September 13, 2005

FontExplorer X

I’ve just come across Linotype’s new FontExplorer X, another font management application. Hmm, very intriguing that it’s coming from a foundry. Could this finally replace the stagnant Suitcase on my computer? Here is a comparison chart with other popular font apps. Simple. Smart. Free. Well, the price is definitely right, and it looks very promising. I also like that it was made by a foundry. Not many companies are better suited to understand a user’s font needs. The problem is it takes so damn long to try switching over to a new font application, only to have it potentially crap out on you. I made that mistake (led by my blind faith in Apple) with Font Book. Has anyone put FontExplorer X through its paces yet?


After thinking about this more, something dawned on me. So the app (and the store functionality) borrow heavily from a path already tread by iTunes. As of right now, LinoType only offers their fonts. Soooo, connecting the dots, they could eventually make their app open to other font vendors and foundries. Furthermore, like iTunes, find a way to add a decent DRM or licensing scheme to fonts. Why? To bring down the font prices and help lessen piracy. Perhaps a different way to use fonts entirely could be formulated, not unlike Rights Managed stock photography. This could also open the doors to getting a larger selection of fonts available for websites. Ok, I know I am getting way ahead of myself, especially for an app only in beta, but damn, a boy can dream.

Commentary (105):

1. Greg says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:13 pm

Are people (you included) still having problems with Fontbook? Maybe I’m not rough enough on fonts to notice.

2. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:20 pm

Font Book has always been buggy and inconsistent for me, crashing and whining at almost every turn. When I first tried using it, I could even add all my fonts (yes, I have a lot) before it just crapped out. It seems to me to be a much more casual font management utility.

I use Suitcase, but it is entirely hit or miss. On some machines it runs great, on others it does more harm then good. One really nice thing about Suitcase however is it’s ability to open fonts automatically in certain apps (like Illustrator).

3. Jon Hicks says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:21 pm

Wow, looks really interesting. The auto-activation will be the proof of the pudding. Font Agent Pro is good at this - except when it comes to Adobe apps- where you need it the most!

I’m giving it a shot…

4. Jay says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:26 pm

Downloading now!

I will be glad to rid my system of Suitcase. Every time a font is auto activated, I have to force quite Suitcase. And yes, I have tried every solution provided by Extensis and others on message boards to alleviate this problem.

This was just listed on VersionTracker today with only a couple reviews. I’ll write back with my opinions.


5. Scott says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:42 pm

Aside from the lack of auto-activation it looks good though I seem to recall reading something somewhere about font auto-activating in any app without needing any plugins. Something built into OS X. But it may also require using FontBook…

6. Dave Simon says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:49 pm

Suitcase X1 is one of those apps you hate but need. It is the best thing I’ve found so far on OS X, but it still is so SLOW and crashes here and there.

Font Book (the Apple one) is terrible, in my experience. I was so excited for it. But try to add 3000 fonts. Takes forever. I gave up and went back to Suitcase.

I’m definitely going to try this out when I get a chance. Right now I’m right in a project, so it’s not the best time.

Thanks for pointing this out Jason.

7. Jay says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:49 pm

Nice, clean, easy to use. Only problem found so far is creating a new set, the program does not allow me time to rename the set.

This is a Beta release of course, but it is very fast.


8. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 13, 2005 | 2:53 pm

Most times I don’t care too much about not having auto-activation, as long as the program is *gasp* stable and doesn’t crash, or as long as I can open the fonts without having to quit the program.

I may be over generalizing, but I don’t know why it’s taken so long to only get to the merely functional set of font management apps that are currently out. They are seem to be on a even keel of semi-mediocrity. I have no allegences to any font app, because choosing one from system to system often seems to be more a game of chance. If I can get Suitcase sustained on a machine, hooray! If not, start looking elsewhere. I can only assume it’s a far more difficult thing that it seems to be.

9. Dave Simon says… sep 13, 2005 | 3:47 pm

Looks like the reason for the free-ness of it is that they have an iTunes Music Store-like store in it for fonts. Good move.

I like it so far. I was going to wait, but I can’t resist new software.

I still haven’t found any way (other than going to an OS 9 machine) to open a suitcase and take out or put in fonts. I have a suitcase full of crap that has my only copy of Meta.

Any suggestions?

10. Brady J. Frey says… sep 13, 2005 | 4:16 pm

Font Book is outlawed from my office and my designers, I’ve never had a program give me more hell.

