Mac OS X Fonts List

Written by Typographica on April 11, 2005

OS X users: puzzled by that long list of pesky system fonts that pollute your font menu? Learn about whence they come and what languages they speak from Apple’s Mac OS X 10.3 Fonts list. [Update: OS X 10.4 Fonts list]

The page also indicates which fonts can be disabled to make that menu just a little more tolerable. What isn’t mentioned is that font managers like FontAgent Pro (my favorite) can disable some of those “essential” fonts. Just be careful.

Also new: “How to install additional fonts included with Mac OS X 10.3”


  1. There shuld be a way to let applications use a font without it being shown in the font menu.

    Sure it’s nice when I go to a Japanese site and I don’t just see boxes everywhere, but the chance of me typing something in Japanese is pretty low.

  2. chester says:

    Skipping forward a version…

    OSX 10.4 “Tiger” is to be released in 17 days, and there is much movement in the area of typography. (Maybe.)

    I was interested to see this new feature:
    Font Export
    Easily package up a set of fonts needed by colleagues or service bureaus [sic] with just a few clicks.

    The packaging of fonts is a contentious issue – or at least it was last week at a gathering of type people in NYC. There are those who believe that service bureaux should own the fonts they use to output jobs; that fonts are a cost of doing business, a material like paper or toner or mylar.

    I’d be curious to know how the readers of this site feel about this issue, especially those in the pre-press industry.


  3. Si says:

    Funny you zeroed in on the same new feature as I did over at Typophile…

    I think Nick is right in that some kind of warning will pop up. Apple should be able to display a font’s embedded license if it has one too.


  4. Hrant says:

    While I’d be curious to know when Mac-heads will finally fess up to their darling corporation being anti-type.


  5. I won’t go that far, Hrant, but I will acknowledge my darling corporation is neglecting type. Microsoft’s ClearType project eats Apple for lunch.

  6. nick shinn says:

    >type people

    Type people will never be able to bring any pressure to bear on making owning fonts a legitimate cost of business unless we organize and agitate.

    And when I say “we”, we would have to exclude Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft, because of their vested interests in non-type software, specifically in NOT making fonts a cost of operating a computer/software or doing business.

    If Adobe/Quark (InDesign “Package” feature/XPress “Collect for Output”) or Apple relied on font sales for a significant amount of their income, it’s unlikely they would make piracy quite so simple.

    Perhaps there should be something similar to a “blank media levy”, a fee paid by Adobe/Apple/Quark for every piece of Piracy-Friendly software they sell, with the proceeds being distributed amongst independent foundries. Although Indie foundries are such a soft-hearted bunch we’d probably end up giving it to charity.

    Service bureaux are not the problem.

  7. chester says:

    As a (recovering) graphic designer, I can tell you that my service bureaux, some of them smaller mom & pop shops than the design firms I was working at, simply didn’t have the typefaces necessary to output the jobs we sent to them, unless we sent them the fonts, in which case, it was all golden. And this was back in the days before instant font shopping gratification, when ordering a font meant calling someone on the phone and giving them credit card numbers, then standing by for a day or two until the FedEx arrived with the floppy disks containing the purchased fonts.

    Surely if one requires service bureaux to buy the fonts used in a job, they will have to charge the client for such a purchase. Plus 10% mark-up. Which is asking designers to buy every font twice, and leaving one copy parked on a bureau’s hard drive. And what if that bureau has several computers which might get involved in the output of the job? Would that require multi-user licensing?

    I think that’s madness. While it may be difficult to swallow, the fact is that fonts are tertiary materiel; computers are primary, software such as InDesign and XPress are secondary, and fonts are part of the content soup for any given design project. A “good” designer will appreciate that the fonts she is using were created by another individual, and a “great” designer will make sure that the fonts she uses have been paid for and properly licensed.

    There are two ways to approach this issue: prescriptive or descriptive. One can either set down the rules and try to enforce them (prescriptive), or one can observe the reality on the ground and adapt accordingly (descriptive).

    Nick seems to be on the side of the former, and I would argue for the latter.

