Solve Other Specific Problems – Take Control of Font Problems in Mac OS X, Tiger Edition

Chapter . Solve Other Specific Problems

If you’ve dealt with a hard-to-pin-down font problem, you might find it a relief to deal with one that’s more specific in nature: an icon changes, a font file can’t be erased, character formatting doesn’t seem to “take”... all sorts of annoying but identifiable things. The problems and solutions are divided into the following categories (click on a link to jump to the one you need help with):

Font Files and Icons

You can guess what might go wrong with a font file—from not being able to copy it to its refusing to be thrown out with the Trash—but you’d be amazed what can go wrong with the icons themselves!

A font file can’t be moved or copied

Some old font files put up a fuss when you try to copy them or move them from one folder to another. Reset font file permissions to make them behave.

If you’re working with fonts in /System/Library/Fonts (or /Library/Fonts when you don’t have administrative privileges), it’s normal for a font file to refuse to move out of the folder, simply make a copy of itself in the target location; see Remove or Reinstall a System Font for details.

A font refuses to go out with the Trash

There are several reasons a font might not go gentle into that good Trash, and several solutions to try:

  1. If the font was dragged to the Trash directly from a Fonts folder or user-defined library: It’s likely Tiger thinks it’s still using the font (even if you replaced it with a file of the same name to get a better version). Delete the system font caches, and don’t forget that a restart is part of the procedure.

  2. Otherwise: Try these solutions, which I list in the special order used so often in troubleshooting—instead of “most likely to work,” it’s more like “not necessarily very likely, but easy to do, so you might as well do it before the more time-consuming stuff”:

    1. If the font’s icon has a lock on it, unlock it: Select the file and choose File > Get Info (Command-I). Uncheck the Locked checkbox in the General area.

    2. In the file’s Info window, verify that you have Read & Write access to the file; if you don’t, give yourself access as described in Reset font file permissions.

    3. Close all your applications. Then, drag the font file out of the Trash and put it back in (let go of it in-between—drop it on the Desktop for a moment).

    4. Restart.

    5. Delete the system font caches.

Font files have strange icons

Font icons other than the standard ones show up under three general circumstances:

  1. The icon is correct, but for a font file format that Mac OS X doesn’t support: There’s nothing you can or should do about this—there’s nothing wrong!

    This graceful icon signifies a loose (non-suitcased) TrueType or bitmapped font, a file format used prior to Mac OS X; its Finder Kind is Font.mdimporter. This is not a problem in and of itself, but you can’t use this file type because Mac OS X doesn’t support it.

  2. The icon used to be correct, but changed somewhere along the way: This usually results from using a third-party font manager or other font utility. It’s almost always just a cosmetic problem that doesn’t affect a font’s performance; getting rid of the triggering application and restarting usually resets the icons to their Mac OS X norm. “Getting rid of” sometimes means that you must not only make sure it’s not running (in the background or foreground), but also take it off your drive. If you want to keep it for future use, you can use the Finder’s File > Archive command to zip it, and trash the original; an application isn’t “seen” when it’s in a zipped file. Here are some typical examples:

    Prior to 10.4.3, this retro-design (circa System 7) suitcase icon showed up on suitcase font files if you had the venerable Font/DA Mover application around; the file’s Kind in the Finder changed to (gasp!) Font/DA Mover document, too. Double-clicking on one of these files opened Font/DA Mover instead of Font Book, but the fonts worked fine.

    My font files started switching to generic blanks whenever I moved them out of their Fonts folders. The culprit turned out to be a shareware font utility I was testing; getting rid of the application solved the problem.

    My font icons took on this cheery look (love that red on the turned-down corner!) when I used Linotype FontExplorer; they changed back to normal when I stopped using it and reactivated Font Book.

    This Adobe OpenType icon suddenly showed up on more than 30 .otf files in my Adobe Fonts folder after I installed ATM (Adobe Type Manager) in my Classic environment. Their “Open With” properties needed adjusting; I discuss how to do this in OpenType icon changes to an “O”.

  3. The icon was odd from the beginning. Some font icons are just different from the get-go, especially if they’re older fonts.