This is actually quite nice, I’m giving it a test — it’s very smart, and good to see. Suitcase has been rambling for quite sometime that it would merge with fontdoctor and it’s sister application, but I’ve yet to see it improve. I have many fonts to migrate, and lots of print design today so I’ll probably not be too aggressive right now or inDesign will die.

I wonder if Suitcase will go the route of Fetch, and fontexplorer is my new Transmit? Always good to see competition in a highly needed app.

Did it have to be explorer, though, is the question, that brought to mind an ‘explorer’ I don’t care for much…

11. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 13, 2005 | 4:22 pm

It could be called FontAnus and I would use it as long as it worked well. Our industry is hurting so badly for this. Someone could make a mint if they created a decent font management app. Linotype decided to do it for free… even if they are integrating a store too, that will just make it easier for us to try fonts out.

12. Ryan Heneise says… sep 13, 2005 | 4:26 pm

First impression… I’m impressed.

I just installed it, but the installation process was great, and it went through and cleaned up my font libraries. (I backed up my fonts first, naturally.) It even saved my collections, for which I was grateful. I like the interface. Clean and well organized, like a good OS X app should be.

This is great - how come this is free? OH! I see! They have a built-in iTunes style font store! Very clever. Actually I think the store is a good idea. Nice easy way to preview and buy fonts. I’m likin’ it.

13. Ryan Heneise says… sep 13, 2005 | 4:29 pm

I don’t think I would use it if it was called that, Jason.

14. Kevin Tamura says… sep 13, 2005 | 5:27 pm

Fontbook has made organizing my fonts hell—I’m definitely looking forward to something different.

15. Scott says… sep 13, 2005 | 5:35 pm

This is definitely looking good. I haven’t checked to see that the auto-activation plugins work for Quark, Indesign and Illustrator, but so far it looks like we may have a winner here…

I sure hope so anyway…

And with an integrated font store - is this the iTunes of font management?

16. bearskinrug says… sep 13, 2005 | 5:43 pm

Obviously, the greatest font management program will be called Fontastic. Or Fontabulous. Or FontAnus Pro.

17. Brady J. Frey says… sep 13, 2005 | 5:47 pm

Just noticed, it registered with Growl, which is cool to see it interact with growl nicely.

I second Ryan’s response, it copied my fonts (per my request) to a new location, cleaned up the fonts in my system folder, and dumped them in a desktop folder rather nicely considering. You can manually adjust this, but I wanted to see the automated method. I have 10,000+ fonts, it took about 2-3 minutes for a transfer (G5 dual 2ghz, 4 gig RAM).

Suitcase definately didn’t seem to like it too well — I accidentally had it open (never have a need to close it) since startup, and, with all my adobe apps just shutting down, Suitcase started acting squirrely. I killed the application accordingly, though it didn’t seem to harm anything, and my system seems to be cool.

It also automatically gave me plugins for CS, CS2, and Quark (upon request) — also nice, as this feature always never worked in Suticase automatically for me. By habit, I dropped into the plugins folder anyhow.

The user interface is a bit intimidating at first, probably because I’m accustomed to Suitcase — but as it seems more itunes friendly, it’s just like making playlists.

The summary information about each font is a beautiful thing, not to mention it’s preview is quick and painless. It is, again, fonts in an iTunes package.

It grouped all my font family’s into a nice bracket down menu for me to see easily, a nice trade off to suitcase just dropping a whole set as individual files.

So far it’s integrated into all my Adobe Applications just fine, no corrupt fonts in any windows I’m noticing (all the low end apps seem just fine).

I did a test print via pdf-x and through a brisque system for high end print production, all output was prisitne and just fine as far as I can tell (though I’m not going to ask the vendors to create screen/plate for this).

So far so good, I quite like it better — it’s organized how I NEED it. The UI is quick, not slow and clunky like I find my suitcase - it zipped through deactivating and activating fonts on the fly, organization was a snap. I’ve yet to find any bugs, but there’s still time…

18. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 13, 2005 | 5:58 pm

These comments have been very encouraging so far. I need to scrape together some time to give it a real go… because I am all too anxious to ditch Suitcase.

19. Brady J. Frey says… sep 13, 2005 | 5:59 pm

Search feature rocks, by the way — just a note of one simple warning, it DID activate some fonts that, well, were never activated before and I don’t know why it decided to do that. It only did a few of them, but again, it just did it… no idea…

20. Brady J. Frey says… sep 13, 2005 | 6:16 pm

As a final for the day, I deleted the personal library, and dragged my own over outside of it’s copied fonts from initial startup — seems to be working just fine, like it was before… all in all, it’s going into my workflow for the week to see how it handles.

