Four Free Font Managers

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Fonts

With so many fonts, both free and commercial, available on the web, it’s not surprising that many designers find that their font collection quickly gets out of hand. I download several new fonts every week, but I did go though a phase where I had hundreds (if not thousands) of fonts on my machine. It becomes very difficult to keep on top of that many fonts, so what sort of software is available to help you keep track of fonts and management?

Commercial font managers tend to offer more features and more sophisticated tools. However, if you’re getting started with design or are developing an interest in fonts, there are plenty of free font management programs available.

What is Font Management Software

Your pc or mac comes with a certain level of management already. You can install, view or delete fonts, as well as grouping them together based on certain criteria. Every font that has been installed on your computer uses up a certain amount of system resources when they are required by an application. It’s basically a waste to have a font installed if you only use it very occasionally. Most font management software allows you to activate or temporarily install fonts solely for the period of time you actually need them, freeing up resources to allow your computer run more efficiently.

Here are a few examples of free and shareware programs you might consider using:

The Free and Easy Font Viewer for windows is simple and easy to use, and lets you view installed fonts and experiment with their various styles. You can preview your fonts, install and uninstall fonts, and view more detailed font information.

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AMP Font Viewer gives you a quick overview of both installed and non installed fonts. It can install and uninstall fonts, and organize them in categories. Fonts can be installed temporarily, while the program is running, to use in your applications, and de-installed when the program is closed.

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Font Xplorer 1.2.2 is an excellent free font manager and could be considered the next step up in terms of functionality and sophistication. You can browse installed (and not-yet-installed) fonts from your hard disk, and use compare mode to search for fonts. You can load and unload fonts, install and un-install fonts, rename fonts, save bitmap images, view font information such as copyright information and available character sets, search for duplicate fonts, filter fonts, and much more.

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For Mac Users
Linotype FontExplorer X 1.2.3 (Note: It is the last link on this page) is a free, now unsupported font manager. You can view, install, uninstall, sort and group fonts.

fontexplorer

This is only a small sample of what’s available and might be useful for you if you’re getting started with font management.

Have you used any of these programs or others for managing fonts?

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  • fede

    You have to add to the title, Windows, thanks :D

  • AndyDeGroo

    I’ve been using Extensis Suitcase but it is not free and I’m not absolutely satisfied with its functionality. Also have tried Adobe Font manager, but I don’t remember why exactly I didn’t like it.

    Thanks for sharing links to these tools. I’m sure one of them will come handy.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    Hey Jennifer. AMP isn’t the prettiest app to work in, but the ability to make categories is the thing I like. For instance sometimes I know there’s a dingbat perfect for my needs, but trying to find it is the challenge. Being able to filter new fonts down to just the dingbats is very useful.

  • http://www.pageaffairs.com/ ralph.m

    Awww, nothing for Mac?

    I keep being told to get a font manager, but have never gotten my mind around it. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.birnamdesigns.com birnam

    Linux folks: check out FontMatrix, very good. fontmatrix.net I think

  • http://www.laughingliondesign.net Jennifer Farley

    My apologies guys, I thought Font Xplorer was for Windows and Mac. I was getting it mixed up with Font Explorer X. I’ve added it to the list now.

  • pug2112

    Any else using Main Type??

  • nextmarvel

    Linotype FontExplorer X 1.2.3 rocks! and i’ve used the big name suites–stop caring for them with this free solution!

  • David

    We’ve used Extensis Suitcase in the past, and have tried out Font Explorer X, but settled on Insider Software’s FontAgent Pro and never looked back. Conflicts are a thing of the past.

  • Anonymous

    i do not download fonts online often.

  • http://www.famemarket.com famemarket

    i don’t download fonts online often.

  • http://www.famemarket.com famemarket

    i don’t download fonts online often..

  • guilherme

    To this day I haven’t seen a decent font manager… I normally use Extensis or Bitstream Font Navigator but they have their basic flaws… Maybe I’ll give these a go.

  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    I use Free and Easy. It’s good for what it is–basic and no-frills. If you need something more complex, it isn’t the program for you, but it works well as far as it goes.

  • http://www.pageaffairs.com/ ralph.m

    I’m not totally clear on which fonts should and should not be turned off. I know some are necessary for the system, some for displaying international characters on websites etc. Does anyone know of a good link that indicates what fonts NOT to turn off with a font manager?

  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    Try this one:

    Fonts installed by Windows.

    It doesn’t have Vista fonts listed, but Vista uses Calibri and Segoe UI for sure as default fonts, and perhaps others: Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia, and Corbel.

  • Marius

    FontExplorer X for Windows is no longer available (nor supported).

  • James

    Cant believe they missed The Font Thing

    http://members.ozemail.com.au/~scef/tft.html

    essential.

  • http://www.crearedesign.co.uk TomBradshaw

    These look really useful, I have loads of fonts on my computer. Is there a way to organise them in Photoshop, Illustrator etc? that would be really useful!

  • Anonymous

    @TomBradshaw:

    I’d love to know that too… I have *way* too many fonts and the list is beginning to be rather unwieldy to navigate from within Photoshop. I wish that fonts could be sorted into groups, for instance, serif/san serif, or elegant/casual/professional,etc. It would make choosing fonts when I’m working on a project a lot faster than it is now, when I have to scroll and scroll and scroll…

  • confused

    I am using AMP font viewer, and have only 163 fonts in my C:/Windows/Fonts folder, but when I open any program that requires fonts, there are over 5,000 available. I have thousands of fonts installed in other folders throughout my hardrive, but I never installed them to Windows.

    That is actually that way I want things, so as not to slow down my pc by having thousands in my windows/fonts folder. Question is, I am not running AMP font viewer now when I have the other programs open, but they are still available to the other programs… Where are they temporarily installed to some folder in Windows?