This page provides a comprehensive overview of the way fonts are handled by Windows 7. It covers the following topics:
- What is new?
- Font types that Windows 7 supports
- Typefaces that are included in Windows 7
- How to install fonts?
- Other sources of information
What is new in Windows 7 when it comes to fonts?
- The thumbnails in the fonts folder show 3 characters of the font’s alphabet on the icon. This makes it easier to identify fonts. Stacked icons indicate that different font styles are available. Such a group of fonts is called a ‘collection’. The use of collections reduces the clutter in the font folder.
- Windows 7 can hide certain fonts automatically when needed. Fonts that are hidden are not available to applications although they are still installed in the operation system. One way in which this mechanism is used is for hiding fonts deemed useless based on the regional settings: if you indicate that Windows 7 should use western regional settings, japanese fonts will be hidden. This font hiding mechanism frees up memory and simplifies font selection.
- The ‘Install New Font’ menu option that hadn’t changed since Windows 3.1 or so is no longer available in Windows 7. You install fonts by copying them into the fonts folder.
- Gabriola is a new font that is included with the operating system. It is a script font with support for a wide variety of advanced OpenType features.
- Font rendering has improved: the ClearType technology that is used to anti-alias type on LCD displays has been optimised and now displays sharper fonts. Programmers also get easier access to advanced OpenType functionalities.
Font types that are supported by Windows7
I haven’t found a good list yet and assume that Windows 7 supports the same font types as Vista does.
- Type 1 (as with other versions of Windows, you need .PFM and .PFB files)
- Multiple Master (see the work-around below on how to get them working)
- TrueType (.TTF/.TTC/.OTF)
- OpenType (using CFF outlines, .OTF)
- bitmap fonts (.FON)
- Old vector font format fonts (typically .FON as well).
- A new composite font file format that is used to describe international font linking and fallback logic (.CompositeFont).
Fonts that are included in Windows 7
Windows 7 ships with 235 fonts, versus 191 in Vista and 133 in Windows XP. The list of typefaces that ship with Windows 7 can be found here. Microsoft publish them on this page and list all the new fonts here.
To view a list of all the fonts on your system, go to the Fonts control panel or simply type ‘font’ at the Start menu. This will take you into the same control panel.
How to install fonts
There are a number of ways in which you can install fonts:
- Copy fonts to the Fonts folder (usually C:\Windows\Fonts). You can do this by drag & drop or by using Copy and Paste.
- Right-click a font file and select ‘Install’ from the context menu. (There is a settings in the Fonts control panel which allows you to install a shortcut of fonts. That allows you to keep font files on another disk. I haven’t tried this on a production machine and don’t know how well it works in situations where the original file becomes unavailable).
If you run into issues with installing fonts, the first thing to investigate is whether you are actually allowed to do this. You need to have write access to the Fonts folders to be able to install fonts. Without this an error message will appear that states that the file you are trying to install ‘is currently being used and cannot be replaced’ or that it ‘does not appear to be a valid font’. Solutions and work-arounds can be found in this thread.
How many fonts can you install? All Windows versions that have been released in the last 10 years or so are designed to cope with large font lists. The system only loads the fonts that it is using. To keep your font list manageable, you may still want to invest in a font manager, such as SuitCase.
Fonts that should never be deleted in Windows 7
I have not yet found a list of the mandatory system fonts. At the very least the following fonts should not be deleted:
- Marlette – This is the font used for the minimize, maximize and close buttons on your window borders.
- Arial (TrueType)
- Times New Roman (TrueType)
- Courier New (TrueType)
- Any .FON files. These are fixed size fonts used for MS-DOS windows and some dialog boxes.
Add a comment if you are aware of a more complete overview.
Other sources of information
I haven’t run across Windows 7-related prepress stuff yet. Here is an interesting article on ClearType.