Also cool, in the preferences for export, you can set it to create a zip, disk image, or copy the font when you drag out of the program to the finder.

Even better, smart sets. which means when you grab info for the font, the last line has notes — which is my cue for building a searchable library on the fly. Now they need to come out with an automator for me to add notes to full font folders.

21. Poncho says… sep 13, 2005 | 6:32 pm

I have hated using Suitcase every day since I left ATM on OS9 and Font Book is evil

This look to be just the ticket. You gotta admire iTunes interface, I think this is proof it can be ripped off and used to sell (almost) anything. iTFS?

Thanks for the heads up Jason :)

22. Greg says… sep 13, 2005 | 7:11 pm
Soooo, connecting the dots, they could eventually make their app open to other font vendors and foundries.

I really wish Veer would have created this, they have the content/products that are perfect for this type of application.

23. jordan says… sep 13, 2005 | 7:44 pm

I hope they have a Windows version of this out in the near future—I’m taking typography and pub. design classes right now, and I think I’m starting to become a type geek.

I don’t use a font manager of any sort right now; I tried to use Suitcase, but I couldn’t even add any fonts to the damned thing.

24. Brady J. Frey says… sep 13, 2005 | 7:44 pm

Much better warning interface as well:
illustrator font warning

with a ‘to purchase’ link included, I’m in font heaven.

25. Paul says… sep 13, 2005 | 8:11 pm

Why isn’t there a Photoshop auto-activation? Seems obvious if they’re already connecting to Indesign and Illustrator. Something I’m missing?

Also, I should note, this is pretty great so far.

26. Paul says… sep 13, 2005 | 8:21 pm

Also…now somebody just needs to create a CDDB equivalent for fonts, so I don’t have to go through and organize my fonts myself.

It would be great if, on importing, font managers ran them against a database and tagged them with the appropriate styles/keywords/etc.

27. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 13, 2005 | 8:27 pm

Well Paul, it’s interesting you should say that. I stumbled upon the The Universal Font Classification System a little while ago and was really excited. It’s exactly that, CDDB for fonts. I don’t know how it’s been coming along, but it’s at least a step in the right direction!

28. Scott says… sep 13, 2005 | 8:58 pm

I’d like to know what is powering the presentation of the font store. WebObjects like the iTMS? Rails? Something else doing XML parsing? It doesn’t feel as fast as the iTMS but it’s a start.

Hopefully Linotype will get all the different foundaries together and allow them to sell their fonts through the app as well. In the same way that iTunes works, this just makes sense.

29. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 13, 2005 | 10:35 pm

I just had the chance to install this and oh my. Installation was a snap, it will auto-detect your system and program-installed fonts and also let you show it folders where you store fonts. You can also add programs (either during install or via the prefs window later) that you wish to auto-activate fonts for (no Photoshop support yet).

Upon first launch it informs you of program conflicts, like Suitcase launching on startup, and lets you deactivate those preferences for those programs right then from within FontExplorer. Due to the wonderful iTunes style management scheme mentioned by many, it is easy to create Smart Sets of fonts. I like to group my fonts by foundry, so it’s easy to match a Smart Set to a file path (since I have my fonts organized by foundry-named folders out in the Finder). It even kept the fonts I had activated in Suitcase open. You are also able to specify how fonts you export get treated; packed in a zip, dmg, or just plain old font files. I dropped my entire collection (over 5000 fonts) in there and it’s purring like a kitten.

And there is much more. This program is nothing less than a breath of fresh air. The difference of switching from Suitcase to FontExplorer is like the difference in switching from Quark to InDesign (night and day). The program doesn’t resist what you want to do, but helps you get it done. It is clear to me that this was made by people who are passionate about fonts and obviously annoyed with the current management options. All this, and it’s still in beta. Amazing.

30. af says… sep 13, 2005 | 11:14 pm

Wow. Nice.

I’ve been wating for this.

As my comment shows here (third one). I’ve ranted about this to many people. Although it seems kinda pointless, I think a rating system (5 stars like itunes) would be helpful for creating/filtering ‘Smartsets’.

31. Steven Ametjan says… sep 13, 2005 | 11:25 pm

I downloaded this earlier today while I was at work, and the first thing that hit me was how easy everything is to setup. The interface is nicely polished and much easier than working with Suitcase.

