Mac OS X 10.7 Lion & fonts

This page will provide a comprehensive overview of the way fonts are handled by Mac OS X 10.7. At this point in time I do not yet have a working copy of Lion. The information below is gathered from other resources. Topics include:

  • What is new in Lion regarding font handling
  • Locations where fonts can be stored
  • Other sources of information

Before diving into OS X 10.7 specific font information, here is a quick recap of the strong points of OSX in general when it comes to font handling:

  • The operating system can load an unlimited number of fonts and supports a wide range of different font formats.
  • OS X has its own versatile font renderer. There is no need to install additional tools for this.
  • Fonts are managed on three levels: system, network and user.
  • OS X comes with its own font management tool, called Font Book. It is not a full blown font manager like SuiteCase but still more powerful than what other operating systems offer.

What is new in Lion?

These are the most important font and text related improvements in Mac OS X 10.7:

  • Font Book, the application that is bundled with the operating system to manage fonts, has been enhanced. Version 3.0 shows more detailed information about all of the available typefaces. All of the glyphs of a font can be displayed. A yellow triangle indicates when duplicate fonts are installed. The conflict can then be resolved automatically or manually.
  • Apple Color Emoji is a new typeface that is included in OS X 10.7. This TrueType font contains 502 icons or picture characters for use in chat applications.
Apple Color Emoji typeface used in iOS and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Some of the emoticons from Emoji
  • Apple also added two new font families to improve support for the Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi and Tamil scripts. The Nanum font family is added for Korean language support. The new STIX math fonts provide precise rendering of math functions for electronic and print publication.
  • In previous version of OS X, Apple used Lucida Grande as the system font for menus, dialog boxes, etc. In Lion Helvetica is used for this, as was already the case in iOS on the iPhone and iPad. Whether the switch to the more condensed Helvetica is an actual improvement is obviously a matter of personal taste.
  • Safari, the web browser that ships with OS X, now supports WOFF, the Web Open Font Format. This means web designers can use a wide range of fonts on web sites and these will be correctly displayed in the browser. Other browsers that support WOFF are FireFox (3.6+), Chrome (6+), and Internet Explorer (9+).
  • A feature that was borrowed from the iPad’s iOS is the way Lion makes it easier to access accented characters or special glyphs such as œ. Hold down the letter you want to add an accent to. A dialog windows appears which lists accented alternatives which you can select. It is also possible to enter the number appearing underneath each variation to insert it. In Dutch I occasionally need accents but I still prefer to use a Qwerty keyboard. This solves my dilemma in an elegant way.

Locations where fonts can be stored

I assume Apple did not change the list of folders in which fonts can be installed. There are some changes compared to OS X 10.6 however.

  • Users > user name > Library > Fonts – This used to be the best place to store your personal font collection in previous version of OSX. In OS X 10.7 the user library folder is hidden by default. To get access to the folder, check this tech note.
  • Library > Fonts – the system’s main font collection, meant for fonts that should be accessible to any user of the system.
  • Network > Library > Fonts – the font collection shared across the network.
  • System > Library > Fonts – the core set of system fonts.
  • If you are using a font management tool, fonts can be stored at other locations as well. The same is true if you are using the Adobe Creative Suite applications. InDesign, for example, has a separate ‘Fonts’ folder. From version 5 onwards the application will also automatically load fonts that are included in the ‘Document Fonts’ folder, provided this folder is in the same location as the InDesign document.

Other sources of information

Macworld has a good article about what is new in Lion when it comes to fonts and text handling.

6 thoughts on “Mac OS X 10.7 Lion & fonts

  1. BaaaHaaaaahahaha!!! OsX handle unlimited fonts? That’s hilarious! 10.5 might have been able to handle a few but every abomination since chokes like a fat kid on a sucker stick with any amount of fonts added. Daily crashing of FontD. If you are a graphic artist you’ll know all to well what that means.

    That is if you use the machine, Reading 2 emails a day or staring at Safari doesn’t quite constitute ” real use” 10.5> = MUCH HATE!

  2. Hi,

    I recently purchased a new macbook air with osx lion installed. It refuses to display mathematical operators properly. How can I fix this? I have tried using different office suites, I have even tried uploading these documents to google docs, to view them through the browser, but the math symbols are all garbled. Everything works fine on my Win 7 pc.

    Any idea what I can do to fix this?



  3. Dave

    We too have this issue?
    We have found a work round of zipping the fonts in a folder on the snow leopard mac and unzipping them on the Lion mac.

    Not an ideal work round and would much rather have a fix where we can get them working from our network as we have in the past.

    Any Ideas anyone??



  4. Just got a new Mac running OS Lion. When I log in to our network here at work, all of the font icons in our folders come up as little black boxes, like a Unix icon or something, and the Mac sees them as Zero K. On our older Macs (running Snow Leopard or earlier) the fonts have no problem. I can open program files (InDesign, Quark, Illustrator, etc.) with no problems. It is only the fonts that Lion will not recognize.

    Any ideas????

  5. I Validated the fonts in Lion FontBook. 223 were passed but one font, Palatino, was marked as hav­ing 4 minor prob­lems 0 Errors. Does any­one know any­thing about this and or how to fix it?

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