    This icon showed up on an old font, but only on one of the two machines I was using; Font Book said it was corrupted until I fixed the Open With property (for more details, see A faux corruption). (The icon belongs to Graphic-Converter, a utility included with Mac OS X.)

    This icon graced ITCKabel, a bitmapped Type 1 companion. The font wouldn’t install because it was an old version, but the icon puzzled me for longer than I would like to admit (my story, and I’m sticking to it, is that I was misled by the font’s being a problem to start with). It was merely a custom icon pasted over the regular one in the Get Info window. You can restore an original icon in this situation by selecting the icon in the Get Info window and pressing Delete.

OpenType icon changes to an “O”

If you install ATM in the Classic environment (which you must to get smooth font rendering, as described in PostScript Type 1 fonts in Classic documents have “the jaggies”), OpenType font icons may change—which is extra-strange since Classic doesn’t use OpenType fonts. The Adobe OpenType icon showed up on more than 30 of my .otf fonts in the /Library/ Application Support/Adobe/Fonts folder. Why that folder, which neither Classic nor standard Mac OS X accesses? I don’t know. Why not all the .otf fonts? I don’t know.

But I do know the cure. These files were having an identity crisis and wanted to be opened by ATM. Change an icon’s Open With property to get it back to normal:

  1. Select the icon in the Finder.

  2. Choose File > Get Info.

  3. In the Info window, expand the Open With section, if necessary, and choose Font Book from the pop-up menu.

Tip: Make Multiple “Open With” Changes

If you have lots of font files that are confused as to their parentage, you don’t have to change their “Open With” properties one at a time. Select the files in the Finder, and hold Option as you choose File > Get Info, or press Command-Option-I.

A single Info window opens for all the items, and changing the Open With property in the window changes it for every file.

A faux corruption

This particular bug was so incredibly strange, it’s possible not one reader of this ebook will encounter it. However, the method that fixed the problem may come in handy for other, similar, problems.

I had an old PostScript Type 1 font, Princetown, that Font Book tagged as seriously damaged when I tried to install it on my PowerBook. I moved the files to my desk Mac and the theretofore normal suitcase icon changed to something I couldn’t identify, and its Finder Kind changed to Paintbrush document. I moved the files back and forth between the machines, and every time it showed as a font icon on the PowerBook and the changed icon on the desk machine.

Removing the file’s .scr extension didn’t change anything; in fact, in Get Info (on the desk machine with the weird-icon file), the name came up with the extension still on it, and the file defaulted to an Open With of GraphicConverter.

The fix was both simple and absurd: in the Get Info window, I chose Font Book from the Open With pop-up menu. The icon changed to a font icon, the kind changed to Font suitcase, and it installed flawlessly. Copied back to the PowerBook, it installed there, too, with no corruption reported. Go figure.

A font icon changes when you move it to a different folder

Right, it makes no sense. But I watched it happen many times, to Apple-supplied fonts going from one Fonts folder to another. It didn’t seem to affect the font’s performance in any way, but it bothered me a lot. I found a fix:

  1. Select the icon in the Finder.

  2. Choose File > Get Info.

  3. In the Info window, expand the Open With section if necessary and choose something besides Font Book in the pop-up menu.

    If there’s no other application listed in the menu, choose Other, and select any application in the Open dialog, navigating around until you find one; TextEdit is a safe bet.

  4. Choose Font Book in the menu again.

I’ve never even found it necessary to close the Get Info window and reopen it between the two menu selections.

PostScript Fonts

The near future has PostScript fonts replaced by OpenType, which can only be a good thing, because the majority of problems you’ll run into with Type 1 fonts is due to the double-file suitcase/printer font approach.

Helvetica Fractious

If you use the Type 1 font Helvetica Fractions, don’t. It is decidedly Mac OS X-unfriendly and causes all sorts of general mayhem. It has particularly nasty effects in Address Book and iChat, where it displays overlapping numbers and characters—even though you’re not actually using it (on purpose); Safari is not very fond of it either. So, if you’ve installed this font, you should uninstall it right away.