    (For a great essay on prescriptve versus descriptive in usage of the English language, I encourage enyone with a few spare hours to read David Foster Wallace’s brilliant and entertaining review/editorial from the April 2001 Harper’s magazine, available here:

    I don’t think that service bureaux are the problem either, and it makes me sad to think that computer and software manufacturers are the problem, but I think that they probably are; by giving away so many “free” fonts – which they have commissioned or licensed from foundries and type designers – they are decreasing the value of all fonts. Maybe we should rewind to the way it was in the old days; 16 (or so) basic fonts would come standard on new computers, and no (or very few, at least) freebies on CD ROM along with your new software applications. Unbundle and charge less, and maybe the type industry would see an uptick in sales.

    But if we took everyone’s toys away, would it help? Or would pirates take over the world? Is it too late? Have we already passed the point of no value? (And now I sound like Carrie Bradshaw. Sorry.)

    Thoughts, please.


    PS; Apologies also for hijacking this thread. I’ll get my own blog, shall I?

  8. Eric Olson says:

    Your own blog? Not a bad idea especially if means more David Foster Wallace references.

    But anyhoo, you can actually “disable” many of the fonts listed by Apple.

  9. Dystopos says:

    How about this — Since the printer is the only one actually PUBLISHING the font, then they are the only ones who have to buy a commercial license. The designer can download, install, and use them all for free. For web publishing, the owner of the server would license all embedded fonts and the browser developer would license all the packaged display fonts.

  10. nick shinn says:

    Nice try Dystopos. But what about office documents? And PDFs that are only read on screen?

  11. chester says:

    Dystopos, you have an interesting take on the situation. If this were a feasible arrangement, (including ways to make it work with PDFs and other print/digital media,) it would benefit all. At one point, back in the days before ATM, it was not uncommon to have a pile of screen fonts but no printer fonts. The printer had those: either the 300 dpi laser printerbuilt in to their memory, or the printer-person, with her 2540 dpi Linotronic RIP.

    Nick, perhaps you are talking about the ATypI, an international organisation for the advancement of the typographic industry. (My definition, not theirs. They claim to be “the global forum and focal point for the type community and business.”)

    I agree with you that too many typefaces are now being distributed with hardware and software. I agree that it is a Bad Thing that one can simply install Adobe CS on one’s computer and never again buy another typeface; between CS’s bundled fonts and Apple’s bundled fonts, the type gamut is more-or-less covered. And there are probably huge swaths of designers who never will buy (or even pirate) another font in their career. (I once co-led a workshop with 6 designers, ranging from student to professional to educator, and without any talk of what typefaces they could or should use, they all chose Helvetica for their projects. (This is not a cue for another of your anti-Helvetica rants.))

    I posit that if we could go back to the old days of 16 system fonts, there would be an increase in type sales, but it would no be across the board; there would be plenty of people who would be perfectly content to set everything in Helvetica, Times, or Zapf Chancery, if they were feeling particularly fancy.

    For the record: I have nothing against Apple. I adore Adobe, and the Creative Suite. I love OpenType. I can understand that Adobe might want to “incentivize” people to use both CS and OT fonts by distributing some of their OT fonts “for free” with CS. My concern is the floccinaucinihilipilification of fonts as a result of such an excess of “free” ones.


  12. nick shinn says:

    >anti-Helvetica rants.

    They’re not rants, thank you very much, they’re examinations of the reality which you observed in your “everybody is using Helvetica” workshop.

    >perhaps you are talking about the ATypI,

    Organizations such as ATypI and SOTA (TypeCon), through the composition of their boards, represent a cross-section of the industry, including education, and as such cannot favor one sector against another.

    >For the record: I have nothing against Apple. I adore Adobe, and the Creative Suite. I love OpenType.

    I likewise, but that doesn’t absolve their floccinaucinihilipilification.

  13. Tom says:

    Both designers and printers make money from work which relies on their ownership of typefaces. That they commit floccinaucinihilipilification regarding those typefaces is the same as pirating the software they use, stealing the hardware, or trespassing on the premises on which they carry out the job. Both parties gain, so both parties should pay.