The integration of the store with the software makes buying new fonts as easy as discovering new music in iTunes. I managed to get the auto-activation to work in all of my applications by unchecking the option that has to do with Ignore font requests based on settings below or something like that (can’t remember off hand, and on a PC at home). By unchecking that, all of a sudden Entrouage started requesting fonts, as well as Photoshop.

All in all I am deeply impressed at how easy they have made font management. Even the importing of 3000 fonts took very little time at all.

32. Ian says… sep 13, 2005 | 11:32 pm

I’m the type of person who has never used font management tools before. I’m in a bad habit of just looking through the dropdown in the application itself so this looks impressive to me. I’ve installed it and after a few hairy moments of trying to work out how to replace fonts that I’ve moved I think this will be a great tool.

I think a 5 star ranking system like iTunes would be extremely useful for a person like myself.

33. J Metter says… sep 14, 2005 | 12:46 am
now somebody just needs to create a CDDB equivalent for fonts

…that works the way CDDB works in iTunes. There are a few ideas out there, like the one Jason pointed out, but nothing that is up and running.

I spent many hours classifying thousands of fonts one-by-one into style-based sets in Suitcase: “Okay this one goes in slab serif, this in script. Oh, a nice clean gothic font.” When I couldn’t bear Suitcase’s snail’s pace and system conflicts anymore, I gave FontAgent Pro’s ugly-ass interface a try. Now it’s giving me problems — and it takes forever to choose a new font, having yet to recreate my precious style-sets. I gave Font Server a try, having heard that it automatically classifies fonts upon import. But only about 15-20% of my fonts were classified by it. Perhaps I will give FontExplorer a try and, if I like it, take the time to reclassify my fonts.

What about a font classification wiki that spit out downloadable sets? You could enter a font name and tag it with styles (“Adobe Caslon: Serif, Transitional”). Others could add, subtract, and modify until eventually we would get a vast library with fairly reliable classifications. You could download the sets in Suitcase, FontAgent, and FontExplorer format. I guess you’d have to be able to pare down the sets to only include fonts that you own too.

Anyway, I’d appreciate if someone would get on this.

34. blurb says… sep 14, 2005 | 12:51 am

I’m so trying this out. This could be the holy grail of font management in OS X.

I’ve gotten by with Suitcase and Font Book (the day job isn’t as font-crazy as I’d like it to be so I don’t need the speed, but I’d like the speed…) and this seems to be the ticket.

Thanks for posting about this!

35. Mark Jardine says… sep 14, 2005 | 1:55 am

I went from suitecase to fontbook, to font agent pro, and now this. Definitely the best font management program I have ever had the chance to use.

You know what takes the cake? Grab a few fonts from the app and drag them onto your desktop (or anywhere in the finder). It automatically zips those fonts on the fly! Ingenious.

36. luxuryluke says… sep 14, 2005 | 2:18 am

FontAnus +1

Thank you jason, thank you Linotype for the salvation of all typekind… hopefully(!).

found you trackbacked from john hick’s flickr account

it’s been an hour cranking on over 750 MBs of fonts so far and it’s only on the letter P, but i’m excited and i’ll post again with +/-.

37. Brady J. Frey says… sep 14, 2005 | 2:18 am

If you check in the preferences, under Export, you can change it to a disk image or just the typical font aside from the zip as well.

Yeah, after using it a full day, my only downer is the online store has a small supply of fonts to pick from. Greg posted right, Veer may have been a stronger candidate - either way, these guys made a great app, I hope to see more fonts for me to become addicted to.

38. Michelle says… sep 14, 2005 | 3:50 am

Great find. For us folkes on XP, the download is a mere 177mb :( What the F!

39. Todd Dominey says… sep 14, 2005 | 3:58 pm

I’m ridiculously giddy about FontExplorer. It’s as if someone lived through all the hell that is Suitcase in OS X (OS 9 was actually okay) and decided…fuck it…I’m going to code my own, and just to twist the knife a little more, I’m giving it away too.

Setup, interface, even the application icons, all shine. I can’t wait.

40. Dave Simon says… sep 14, 2005 | 5:07 pm

OK, I’ve used it for 24 hours now.

If anything, it is going to make it so much easier for me to clear out my crappy fonts.

I’m on board with those who said it would be nice if it interacted with a font version of CDDB automatically. That would be so cool.

And the ratings system from iTunes would be a nice addition. Hopefully, since this is just beta, stuff like that will be included.