Times Phrenetic

Everything I just said about Helvetica Fractions is also true for Times Phoenetic.

A PostScript Type 1 font won’t install

Problems installing PostScript Type 1 problems have several variations:

  • You double-click on one of the components and nothing happens, or Font Book opens but a Preview window for the font does not. Occasionally one or both of the companion files in question are copied to the correct Fonts folder, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at Font Book, because they don’t appear in the Font list.

  • The font seems to install in Font Book (you get a Preview window with an Install button) but the font never appears in the Font list or, if it does, the Preview pane is blank.

  • The font seems to be installed (according to Font Book’s list) and you even see the files in the target Fonts folder, but the fonts are not in any menus.

  • You drag the files directly into a Fonts folder but the font never appears in Font Book.

Any of these problems can occur for any one (or more) of these reasons:

  • You’re missing either the suitcase file or the printer file for the font. Find the missing component!

  • The companion to the printer font is a loose, non-suitcased bitmapped font (a file format in use from System 7 through OS 9), which Mac OS X can’t handle.

  • The suitcase file that you think is the printer file’s companion is not: it doesn’t have the right bitmapped font in it, despite its name. (Or, it’s actually empty—yes, I’ve seen that happen!) This isn’t all that easy to determine because there’s no way to open a suitcase file in Mac OS X, but see Excerpt 2: Update Legacy Fonts for some tricks in that regard.

  • The suitcase for the font you’re installing has the same name as a suitcase already in use for a different printer file. If you’ve renamed and/or repacked your suitcases over the years, and especially if you’ve used font managers in your Mac OS 9 years (they didn’t care if suitcases had the same name) this problem can creep up on you. When you tell Font Book to install the new Type 1, it copies the printer file to the Fonts folder; it prepares to copy the suitcase into the folder but sees one by that name already there, so it doesn’t copy the new one.

  • It’s an Adobe pre-1992 font, some of which are missing the FOND (family information) resource that became necessary when Apple redefined internal font format requirements for the PowerPC. The real problem is in figuring out if this is the problem: the creation and modified dates that you can access are not necessarily the genuine ones. Just keep in mind that if you’ve had the fonts longer than your favorite pair of socks, it might have this internal problem. (Adobe offers reasonably priced upgrades for old fonts; you kept your original disks and receipts, right?)

If Font Book won’t install the font but you really need to use it, sometimes dragging the font components directly into one of the Fonts folders is enough to make it work (and even show up in Font Book next time you open it).

You should also make sure that the inability to install some fonts isn’t Font Book’s problem—can you install other fonts? Is everything else working smoothly? Delete Font Book’s plist, and then see if Font Book agrees to install the font.

Font Menus and the Font Panel

By “Font menus,” I mean, generally, any place that lists fonts: actual Font menus in the menu bar, submenus, pop-up menus, the Font panel’s Family list, and so on.

A font doesn’t appear in a Font menu

A missing font can be the result of anything from its being in the wrong place to its being corrupted, and many things in-between.

If you’ve installed the font through Font Book, consider:

If you’ve put the font file directly into a Fonts folder:

  • Does the font show up in Font Book?

    • If it’s in the Font list: Use Font Book’s Validate Font command on it to see if it’s corrupted; if it is, replace it with a fresh version.

    • If it’s not in the Font list: It’s likely corrupted, an unsupported font type, or a Type 1 missing one of its files. Use Font Book’s Validate File command to check it for corruption.

  • Check that Mac OS X supports this font type (see Learn About Supported Font Types). While Font Book lets you install only “legal” fonts, there’s nothing to stop you from dragging any old font directly into a Fonts folder.

  • Make sure you’ve put in all the components of a Type 1 font: the bitmapped suitcase and all the printer fonts. Font Book takes care of this for you, but you may have missed a file during the manual installation.

  • Fonts in an application Fonts folder (like Adobe’s) appear only in specific applications.

  • Fonts in Microsoft’s Fonts folder (/Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts) are not installed at all; the folder is merely a holding area (see The fonts in the Microsoft Fonts folder aren’t in Font menus).

