Excerpt 2: Update Legacy Fonts – Take Control of Font Problems in Mac OS X, Tiger Edition

Chapter . Excerpt 2: Update Legacy Fonts

This is an excerpt from the ebook Take Control of Fonts in Mac OS X: Tiger Edition (see the tip on page 8 for more information and a discount).

If you’re not new to the Mac, you may have a few old font favorites, or even a vast collection, that you have no intention of giving up. But your fonts may not be ready for Mac OS X, which has more stringent requirements when it comes to font files:

  • Mac OS X can’t use a single-font file for either bitmapped or TrueType; fonts must be in suitcase files, even if the suitcase holds only a single font.

  • You must trim down multiple-font suitcases, separating TrueType from bitmapped, and the bitmapped wheat from the chaff (the ones you need for PostScript fonts, and the ones you don’t).

But you can’t manipulate suitcase contents in Mac OS X. Even if you’re in Classic, you can’t open suitcase files the way you did in Mac OS 9, because Classic is not really an operating system, it just plays one on your Mac. Manipulation issues aside, you can’t even be sure of a suitcase’s contents because double-clicking it opens windows in Font Book for the TrueType contents, but not for all the bitmaps.

So, how can you handle this particular chore? You have three options:

  • Work directly in OS 9: Use your own Mac if it can boot into OS 9, or on another machine. (Some apologies, or even begging, may be required if you’ve been giving OS 9 friends a hard time about not moving up to Mac OS X.) I recommend this method, since it’s the only one that lets you handle single-font files. To get started, see Work with suitcases in Mac OS 9.

  • Work in the Classic environment: Install it on your machine if it’s not there already, and get... ready for this?... Font/DA Mover 4.1, last seen with System 6. I cover how to get it and how to use it in Use Font/DA Mover.

  • Get a third-party utility that lets you manipulate suitcases. The only utility for this that I’m aware of is Smasher. It lets you redistribute suitcase contents although it doesn’t handle single font files; despite several other handy features, its $49.95 price tag is outrageously steep (http://www.insidersoftware.com/SM.php).

Learn How to Pack a Suitcase for OS X

Whatever your actual mechanics for re-packing suitcases, these are your goals:

  • Everything goes into a suitcase: no single-font files allowed. (Single-font suitcases are fine.)

  • Separate bitmapped from TrueType fonts, keeping them in separate suitcases even if they’re the same family.

  • Get rid of bitmapped fonts entirely if they are not companions for PostScript files.

  • Limit a suitcase to a single family, with all its typefaces. (The only exception: related families—I think of them as “cousins”—that will always be used or disabled at once, like Jum, JumCondensed, and JumNarrow.)

  • Name the suitcase after the family it contains.

Work with Suitcases in Mac OS 9

If you can work in Mac OS 9 on your own or someone else’s machine it’s easy to clean up your font suitcases. (Remember: that’s a real OS 9, not the Classic environment on a machine running Mac OS X.)

OS 9 has four different font file types, easily identifiable by their icons (see Figure 16): single-font bitmapped, single-font TrueType, PostScript printer files, and suitcases with multiple fonts.

The Fonts folder in Mac OS 9 and its various font file icons:

  • Top row: Single-font files; a bitmapped font (left) and a TrueType font (right).

  • Middle row: PostScript printer font icons vary from one vendor to another; Adobe’s is at the far left.

  • Bottom row: Suitcase files for multiple fonts; the icon is the same no matter the contents.

Figure 16. 

Working with fonts in Mac OS 9 is straightforward. Start by opening the Fonts folder and Option-dragging the files out onto the Desktop where you can work with the copies. (In general, it’s a good idea to work on copies. And OS 9 doesn’t let you work on files in the Fonts folder, or even drag the originals out, if any application—even some subtle background item—is running.)

You need to know only a few things to manipulate suitcase contents (but keep in mind the guidelines in Learn How to Pack a Suitcase for OS X):

  1. Open a suitcase: To open a suitcase file, double-click it. The suitcase window looks like a Finder window (as you can see in Figure 17), but it’s not; the only thing that can be moved in or out of it is font files.