Another cool idea would be to steal another idea from iTunes and have iMix type things. User-generated shared sets.

I’d use this even if it was called FontAnus Pro.

41. Dave Simon says… sep 14, 2005 | 5:24 pm

Found the built-in Key Caps type option: Tools > Show Keyboard Viewer


42. Iwan Negro says… sep 14, 2005 | 5:57 pm

i’ve gone through many font manager from mac os 8 to 10.4. atm, suitcase, fontbook (just looked at it and loughed out loud) and of course fontagent. well this one is definetely the best one. right now i am managing 10748 fonts and i have 326 active ones. it is speedy, easy to use and stable!

detection for auto activation works really good. i’m just missing the plugins for photoshop and illustrator to auto-update the font menu if a new font is activated.

43. Zach says… sep 15, 2005 | 1:30 am

I have over 4,000 fonts and use Adobe Type Manager Deluxe (ATM) on my XP box. I have been desperate to change to something new and I am hopeful that Linotype will release the Windows version soon! However, I notice that most people don’t mention using ATM. Am I in the dark as to why? It seems like it integrates the auto-activation and sets fairly well, just sucks on the “management” side of things.

I just want something that is 1) fast, 2) has an inline preview, 3) prints out my fonts as a book, and 4) helps me organize/clean up them.

44. Paul Hatherley says… sep 15, 2005 | 2:13 am
It is clear to me that this was made by people who are passionate about fonts and obviously annoyed with the current management options. All this, and it’s still in beta. Amazing.

I am quite sure you’ve hit the nail on the head - I’ve used the Linotype support hotline several times now (basically every time I am in dire need of support of ANY kind) and these people just rock: they listen and really try to help. Ever tried calling Quark or Extensis? Hah!

More often than not, it turns out to be no font problem, but an application problem (in my case, suitcase, let ‘em rot in hell). I guess Linotype just got frustrated about having so many customers out there who are in trouble, although their fonts are really okay. So they did something to help. And for free!!! I still can’t believe this.

I bow to this company. These are really font fanatics. It is great to see that people like this are still out there.

45. Tony Arnold says… sep 15, 2005 | 2:57 am
However, I notice that most people don’t mention using ATM. Am I in the dark as to why?
That would be because ATM doesn’t exist under Mac OS X. Shame that, but FontExplorer is very, very naff :)
46. Paul Ledbrook says… sep 15, 2005 | 6:43 am

After struggling with Fontagent crashing while importing fonts for most of yesterday I almost gave up and went back to FontF**k! Luckily saw Jon Hick’s posting about this today and almost spat my sausage sandwhich out when I installed Fontexplorer! Oh, the ease of it! How a good app should be… My digital life is now complete - almost!

47. Victor Gavenda says… sep 15, 2005 | 12:58 pm

Oops…Linotype has pulled the comparison chart from the page you linked to above.

Here’s what they say:

Sorry, the comparison table is no longer available!

Please download Linotype FontExplorer X here and make your own experiences!

We would be happy to get your feedback!

Was it inaccurate? Too much bandwidth? Were they just embarrassed to be showing off?

Guess we’ll never know.

48. chris grimley says… sep 15, 2005 | 2:28 pm

o.k. I’m in the dark a little bit here. What do I do with the fonts that have been cleaned from the system folder and onto the desktop? Should I move them in FontExplorer, or in the Finder. I know iTunes likes them moved in the application itself… any pointers would be appreciated. It’s been since OS9 that I actually managed fonts…

49. neil says… sep 16, 2005 | 2:45 am

All of this sounds really ass-kicking. I’m wondering how this stacks up to FontAgent Pro? I switched to it from Suitcase a while back and it’s worked quite well, though the way it organizes fonts is a bit naff.

50. Joop Vos says… sep 16, 2005 | 3:44 am

In potential it seems a very good app … but with Photoshop (7) it is shaking a little bit when you activate and then deactivate the same font … only with a restart does FEX what it should do, deactivate the font!

And yes, there has to be an ‘auto-activation’ plug-in for PSD … :-)

51. Stefan says… sep 16, 2005 | 4:25 pm

This is a great app, but very buggy for me. Not sure if anyone else is having probs? Imported all my fonts with ease … installed plugins … turned off suitcase XT. I opened several quark docs to try it out … some fonts will not auto activate and will not even activate with fontexplorer.

52. Colin says… sep 16, 2005 | 7:55 pm

Crashed three times on font import (I don’t blame it as I have 1.5GB of fonts in varying degrees of disrepair). After getting rid of two fonts that the import would gag on, got them all in there.

