What’s covered

This document can help you resolve problems that occur while installing fonts or using fonts with Adobe applications in Mac OS X. Font problems can manifest themselves in many different ways, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Fonts don’t appear in the font menu of your applications.
  • Fonts don’t print correctly.
  • Fonts in menus and dialog boxes have incorrect letters or characters.
  • Fonts don’t appear correct on-screen.
  • Errors or crashes occur after installing fonts.
  • Fonts are available to certain users only.

Mac OS X manages fonts differently from earlier versions. For more information, visit the Apple Web site athttp://developer.apple.com/technotes/tn/tn2024.html.

To benefit most from this document, perform the following tasks in order.

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1. Check if the font format is supported.

If you use an unsupported font format, the system can’t display or print the font in applications.

Mac OS X supports the following font formats:

  • .dfont
  • Multiple Master (Mac OS X 10.2 and later only)
  • OpenType (.otf)
  • TrueType (.ttf)
  • True Type Collection (.ttc)
  • Type 1 (PostScript)

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2. Make sure that the font is installed in the correct folder.

Mac OS X includes five font folders that allow you to use fonts in different ways. You can install fonts to as many folders as needed, since Mac OS X permits duplicate copies of a font in the system. If duplicate font names exist, Mac OS X uses fonts–without regard to font format–from the following locations in the order listed:

  1. Users/[user name]/Library/Fonts
  2. Library/Fonts
  3. Network/Library/Fonts
  4. System/Library/Fonts (Avoid making changes to this folder. It contains .dfont fonts that Mac OS X requires for system use and display.For more information, visit the Apple Web site at http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106417.)
  5. System Folder/Fonts

Note: Fonts installed in System Folder/Fonts are available to all Classic, Carbon, and Cocoa applications.

To install a font in Mac OS X:

  1. Quit all applications (to use the font in those applications).
  2. Log in:
    • If you’re installing fonts to the Users/[user name]/Library/Font folder, log in with your user name.
    • If you’re installing fonts to the Library/Fonts folder, log in as Administrator.
    • If you’re installing fonts to the Network/Library/Fonts folder on a networked server, contact your network administrator.
  3. Drag the font files from the original media (for example, a CD) to one or more of the following folders on the hard disk:

    Note: When installing Type 1 fonts, drag both the outline font file and bitmap font suitcase to the appropriate folder. (In Mac OS X, font suitcases look and behave like other font files: You can’t open them by double-clicking the file as you can in Mac OS 9.)

    • System Folder/Fonts, to access the font in applications running in Mac OS X, and applications running in Classic mode (Mac OS 9)
    • Library/Fonts, to access the font in all applications by all users in Mac OS X (The font won’t be available in applications running in Classic mode.)
    • Users/[user name]/Library/Fonts, to be used by a specific user in Mac OS X (The font will be available in all applications in Mac OS X only when you log in as the specified user.)
    • Network/Library/Fonts, to be accessed by remote users on a networked file server running Mac OS X over a local area network (LAN)

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3. Check that both screen and printing files are installed. (Type 1 fonts)

To use Type 1 fonts in Mac OS X, you must install both the bitmap (screen), or the font suitcase containing the bitmap font files, and outline (printer) font files to the same folder. (Adobe bitmap font files use the font name, and the outline files use a shortened, PostScript version of the font name [for example, “Isabe” for the Isabella font].) If an outline font file isn’t installed, the font may print incorrectly; if the bitmap font file isn’t installed, the font isn’t available in the font menu.

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4. Use Adobe Type Manager (ATM) with Classic applications.

ATM prevents fonts from appearing jagged on-screen and therefore helps Type 1 fonts print more smoothly on non-PostScript printers when running applications in Classic mode. You can download a free version of ATM Light 4.6 from the Adobe Web site athttp://www.adobe.com/products/atmlight/main.html.

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5. Troubleshoot third-party font management software.

Deactivate all fonts in the font management software:

  • If the problem recurs, the font management software is causing the problem. Contact the manufacturer for an update.
  • If the problem doesn’t recur, a font is causing the problem. Perform the following tasks to identify the font.

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6. Clear the font cache. (Mac OS X v10.4.x and later)

In Mac OS X 10.4.x, safe mode disables all fonts other than those in the System\Library\Fonts folder, and it moves to the Trash all font caches normally stored in \Library\Caches\com.apple.ATS\[uid] where [uid] is a user ID number such as 501.

