MacOS X Font Oddity

agisaak's picture

This is probably more of a Mac System question rather than a font question, but this is driving me crazy and I thought perhaps someone here would know what's going on.


I'm working with a rather ancient computer which uses MacOS 10.5.8 and Linotype FontExplorer 1.2.3 (i.e. the free version which I think is now discontinued).

I try to keep the number of fonts installed on my system to the absolute bare minimum and then use FEX to activate others as needed. The ONLY fonts actually installed are as follows (listing families only rather than individual fonts):

/System/Library/Fonts/: Aqua Kana, Geneva, Helvetica/Helvetica MM, Helvetica Neue, Keyboard, Last Resort, Lucida Grande, Monaco, Symbol, Times/Times MM

/Library/Fonts/: Courier, Courier New, Geeza Pro, Hiragino Kaku Gothic, Arno Pro

Currently NOTHING else is activated.


I noticed while visiting wikipedia's list of pangrams that many of the non-roman examples given were displayed as missing-character boxes. Given my minimalist set of installed fonts, this is to be expected. What I was surprised by, though, was the fact that the Dzongkha example is being displayed in well-rendered tibetan characters. None of the fonts listed above include tibetan. If I copy and paste the text into TextEdit it is displayed as LastResort, so it appears that TextEdit is aware of the fact that I have no tibetan fonts installed, whereas safari is not.

So where is this font actually coming from? I've checked every font folder I know of (i.e. System/Library/Fonts, /Library/Fonts, ~/Library/Fonts, as well as the adobe font folders in Application Support (not that Safari should have access to those anyway) using ls -a and confirmed that I have no hidden font files. I've used EasyFind to search the entire drive including package contents and hidden system folders for either "kailasa" or "kokonor" (the only tibetan fonts included with Leopard AFAIK) and the only copies I have are those in my folder of removed system fonts, which should all be inactive. I've ran atsutil databases -remove to get rid of the system font caches; I've deleted safari's caches; I've deleted my FontExplorer preferences; all to no avail -- Safari remains convinced that I have a Tibetan font installed (it *looks* like Kailasa, though I can't swear to this).

Now, I have no objection to having a computer which can speak (or at least render) Dzhongka, but it's driving me nuts that I can't figure out where this font is coming from. Are there any other locations not mentioned above where OS X and/or Safari and/or FontExplorer might look for fonts?


kentlew's picture

If you inspect the markup for the Dzongkha example, you’ll see that there is a span tag that has the following attribute: style="font-family: Jomolhari, sans-serif;"

Perhaps that Jomolhari font is being served up somehow through one of their many scripts.

agisaak's picture

Thanks, Kent,

I think you must be correct since I notice that there is also a Tibetan example on that page which doesn't display on my system. If I install Kailasa on my system, the Tibetan example does display but is clearly not in the same font as Dzongkha.

I was under the impression that web font support wasn't available in Leopard, but I must be wrong on that count.

Thanks for solving this and letting me keep what little remaining hair I have left.


Michel Boyer's picture

To know what font is actually used in Safari, you can always save as pdf (using print) and look at "properties > fonts" with Acrobat Reader or use Acrobat Professional to know the font of individual characters in the pdf that is generated.

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