Editor’s Note: This article is being continously updated, with new updates being added to the list of top font managers.
No matter what digital product you create, fonts make all the difference in the world. There is a reason why the New York Times and someone’s bio website do not use the same font. There is also a reason why you should not use Comic Sans in formal design.
What we are saying is this: fonts are essential. Picking the wrong font for even the right design can ruin the design altogether. But, how do you collect and manage the various fonts out there? You’re in the right place if you use a Mac for your design workflow.
In this article, we’ll go over:
Basics on macOS fonts
Just like every other Operating System, macOS requires many fonts to function.
The system ships with various fonts belonging to different categories. However, only some of them are the most essential for the OS and most third-party apps to function correctly.
The list includes fonts like AppleGothic, Arial, Comic Sans, Georgia, Impact, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc. However, if you use the iWork suite, you need more fonts like Chalkboard, Optima, Baskerville, Papyrus, Futura, etc. As you can guess, these are some of the cleanest-looking fonts too.
So, on an ideal day, you should not remove the mentioned fonts from macOS. Of course, you can’t remove most of them if you use macOS Catalina or later. But, as a designer or developer, these fonts are not enough. You can’t make the best design using these fonts alone. Apple recommends developers use fonts other than the standard ones we mentioned.
Well, that’s why macOS allows you to install third-party fonts on your Mac. According to Apple,
macOS supports TrueType (.ttf), Variable TrueType (.ttf), TrueType Collection (.ttc), OpenType (.otf), and OpenType Collection (.ttc) fonts. macOS Mojave adds support for OpenType-SVG fonts.
So, if you have a font with the extensions mentioned above, you can install it on macOS. Double-clicking on the font file will handle the installation for you. Quite simply, if you ask us.
But, you don’t always need all the fonts. You may have to disable, group, and manage fonts in general.
That’s why you need a font manager.
Apple has Font Book. Do you need another font manager?
So, macOS ships with a decent utility called Font Book.
Font Book is the native font manager for macOS, offering you a platform to access/manage the fonts installed on the Mac. As you can see, the latest version of Font Book brings a lot of handy features.
You can see the list of System and User-installed fonts and categorize them. When you select a single font, it also shows a preview of how it looks. You can also create smart collections using this utility. At first look, you may think the Font Book is enough.
But, then, you should understand that a designer needs to handle hundreds of fonts at best. It’s when you’d start noticing some severe limitations with the Font Book utility. For instance,
- Font Book lacks many smart organization and customization options.
- It offers fewer options to compare and contrast two different fonts/variations
- You also get limited options while trying to manage an individual macOS font.
- Font Book does not work with web-based font libraries such as Google Fonts.
These are some reasons why many professionals prefer using a third-party font manager on Mac.
It’s just that you should have the best of the best.
The best font managers for Mac
Let’s look at some of the best font managers available for Mac.
Don’t worry; we have hand-picked options from different categories.
Typeface 3 is a dedicated font manager for Mac and our favorite. We can easily recommend Typeface 3 for anyone needing complete font management experience. The latest version, Typeface 3, packs many features you cannot find on Apple’s Font Book or many other font managers.
Even if you are entirely new to fonts, Typeface 3 can help you navigate your way through. The UI allows you to focus on the specific aspect of the font(s) you consider. For instance, you can either have an overview of the font or explore how each character looks.
You can explore various font organization features in the Typeface 3 package. We are talking about additions like font filters, synced directories, multi-tagging, duplicate removal, tag export, etc. You can also preview a font in different scenarios, like body text layouts.
If you deal with thousands of fonts, you will love the font management features on Typeface 3. For instance, you can enable specific font groups and use them as you want. In addition, the program integrates so well with macOS that it does not even feel like a third-party app.
Typeface 3 works great with other tools and platforms. First, you can easily import and manage fonts from Google and Adobe Fonts. It even comes with a drag-and-drop font activation feature for your favorite apps. You can seamlessly use it with Adobe CC and MS Office suite.
- Built and optimized for macOS (Apple Silicon, native)
- It packs so many useful features for professionals
- A lightweight app packed with productivity-focused options
- Advanced font management features and compatibility
- It does not offer a free version; only a free trial is available
Pricing: Typeface 3 offers a free trial, after which you need to pay $39.99. Alternatively, you can get the app via a Setapp subscription. Read our full Typeface 3 review for more.
RightFont is another great choice for those who need a neat font manager for macOS. In many aspects, this app is similar to Typeface 3. However, some differences may appeal to specific purposes. For instance, RightFont offers a better layer of integration with professional apps.
