InDesign CS 5 and Font Management

There is a curious new wrinkle introduced with Adobe InDesign CS 5 concerning font management.

A new feature debuted with the latest release allows you to locally activate fonts that are located in a folder on the same directory level as an InDesign document in a packaged job folder.

This is what it reads in the InDesign help files:

Fonts in a Document Fonts folder that is in the same location as an InDesign document are temporarily installed when the document is opened. The Package command can generate a Document Fonts folder when you want to share your document or move it to a different computer.

Fonts activated in this manner do appear in the InDesign Font menu, but are located under a new “Document-only” listing as shown below:

Document-only fonts

To the average designer, this might not mean much, but this feature could be a godsend to a prepress technician, or those who want to automate InDesign work-flows.

Imagine this scenario: A service provider receives a packaged InDesign folder - the document and all the assets, images and fonts are included in this folder - and the service provider opens the document and prints it. There is no need to import the fonts into any system fonts folder, or add them to a third-party font manager and activate them. It takes one of the most annoying steps out of the production process.

While this may sound ideal in the this specific situation, Adobe’s implementation has some odd facets.

First of all, if you noticed, the folder name from the help file is “Document Fonts.” In previous versions if you packaged an InDesign job, the fonts folder was simply called “Fonts.” What this means is that this feature will only work for projects packaged from InDesign CS5.

There is a way around this. All you need to do for older packaged documents to use this feature is simply rename the “Fonts” folder “Document Fonts.” For those looking to use this feature with automation, this renaming process can be easily scripted and take that hitch out of the work-flow.

Secondly, this offers an interesting dilemma for enterprise administrators or managers who are very interested in controlling what fonts enter a businesses work-flow.

Keeping rogue, or unauthorized fonts, out of a work-flow is always a challenge. But most third-party managers offer some sort of administrative control that can keep end-users from adding rogue fonts. There are also tools available that admins can use to lock down they system font folders so their more savvy end-users cannot circumvent their font management control policies.

Now, with Adobe’s document fonts feature, all an end-user needs to do to get around these policies and controls is create a Document Fonts folder in the same directory as their InDesign document and add fonts to that folder. The fonts added there will be active for every InDesign document opened from that directory as well. This represents a real security problem.

Thirdly, there is another strange item about this feature. Read the following from the Adobe help files:

Some Type1 fonts are not available in the document.

In my testing, which was not exhaustive is any way, I didn’t get any PostScript fonts to appear in my documents using this method. These fonts would, however, appear if I placed them in a system folder or imported them into a font manager and activated them.

The consequence of this interesting caveat would be that this is not a reliable method to activate fonts in a work-flow containing PostScript fonts. PostScript fonts may be going the way of the dinosaur, but they are still in wide use. To use this feature full-time in a work-flow would require the removal of all fonts in PostScript format.

This feature in no way limits you from continuing to use your current font management routine. And unless you receive a lot of jobs that have been packaged from InDesign CS 5, you might never notice it. But it is interesting to ponder if this a one-off feature from Adobe, or a signal of more font management capabilities in their software to come.

To view Adobe’s video on using document installed fonts, click here.

Picking Typefaces that Go Together Well

Mixing and matching typefaces in a document or a web site can be one of the bigger challenges for a designer. This article at typography.com offers a few tips on how to make you fonts play nice.

FontGeeks in a poorly kerned world

Have you ever went for a walk and cringed at the kerning on a billboard or sign?

You are not alone. The New York Times has a great article on what it’s like to be a typography lover in a world where good typography isn’t always practiced.

I love this quote, which is taken from the article: “My font nerdiness makes me have bad reactions to things that spoil otherwise pleasant moments.”

Amen.

Click here to go to the article.

Using OpenType Fonts Effectively

With the advent of OpenType, typographers and designers can benefit from many new “smart” features that allow glyph substitution and positioning depending on neighboring characters.

While not all OpenType fonts offer this capability (OpenType is a kind of wrapper for for a font, not a designation of it’s quality) many newer faces offer all kinds of features such as multiple ligature settings, number case options, typographics extras and much, much more.