I instructed it to copy my fonts to a new location, but eventually it gave up trying, and now seems to be happy referencing my fonts in their original location. I would have liked to have started with a clean folder, but hey, it’s free, right?

Font preview is much faster than Suitcase and doesn’t randomly kill the app (Suitcase fun). Autoactivation works with Indy CS (it waits for your approval to activate unlike Suitcase). No Classic activation.

I need Classic, so I might have to use this thing for X and ATM for Classic, a two-part solution I was hoping to avoid. But this thing is nice. It has options you would hope would be in a font wrangler, like a menu option for clearing font caches. Well done.

By the way, what the hell is it about fonts that make them such a colossal pain in the ass? Why, God, why?

53. Wesley Walser says… sep 17, 2005 | 11:47 pm

I wish I dreamed in lower prices. That would be sweet!

54. Angus Hume says… sep 17, 2005 | 11:53 pm


Did my whole Linotype Gold Library and about another 100 fonts really fast. The interface is really quick. Have not had time to giva a proper probing yet, one bug…

when activating a font found from a search using the search bar, it’s check box comes one briefly then shows as unactivated again. As far as Indy is concerned, FreeHand too, the font was activated. It also did not show up in the activated fonts list in FontExplorer until I restarted the app.

55. Sigurdur Armannsson says… sep 18, 2005 | 6:07 pm

So far i like FontExplorer X. But there is one thing I can’t find out: I import a bunch of fonts, lets say some foundry, only the fonts I activate are in the set next time I open FEX. Anyone having this problem?
I would like to have all my fonts inside FEX for browsing and not hhave to import it over and over.

56. Sigurdur Armannsson says… sep 18, 2005 | 8:23 pm

Well, I cleaned out every trace of FEX and reinstalled. Seems to work as expected.

57. Dan Reynolds says… sep 19, 2005 | 6:34 am

The store inside FontExplorer X will soon include fonts from other foundries, not just Linotype’s own fonts.

And a PC version of FontExplorer X is in the works. It should be available in a few months.

58. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 19, 2005 | 6:53 am

That’s great news Dan. Where did you hear that from? Know someone on the inside? :D

59. sam wilson says… sep 21, 2005 | 8:17 am

Well I installed yesterday with no problem. I have 34,000 fonts. Loaded at a decent pace. Noticed that it left duplicates, So I manually deleted them. Open FEX today, only 3700 fonts in my library. I love the program, but I might need a more stable version.

60. Jim Perry says… sep 21, 2005 | 9:36 am

I was really excited about the prospect of FEX being a really robust font management solution and was heartened by everyone’s experiences here; however I’ve tried it on two different systems under OS X 10.4 and had too many crash incidents. I’m back to suffering with Suitcase for now, but I’m hopeful for a more stable final release of FEX.

61. marc cardwell says… sep 22, 2005 | 3:45 pm

i’m embarrassed to say i’ve muddled through w/ fontbook for the last year or so since we upgraded to osx. one thing that FREAKED me out was fontbook MOVED fonts from my various folders (organized by either project or foundry).

question: is this the way it HAS to be under x? ca it be like the good old days under 9 (when i used ATM, ATR and ATM referenced fonts)? is fontexplorer smart enough to leave the system folder fonts alone?

VERY cool site you have here, btw. marc

62. Jason Santa Maria says… sep 22, 2005 | 6:13 pm

Marc: Nope, you can tell FEX to move your fonts or just reference them, it’s entirely up to you.

63. Sigurdur Armannsson says… sep 22, 2005 | 8:24 pm

Let FontExplorer X manage your fonts by copying your fonts or you risk loosing it later.
A way to manage your system fonts is to:
a. Let FEX clean your System folders
b. Restart
c. Take the folder on Desktop called FontsRemovedfromSystem0000 move it to a safe place
d. hold the command key and drag that folder into the Source List in FEX.
e. Now you can completely control what system fonts are open and which not.
f. Activate at least HelveticaNeue because iCal, AddressBook and few more Apple applications rely on it.

64. Peter says… sep 23, 2005 | 4:44 am

FontExplorerX rocks my world. I too, had my hopes set way too high on Fontbook and was running Suitcase up until yesterday.
This is what fontbook shoulda been!