The User Interface of RightFont is optimized for professional needs. It makes the best use of screen space to give you a neat overview of multiple fonts. In addition, the sidebar comes in handy more often than you think, mainly if you deal with thousands of fonts.
RightFont integrates itself better with macOS and other professional apps. For instance, the app can enable specific fonts when you open documents. Similarly, you can easily switch between fonts when using software suites like Adobe Creative Cloud and Affinity Publisher.
The search function within the RightFont app is quite impressive for most people. It helps you search by the name and filter based on criteria such as category, weight, format, activation status, etc. Once again, if you use hundreds of fonts for a project, you can count on this feature.
- It offers better integration with macOS and professional apps
- You can sync with online font libraries like Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts
- It provides optimized performance for Apple Silicon-based Macs
- You get a reliable and space-optimized User Interface
- It lacks options for comparing different fonts
- It would be nice to see a tag-based categorization system
Pricing: Free trial available; individual license costs $59 and offers free updates for 12 months. You can also avail of discounts if you buy multiple licenses.
We recommend FontBase to designers who need to manage multiple fonts for different projects. Compared to other tools we have mentioned, FontBase is a simpler option. At the same time, the program offers a clear overview of all the fonts you have installed.
Instead of adding so many options, FontBase has chosen a simple look. On the sidebar, you can find different categories and collections. On the right-hand side, you can see a representative list of fonts. So, when you search for fonts, you can see how they look in real-time.
Google Fonts Support
Like other options, FontBase also offers support for Google Fonts. It can easily download and install all the fonts from the Google Fonts library. In addition, you won’t have trouble organizing these fonts, thanks to features like nested folders and universal search.
Made for Designers
Altogether, FontBase has been made and optimized for designers. The core features allow you to organize and discover new fonts you need for projects. While the core app is free, a FontBase Awesome subscription offers additional features like auto-activation, multiple views, tag support, etc.
- A straightforward User Interface design with a sidebar
- Full support for Google Fonts and OpenType features
- Its features are made and optimized for professional designers
- Advanced categorization and searching options for fonts
- Many features require the FontBase Awesome subscription
- FontBase lacks font comparison options for the most part
Pricing: FontBase is free; You can get additional features with the FontBase Awesome package, which costs $3 per month.
FontAgent is an enterprise-centric font manager for Mac. The app has an old-school UI compared to other tools, and some people may struggle to get started. However, from an industrial point of view, you get some advantages.
FontAgent 10 has been optimized for Apple Silicon-based Macs. Therefore, you can enjoy better previewing and activation options within the package. The developer Insider also offers cloud-native solutions in an integrated and flexible font management platform to organize, distribute and control your fonts in your private cloud or the Insider Cloud.
Compared to its contenders, FontAgent has better options for metadata management. This feature will come in handy if you deal with different aspects of fonts during design. You can also integrate tags and categories to organize the content better.
You can enjoy additional features in catalog management as well. For instance, you can track where you are using a specific font. Similarly, there are options to detect duplicates and manage them better. In the end, the complicated UI becomes helpful in some situations.
- It is designed and optimized for enterprise needs
- FontAgent offers advanced metadata management
- Catalog management options are rich and effective
- It creates a suitable environment for collaboration
- The User Interface is old-school and complex
- The setup requires a lot of time
Pricing: A free trial is available; a Standard license of FontAgent 10 for Mac costs $99, but it does not provide upgrades.
Webfont is different from the other macOS font managers we have mentioned. This app lets you organize, maintain and share custom icon fonts and SVG sprites. You can also use its collaboration features if you work with icon fonts.
Webfont provides you with maximum control when it comes to custom font management. You can quickly import icons, customize the font, export them and use them for everyday needs. You would not have trouble with the steps, either.
The Webfont app for macOS makes it easy to share custom icon fonts and SVG sprites with other apps and platforms. You can select the font and click on the Share button, and that’s it. This feature will be helpful if you work as a team where you need to manage multiple icon fonts.
Despite being a simple app, Webfont offers excellent collaboration features. You can invite designers to your team and share the collection with them. If you bring developers to the discussion, they can copy the CSS code directly and start working.
- A lightweight app with a pleasant User Experience design
- Suitable for individual and organization-level use-cases
- Optimized for managing custom font collections with ease
- Webfont makes it easy to create custom fonts and export them
- It does not work with standard fonts
- It lacks font comparison and metadata options
Pricing: Webfont is free to use, but you can have only 16 icons per project. You can get the Pro version for $9.99 per year if you want more icons in a project.
Tips for picking a font manager
So, you have seen the best font managers for Mac. But how do you pick the right one for your needs? Well, here are a few tips that can help you. We have made these tips into a few questions you can answer — and decide.