  14. chester says:

    Good point, Tom. I can see the situation form many perspectives, and try to take the most “realistic” approach.

    I have a friend at a small publisher, and part of her job is to edit-in-layout, which requires that she have editable files and typefaces too. Her companysimply cannot afford to purchase every single font that every single external designer she hires might choose to use. Seriously, it would bankrupt the publisher to purchase all of the fonts used in their books.

    Here’s another of my analogies: bureaux and printers are like gardeners; they come to tend flowerbeds and mow the lawn and they bring the tools of their trade: shovels, hoes, lawnmowers, fertiliser, etc. But they don’t bring the flowerbeds or the lawn. Those are in place.

    But to get back to Tom’s post: It would be tremendous if there could be a mutually-agreed, and mutually-beneficial and (most-importantly) enforceable “sub-license” arrangement with bureaux. Alternately, it would be great for my publisher friend to be able to view and modify files with fonts embedded in the files in such a way that they can’t be dis-embedded. A glorified PDF format, really, or something with includes that functionality with the editing capabilities of a page layout application.


  15. Dystopos says:

    The concept of “ownership” is much too broad for this discussion. To extend the gardening metaphor, it should be cheaper to buy a rake, use a rake, or specify the use of a rake than to license the design of the rake for manufacture.

    If I own a landscaping company and it costs me $5 to buy standard off-the-shelf rake A and $2000 to license the use of super-ergonomic ultra-effective rake B for one user, then I’m going to go with rake A every time. If I own a manufacturing business and rake B, with its superior design, costs about the same to make but would attract many more buyers at a higher price, then I’ll be happy to license the design for a fair price.

    Even though lots of people benefit from the grueling hours of design, user testing and prototyping that went into the rake, the value of the design itself is recouped from the manufacturer. How could it be any other way?

  16. jlt says:

    I think that the carwash that makes money off my car should have to pay for a portion of my car, too.

  17. Dystopos says:

    It’s not “your car” Joshua. If you’ll check the EULA on the back of your Driver’s license, you’ll note that you have only limited rights to benefit from the design work of traffic engineers employed by the state. These rights are non-transferable and at the end of your license term must be renewed by payment of a fee established by the state. At their discretion you may also have to pass a driver’s test before operating your hardware on their system. This replaces the previous DRM model in which each user of an interstate interchange was charged a single-use fee (or “toll”) whenever they accessed the interchange design.

    Under a proposal from the “Big 3” carmakers (Honda, Toyota, and Nissan), you’re car “ownership” will be restricted to a similar licensing period. One driver per vehicle will be included with the basic package. If you wish to license other drivers you will have that option at additional cost. Using your vehicle for commercial purposes may violate your agreement. Modifications to the design of your vehicle with spoilers, spinners, groundlighting or fuzzy dice may also be prohibited. Replacing the former “recall” program for reported problems will be the auto-upgrade program. Every month you will need to bring your car to an authorized dealer for performance upgrades. This service will be required for all new automobile purchases and will be charged at a monthly subscription rate, billed to a credit card which must be linked to your account. Major upgrades may require purchasing a new car. Older models will be phased out of the auto-upgrade process to encourage updating to the newer designs.

  18. CMC says:

    Let’s face facts — most people don’t notice type at all. They’re happy to use whatever comes with their computer, so if an OS comes with decent fonts, the overall quality of material produced is going to be higher than if everyone’s using the same few ugly or overused fonts.

    Some foundries seem to actively throw roadblocks up for people trying to do the right thing and buy their fonts, by treating their customers (and especially their customers’ customers) as potential criminals and heaping ridiculous restrictions on the use of their fonts. If a company (or, in my case, an academic department) wants to standardize on a particular typeface for their printed material and web presence, it’s easier to choose a font that includes embedding rights than one whose foundry charges an additional fee for embedding, or, even worse, requires the organization to keep track of how many PDFs they create, where they’re used, and other minutiae.

    Real pirates will go ahead and use the font any way they want — the people who get hurt are the designers who care about type and want small foundries to succeed and the foundries with restrictive licensing who lose sales because of those licenses.

  19. jlt says:

    Dystopos wins!