65. marc cardwell says… sep 23, 2005 | 3:47 pm

Jason: thanks for the reply. I’m thinking it would be good to, prior to installing FEX, get the font folder (users/marc/library/fonts) back to its original state. There’s a good post on fonts at: marc

66. matt says… sep 27, 2005 | 8:01 am

FE X setup assistant is chewing through my font library as i type this. Have been reading all the comments on your fine blog while waiting to install this thing.. grabbed it when it came out but had a swag of type-heavy jobs to do so couldn’t risk an install.. Just wanted to say a big Thank You! to linotype for freeing me from evil Suitcase hell.. Now i can return to enjoying typography rather than enjoying the creating half & dreading the font management half…

And thanks to the posters above for helpful comments.. woo-hoo!.. its like Type Christmas has come & i’m opening my presents under the tree at 4am again :-)

67. Fred says… sep 27, 2005 | 6:30 pm


I strongly suspect it seriously damaged my system. After installing, I experienced several system crashes. And I didn’t let it move or manage fonts. After uninstalling per instructions in help, my system became unbootable. Had to boot off a portable drive and clean up with Diskwarrior and Yasu.

I can’t guarrantee that FontExplorer caused all this, but I wouldn’t hurry to try it again.

68. albi says… sep 28, 2005 | 2:49 pm

fred you say it damaged your sys. later on you say you cannot guarrantee. so whats the deal?

69. Jason Metter says… sep 28, 2005 | 4:40 pm

We need a guarantee, dammit. What good is damage to my system without a guarantee?

But seriously, I have noticed a handful of quirks, but not enough to prevent me from going full steam ahead with FontExplorer. I’m really looking forward to seeing this product grow.

70. Jake says… sep 29, 2005 | 12:53 pm

It’s been super buggy for me so far. I’m going to reinstall and try it again for the 3rd and final time. Love the interface though. should be a great product down the road.

71. Joe Santa says… sep 29, 2005 | 6:23 pm

Really buggy. Loads the font, drops the font. Looks like it’s loaded, then nothing. InDesign loaded it, and then dropped it mysteriously. THe program seems to list it as being activated though…
Not ready for prime time. Messed up my FontAgent program too. Now that thing won’t manage fonts either.

72. bongoman says… oct 1, 2005 | 12:12 am

Yep buggy. Each time I re-open FEX my Library has gone. The fonts are still on my hard drive but need to be re-imported again. What a drag.

73. Barkeeper says… oct 6, 2005 | 4:18 am

I am using it since three weeks now, installed and managed more than 4000 fonts with great fun, found a few bugs but the recent update fixed them all. Amazing how fast they react! Well done! Fontexplorer changed my life. And its free - I still can’t believe it. Tanks, Linotype!

74. DocElroy says… oct 6, 2005 | 4:58 am

For correct auto-activation in Quark or InDesign, switch off the interception of font requests in FEX’s prefs. Did instantly work for me, as I only need Quark and InDesign auto-activating fonts for me, and not all the other apps too. FEX is really growing on me, and I was addicted by FontAgent Pro. Looking forward for the final release of FEX!

75. Oddjobboy says… oct 6, 2005 | 12:21 pm

Might FontExplorerX be spying on me? Could it report back to Linotype that I have a collection of fonts that I’m not licensed to use?

76. Jeff Petersen says… oct 6, 2005 | 3:35 pm

I’d like to extrapolate even further from JSM’s comment about the possibility for access to other foundrie’s vendor systems and predict that, since Linotype will be breaking new ground in this territory, they may be able to make it palatable to Adobe and others to Allow them to sell all fonts under their storefront with Linotype’s DRM (like different music labels currently do with Apple). Adobe has certainly shown no interest in pursuing this course, so why wouldn’t they license their fonts for sale through Linotype’s storefront and stand to make much more profit with much stronger DRM (which is built into Linotype’s software even now)?
I think we will see a move by professionals in a short time to this software if it works very well (as the FC release does) and keeps things working smoothly together for the print / web design industry.
As for now I am all eyes and ears just watching how it all unfolds.

77. robertm says… oct 10, 2005 | 5:20 pm

With FeX running, I launched Photoshop CS (not CS 2) by doubleclicking it in the dock. The first couple tries Photoshop hung and had to be force quit. Now it loads but I’m getting a weird request for a font I’ve never heard of…

“Font Request
Photoshop needs the font named
which is not installed or activated on your system”

The FeX dialogue had a handy option to “Ignore all requests by this application for this font.” Now when Photoshop loads it no longer asks.

So is this one of those “it only happened once so it didn’t really happen” things?