You’ve noticed fonts in Fonts folders that aren’t in menus:

  • The operating system uses some fonts that aren’t meant for mere mortals: Keyboard, LastResort, AquaKana, and Helvetica and Times MMs (Multiple Masters). These fonts are meant for the operating system’s use and aren’t supposed to appear in menus.

  • Adobe applications use Adobe Sans MMs and Adobe Serif MMs, but you can’t.

If none of the above situations applies:

The collections in Font panel are not coordinated with those in Font Book

There’s likely a problem with specific .collection files or their related cache files, which Font Book and Font panel share; Collections or user libraries misbehave describes these files. Try deleting just the caches first; if that doesn’t work, you’ll have to get rid of the .collection files and lose your collection information. You don’t lose your fonts, just the collection-based organization you had.

Font panel loses track of your Favorites or Recently Used fonts

The files com .apple.Favorites.collection and collection in ~/Library/FontCollections track these lists. Getting rid of them will empty the two lists in Font panel, and let you start new, well-behaved lists.

Font and Character Formatting

Font changes, character substitutions, formatting weirdness... most of these can be laid at the Unicode door, but a few other factors can come into play.

Text is totally garbled

You open a document and not just a few characters are wrong—they’re all wrong. The basic possibilities are:

  • You’ve disabled or removed a core system font. Activate or replace the font immediately, because your menus and dialogs may bite the dust next. (Core system fonts are listed under “Absolutely Necessary” in Appendix C: The “Do Not Remove” Font List.)

  • You have Helvetica Fractions installed, which notoriously messes up font display in several Apple applications. Times Phonetic has also been implicated in this situation. Delete them.

  • This one has nothing to do with fonts: You’ve opened a document in an application other than the one that created it. Force-opening “strange” documents in, say, TextEdit results in what looks like garbage characters (Figure 10)—but garbage is in the eyes of the beholder, and those characters are actually information about the document that the parent application knows how to interpret. Or, for instance, you try to open this ebook’s PDF file in your word processor, instead of a PDF reader like Adobe Reader or Preview.

    Garbage characters like this in a document can be a simple matter of having opened it in the wrong application.

    Figure 10. 

  • There’s no obvious explanation for the behavior. Delete the system font caches.

Text is garbled in menus and dialogs

The Helvetica font is so important to Mac OS X that your menus and dialogs can explode if you don’t keep a copy of it around. It doesn’t have to be the Helvetica.font that’s installed by default in /Library/Fonts; any copy of Helvetica, of any font type, in any Tiger Fonts folder (not an application Fonts folder) will keep things from looking like Figure 11. (Disabling all your Helveticas has the same result as removing them.)

This is what a Dock item’s pop-up menu can look like if Tiger can’t find a copy of Helvetica.

Figure 11. 

Boxes or incorrect characters are substituted

Occasional boxes or substituted characters are due to the differences between the font originally used for the document and the one being used to open it later. (To add insult to injury, sometimes the document in question was created on your own, pre-OS X Mac.) Sometimes the font difference is obvious, and other times more subtle:

  • You don’t have the original font and your substitute font doesn’t have all the characters needed. Get the correct font, or try changing the font in the document to one that has the correct characters.

  • You seem to have the correct font—it has the same name—but in fact either yours or the originator’s is an older, perhaps nonUnicode compliant, version. Match the fonts, or reformat the text.

  • The document was created in an application that can handle glyphs beyond the Unicode-defined ones, and you’re viewing it in a program that can’t display those glyphs. (See Excerpt 1: The World According to Glyphs.) The best you can do here is ask the originator for a PDF of the file so you can see it correctly.

  • The document was created on “the other” platform with older fonts whose character IDs don’t match your font character IDs. (We inherited this mess from earlier years, when Macs and PCs went their own ways in regard to how they handled character references.) If you know what characters are substituted (say, the Ó for a curly apostrophe), it’s possible to perform search-and-replace operations to make the document readable on your end.

Standard Option-key combos like Option-V enter the wrong characters

Option-V gives you a checkmark (√—okay, it’s really a square root symbol in most fonts, but you know what I mean), and Option-8 provides the beautifully useful bullet (•). When these, and other standard Option combinations stop working, it’s due to one of three problems:

  • You’ve chosen a non-standard keyboard layout from the Input menu (after having turned on the layout from the International preference pane’s Input Menu tab).

