5 of the Best Browser-Based Font Viewers

You probably have several hundred fonts installed on your PC. Windows, Mac OS and Linux install a wide variety and you may have purchased or downloaded free fonts. If you’re like me, you’ll regularly browse font foundry websites when you need to create a new logo or title … but you’ll still end up using a font that’s installed on your PC.

Unfortunately, the font viewing applications supplied with most operating systems are basic. There are a few commercial and open source viewers, but many are clunky or won’t necessary run on your system. Fortunately, there are several browser-based alternatives which can preview your installed fonts.

note: How does a web app interrogate my fonts?

In a word: Flash. Most of these systems use a Flash applet to retrieve font names — even if the interface is primarily HTML.

The only exception is flippingtypical.com which relies on JavaScript. It uses a database of known font names and determines whether a font is installed by applying it to an element and detecting whether its dimensions change.

myFontBookmyFontBook

myFontBook was one of the first browser-based font viewers and it remains the best. Fonts can be previewed in a list or table format, printed, tagged or rated. You can use the application without registering but, if you do, your data is saved between sessions.

myFontBook offers more features than the competition. The only drawbacks are that it can be a little slow to start and you need to click a font to view custom text.

wordmark.itwordmark.it

wordmark.it is the first site you should visit when creating your next logo. The interface is simple: the text you enter is previewed in every font. You can select and filter any number of fonts for a direct side-by-side comparison.

wordmark.it may not have the features of myFontBook, but it’s fast and functional.

flippingtypical.comflippingtypical.com

flippingtypical.com is the only font viewer in this list which doesn’t rely on Flash. It should therefore work on your iPhone or iPad without problems.

The interface is similar to wordmark.it but it’s even faster. The main drawback is the database of font names flippingtypical.com uses; it can never be a fully comprehensive list so it won’t find all the fonts you’ve installed. On my PC, it located just 72 out of more than 400 fonts. That said, it remains a useful system for quick browsing.

Font PickerNoggin Box Font Picker

Font Picker is one of the simpler tools in this list, but don’t let that put you off. Like wordmark.it and flippingtypical.com, you are presented with a list of fonts showing your custom text. You can then remove fonts by clicking the ‘X’ icon so a set of appropriate styles can be compared.

STC FontBrowserSTC FontBrowser

Unlike the tools above, STC FontBrowser is a full Flash application which was originally released in 2003. It’s very similar to a desktop-based tool.

Font browsing is fast since you’re only shown a list of all system fonts in plain text. You can click a font to see the preview text in that style. It’s an ideal application if you’ve already selected a font and want to experiment with longer text strings and multiple sizes.

Have I included your favorite browser-based font viewer? Do you prefer a desktop application? Comments welcome…

Win an Annual Membership to Learnable,

SitePoint's Learning Platform

  • catbarnes

    This article is so helpful! My Font Book on my MacBook Pro is buggy and won’t display fonts past 100, even if I have more that that open. I tested the font-viewers listed here and they are all useful in different ways. And all my fonts display quickly. Thank you so very much Craig. Sitepoint rocks!

  • Jason Cronze

    You missed the best installed font viewer http://www.typedna.com/fontshaker they have a fantastic font manager to.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Thanks for the tip, although I couldn’t get it to work. It shows “Error loading local fonts” on IE, Opera, Firefox, Safari and Chrome on my Windows 7 PC?

      • Anonymous

        Hi Craig

        Please try now :) – its working for me, must have been a glitch.
        http://www.typedna.com/fontshaker

        Regards Jason

      • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

        Thanks Jason. It looks great!

      • Anonymous

        It certainly gives a different way of viewing fonts. They also have similarity and live view where any of the fonts on your machine can be used to browse the news. I recommend trying their font manager as well. Its only 29US and runs as a standalone product and even runs inside Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator CS5. You can try the UI online…http://www.typedna.com/try-font-manager-online/