Jay Nelson of Design Tools Monthly has a great article where he describes many of the features OpenType fonts (Adios Script in particular) have to offer and how to access these typographic goodies in Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress. Click here to go to the article.

More FontAgent Pro and Applescript

In an earlier post I wrote about AppleScript and how we can automate some common tasks using it with FontAgent Pro. Here is a script that allows you to take advantage of one of FontAgent Pro’s cooler features–adding comments to fonts to use as search metadata.

You can manually add comments to fonts in FontAgent Pro by performing Get Info on a font (Command + i on the keyboard) and adding data to the comments field.

fontagent-proscreensnapz005

Once you have added the comment information, you can use the Filter tool in the All Fonts view to search for the fonts by Comment in your collection. You can also use Smart Search to search your fonts by Comment and even save the results as a Smart Set.

But, if you noticed something about this process, there is no easy way to add comments to a bunch of fonts at one time. This is where AppleScript comes in.

Download and unzip the file linked here and place the script in the /Library/Application Support/FontAgent Pro/Scripts/ folder to get it to appear as “Comment Last Import Fonts” in the FontAgent Pro script menu.

fontagent-proscreensnapz006

When you run this script it will present you with a dialog where you can batch add comments to all the fonts contained in the Last Import set in FontAgent Pro.

The situation where this comes in very handy is if you are working at a job where you would like to tag fonts for individual projects as you import them. This script would be useful in this workflow because when you import your fonts into FontAgent Pro, in addition to adding them to a library of your choice, they are also automatically added to a set called Last Import. After that you can run the script by selecting it from the Script Menu in FontAgent Pro and add the comments you would like to attach to those fonts when prompted. In the example below, I added a job number and also opted to add the date to the Comment field as well.

fontagent-proscreensnapz007

After the script has run, you will be alerted that FontAgent Pro had added the comments entered to the font’s listing in FontAgent Pro.

fontagent-proscreensnapz008

Now when we do Get Info on one of these fonts, we can see that the comment information has been added to the font where it is searchable, as mentioned earlier, in FontAgent Pro.

fontagent-proscreensnapz009

Other cases where this would come in handy is with FontAgent Pro Server. As an administrator, you can add Comment information before uploading fonts to FontAgent Pro Server, then set up Smart Sets on the client-side that would automatically update the contents of of those sets using the comment metadata provided.

This script is editable and can easily be customized to fit any workflow. So once again, the fun does not have to stop here.

Stay tuned to FontGeek as I plan on regularly adding more scripts and other font-related workflow solutions.

Snow Leopard, Adobe InDesign and Helvetica Neue

The release of Snow Leopard brought a number of unexpected font issues, and one that I have been hearing about concerns Adobe InDesign, Helvetica Neue, and the system fonts that ship with Snow Leopard.

Everybody is familiar with issues of fonts activated in third-party font managers conflicting with OS X System fonts. The issue does not really become a problem until you decide to use a font that is a common design font, such as Helvetica or Helvetica Neue.

How InDesign handles the issue

Adobe InDesign offered a unique solution to this issue. Because the system fonts were dfonts, InDesign was set up in such a way that if you activated a PostScript font that conflicted with a System dfont, it would show the PostScript font and its activated styles in its font menu, and not reveal the styles offered by the dfont. It appeared that InDesign was smart enough to realize that PostScript fonts would be much preferred by designers over the dfont format, and adapted to fit a graphic designer’s workflow. Both Helvetica and Helvetica Neue, which shipped with Leopard, were .dfonts. This did not solve the issue for other applications, but InDesign, being a desktop publishing workhorse, took care of things on its end. All is well and good, right?

Then along came Snow Leopard. One of the surprises that arrived with the latest release of Mac OS X is that dfonts are virtually eliminated with the exception of Courier, Geneva, Helvetica, Monaco and Times. The rest of the fonts are either TrueType fonts or a format that has not been seen very often, TrueType Collection (.ttc). So in the case of Courier, Geneva, Helvetica, Monaco and Times, the experience using the dfonts will not change from Leopard to Snow Leopard. With those fonts shipped in Snow Leopard as True Type Collections, a new challenge awaits.