    This opened font suitcase contains two TrueType fonts and four bitmapped ones. (The clue that this is not a standard Finder window is the suitcase icon at the left of the header.) These fonts are all in the same family, but a suitcase can hold a mixture of families and font types.

    Note that the bitmapped fonts’ names include their sizes.

    Figure 17. 

  2. Move a font file from one suitcase to another: Open one suitcase and drag the font icon into the other suitcase—either its open window or the closed suitcase icon (as if it were a folder).

  3. Make a new suitcase: There’s no way to create a new suitcase, an oddity much commented on since the advent of System 7 and these suitcase windows. If you need an empty suitcase—for a single-font file, for instance—make a copy of an existing one and drag everything out of it. (Really!)

  4. Divide the fonts in a suitcase: For a suitcase with two different font families, both of which you want to keep, creating a new suitcase for one family is not always the fastest route. Instead, duplicate the suitcase and dump one family from the original and the other family from the copy.

Use Font/DA Mover

If you don’t have access to a native Mac OS 9 environment, you can work in the Classic environment of your Mac OS X machine with Font/DA Mover. (Relative newbies note: DA stands for Desk Accessory—the little programs like the Calculator, Scrapbook, and Puzzle, now inelegantly mimicked by widgets.) Try a search on Apple’s site and you’ll think the Mover doesn’t exist anymore, but you’ll find Font/DA Mover 4.1 near the top of the list on this Web page: http://download.info.apple.com/Apple_Support_Area/Apple_Software_Updates/English-North_American/Macintosh/System/Older_System/System_6.0.x/TrueType/.

The Font/DA Mover’s interface is a little clunky, and in only basic black-and-white—but it was always oddly black and white and clunky, even in its day (Figure 18). However, it gets the job done.

In a Font/DA Mover panel, bitmapped fonts (like Black Chancery in this picture) are listed with their point sizes, while TrueTypes are shown in their typefaces (the Arials and Century Gothics). Clicking a font provides a sample at the bottom of the window.

Figure 18. 

Follow these simple steps to work in the Mover:

  1. Take suitcases out of the Classic folder.

    There’s no reason to work on Tiger suitcases, but if you’ve put other suitcases in the Classic Fonts folder, take them out before working on them. Font/DA Mover gets very confused if you make it look at anything in the Classic folder (see Step 3).

  2. Launch Font/DA Mover by double-clicking it or by dropping a suitcase icon on it.

  3. If you double-clicked Font/DA Mover to open it, click Close under the font list.

    Unless you start the Mover by dropping a suitcase on it, the fonts in the left panel are those in the Classic Fonts folder—the folder is being treated as one giant suitcase. You can’t work on the fonts this way. Close the list and open individual, specific suitcases.

    If you try to open a suitcase that’s in the Classic folder, you’ll see all the fonts listed again

  4. Organize your suitcases according to the guidelines in Learn How to Pack a Suitcase for OS X. Here’s how to manipulate suitcases and the fonts inside them:

    • How to move fonts: Manipulate suitcase contents by opening a suitcase in each of the panels (the button beneath each panel changes from Close to Open depending on the context), selecting fonts in the list, and clicking Copy or Remove as needed.

    • How to make a new suitcase: It’s not immediately apparent, but you can create new suitcases with Font/DA Mover: when you click an Open button, the dialog that opens includes a New button.

    • Dealing with single-font files: You can’t open or manipulate single-font files with Font/DA Mover, since the program predates that whole concept.

    • Handling memory problems: When a suitcase contains a lot of fonts, Font/DA Mover can choke because of the limited amount of memory it addresses. If you run into that wall, you’ll see the amusing dialog in Figure 19. (If you remember the thrill of MultiFinder, you’ve been around Macs for a while). Clicking the only available button quits the Mover.

      MultiFinder gave us the impression of multitasking, back in its day.

      Figure 19. 

    Since the program doesn’t actually seize up until you scroll toward the later fonts in a list, the way to get around this is to work on a copy of the fat suitcase, and remove as many fonts in the upper part of the list as necessary so you can get at the ones later in the list.