Mac OS 10.4 and Font Book 2

Mac OS 10.4 and Font Book 2

I previously reported that the font manager that I use, Suitcase, was working in Mac OS 10.4. And indeed, if you define working to be that it runs and opens the permanently activated fonts you have selected, then it does indeed work. Until you want to open new fonts. Then you are screwed.

One might panic at this point and start screaming or pulling hair or perhaps gripping the mouse so hard that one could feel the joints begin to buckle. This is normal. Indulge this until the deadline pressure begins to assert rationality to the hypothalamus.

I’m going to attempt to rescue someone in this position by suggesting heresy. Use Font Book 2.

First the good news: It works! It’s free! Restarts are much faster. The Finder appears much sooner. Apple has done some work and as per usual, not documented so much.

The bad news: it’s not so fast when you launch it. It takes some time to get itself in order. One will have to exercise patience with a ratio that increases with the number of fonts you want to have Font Book 2 manage.

So. Here’s the story of how I learned to stop loving Suitcase (I had an older version, but even the newer one doesn’t work with Tiger according to Extensis) and start being real.

After turning off all the fonts (I didn’t do this, but highly recommend one does) and then restarting, quit Suitcase and remove it. That means all of it. Use Spotlight to help you find any stray files. Dump them. Restart again. I know this is awfully Windows XP, but just trust me.

fontbook.jpg Once you’ve restarted, open Font Book 2. Do not open anything else, with the exception of something like Quicksilver, which you should be using and using often. There will be no difference to the naked eye between Font Book 1 and Font Book 2. Maybe that’s the bourbon talking, but I couldn’t detect anything. Until I did some reading. The new Font Book has some shit going on. It will open fonts from anywhere on your drive and KEEP THEM THERE. Aiiiight. Now we’re talking.

addlibrary.gifThe one noticable thing is that there is a new menu item: “New Library”. This seems to be something different than a collection. Collections are a holdover from Font Book 1 and analagous to sets in Suitcase. Libraries? Something new entirely. Sort of. Libraries seem to differentiate themselves by icon and by placement in the Font Book sidebar. Libraries appear above the separator in the Collections pane. If you add a large number of fonts, say the Adobe Font Folio or dinc fonts, that could be unruly regardless of which font manager you chose. Even Suitcase blew when looking at a set with 500 font suitcases in it. So. Make a Library and navigate to wherever you have your fonts (in my case something like Agfa, with the folders divided by “A” “B” and so on) then shift select a few folders that you know contain subfolders with a shitload of fonts. Click the open button and WAIT.

widget.gifIn the lower right corner of Font Book 2, there is the OS X “something is happening” widget. Don’t install software or go surf. Just wait until that little fucker stops. Because Font Book is going to ACTIVATE all those fonts. Let it. Don’t freak out. Just let it do it’s thing. Once it’s done. Right or Control-click on the new library and choose “Disable XXXX” with XXXX being whatever you called your Library. This shouldn’t take too long.


Hey! It works! One might notice that there is also menu item called “Export Collection…”. Guess what? Apple knows that one might need to send fonts to a pre-press bureau and have made it easy to do this. Although in this day and age, I have NO CLUE why dumbass designers insist on not generating print PDFs (with all the marks and color bars) like a civilized, rational being. Alas, that is a subject for another day. Any good press will take your print resolution PDF with open arms…

So. We know how to add many fonts and turn them off. After the epiphany, one could then go through and turn off any of the 10,000 fonts that Apple bundles with 10.4. Some of these include fonts that previously required diving into the myriad font folders in OS X and changing permissions et al.

Issues? Questions? Post them in the comments. I’ve been using Font Book with all the big apps and haven’t had one issue yet. Plus, it has yet to crash when previewing, something that happened all the time in Suitcase.