Windows font management recommendations

Addison Hall's picture

I've searched Typophile and the rest of the web for suggestions on this, including Thomas Phinney's article, but I've not really found what I'm looking for.

I know some of you are using Windows, so what do you use for font management and why do you like it? I think she may be interested, too.


tina's picture

Suggestion: use the search method described here and type in "typograf". This will lead you to several talks about this nice font management software for PCs. In case that's not what your looking for, there will be several other opportunities talked about within the same nodes, because typograf is only one possible solution.

Or could you share some more information what exactly you're looking for?

Addison Hall's picture

Thanks, Tina -- it appears that I did not search well enough...

Previously on a Mac, I had become accustomed to Font Explorer. Now that I'm on Windows Vista, I've been using Bitstream Font Navigator, but it just doesn't cut it. I really liked the fact that Font Explorer made this nice, clean database of my fonts when installed -- it did all of the organizing for me.

I've tinkered a bit with MainType, but I honestly haven't devoted enough time to it to make a decision. I had never heard of Typograf, so I'll have to give it a try.

Call me lazy, but I really just wanted a few people to say "I love X software", and move on. ;)

loremipsum's picture

In two decades I evaluated almost all of them and clearly the best are Bitstream Font Navigator, Typograf (both already mentioned) and OT1 Font Manager ( (Extensis Suitcase seemed quite promising but I found it buggy.) But each suits a very different purpose. Typograf is best for previewing fonts (and allows fonts "loading", i. e. temporary installation until next restart or manual unloading). OT1 Font Manager provides best options for printing the specimens and Font Navigator is best for routine installing/uninstalling fonts and managing groups of fonts. You could also try ThumbsPlus that is actually a picture manager, but supports all formats of fonts. Allows creating font thumbnails with custom text, installing fonts and all standard file operations with thumbnails so you can actually visually organize fonts by moving thumbnails into various subfolders you create. You can also print contact sheets, the same way as you would do with photos.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

I have Typograf and love it. The interface isn't very elegant, but once you get used to it, it works very well. One window allows previewing, comparing and searching and another window has your font groups. It loads the font groups at start up unactivated. You just click on the icon in your system tray and select the group you want to load or install and it's that easy. You get full screen character maps also which I love. It also has general info screens, metric data and kerning pairs. It doesn't auto activate in Indesign but it is easy to make a font group of your project and activate that way.

One disclaimer, I'm not a type designer and there may be things you want in the software that I don't know about. I'd be happy to provide screenshots if you need them but it seems like they have some on the web site.

I have used Suitcase, Font Agent Pro for Windows (caused my XP pro machine problems) and Fontexplorer from Linotype (which caused serious system font problems) and Font Navigator.


Hope this helped,


Addison Hall's picture

Typograf, it is. Looks like the Vista version is coming out this year, but I'm downloading now to give the current version a try. Thanks for the advice, everyone.


eeblet's picture

Oof, I hate Typograf's interface! And I'm getting a lot of bugginess in XP. So far, I like Very useful thread!


nuk's picture

What about FontExpert? I think it is good enough as a font manager.

lenoz's picture

Hi guys... I hope I haven't busted on to your topic too late to attract attention!

My query is to be honest slightly off topic, but only slightly!

I've been impressed with the way that Ubuntu (Linux) on my friends machine handles fonts in the regular Explorer-style filesystem, showing actual thumbnails of "Aa" for each font to give an at-a-glance representation.

I've been searching for hours for some kind of plugin to do this in Windows XP explorer, but have found nothing and just hoped one of you guys might know of something that can do it, or at least put me out of my misery by telling me it definitely won't be found!

Just to confirm, I'm not talking about a program, I want to be able to view live thumbnails of my .ttf files while I'm looking at the folder through the regular explorer set up. I hope it's not too much to ask!

To contribute back on topic... it's ironic really I've not used anything other than akFontExplorer for years upon years, I must admit its use for me is nothing more than occasional - when I'm looking for a font to use for a title or menu on a website I'm creating I'll load it up and see what looks good for the phrase/button/title in question.

From the links you've posted, and bearing in mind the little use I would get out of/am looking for in a font management program, I have the luxury of pretty much being able to choose any package as the difference in advanced features is almost irrelevant to me when I'm only looking for previews.