What kind of designer are you?
Your expertise in design matters a lot when choosing a font manager. For example, if you’ve just started and need a place to organize your font collections, you’re better off with something like RightFont or FontBase.
On the other hand, if you want to delve into the world of fonts and customize every detail, you have to choose an advanced font manager. In that case, we recommend something like Typeface 3.
Which software do you use?
Every design process has a preferred set of software for its workflow. Anyway, you have to consider the flow while picking a font manager. If you didn’t know, many font managers could integrate with software suites like Adobe Creative Cloud and iWork.
So having a font manager that can work with these tools on-demand is a huge relief.
How many fonts do you have?
The size of your font collection — or the potential collection — also plays a role in deciding which is the best font manager for your needs. Because not all font managers are made alike, some can handle heavy-duty tasks better than others.
So, if you have a vast collection of 2000+ fonts, you need an advanced manager. On the other hand, if you have a well-curated collection, you can survive with minimal alternatives.
Do you use web-based platforms?
If you use web-based platforms, such as Google Fonts or Adobe Fonts, you need a font manager that offers support for both. For instance, both Typeface 3 and FontAgent can work with several online font libraries, including paid ones.
Typeface 3, our top pick, has a one-click import option to download all the fonts from Google Fonts. If you value these features, you should ensure the support first.
(How much) Do you want to pay?
This article covers both free and paid font managers for Mac. Even in the paid section, you can find products that vary between $20 and $150. You can pick any font management tool depending on your style and features.
The right font manager can boost your productivity like anything, just like an underpowered font manager can slow you down. So, we recommend understanding your needs and choosing the product accordingly.
On top of all these, you should also consider basic concepts like security, privacy, and reliability. You can do this by choosing products from trusted developers, which is the case for all software suites we’ve recommended above.
Tips for managing fonts on Mac
If you have found the right manager, here are some font management tips for Mac that you can follow.
- You should always try to refine your collection of fonts. While it’s good to have thousands of fonts on your Mac, they also add load on the system. Also, finding the right font may take time, even when you have tens of categories.
- Making the best use of smart collections is a great way. Most font managers have an option to create a smart collection, to which fonts are automatically added. This way, even if you forget to put fonts into categories, you will benefit from a well-organized font library.
- Using web font libraries is also an excellent way to keep font management under control. For example, a simple sync with Google Fonts can give you a comprehensive collection of suitable fonts. This is way better than downloading and installing individual fonts from the web.
- Instead of using the predetermined directories on macOS, transfer your fonts to a new folder. It will help you in the smooth management of fonts, even without a dedicated manager. Even in the worst case, you can open up this folder and delete the files — thereby removing the fonts.
We hope these tips help you manage fonts well on your Mac.
How do I manage my fonts on Mac?
Managing your fonts is easy, and all you need to do is run the Font Book app on your Mac or go to the library folder and look for the “Fonts” folder, or you can also use any other third-party app such as Typeface to manage all your fonts quickly.
Where do fonts go on a Mac?
All your fonts are stored in the library folder. You can view the folder by holding the “Option” key and clicking on Library. Finally, look for (Library/Fonts), and you will see all the available fonts.
Do fonts slow down, Mac?
Fonts are small files that don’t impact your Mac’s performance. However, if you have many fonts, it can get a little choppy as all your apps need to scan through many fonts to select the one to use.
What font does Apple use?
Apple uses their proprietary “San Francisco” or SF font, first released in 2015. It is present across all your Apple devices, making the experience consistent and easy to remember.
How do you download fonts on a Mac?
Downloading fonts on Macs is as easy as downloading the font from your browser, going to the download folder, running the .ttf file, and installing the fonts by clicking on the “Install Font” button. Finally, just use a font manager and select the font as default.
How do I turn off protected fonts on a Mac?
You can remove or disable all the protected fonts on your Mac. Just run the Font Book app and then click on a font. Now, click the “Disable” or the “Remove” button to turn off the protected fonts.
We have shared everything that helps us effectively manage and use fonts on macOS. We have made even the product picks based on our months-long experience. And we have been using many of these programs for years. So here are some quick recommendations based on what we have discussed above.
- Typeface 3 is the best option for most people; it provides a seamless font management experience on Mac, thanks to its brilliant features
- If you need a simple font manager, you can check out FontBase, which is entirely free to use and excellent to manage
- On the other hand, if you have custom enterprise needs, you can get FontAgent, which comes with customization and metadata management
As we have said, always choose a font manager that suits your needs. Getting an advanced font manager by paying more than $100 doesn’t make you a Pro at fonts. Understanding this, you must select a font manager that suits your requirements.