What does a day in the life of a graphic designer look like? Wince at the sight of poor fonts. Go to a website and close it immediately because you hate the colors. Try to persuade your manager you need both Photoshop and Lightroom. Yeah, we know the pain.
Unfortunately, we can’t talk to your boss about the Adobe subscription. What we can do is to ensure you have the right fonts — always close at hand.
Font or typeface, what’s the difference?
A few boring definitions to start with. Pinky promise, we’re gonna be finished with that in a sec.
In graphic design, the notions of font and typeface are often used interchangeably. They are not the same, though. Coming from the age of the printing press, fonts were used as the variations of a typeface family — differing in weight, size, etc. So basically, a font is a set of characteristics that define a style of a typeface.
On a Mac, you have fonts each of which is an individual style with distinctive width and weight properties — even though they might belong to the same typeface. For instance, if you say Verdana, you mean a family of fonts which includes Verdana Regular, Verdana Italic, and more.
How to manage fonts on Mac
Apple knows a designer’s pain points as well. So it created Font Book, a free font manager that allows to install and remove fonts on your Mac. The program is very basic, but works for a beginner as well as non-designers who need fonts variety.
Enable and disable fonts
You can’t actually delete fonts, but you can make sure you don’t see the unneeded ones in your collection. Font Book comes with font families, so you can decide whether you want to disable the whole family or a particular font:
- Select a font family or click on the arrow next to it to open the list of fonts.
- Go to Edit in the menu bar and select Disable.
- Choose Disable All to get rid of the full collection.
You can also download a new font from the Internet and use it with Font Book (the supported extensions are otf, .ttf, and .ttc). Once you unpack a zip with a new font, select the file with a corresponding extension to open preview, and click Install Font. This will get the font right into your Font Book.
Bring fonts into libraries and collections
Font Book has four default libraries: All, English, User, and Computer. The last two are stored in the Library folder. User fonts are available to the admin only, and Computer fonts — to anyone accessing a Mac.
If these are not enough, you can create your custom libraries of fonts:
- Go to the File menu and select New Library.
- Give the library a name and click Enter to save.
- Drag the selected fonts from All Fonts to your custom library.
You can also customize libraries by creating collections inside them. These will point to specific installed fonts across your libraries. To add new collections, select File > New Collection. Once you’ve saved it, drag fonts to the collection the same way you’ve done with libraries. Alternatively, click the plus button in the bottom left corner to add fonts.
Note that you don’t remove a font from its original collection when you drag it somewhere else. So you’ll still need to disable it if you don’t want to have duplicates across collections.
Why do you need a Mac font manager?
Fonts and colors define content. That’s something most graphic designers will tell you, and that’s the way our visual perception works. Even if you think you know nothing about design, try to change fonts in your Instagram stories. They will look totally different — some of them appearing to suit well, the others being completely out of place.
If you do graphic design for a living, you probably have dozens of fonts that work for specific types of design. Plus, you can choose a typeface that is trendy and gives your content a modern look without damaging the clarity of text. To keep up the good work, you have to keep exploring.
For instance, Creative Boom — an online magazine for artists and content creators — names Euklid and GT Haptik the top fonts of 2019. If you look at the same list the magazine released in 2018, you’ll find neither of these in it. So if you follow the trends, you’ll need to keep your fonts collection up to date.
Font management software helps designers organize fonts, easily view the selected ones, rename or delete the fonts that are no longer needed. Saves time and keeps your work professional.
If you’re here to choose the best tool for macOS, here’s how you narrow down your search:
Font manager features you’re looking for
- Compelling UI: It’s quite a challenge to find a tool that combines a font checker, organizer, and installer. It’s even harder to find the one that looks well on your screen and never distracts you from the job. When it comes to a design workflow, UI will mean everything. So we recommend to pay attention to the tools that adjust to your design software — ideally, allow to navigate across fonts via a handy sidebar.
- Filtering and collections. Why else would you land here. The app you choose should know how to organize fonts on Mac. The more flexible it goes in terms of collections, libraries, and preview options — the better.
- Customization: The main reason you should go for a Font Book alternative is it’s not customizable enough. With Apple’s in-built font organizer, you won’t be able to preview fonts in different sizes. What’s more, your font preview will always open in a new window. The advanced font apps will let you see how a font looks on your particular project — instantly.
Best font management software for Mac
Font organization is only useful to a degree you feel comfortable using it. This is why Font Book is not enough — with very little customization assets in it. We’ve compiled a list of top three apps that you can add to your macOS and start saving time on font selection.
Remember we’ve talked about how it’s hard to find an all-in-one font organizer? Well, it’s where Typeface makes an ideal example. Unlike the clumsy Font Book and the overcomplicated RightFont, Typeface works as a designer’s personal assistant — whatever the proficiency level.