Based on that, and checking out manufacturer's websites and screenshots:
- Typograf - I simply couldn't use this because of the Windows 3.1-looking GUI... i'm a such a ponce when it comes to things like this, but like I said when I'm only looking for simple functionality, I can afford to be choosy. The temporary installation thing would definitely be a potential pull though if I was to start using fonts more heavily
- Extensis Suitcase - looks good but seems to be too interweaved with Adobe software rather than an independent tool
- BitStream FontNavigator - despite finding the Bitstream homepage I couldn't find their page on FontNavigator - has it been discontinued?
- MainType - looks very nice, will be trying this one myself

And a couple of new ideas for you:
- FontExpert 2007 ( - this one looks pretty good, think I'll give it a try
- FontExplorer X ( - also looks pretty good and a FREE download... BUT... the PC version is in between beta and release candidates and as such doesnt' seem to be available anywhere at the moment! :-(

Not sure how this turned into an essay but it did. Hope to get some kind of response from someone somewhen!!

lenoz's picture

I have found the link to FontExplorer X PC, turns out it's still on the LinoType site but not directly linked to:


"It IS very glitchy. Not totally useless but you have to get over the fact that it totally messes up any directory of fonts. So make a seperate folder for the fonts you want to import into the program as it will delete those fonts from the original folder. Also make a backup copy of your windows fonts folder just in case it decides to remove the fonts from there too."

"Hopefully they'll work out those kinks on the next release. The Mac version is the best font management software I've ever used."

"just yesterday after installing a font (not through lino type but through windows font folder) all fonts mysteriously turned to dots. Had to do system restore."

"the current version of suitcase is pants, and FontExplorer's definitely the best thing currently available." a pretty mixed response... a true shame as i was a bit excited about seeing this one, but on those warnings above I'm not going to be installing it til an RC is available.

...also found a lot of people mentioning "ATM Deluxe" which turned out to be (I didn't know) Adobe Type Manager Deluxe... and although it seems well loved, it's old (very) and no longer available.

Davex's picture

Has anyone used Printer's Apprentice? Any thoughts on this software?

Sye's picture

ok, i just installed typograf and can i say, on the surface, not a fan. how come it (or windows) displayed the fonts so poorly?

AtoZ's picture

" come it (or windows) displayed the fonts so poorly?

Simon, are you running XP or Vista? Typograf displays fonts fine on my computer using XP — I don't think the Vista version of Typograf is out yet.
         When going from A to Z,
         I often end up At Oz.

Sye's picture

it's xp, but they display like the default windows font preview, which is not nice...

maybe its just that i'm too use to a mac (i use a mac at home) Font Book displays the fonts really nice...

Yehan's picture

@ Davex

I've used Printer's Apprentice before. It's fuss free.. If I remember correctly it's shareware/freeware. Having switched to a Mac now though I'm not sure if there's a current version.

AtoZ's picture

...[Typograf fonts] display like the default windows font preview, which is not nice...

Simon, I'm not sure what features you're looking for, but if you click on the "Options" button on the toolbar (or you select "Options" from the "View" menu), you can customize a number of things regarding how the fonts are displayed.
         When going from A to Z,
         I often end up At Oz.

Sye's picture

i guess, i'm just use to my mac displaying type really nice on the screen, and windows xp just doesn't' seem to be able to do it.

when i make the type big in the options it seems ok, but the while program just lacks any elegance and basically 'feels' a bit thrown together.

Sye's picture

i'm trying out Printers Apprentice, seems better, it's just missing some of my OpenType fonts... weird...

zevbiz's picture

Any new developments on the Windows Font Management front?

manofscience's picture

High-Logic's MainType is really nice. I have trialled all the other Windows options and MainType is by far the best. It's fast and easy to use, but very powerful.
The main thing I like about it is that it doesn't try to 'organise' your fonts for you. If your fonts are already organised how you like, it will work with this.
You can browse your active fonts or fonts in folders elsewhere on your computer. You get to see a sample preview which you can easily type over or revert to a number of presets, plus a full character map. You also get a choice between activating and permanently installing fonts.
Hope this helps.
btw I don't work for them, just seems that people have a lot of trouble finding decent, stable font managers for Windows!

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