It is notable what font is no longer a dfont in the System fonts folder - Helvetica Neue. Snow Leopard ships with Helvetica Neue in True Type Collection format.

First, a little bit about True Type Collections

TrueType Collection is a TrueType format that allows combining many fonts into a single file. Fonts contained in a .ttc file have the advantage of sharing glyphs. This is helpful when you have several typefaces that would use the same glyph, such as the glyph for the copyright symbol (©), thus making the file size for the font much smaller. These fonts also were well-suited to the challenges of Asian language fonts which can use thousands of glyphs.

Apple included support of True Type Collections beginning with Mac OS 8.5.

While it is seen more often in the PC world than the Mac environment, this type of font is a rare bird. Some font managers do not even support the font format.

So? What’s the big deal?

The issue is now designers who have grown comfortable using Helvetica Neue PostScript with little or no problems in the past (at least in InDesign), are now upgrading to Snow Leopard and seeing very different behavior. PostScript styles that showed up just fine in InDesign on Leopard, now no longer show in the font menu under Snow Leopard.

If you had a full featured Helvetica Neue PostScript font, the listing of the System dfont in the InDesign font menu might look like this:

helveticaneuedfontinid

Note that the dfont has ten styles, but only four are listed because InDesign prefers the Helvetica Neue PostScript fonts that are activated in this case by a font manager, FontAgent Pro.

Below is what you will see in your InDesign font menu under Snow Leopard, even if you have a full-featured Helvetica Neue PostScript font activated.

helveticaneuettcinstalled

Note: The additional styles available compared to having the dfont installed are highlighted. This will differ from user to user depending on what HelveticaNeue PS styles are activated, and if they do or do not have conflicting names. It’s also interesting that the .ttc font in Snow Leopard has one additional style compared to the dfont in Leopard - Medium.

For example if in the past you were using a font such as Linotype’s Helvetica Neue Light 45, it will no longer show because the HelveticaNeue.ttc font has the same style name. And because InDesign will only opt to prefer the Postscript over the dfont version, it displays the Helvetica Neue Light from the system and not the PostScript font, as InDesign did under Leopard.

What can be done?

Turns out not much. Snow Leopard ships with a feature that was introduced in Leopard: Protected Fonts. What happens is if you remove or replace one of these Protected Fonts, Mac OS X will automatically place them back in the System Fonts folder. According to Apple these fonts are necessary to the operation of the the operating system and Apple’s applications. Removing any of these fonts can cause erratic behavior such as crashes and bizarre display issues.

One option is…

Stop using Helvetica Neue

Honestly, if you are creating a project and you determine that there is no font that would work other than Helvetica Neue, you need to try harder. Helvetica is dead, and Helvetica by any other name (even if it is Helvetica Neue) is Helvetica. Time to move on. Apple made this font a system font in Mac OS X and if almost ten years of ranting against its inclusion as a system font has not changed their mind, nothing will.

Get a new version of Helvetica Neue

OK, so Helvetica Neue is a classic and versatile font and for me to dismiss it is not particularly cool. At least it is not Comic Sans, right?

Linotype offers a new OpenType version of Helvetica Neue that does not conflict with the version shipped with Mac OS X. The Linotype version of Helvetica Neue appears in your font lists with a tell tale “LT” after the name. This can be a god-send to those who do not want to use the system font version, but it will require you to update all your docs that use other versions of Helvetica Neue (and check for all the possible reflow issues associated with such changes), and you will have to be aware that that the system font version of the font will still appear in your font lists. But this move can be expensive, and if you already have a perfectly good version of Helvetica Neue that can be an unattractive option. But the bonus is, it solves the issue for all applications, not just InDesign.

For those who want to keep using their old PostScript fonts in InDesign, there is an additional option. Replacing the .ttc version with the dfont version that shipped with Leopard. But to so that we need to perform some Voodoo.