Here’s what you can do with the Typeface font manager:
- Control your fonts
A user decides how the fonts should be displayed on a Mac’s screen. From preview samples to font size and blurring effects, you can completely customize your Typeface journey. The best thing is you can actually create instant mockups that show you how a particular font will look on a project.
Hundreds or thousands, you’ll keep all the right fonts at hand
Search is the best part of the app. To find a font you need, browse through the categories on the sidebar, or type in the name in the upper right corner. The fonts are grouped by families, so it’s easier to navigate between different typefaces.
You can take a closer look at each font by clicking on it. Not only will you see the sample text, every font page also covers the detailed metadata and all the letterforms. If you switch to the Info tab, you’ll also see the list of supported languages as well as tags for this particular font.
Let’s make one thing clear. You need personalized collections if you work with different fonts. Typeface doesn’t only record your collections, it also allows share particular sets of fonts with the whole team in a click. As you browse through available fonts, you can save them to a quick collection on the spot and organize them into collections later. All you have to do is grab a font and drag it onto the quick collection button in the upper left corner.
Who’s it for?
Everyone. Whether you are a professional graphic designer with your personal base of fonts, or you can’t tell the difference between a font and typeface, this app is for you.
- Focus on all proficiency levels
- Customizable font collections
- A quick collection feature
- Available with Setapp subscription
- Works on macOS only
What’s the price?
- $19.99 if you purchase the app on the Mac App Store or official website
- $9.99/per month with Setapp, an all-in-one pack of 150 apps for macOS
- Free trial available
RightFont is an advanced solution on how to organize fonts. The app works on Mac, Windows, and Linux — so it’s handy if you design for different operating systems. Plus, RightFont works with all major design software like Sketch, Adobe CC, Illustrator, and more.
The app embraces many roles you can benefit from:
- Font management: Create curated collections of fonts, based on your project specifications.
- Font Syncing: Share your fonts with colleagues via iCloud or Dropbox.
- Cloud fonts: Easily install and use Google or Adobe fonts.
- Font auto activation: Solve the problem with missing fonts through instant auto activation. So that whenever you open a program that has missing fonts, you can bulk install them.
Who’s it for?
Professional graphic designers. Even better — teams of designers working on shared projects. The volume licence will cost you less if you use the app on multiple devices. The maximum number of seats you can get is 50 ($40 per device versus the regular price of $45).
- Auto-activation of fonts
- Grid view for easy comparison of two fonts
- Sharing font collections via Dropbox and other cloud services
- Steep learning curve
What’s the price?
$49.99 per single license on the official website
Starting $45 per device with a volume license (2+ devices)
You can get the feel of your fonts with FontBase — free of charge. The only font manager that offers a free plan, this app does a good job if you’re interested in the features like font upload, Google fonts management, and simple UI.
Add the new fonts by dragging them to a specific folder. You can also create and customize your own collections of fonts. In the preview, you’ll be able to switch between styles, glyphs, and waterfall.
The main disadvantage is the preview section. It’s pretty basic and doesn’t allow simple customization. For instance, you’ll have to get a paid plan to have access to grid view.
Who’s it for?
The app is uncomplicated and can be used by beginners. For everyday use, designers will lack flexibility in terms of previews as well as won’t be able to auto activate fonts with a free plan. So we recommend to get FontBase Awesome — a paid subscription plan — if you need an advanced solution.
- Simple UI
- Advanced glyphs and views with the paid plan
- Google fonts support
- Doesn’t make much use without upgrading to a pro plan
What’s the price?
FontBase is the only free font manager on the list. Well, kind of. You get a set of basic features like font collections, search, Google fonts installation, and more. However, to get access to the extended functionality — auto activation, super search, and multiple views — you have to upgrade to FontBase Awesome, which is a $3 monthly subscription.
Note that you will have issues trying to launch FontBase and RightFont on macOS Catalina beta:
Here’s a quick fix for you:
- Access your Applications folder via Finder.
- Find the installed app on the list.
- Right click the icon > Open.
- In the pop-up window, click on Open to launch the app.
So here’s the verdict:
If you know graphic design backwards and forwards, get RightFont. It’s gonna be expensive, but will pay off in the long run.
FontBase is your choice if you’re just starting — once you learn the ropes, you can upgrade to the pro plan and expand the toolkit.
Lastly, Typeface is as close to a universal font manager as you can imagine. It has functionality perks for pros and is easy to master for complete beginners. If you buy Typeface via Setapp, you also get a full pack of additional design apps. Like IconJar for quick icon management. Aquarelo to refine and convert your colors. And Goldie App to instantly visualize golden ratio on a Mac.