly, we had to organize them into some kind of system with tags and be able to easily view the samples.  Let’s take a look at both approaches.

First up is Chris’s approach.  She started by organizing her fonts in subfolders using different categories.  daFont is a great free font website that you can use to help you brainstorm categories you might use.  (Disclaimer:  We are in no way responsible for what fonts you download while you are there!)  Chris uses ACDSee to help manage her fonts and even wrote up a challenge on this once.  So here are some of her key steps.

“What I did was create a folder tree in Photo Manager for my fonts.  On my second hard drive, where I have all of my scrap supplies, I created a folder called Ta-da! …. Fonts.

Under that, I made new folders for the different style fonts I use.  You can make as few or as many folder as you wish. It all depends on how many and what style fonts you have.

From there, I dragged all of my uninstalled fonts right on into the new Fonts folder. From there, I just scrolled on down, Ctrl-Clicked similar fonts and then dragged them into the appropriate folder.”

I didn’t have a photo of Chris’s font structure, but if you can just imagine a typical PC file folder structure that you can expand and see the subfolders, you’ll get the idea.  🙂  If you like using ACDSee, Chris (aka faerywings) has more details and would probably LOVE to help you out!

For me, I utilize two key pieces of my Mac OS software.  The first is the ability to view icons and use the space bar to bring up a sample font quickly without having to actually load it.  The second is the Font Book application.

I have a folder with all of my fonts (.ttf or .otf) in it.  When I want a font and am not happy with my existing choices, I start scanning that folder.  I make sure that I have the icon view set, so that I can see the basics of a lot of the fonts all at once.  I can look for scripts, and prints, grunge and symbols etc. all in one glance.

I do like the idea of Chris’s subfolders organizing things, but I’d hate to miss out on a great font because I put it in grunge, but it’s a good script and so on.  The librarian in me would want to categorize and duplicate and it would make my head explode….not to mention the file size.  So, I’m sticking with all of them sorted by name for now.  Plus, there has been many a time when I have thought, “I bet that Lettering Delights made a font like that…” and I can go look in my “LD” fonts and find what I need.  So for now, I’ll probably keep scanning this way.

If I find a font that I think I might use, I use the space bar to load a preview of the whole alphabet.  Sometimes, the shape of certain letters can make or break my font choice.  Does the ‘C’ look all goofy curvy swirly and more like an ‘E’?  Won’t work well if I’m trying to monogram my last name.  I can also get a better sense of how readable a font is from this preview.

From there, it’s very easy to open Font Book and install the font.  But that’s not all I do in Font Book.  This is where I start categorizing!  I can drag the font into as many categories as I want.  Here are the categories that I have set up.  There’s always room to add more though!

I can drag the slider bar to make the font bigger or smaller and get a good judge on size before I even lay the text down.  Searching for installed fonts is easy.  And if I am using a special font that I probably won’t use often, I can uninstall it easily from there when I am done.  The only thing that I wish I could do with Font Book that I used to do with my old software on my PC is preview your text in that font – where you could type in whatever text you wanted and see it in different fonts directly in the font manager program.  But it’s not that hard to do that in Photoshop either!  🙂

So while that’s not the detailed tutorial that I originally planned, I hope you found something useful in it.

But with all that said, I found a couple of great lists of font manager programs.  Maybe you can find the one that’s just right for you!




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