How to Disable Protected Fonts

We mentioned earlier that Mac OS X 10.5 up had a feature called Protected Fonts. To disable Protected Fonts for HelveticaNeue.ttc first need to navigate to the folder listed below:

/System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/ATS.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ProtectedFonts/

and remove the HelveticaNeue.ttc font. I suggest archiving it in case you need to replace it in the future.

What you are doing is breaking the system’s ability to repair itself in the event System fonts become damaged or are deleted in error. This operation is not recommended by Apple.

Then drag the HelveticaNeue.dfont to the /System/Library/Fonts folder. You may receive an alert that the font conflicts with a font already installed. Allow the conflict.

Then remove HelveticaNeue.ttc font. You may receive an alert from the system that the font is necessary to the operation of the OS and that it will be restored. However, we have disabled this capability so it should not be able to do this.

I suggest that after doing this you clear your caches. This is not always necessary, but it might prevent another reboot if you have cache issues on restart.

To clear Snow Leopard system font caches, open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal). Then copy and paste the line below into Terminal, then hit return.

sudo atsutil databases -removeUser

You will be prompted to enter your password. Type your password and hit return.

After the command has run, reboot.

These instructions are similar to what was done on System 10.5 to replace the Helvetica.dfont (and other system fonts) with a user preferred version, so this is not altogether uncharted territory. However, when you perform this you are doing so at your own peril.

The HelveticaNeue.dfont should be an adequate replacement for those apps that need it for their interface elements.

This does not solve the HelveticaNeue system font conflict, but from what I have seen, the environment will appear as it did in Leopard. And your Helvetica Neue PostScript fonts will be listed as they were in Leopard, at least when it comes to Adobe InDesign.

Scripting FontAgent Pro

One of the least known features about FontAgent Pro 4 is that you can automate it using AppleScript.

fapicon

For those of you unfamiliar with AppleScript, it is an English-like language used to write scripts that automate the actions of your Mac and the applications on it. In short, when you want your applications to start working together, you can turn to AppleScript. It is the lingua franca that helps your programs and you become more productive.

Not all applications will let you use AppleScript, and not many font managers do. FontAgent Pro from Insider Software supports Applescript as does MasterJuggler. Previous versions of Suitcase supported AppleScript, but the current version of Suitcase Fusion 2 does not. FontExplorer X doesn’t either. So if you have a workflow that uses fonts and you want to automate it with scripts, your choices are limited.

How we can use AppleScript

There are lots of things we can automate with FontAgent Pro, but one of the most useful scripts is one that handles the import and activation of fonts by dragging a folder of fonts onto a AppleScript application.

Let me give you an example of how this might be useful:

In the past, I was employed as a pre-press technician. It was common for me to receive many different jobs from many different clients during the day. The fonts (which they usually gathered using a Package or Collect for Output command) that accompanied the project needed to be imported into FontAgent Pro and activated for me to move forward.

So what I did by using AppleScript and FontAgent Pro was create a droplet application where I would drag the folder of files provided by a client (which was named with the job number) and the fonts contained would be automatically imported into a unique library with the same name as the job number. The script would also deactivate all other fonts in my collection, then activate the library I just imported. At that point I would be ready to launch their project in whatever application they used and proceed.

What is provided below is not intended to be a lesson in the basics of AppleScript. There are other much better resources for that sort of thing. If you just want to get the script and start rolling, you can download it here and unzip it on your desktop and you are good to go.

fapdragactivatorimg

The script is provided as is, that means you are using the script at your own risk, and I will not answer emails for support. I am happy to answer any questions you might have and you can reach me at my email, scott@fontgeek.net.