  • You’re using the U.S. Extended keyboard layout, which, because it provides so many “dead-key” Option combinations for accents, has to sacrifice the input of many standard Option characters.

  • You’re using a font that is not conforming to either the old Mac encoding scheme (what characters are generated by what keys) or the new Unicode one. The biggest sinner in this area is the Adobe PostScript Type 1 font Symbol, which clings to its always-been-different key layout. But a special slap on the wrist goes to Apple for including the mixed-up Handwriting-Dakota font with iLife; try typing curly quotes or a bullet character, for instance, and you get accented letters instead.

In the first two cases, just switch to a different keyboard layout to enter the character you need, then switch right back to the keyboard you’re using. If Adobe’s Symbol font or Handwriting-Dakota is the issue and you want to use it instead of changing fonts, use Keyboard Viewer to find the characters you need.

The letter O followed by a slash turns into a slashed O

If you type the letter O followed by a slash and it turns into a slashed O, you must be using Palatino, Hoefler, Chicago, or New York in a program like TextEdit, Pages, or FileMaker.

In a case of “when smart fonts do stupid things,” the helpful technology that substitutes a single-character ligature for the letters fi, or sticks in swashytailed lowercase g’s when you type in a row, is “helpfully” substituting a single, different character when you type an O (upper or lowercase) followed by a slash. (You think an O isn’t often followed by a slash? You forget that Web URLs and Mac OS X pathnames both use slashes to separate names!)

If you’re in an application that uses the Font panel, you can turn off this feature:

  1. Open the Font panel (Command-T).

  2. From the Action menu (the gear icon in the lower left of the Font panel), choose Typography.

  3. In the Typography panel, expand the Diacritics section (if you don’t have a Diacritics section, select a font—such as Palatino—that offers diacritics).

  4. Select Don’t Compose Diacritics.

    This turns off the Compose Diacritics radio button. (A diacritic is a mark, like an accent, that’s placed above, below, or—as in this case—right through a Roman alphabetic character.)

In some programs, like Word, this never happens. In others, like FileMaker, it happens but there’s no Typography panel or equivalent to control it; your only recourse there is to avoid using certain fonts.

Extra blank lines appear between lines of text

They’re not exactly blank lines, because you can’t remove them; it’s more like the line spacing changes to quadruple while it’s still officially set to single. This is one of the many things that can be fixed when you Delete the system font caches.

Lucida Grande keeps getting applied to your text

If you use an alternate keyboard and try to type characters not included in your current font, Lucida Grande jumps in to save the day, providing those missing characters.

Text refuses to change to a new font

If the text includes special characters that aren’t included in the new font, Mac OS X may overrule the font change, leaving the text in a font that contains the characters you’ve typed.

The font changes when text is pasted between applications, or imported

The font may not be available in the second application (Adobe applications have a ton more fonts available to them).

But don’t overlook something else that’s not a font problem at all: you might have different style definitions in each place. If your Body style is defined as 12-point Verdana in the first document, and the receiving document or application defines Body as 14-point Baskerville, the font is supposed to change.

Character styles change when text is pasted or imported

This is most often seen with bold and italic styling, but it’s not limited to those two. The changes all boil down to what typefaces are available on the originating and receiving ends:

  • The font is not available in the receiving application, and the font that’s substituted does not have the same variety of typefaces.

  • The font versions differ on each end, and one version has more typefaces than the other.

  • The same font is used on both ends, and it doesn’t have the typeface in question—but one of the applications faked the style. Microsoft applications, for instance, create fake bold versions of a bold-less font by “overprinting” the text horizontally, with each copy offset by a pixel or two (or three).

  • Special formatting options are available in one application, but not the other. Word’s strikethrough style, for instance, doesn’t carry over to InDesign; the Font panel shadowing options work in few places besides Apple programs.

iTunes switches to Hebrew

In the Oddest-of-All category, if Hebrew appears in place of English in iTunes, it’s almost always because of an extra copy of Lucida Grande in /Library/Fonts or ~/Library/Fonts. A single copy belongs in /System/Library/Fonts.


