29 August 2007

[design, fonts] How To Let FontExplorer X Manage Your Mac OS X Fonts

926. Many people out there on the Mac OS X platform are using the free FontExplorer X utility from Linotype to manage fonts on thier machines. I myself have dipped my toes in the water but have not turned over complete control of my Mac's fonts to it.

I may have reason to do so now. MacFixIt, that dependable reference for what's current in what might go wrong with your Mac, has, for the public good, posted a nifty short article on just how to do it in OS X.

You'll find it here.

It has some good insights. Font geeks, at least the amateur ones, just can't get enough fonts, and tend to have ginormous font libraries on line. Eventually they have enough to tax thier programs at startup; many programs, such as Word (and probably InDesign and QuarkXPress, but I don't know for sure on those) build font menus at startup. The more fonts you have, the longer it will take. Also cluttered font caches can reduce overall system peformance noticeably.

The MacFixIt article speaks sooth when it saith:

A sound, basic approach to fonts is to keep your font list lean and mean. Confine your installed fonts to just the fonts that come with a clean installation of Mac OS X, and no more. If you want to use any other fonts, enable them only when you want to use them, and disable them the rest of the time

And this approach works for designers as well as the civilian public. After all, while it's nice to have NeoGothicSanskrit on your system for the design work, how often do you actually use it? Not often, I'll bet.

All those not-often-used fonts take a toll on system performance and app peformance, so we think that MacFixIt's advice is indeed sound and basic. Have 'em on line...just keep 'em deactivated unless you need it.

Apps like FontExplorer X, which have plugins which sense and activate fonts as you need them (and can even have customized font sets) are just the thing.

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