MAC OSX default fonts.

mandatorycannibalism's picture

Hey guys!

Where can I find out what the MAC OSX default fonts are?

I'm a student and when working on a Class project someone installed over one hundread fonts that i dont want. So i want to just have my MAC OSX default settings?

Ken Messenger's picture

What, and no font management software? These kids today.

You can check here for Mac OSX system fonts.

Nick Shinn's picture


Never trash a .dfont

Grzegorz Rolek's picture

You can use FontExplorer X's built-in command to clean system fonts folder (Tools -> Clean System Fonts folder…) which will leave default fonts and remove (with backup) all the rest.

canderson's picture

Never trash a .dfont

Nick Shinn's picture

I thought all the .dfonts were required by the system.
Which ones aren't essential?

Grzegorz Rolek's picture

From Advanced Typography with Mac OS X Tiger:

Several system fonts are essential. Never remove them. Doing so will prevent the system from starting up and will likely require reinstallation of the operating system. They are:
• Geneva
• Helvetica*
• Lucida Grande
• Monaco

* For optimal performance, leave the version of Helvetica that shipped with the system. However, you can replace it with another version if necessary. In doing so, some application layouts may be affected.

Miss Tiffany's picture

The best list (and only list I'd call 100% safe) is found on Apple's site: Safe list to follow religiously.

I use 2 font management software as I've found it is less problematic to control my system fonts through Font Book, while I manage all of my other fonts through Font Explorer Pro.

First I turn FEX off so the changes I make will be reflected when I open it again. Then I open Font Book and make a new set adding the fonts which can be deactivated.

I then deactivate those fonts and re-open FEX where they have system folders by default.

But because I'm a control freak and want to see what I've done in Font Book reflected in FEX I create a new folder and two new sets adding the active system fonts to one and the deactive to the other. This also gives me numbers to compare if any new fonts get added next time I install software.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I would never replace the system version of Helvetica or Helvetica Neue. I tried that a while ago and it only caused problems. I've had to learn to work around it. I do have one client who uses Helvetica and so I find myself activating a only a few non-system Helvetica fonts and dealing with the situation.

mandatorycannibalism's picture

thank you guys. that was a lot of help.

Nick Shinn's picture

I do have one client who uses Helvetica

One can be excused, but don't make a habit of it :-)

Miss Tiffany's picture

Yes, I know Nick. But I inherited the type spec so I hope you can turn a blind eye this one time. ;^)

canderson's picture

Here's how I personally set up my Mac....

I never touch these, they're core fonts for Mac OS X. Application developers generally expect these fonts to be present and active. The system will still function for some people if they remove some of these, but weird, hard-to-diagnose problems can result.

/System Folder/Fonts/
This will only exist if you have a PowerPC based Mac with a OS 9 System Folder. When OS 9 runs within OS X it is referred to as "Classic". The minimal fonts for Classic are Charcoal, Chicago, Geneva and Monaco. I remove everything else. Intel Macs never have this, so people are quickly forgetting about it.

These fonts are technically optional. Personally, I remove most of them. Here are the fonts I leave behind: Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, Verdana, Webdings. These fonts are commonly used on the web, and some applications seem to assume they will be present. If a website specifies Impact or Trebuchet, the browser will have to fall back to something else. The same thing will happen in other apps as well.

/Users/*your username*/Library/Fonts/
This folder is empty by default. I keep it empty, although MS Office will install fonts here.

On Helvetica: Mac OS X comes with a font called Helvetica, which resides in /System/Library/Fonts. If you need to use Helvetica, in my opinion the best thing to do on Mac OS X is to uses Helvetica LT Std from Linotype. It has an internal PS font name that is different from previous releases, so theres no chance that the system or any application will get the fonts confused.

Velo D_Occitane's picture

question to all:
aren't there certain critical Adobe application fonts that are needed for correct function of Adobe CS apps?
I'm trying to finally get lean and mean here, but as usual, afraid to touch anything.
Just did a fresh install of CS3 and don't want to harm it.

canderson's picture

With CS 3, Adobe changed their font install procedure--and for the better in my opinion. They now install the design fonts into /Library/Fonts/ so they will be available to all apps. This is better than hiding them in Application Support. Secondly, it appears that the fonts that used to be in /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts/Reqrd/, the "required" fonts, are now hidden inside the app bundle. So, they put the optional fonts in a standard, expected location and they hid the fonts you shouldn't mess with. This is good from a support/usability perspective.

AFAIK, you can take the fonts out of /Library/Fonts/ and add them to your font manager if you wish. Some font managers will do this for you, but it's always nice to know where they come from and where they're going. They're wonderful fonts though, so some people like to keep some or all of them active at all times.

Velo D_Occitane's picture

Carl, thanks, that answers my question precisely. I kind of suspected this, looking at what they installed.

Steve Tiano's picture

Whatever became of the font families Bookman and Avant Garde? And wasn't a bad Helvetica Narrow also a part of the Macintosh default fonts at one time. I remember them from my first Mac, a IIx, back in November of 1989.

ryanholmes's picture

I'm not sure why some are having trouble with this above, but when you use Font Book and try to deactivate a font that the OS absolutely needs, Font Book simply gives you an alert that it is a system font and you're playing with fire if you mess with it. On that basis, you leave it alone and move on. This is what happens when you try to mess with Lucida Grande, for example.

You can safely deactivate the Helvetica and Times .dfonts in Font Book, and enable alternate Postscript or OT versions, that's what I did. No sweat.

Once all the system-installed .dfonts that CAN be deactivated have been, you have the "minimal" system configuration. For those .dfonts that have been deactivated, there's no reason to trash them--just leave them in the system/library/fonts directory "just-in-case." The few megabytes of storage they take up won't kill anybody in this age of monstrous hard drives.

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