Some of these solutions might apply to browsers other than Safari, although the specific directions (like how to set preferences) would be different.

Special characters, like accented letters, turn into other characters or question marks in diamonds

This is caused by encoding mismatches (encoding is how characters are represented by numbers that the computer needs). The Web page and your browser have to use the same encoding system so that what started out as an é or a bullet on the creator’s end shows up as that é or bullet on your end. When the encodings don’t match, your Web pages have problems like the ones shown in Figure 12 (next page).

The difference encodings make on a Web page.

The first line is the original, in WinLatin encoding. The second line shows it viewed with MacRoman encoding, the third with UTF-8. (The diamond-question-mark symbol is the Unicode character substituted when the browser doesn’t know how to interpret information—and it’s aware of the fact that it doesn’t know what to do. In the previous line, the browser thought it was doing the correct thing.)

The last two lines were encoded on the page properly, with UTF-8, but viewed with, respectively, WinLatin and MacRoman encodings.

Figure 12. 

For many years, the two Roman-based encodings were simply MacRoman on the Mac side and Windows-1252 (known variously as WinLatin-1, ISO Latin, ISO-8858-1, and a few other similar terms). They matched for the first 128 characters (the basic alphanumerics and punctuation) but went their own ways for the next 128 (curly quotes, bullets, accented letters). Now the UTF-8 encoding provides a standard way to transmit characters that conform to Unicode.

Many older Web pages, and carelessly designed newer ones, use the Mac or PC encoding—and, due to the preponderance of PCs, the majority of those have PC encoding. Newer and/or better pages use UTF-8 encoding.

While you can change Safari’s encoding translation system for a single Web page when it shows up with gibberish, your best bet is to change the default encoding Safari uses for every page, and then alter it on a per-page basis as needed.

Set the default encoding to UTF-8 since it is, after all, the 21st century:

  1. Choose Safari > Preferences (Command-,).

  2. Click the Appearance tab.

  3. Choose Unicode (UTF-8) from the Default Encoding pop-up menu.

To change the encoding for the currently viewed page, overriding the default encoding:

  • Choose View > Text Encoding > Western (ISO Latin 1).

    If UTF-8 isn’t working for the page, this PC-based encoding is the next most likely to work. If it doesn’t do the trick, select Western (Mac OS Roman) from the Text Encoding submenu.

Other encoding choices

The descriptions here assume you are dealing with English or a Western European language. There are dozens of encoding choices specific to non-Roman languages when UTF-8 doesn’t work for a page.

Some pages on a site are fine, others present font gibberish

If the “fine” pages contain the same kinds of characters as the “gibberish” pages—curly quotes and accented letters, say—the problem is unlikely to be from mismatched encodings or missing fonts. Try any of these solutions (the second one is the most likely to work in this situation):

  1. Quit and restart Safari.

  2. Reset Safari’s cache: Choose Safari > Empty Cache and then click Empty in the dialog that appears. This deletes the file that stores information about the pages you’ve visited recently so they reload quickly.

  3. Delete the system font caches.

Web page text is rendered as fractions

This is caused by the PostScript font Helvetica Fractions. There’s no “fix” for this other than removing the font.

Arabic-language pages don’t display correctly

The Arial and Times New Roman fonts Microsoft supplies, which are generally superior to the Tiger versions because they have so many more characters (see Table 6, next page), interfere with Arabic text rendering. Deactivate them with Font Book or remove them from ~/Library/Fonts.

Table 6. The Microsoft Office 2004 Font Advantage








More than six times as many characters, including accented letters; Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Cyrillic letters; fractions for thirds and eighths; box pieces; mathematical symbols; dingbats including card suits and musical notes.[*]

Times New Roman



Trebuchet MS



Hundreds more characters, including accented letters, Greek and Cyrillic letters, and fractions for eighths.




Arial Narrow



One to three extra characters, including the Euro symbol, which ensures Unicode compliance.