The script

The text for the script is below:

on open these_items
set afolder to these_items
set {name:folderName} to info for afolder
try
tell application “FontAgent Pro”

set DB to default database
tell DB
– this section deactivates all fonts in FAP
set LibList to every library
deactivate fonts LibList
— get the path to where libraries are kept and returned a as a POSIX path
set LibFolder to library path of first library as POSIX file
— build path to new libary
tell application “Finder” to set libpath to POSIX path of (container of folder LibFolder as string) & folderName
end tell
set NL to new library in DB with properties {library name:folderName, library path:libpath}
import fonts afolder options {destination library:NL, activate after importing:true}
end tell
on error the error_message number the error_number
display dialog “Error: ” & the error_number & “. ” & the error_message buttons {”OK”} default button 1
end try
end open

If you copy and paste the text into Script Editor, you may get a syntax error when you attempt to compile the script. This is most likely because the quotation marks in the text are “smart quotation marks” or curly quotes as opposed to the straight “dumb quotation marks.” Just do a find and replace with the dumb quotes and you can edit the script from there.

How to use the script

Simply take a folder of fonts and give it a name. I used a folder created when I packaged an InDesign CS 4 project for output.

fontfolder2

Drag the folder onto the FAPDragActivator icon on your desktop and let the script do its stuff.

folderscript

From the screenshot below, we can see that the fonts were imported into FontAgent Pro (in a library named after the folder) and are indicated active with a green activation sphere. Also notice all the other fonts in the collection are deactivated.

libadded

The fun doesn’t have to stop here. This script can be integrated into a larger script that further automates your workflow. This script could activate the fonts and could hand the document off to InDesign or QuarkXpress to print a soft proof using a preset print setting.

In future posts we will talk more about using AppleScript to automate font related workflows. Stay tuned to FontGeek.

Using ftxvalidator

A few posts ago we talked about Apple Font Tools, ftxinstalled fonts in particular. Apple Font Tools is a suite of command line utilities that can help you with many issues concerning fonts on your Mac. One of the helpful tools included in this suite is ftxvalidator. This tool can be very useful if you have fonts that don’t validate in Font Book or in third-party applications such as FontAgent Pro. ftxvalidator can give you more information on why the font is bad or corrupt, and maybe give you a clue as to what to do to fix the font. So if an application tells you a font is corrupt, and you don’t quite agree, or want to know why, ftxvalidator can offer you the second opinion you want.

Download and Install Apple Font Tools

If you already downloaded Apple Font Tools for the tutorial on ftxinstalled fonts there is no need to download again, and you can skip the install instructions below and proceed to the next section. If this is your first time working with Apple Font Tools, download Apple Font Tools Release 3.1.0 at the link here.

Download the file, unzip it, then double-click on the Apple Font Tool Suite 3.1.0.dmg to open it. Then, double-click on the Apple Font Tool Suite 3.1.0.mpkg and click through the installer.

Since Apple Font Tools are command line based (there are a couple of gui utilities installed as well, but we will visit those later); there is no application you can double-click on to access these tools. You will need to run these tools from Terminal.

Apple Font Tools - ftxvalidator

The utility we are going to look at in this article is ftxvalidator. This powerful tool inspects font files for errors. This tool can be used to examine individual font tables within a file, but here we are going to examine entire fonts which will return information about all the tables ftxvalidator tests for.

Running ftxvalidator

First we need to launch Terminal. This can be found in the Applications/Utilities Folder.

ftxfinderscreensnapz0011

Then at the prompt type “ftxvalidator”, a space, then drag a font file to the terminal window. When you drag a file onto the terminal, it will insert the path to the file. Then hit return.

For example, I use FontAgent Pro to manage fonts. One of the features of FontAgent Pro is that it checks fonts for corruption. When it finds a corrupt font, it sequesters the font file to a folder called Corrupt files in the FontAgent Pro Fonts folder.

Below, I have a screen shot of a file, in this case VT102Font, that has been tucked away in the Corrupt files folder.

newcorruptview

To check this font with ftxvalidator all I need to do is copy the text below and paste it into Terminal.

ftxvalidator

Then drag the font file onto the Terminal window. (You will need to make sure that there is a space after ftxvalidator)

ftxdragtoterminal

Then hit return. The report is in the screenshot below:

ftxvalidatorrepot

From the report we can see that this font had two styles, VT100 Roman and VT100 Bold. Both styles have errors in the cmap table, which suggests a structural problem with the font file. There is also an error in both styles concerning a missing a font table. In this case the glyf table, which is required.