To start up in Safe Boot or Safe Mode, do the following:

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Press the power button.
  3. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, press and hold the Shift key.
  4. Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple and progress indicator. During startup in Mac OS X v10.4.x or later, you will see “Safe Boot” on the login window, even if normally you log in automatically.

To leave Safe Mode, restart the computer normally, without holding any keys during startup.

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7. Remove font files.

Move font files from the Fonts folders in the Users, Library, and Network folders to the desktop or other location, and restart the computer. If the problem doesn’t recur, the problem is caused by one or more of the font files you moved. Replace font files a few at a time to determine which font is causing the problem. (For example, replace font files that start with A-E to the System/Library/Fonts folder, and then restart the computer. If the problem doesn’t recur, add another small group of font files. If the problem does recur, one of the font files you just added may be the cause: Remove the font files, and add them back one at a time, restarting the computer each time until you find the particular font file that causes the problem.) When you find the font file that causes the problem, reinstall the font from the original media.

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8. Use a current version of the font.

Make sure that you are using the latest version of the font.

To check a font from the Adobe Type Library, select the font file, and choose File > Get Info > General to check the creation date. (If you’re using Type 1 fonts, check the creation date for each outline and suitcase file.) If the font’s creation date is prior to 1992, a new version of the font may be available. For upgrade information, contact Adobe Customer Support at 1-800-833-6687.

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9. Clean out the system font cache.

Customers can be directed to use the freeware utility Font Cache Cleaner. The utility and instructions to use it are located at the following address: http://homepage.mac.com/mdouma46/fcache/fcache.html Corrupt font cache files will cause fonts to appear damaged even if they are not. A common symptom is garbled text on screen. Once the cache has been cleared, a corrupt font cache can be eliminated as the possible source of the problem. Disclaimer: Adobe does not directly support the use of Font Cache Cleaner. Support and additional information for this non-Adobe product can be found on the Font Cache Cleaner web page:http://homepage.mac.com/mdouma46/fcache/fcache.html.

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10. Troubleshoot for damaged fonts.

A system error can occur if an application accesses a damaged font.

  1. Drag the contents of the Library/ Fonts folder to a new folder on the desktop. (If you manually added fonts to the Library/ Application Support/ Adobe/ Fonts folder, also drag those fonts to the new folder.)
  2. At the Finder, choose File > Find.
  3. Type AdobeFnt.lst, select the system drive, and then press Return.
  4. Delete all AdobeFnt.lst files found (for example, AdobeFnt10.lst).
  5. Restart the computer.
  6. Restart InDesign. InDesign creates new AdobeFnt.lst files.
  7. Try to re-create the problem. Then, do one of the following:
    • If the problem doesn’t recur, move one font back to the Library/Fonts folder, and then repeat steps 5-6 until you identify the problematic font.
    • If you have a font management utility, restart it and activate fonts in small groups or individually to identify the problematic font.
    • If the problem recurs, move the contents of the new folder on the desktop back to the Library/Fonts folder.

Note: Please note if no adobefnt.lst file is found in the search, you want to make sure the search criteria are set to ‘any’ in the File > Find dialog box.

To troubleshoot fonts if you use Font Book:

Important: Do not empty the Trash before the final step in this process.

  1. Quit Font Book and all other open applications.
  2. Navigate to Home/Library/Preferences and remove the following files:
    • com.apple.fontbook.plist
    • com.apple.ATS.plist

    Note: The first file is the preferences file for Font Book. The second file specifies the fonts you disabled in Font Book. After you delete com.apple.ATS.plist, all previously-disabled fonts will load when you next log in. If you installed hundreds or thousands of fonts, many of which were disabled with Font Book, the performance of your system may be slow when all previously-disabled fonts are loaded.

  3. Delete your font cache. To delete your font cache, do the following:
    1. Open the Library/Caches/ATS folder.
    2. Locate and delete your font cache folder. For example, if you are the first user defined on your Mac, you will find a folder named 501; if you are the second user, you will find a folder named 502.

      Note: If you use Fast User Switching, there may be several 501.xxx, 502.xxx folders within the ATS folder that you need to move to the Trash.

  4. If requested to authenticate trashing any of these folders, provide your Administrator password.
  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Log into your account and empty the Trash.


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