Arial Rounded Bold



Brush Script



[†] Office X supplied different versions: Arial 2.9, Times New Roman 2.91, Trebuchet 1.15, Verdana 2.35

[*] The Microsoft versions of these fonts interfere with Safari’s rendering of Arabic Web pages

Other Windows TrueType fonts that interfere with Arabic pages are Tahoma, Arabic Transparent, and Traditional Arabic.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft applications have always had their own rules, and they have their own problems, too. Most of them, however, are easily dealt with.

The fonts in the Microsoft Fonts folder aren’t in Font menus

The folder /Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts is a mere holding area for Office’s use; it’s not an “Application Fonts folder” as Mac OS X defines it (see Application Fonts folders). When you run an Office application for the first time in any user account, it installs the fonts from its folder into that user’s Fonts folder (~/Library/Fonts). If you remove the fonts from the User Fonts folder, they won’t be in Font menus; their continued existence in the Microsoft folder makes no difference to Font menus.

You deleted the Microsoft fonts from your User Fonts folder

You may not view this as a problem, until you realize that of the twelve fonts that both Tiger and Microsoft provide, seven of the Microsoft fonts are later, better versions (as detailed in Table 6).

Microsoft keeps all its Office fonts in reserve, in /Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts, so you can easily reinstall the ones you removed: Option-drag the missing fonts from the Microsoft folder to your User Fonts folder. (Option-dragging makes a copy of what you’re dragging, so the originals stay in the Microsoft folder.)

Office applications take a long time to “optimize font menus”

Microsoft applications build their Font menus each time you launch them. After you Delete the Microsoft Office font cache or change your font lineup by adding, deleting, disabling, or enabling fonts since the last time you launched an Office application, the program takes longer to start up. There’s nothing wrong here, and the next startup (if you haven’t changed fonts) will be quicker.

Some foreign language fonts don’t show up in Microsoft menus

Microsoft doesn’t support RTL (right-to-left) languages like Hebrew and Arabic, so those system-supplied fonts (like New Peninim) won’t show in Microsoft products. Other complex language scripts, like Hindi, and fonts like Devanagari MT, aren’t supported, either.

But the foreign language keyboards let you type right-to-left in Word and you even get the correct language script

Yes, but...

Select a Hebrew keyboard and start typing, and Word jumps into Lucida Grande or Times New Roman and you get characters typed right to left, even if the insertion point doesn’t move correctly. That’s the “yes” part.

Here’s the “but” part: copy those characters and paste them into another program and they lose their right-to-leftness. Say you want to type the word shalom, whose Hebrew-spelled equivalent is SLOM; they have to appear as MOLS, since they’re read right-to-left. With a U.S. keyboard and a Hebrew font, you have to type the letters in reverse order to get things to look right in the end after you paste; can you imagine typing English words sdrawkcab all the time? Switching to a Hebrew keyboard with Word active lets you type S-L-O-M in that order and have it appear correctly, as MLOS. But pasted or imported to InDesign, the letters revert to their typed order: SLOM.

Permanent RTL

If you’re working in an application designed for RTL or other complex input, you won’t have these problems. Unless, perhaps, you try to intersperse your RTL standard text with some English or other Roman-based left-to-right text.

(Mostly false) reports of corrupt fonts

This is the biggest Microsoft/Mac OS X headache: launch an Office application and get a report of a corrupt font. And another one. And another. Once Office thinks a font is a problem, it tends to report every single font afterward (in Font menu order) as corrupt, too.

Sometimes this is triggered by an actual corrupt font; more often Word (or the application in question) just gets it into its head that there’s a problem, when there really isn’t.

The first thing to know is that you don’t have to click your way through all the corrupt-font warnings (there could be a hundred!) once they start: press Command-Option-Esc to force quit your way out of that trap. Then try some of these fixes:

  • Restart Word and see if the same thing happens. If the initial corruption report was for a font toward the end of the alphabet, it’s possible that the next startup won’t be a problem.

  • Delete the Microsoft Office font cache. This is the almost universal fix for Office font problems, and probably works 90 percent of the time for the corrupt-font reporting.