From this report we can see why the font was deemed corrupt by FontAgent Pro. Many times the report can give us information that can suggest a plan of action, but with this font there is little we can do. If fact, this font cannot even be opened with a font editor like FontLab Studio or Fontographer.

Checking More than One Font for Errors

The proceedure above is good for checking one font, but if you want to check a folder of fonts, ftxvalidator can do this too.

First, get a folder of fonts. the type cd into Terminal, and drag the folder into Terminal. This changes the working directory in Terminal to the directory containing the fonts.

Then type (or copy and paste) the text below to the prompt in Terminal.

ftxvalidator *

Note: The asterisk (*) is a wildcard. This means every font in a folder will be checked for errors. If a font does not have any errors ftxvalidator will return the name of the font with no additional information.

If you don’t want to scroll through a Terminal window to search the results of this command, you can save a text file of the report by using the command below:

ftxvalidator * > ~/Desktop/validatorreport.txt

This writes a file named validatorreport.txt to the desktop. This report can be opened in a text editor and you can easily scan it to see if any of the fonts in the folder have errors.

In this article we have taken a look at the validation abilities of ftxvalidator. Stay tuned for future posts that show additional capabilities of Apple Font Tools Suite.

Put all your fonts in a “Smart Folder”

If you are a graphic designer chances are you have been collecting font for years, and these collections can get huge. Chances are they are not neatly organized in one folder. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to gather them all in one location?

Well you can. With Spotlight, the Mac OS X search utility, you can create a Smart Folder where all your fonts can be easily found.

First go to Finder and type Command + f (or select File>Find… from the menu bar). this will open a new Search window. Make sure you have “This Mac” selected in the Search bar so you are searching the whole system.

Spotlight can use regular expressions so if you you type in the line below (or copy and paste), it will find every font on your Mac that Spotlight has indexed.

kind:truetype OR kind:outline OR kind:suitcase OR kind:opentype

spotlightsearch

This returns a list of all your fonts on your machine. Now if you hit the “Save” button, you can give your give your Smart folder a name and Save that. Notice that you can opt to add the Smart Folder to your sidebar where you will have easy access to it every time you launch a window.

savethesearch

This is very cool because not only are your fonts listed in one location, if you are running Leopard, you can select a font, hit the space bar and with Quick Look, get a preview of the font.

previewofspotlitfonts

Then, you can click on the up or down arrow on your keyboard to change the preview to the next font in the list. Depending on the size of your collection, you now have a great way to kill a few hours wistfully going through your fonts, fondly remembering the project where you first used Filosofia, or cringing at the memory of a brochure you created when the client insisted you use Comic Sans.

Are you telling me you haven’t deleted Comic Sans from your collection yet? How embarassing…

Using Apple Font Tools

When troubleshooting font issues on your Mac, there are not very many tools that you can use to get under the hood and examine what the problem might be. Most of the time you are at the mercy of interpreting what might be happening. Sometimes you activate a font, but it does not show in your fonts menu, a font appears in your menus and you don’t remember ever activating it. At that point you are left to go between applications and see if the activation state is consistent between apps. And even then you can’t be sure if it is an application update issue, a cache issue or simply if you have a bad font.

Apple Font Tools

There is a an application (or in this case a suite of applications) that can help. Apple Font Tools is a little known, but extremely powerful set of command line utilities that can help you with may issues concerning fonts on your Mac.

The problem is there are so many things you can do with Apple Font Tools that there is no way to cover them all in a single blog post. I will visit some of the other interesting features of Apple Font Tools in the future, but the first I’d like to take a look at is ftxinstalled fonts.

Download and Install Apple Font Tools

The first thing you will need to do is download is Apple Font Tools Release 3.1.0. The download can be found at the link here.