  20. nick shinn says:

    >Let’s face facts…

    In other words, corporate America is doing a good job of deciding what’s best for the ignorant masses?

    >Some foundries

    But not mine. Let’s do business.

  21. On the main topic, Apple just posted a document on “How to install additional fonts included with Mac OS X 10.3”. These include Cherokee and Inuktitut!

  22. Designer says:

    Awesome post, Dystopos. Perhaps the auto manufacturers will one day pass laws forbidding us to share our cars or requiring passengers to buy licenses from the company. All in the name of protecting innovation, of course.

    The fact is, people own their cars, their toasters, their computers and the data on their computers. It’s not a natural notion to a person that some third party we’ve never met can tell us what to do and what not to do with our own stuff. I’m a designer first, and a typographer second, and when my client gives me a project and sets a deadline, I do what I can to get the project done, buying a font or two if necessary, and then passing all the needed files along to a print bureau. I’m interested in exchanging my services for money and keeping food on the table; I’m not interested in trying to decipher some legalese EULA or in pestering the bureau to buy the font themselves (yeah, right). That’s reality, and I’m doing the font industry a favour by buying new fonts when I could have used something I already have.

    As the corpus of fonts owned by a designer grows, there’s less need to buy more. And with the thousands of Latin fonts available already, font designers need to keep adding value – not restrictions or headaches – with their new offerings.

    The digital age brings new realities. Type design is far easier and less time consuming than in earlier times. Newly accessible markets demand fonts in new styles and new scripts. Type is used and purchased more widely than ever. However, it’s also possible to obtain type without involving the designer or foundry. Font designers need to compete in the new environment. Make buying and using your font easier and more satisfying than bootlegging or sharing. Offer services with your font that add value. I don’t think enforcing new, abusive rules on print bureaux and designers will help.

  23. Tom says:

    > I think that the carwash that makes money off my car should have to pay for a portion of my car, too.

    That point had me struggling, but I think the counter to it is that the same carwash can wash (pretty much) any car, so the parallel breaks down.

  24. nick shinn says:

    “Designer”, you have a fundamental ignorance.
    Fonts are software, and are licensed, not bought.
    Haven’t you ever read a software licensing agreement?
    The terms of the agreement (“restrictions” as you put it) are not much different for fonts than for other software such as applications or operating systems.

    As a pro, you should understand how the EULAs of different foundries differ. It’s unreasonable to expect that you can enjoy the diversity of type design, and competition between foundries in the area of design, without those foundries also having differing ideas about licensing. That’s what happens in a vibrant culture, in a competitive marketplace. Tiffany Wardle did an excellent “consumer report” on the differences between foundry EULAs. You will find that some foundries, such as my own, do not require service bureaus to licence fonts for outputting jobs.

    >Make buying and using your font easier and more satisfying than bootlegging or sharing.

    It has never been easier to buy and use fonts, thanks to the internet. There is no value that can be added to a font which will make it more attractive to petty thieves who can get it for free with zero chance of being caught or punished.

  25. numan says:

    Question? An obvious alternative to stay within terms of restrictive EULAs is to “outline” all fonts prior to sending to a printer / bureau. But I have seen a few & heard or many instancers of fonts being “thickened” by the convert to outlines proccess. Can anyone definitively answer this issue which I hear debated frequently?

  26. Designer says:

    Nick, let me preface by saying that I strongly admire your design skills and contributions to type design.

    You wrote: “There is no value that can be added to a font which will make it more attractive to petty thieves who can get it for free with zero chance of being caught or punished.”

    I strongly disagree. I can think of several advantages off the bat, and a clever entrepreneur will surely find more.

    1. Access: finding specific bootlegged fonts is hard. I have no idea how I’d find a particular font if I needed one. Purchasing a font for $50 from the designer is easily more valuable than spending an hour of my billable time looking for a “free” font.

    2. Service: font designers can add special format conversion, tweaks, and other customizations to their customers. It’s up to them to capitalize on this, or the free market will pick up the slack (as it has overseas).

    3. Upgrades: font designers can offer future improvements and expanded character sets for free or a discount to paying customers; something that, again, would take valuable time to find, and perhaps be impossible to find fore free.

