How to Install Fonts on a Mac
Finding a font you like can be tough — especially if you work in marketing or graphic design and regularly need to locate the perfect font for your project.
Fortunately, MacOS (or on iOS, if you need help with that) has greatly improved the way you can quickly download, preview, and enable new fonts for popular Mac design apps.
Here’s how to install fonts on a Mac and quickly organize them.
Downloading the right fonts
Step 1: Look for the font that you need. There are many, many sources of fonts online, from casual lists to fonts specifically for designers (or you could just decide to design your own font). Most of the lists are free, although some designer fonts come with a charge.
Step 2: Make sure the font you choose is compatible with MacOS. You can tell by looking at the file name. Mac supports TrueType, or “.ttf” files and well as OpenType or “.otf” files. Fortunately this covers the majority of downloaded fonts. However, you will not be able to use PC bitmap or “.fon” fonts, which are not compatible. Presumably, future open-source formats will work just fine.
Step 3: You may want to double-check the website reviews to make sure downloads can be trusted — always use a trusted website before you choose to download anything! If everything looks good, download the font file that you want. This will add a new file (potentially compressed) to your Mac download section.
Previewing and installing the font on MacOS
Step 1: Navigate to the file you just downloaded in Finder, then open it up (expand zip files as needed first). This should immediately open Font Book. This is an app that is included in MacOS to help make managing fonts easier, and it has a number of useful functions. When you click on a brand new font, Font Book will pop it up and show you a preview of that font.
Step 2: Take a look at Font Book’s preview. You can change the typeface with the drop-down menu at the top of the window to get a better look at the font’s different weights and styles. If it’s not what you expected or there’s something wrong with the appearance, you will probably want to download a new version of the font from a different site or try a new type of font.
Step 3: At the bottom of the Font Book preview window you will see the option to Install the font. Click the button and the font will be installed on your Mac. In theory, Font Book makes a font available for all apps on MacOS. In practice, however, you may encounter some trouble with things like older Microsoft Word apps, which may not be properly set up to accept new fonts.
Installing directly from Font Book
There’s another option for installing fonts on MacOS, one that is particularly handy if you have a number of different new fonts to install all at once or if you want to customize how your fonts are organized. It’s useful for designers, web engineers, and others that manage a lot of fonts on a regular basis.
Step 1: Click Go in your Mac’s menu bar, then click Applications. In the Applications window, select Font Book — its icon is a book with a big F on it.
Step 2: Once the Font Book window opens, you can explore all your current fonts. You will find an alphabetical list of all your fonts, but you can explore the Smart Collection section to find other ways of organizing and displaying your fonts. If you are carefully searching for a font, it may be a good idea to check your current fonts to see what your options are before downloading new files online.
Step 3: Now, it’s time to install your fonts. Click the plus sign (+) in the toolbar. In the new window, navigate to the Downloads folder and review the fonts that you’ve downloaded. Select the Icons view in the toolbar view a small preview of each. By holding the Cmd key, you can select multiple fonts in each folder to install. Click Open when you are ready to install your fonts.
Step 4: If you download and use many different fonts, you can use the Collections feature in Font Book to keep them neat and organized. Collections can help you clean up your font list, which means saving time when working on your various projects. To add a new Collection, click the plus sign (+) at the bottom of the sidebar. Using this feature, you can organize fonts by type, favorites, or any way that works for you.
You can use the File and Edit tabs at the top of the screen to remove font families or disable fonts you no longer use. You can also use Font Book to validate fonts that may be having problems. You can access the font validation feature via the File menu.