    As you try other fixes, you should always trash this file after every “corrupt font” startup because while another fix may take care of an underlying problem, this cache remembers what things were like the last time you tried to start Word.

  • Delete the system font caches. The combination of trashing Office’s font cache and the system font caches does the trick 98 percent of the time (according to my official survey).

  • Use the Resolve Duplicates command in Font Book and try again.

Keep duplicates disabled

Microsoft products, particularly Word, seem to work more reliably if you keep all your duplicates disabled. If you’re constantly running into font-related problems with Microsoft applications, keep your duplicates resolved in Font Book.

Adobe Applications

For applications that provide the most fonts and the best font management around, Adobe programs have surprisingly few font problems of their own.

A font name is bracketed in InDesign’s font list

A font in brackets in InDesign’s toolbar font list means that InDesign sees a bitmapped suitcase font without its PostScript printer file. The font could be in any of the Mac OS X Fonts folders (where it’s ignored by other applications) or in the Adobe Fonts folder—/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts.

Even though you may not care about the inability to use the font (Figure 13), you should fix the problem—a mix-up with a font of the same name, or crashes and cache corruption are probably not far away. Your challenge, however, is to find that bitmapped font—it might have slipped through inside a suitcase of other companion fonts. Finder’s Spotlight can look inside suitcases if you set a search for a Kind of “Font suitcase.” (If you have the companion volume to this ebook, Take Control of Fonts in Mac OS X, you’ll find the details for this in “Find Misplaced Fonts.”) If the errant font is inside a mixed-family suitcase and you need the other families, you can learn how to repack the suitcase with Excerpt 2: Update Legacy Fonts.

A bracketed font name in InDesign’s menu means there’s an “orphan” bitmapped suitcase font—one without its printer (outline) companion. Selecting the font results in this warning.

Figure 13. 

Creative Suite programs won’t launch; they want CMap files

Adobe programs don’t just provide you with a wide variety of fonts, they also provide themselves with a few necessities. Inside the Adobe Fonts folder (/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts), which holds all the lovely fonts you’re using, is another, ../Fonts Reqrd; this folder has two subfolders, ../Base and ../CMaps. The first holds the fonts Adobe applications need for their windows and palettes; the second holds files that track special character-ID mapping that some Adobe fonts use. Without both these folders, Creative Suite applications can screech to a standstill.

Unless you’ve archived these folders as suggested in Archive Your Fonts and Utilities, you’ll have to reinstall the Suite to get these folders back.

Find a friend

My real recommendation is to find someone to take pity on you—someone who also has Creative Suite—and get a copy of the Reqrd folder from her. As long as you’re a legitimate user of the software, who cares if you get a copy of the required fonts from someone else?

Put the folder in the correct spot or the Adobe applications won’t see it; if necessary, create the Fonts folder, and even the Adobe folder, so you have the correct enclosing folders (/Library /Application Support/Adobe/Fonts) for the Reqrd folder.

Classic Fonts and Environment

If you wait a little longer, all these problems will go away... because the Classic environment will have gone away.

PostScript Type 1 fonts in Classic documents have “the jaggies”

Mac OS X renders TrueType fonts in Classic smoothly, but it doesn’t take care of the bitmapped fonts used as PostScript companions. For that, you need ATM Light 4.6.2 or later, which you can get at

Fonts are unpredictably substituted in documents

If a document uses a font stored in the Classic Fonts folder and you wind up with unexpected font substitutions when you use it in either Classic or Tiger, it could be because:

  • It’s a bitmapped font without a PostScript printer file companion

  • You have more than one Mac OS 9 System folder available—either on multiple volumes of your internal drive or on attached drives

  • Your Mac OS 9 System folder and Mac OS X system are on different volumes

Fonts in the Classic Fonts folder don’t show in any Tiger Font menus

Sometimes you have to “poke” Classic before its fonts are available to Tiger: in the Start/Stop tab of the Classic preference pane, click on the System Folder under your drive’s name. If that doesn’t work, then start up the Classic environment, either with the Start button in the same preference pane or by opening any Classic application. You can quit out of Classic right away, and you should only have to do this once to get Tiger to see the fonts.