    4. Guaranteed quality: if you purchase your font from a respectable vendor, you can be certain that it retains the curves and metrics the designer intended for it. You can’t be certain of the quality of free fonts.

    5. Client billing: If I purchase fonts and use them for a design project, I can bill them to my client and add my usual 10% surcharge. Extra profit for me!

    6. There are also alternate business models to simply trading fonts for cash.

    I also strongly object to making the strenuous accusation of “thief” against anyone who takes part in sharing or copying that you disagree with. The right to share and communicate (as opposed to stealing, which actually deprives a person of property by fraud or force) is a basic facet of humanity. For a good essay on the subject, see:

    Consider the iTunes music store. People didn’t think you could compete against free music file-sharing, but Steve Jobs did – and he did it by considering file-sharing to be competition, and figuring out how to offer a superior product. He didn’t do it by belligerently accusing his potential clientele of thievery and murder on the high seas every chance he got it. And guess what? He succeeded.

    I’ll finish with notable quotes by the venerable Mark Twain and Robert Heinlein, on the subject of information and copying.

    “Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet. Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.” -Twain

    “When any government … undertakes to say to its subjects, this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motive.” -Heinlein

    Please folks, let’s recognize the realities of the digital age and adapt.

    [PS: End User License Agreements are not valid in most legal jurisdictions. They violate the very old legal principle of “first sale”, that the obligations of a buyer and seller end once the exchange is concluded. Calling the sale by a different word doesn’t change that fact.]

  27. Designer – I agree with many of your points. I think most software makers’ estimates of revenue “lost” is ludicrous. You cannot count every copied file and call it a lost sale.

    But I had a chuckle when I read both “let’s recognize the realities of the digital age and adapt” and “EULAs are not valid in most legal jurisdictions. They violate the very old legal principle of “first sale”. Very old indeed. I’m sure you can admit the digital age has created new goods and services which cannot be sold under the same rules as physical goods.

  28. Bobby Henderson says:

    I guess I’m not very optimistic that lots of people will start buying more type even if their computers are limited to only a handful of fonts. Most people don’t even use many of the fonts bundled in their computer systems.

    Consider this problem. Just about any sign company is going to have at least 1000 fonts in their sign design software, or even just with Corel and a vinyl cutting bridge program. Even with those resources available, I mainly see Arial Bold all over the place and distorted to oblivion. It’s the first san-serif face they see in their font list and they just slap it up there.

  29. Miss Tiffany says:

    Chester said: There are two ways to approach this issue: prescriptive or descriptive. One can either set down the rules and try to enforce them (prescriptive), or one can observe the reality on the ground and adapt accordingly (descriptive)

    Bravo! Can I steal that?

    RE: CS and Font Bundling.

    First, I think we need to decide who we are talking about when we say thing such as “user” and “everyone”. This is a typography blog and as such attracts designers.

    Second, I happen to appreciate the fonts that are bundled with CS2 and have a better way of looking at it. (Granted, the fact that I now have a license for Garamond Premier Pro is wonderful. But, that and all the other fonts don’t cover my needs.) Thanks to that bundling, I can now use my money to license the type I want and not the type I need. Any designer who knows the power of the correctly chosen typeface will not rely solely on what is bundled. If anything, I should thing small foundries should applaud the bundling. Perhaps my viewpoint is warped. But I seriously think any designer who calls the font library complete after licensing CS2 needs to re-think and re-consider.

    Designer, if you are reading, your ideas intrigue me. Do you have any more?

  30. Since the issue’s been raised, are you familiar with this:
    I’ve not had the opportunity to read the basics, but it seems very interesting ground. To me it’s been clear for a long time now, the digital flux of information needs new rules of commerce, appropriation, reworking, sharing, re-appropriation.

  31. John Scuderi says:

    I may have missed an important difficulty in what I’m about to suggest, but why can’t fonts have a licensing code embedded, allowing full use with a licensed computer, and two or three uses in a commercial printer’s computer, but only in concert with a user-licensed program file? Apparently this is done with music and similarly with other software.

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