Download the file, unzip it, then double-click on the Apple Font Tool Suite 3.1.0.dmg to open it. Then, double-click on the Apple Font Tool Suite 3.1.0.mpkg and click through the installer.

Since Apple Font Tools are command line based (there are a couple gui utilities installed as well, but we will visit those later) there is no application you can double-click on to access these tools. You will need to run these tools from Terminal.

Apple Tools - ftxinstalledfonts

The first tool we are going to look at is ftxinstalledfonts. The title of the utility pretty much says it all. It is a utility to see what fonts are installed on your Mac and where the fonts are located. This may sound trivial, but this is a very powerful tool for troubleshooting activation issues.

Running ftxinstalledfonts

Next we need to Launch Terminal. This can be found in the Applications/Utilities Folder.

ftxfinderscreensnapz0011

For those who suffer from command-line jitters, Terminal can be a frightening place and there is no shortage of warnings for those who venture there proceed at extreme peril.

Now it is true you can do some real damage through the command line, but the tool I am going to discuss today is basically a harmless one. In fact, the commands I am going to tell you about you will be able to copy and paste right from this blog entry so you won’t need to worry about typos of the disk erasing, never-ever-ever-recover-your-data variety.

To run ftxinstalledfonts type “ftxinstalledfonts” and then, depending on the output you want, add a number of operands to the command.

For example, if you copy and paste the line below into Terminal and hit return you will be given a list of the active fonts on your Mac.

ftxinstalledfonts -f

Your returned information in the Terminal, depending on the activation state of your fonts, should look something like this below:

ftxinstalledfontsf

The information returned can be somewhat confusing because this command will also list fonts on your system that will never appear in your font menus such as Keyboard or AquaKana. But if you are aware that this can be the case (these fonts are found in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder and are fonts your OS needs) you can get some really useful information form the output.

Now if we run the command below you will be given a list of the active fonts and their locations.

ftxinstalledfonts -fl

This information is especially valuable if you are using a third-party font manage as it will be easy to determine what fonts are activated by that application and what fonts are active because they are in a system fonts folder.

I use FontAgent Pro to manage my fonts. If, for example, I want to find out what fonts are activated from within FontAgent Pro, I can type the line below and only the fonts activated by FontAgent Pro will be returned.

ftxinstalledfonts -fl | grep FontAgent

Note: The vertical line in the above command is called a “pipe” which takes the results from the first command and feeds it into the next command, in this case grep, which filters all the lines that contain the text “FontAgent.” If you want to learn more about the command command line, just Google “unix command line tutorial” and you will get a bunch of sites that can shepherd you along to command line guru status.

The result appears in the screenshot below:

ftxinstalledfontsfontagent

From this we can determine that I have five fonts activated by FontAgent Pro (highlights mine) and that Terminal allows you to select non-contiguous text to copy and paste (way cool!).

You can also learn additional information about a font. Copy and paste the following command into Terminal:

ftxinstalledfonts -flrq

This will give you a list of all fonts in the system, showing their full name, FOND (QuickDraw) name, version name and directory location.

And if you would like to get a report of active fonts, you can take that the information into a text file and save it to your desktop using the command below.

ftxinstalledfonts -flrq > ~/Desktop/report.txt

ftxinstalled fonts can be used for troubleshooting as well. If you have a font that keeps appearing in your menus, although you never activated it in your font manager, it has to be somewhere. ftxinstalledfonts can tell you where it is.

For example, suppose we have a font appearing in our font menu in Flash named DINEngschrift, but we have not activated it in our font manager. With the command below we can find the location of the font.

ftxinstalledfonts -fl | grep DINEngschrift

After we hit enter we will get the information returned like in the screen shot below.

ftxgrep

As we can see in the highlighted area, the font in question is installed in the home user font folder buried in a folder called “hidden font.”

These are just a couple of uses for ftxinstalled fonts. There are lots of other options you can find out about by reading the documentation and tutorials provided with the Apple Font Tool Suite.

Keep an eye out for future articles where we will discuss some of the uses for the other utilities that come with the Apple Font Tools Suite.