78. Tony Fletcher says… oct 12, 2005 | 1:57 pm

Running FeX for the past few hours and it works like a charm. Looks like a farewell to Suitcase!

79. Russell Bassman says… oct 12, 2005 | 3:06 pm

I’m a first-time visiter here, and I found this discussion rather

Well, more than that.

It’s about time that OSX had a easily useable, and reliable desktop font manager.
I’m sorry for the length of this reply, but it’s a direct reflection of my frustration over this matter.

I emailed Jason beforehand, to ask if it was cool to post here, and he gave me the okay, so here we go.
I mention this because I may raise some tempers with my rant here.
It’s not my intention to piss anyone off, far from it.
But sometimes opening your eyes is easier than it seems.

First off, I come to this discussion from the IT perspective. Yup, when
you call the helpdesk, I’m the guy that answers the phone. Ask my
clients. You, as a designer, know their names. I’m the guy you call.
I’m your Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist.

Luckily for you, rather than getting a clueless fuckwit, you get the IT guy that actually cares about design.

A friend of mine hepped me to FEX about a week and a half ago. I’d post
links to his sites (a certain media company) he’s a freaking awesome
designer, but I haven’t heard back from him. I only sorta knew he designed for the web also? **, you rock.
Anyway, the only person who’se going to get in trouble here is me.

Anyway, Mind you, in the OS9 (and classic) days I loved ATM. I won’t get
too into specifics because they don’t apply, but remember when ATM would
just choke, for seemingly no reason?
Were you creating groups and sets? No?
How many fonts did you hae activated?
Yes, and ATM would crash.
Software can only do what it is designed to do.

Eh, well, when you upgraded from OS9 to OS9.1, ATM didn’t work anymore. If at all.
Oh. Adobe stopped supporting it.
Needless to say OS 9.2, 9.21, and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD OS 9.2.2

Well, lets just all flash forward to 2002 and Jaguar, and something worth talking about.

I remember the day I saw my 1st Titanium powerbook, the day OSX finally shipped.
I’m doing a horrible job of drawing this out like it’s a slo-w football commercial.
But OSX 10.0.
well, sucked. Yes, we all know that.

By Jaguar, Suitcase was pretty much the deal.
The only deal for OSX font management.
Problem is, I walk into a shop with mis-managed, un-organized fonts, and I am asked to make them work.
Oh, many do work (licensed?? hmm).
A crapload dont.
ATM in classic mode sees them, but suitecase in OSX wont?

It’s a little complicated here.
ATM was a lot more lenient with postscript issues than OSX, fundamentally, seemed to me.

Font reserve was their competitor (and soon to be bought by them)*
Font Agent Pro** is pretty much our only other alternative.
But it’s interface is clunky, it forces creating new (and unless I’m not using the software correctly) and un-useable font folders.
And is therefore useless.

Kids, it’s good and bad time.
If I came across a corrupt or incomplete font folder at a design agency (can I have a dollar for everytime this has happened?)
Font Agent Pro would at least offer me the opportunity to fix it. Which is a nice option.
Unfortunately i have found out the hard way that this proposal is mostly a lost cause.
I’m flabbergasted by how one component of design houses is so mis-managed.
Fonts. And licensing.
Having spent years of my time volume licensing photoshop user seats…
I attempt to license fonts at agencies I work at.
Do you wonder why THOSE fonts work flawlessly, from comping through print/web,
but that crumy old copy of Garamond chokes when you try to make a pdf?
It’s because your font collection is dirty.

Oh, I can think of worse words to call it, but for now dirty will do.
And I’m glad FEX doesn’t have an option to fix your corrupt fonts.
I don’t think it’s their job.
If it’s their font, and it somehow gets goofed over FTP or whatever, they’ll replace it.
I’m cool with that.

2004 - Font reserve* is buried. Which is fine. Because it’s basically useless, and you suffer.
Because, as mentioned, there were some cool features that could’ve been incorporated into suitcase.
This was supposed to happen. I wonder why it never did.

Nevertheless, this is now 2005.
Linotype comes out with a remarkably cool product (oh, and it’s free?).
If anyone should be doing type management software, it should be a type house.
I really hope they take the itms model and just freakin run with it.

On the issue of users having problems installing, or running, FEX, I have installed this now on 20-some odd machines.
G4s, G5, desktops, some powerbooks. Many config’ed from an image I created.
I have had ZERO problems.
For a piece of beta software, that’s pretty damned good in my eyes.
If you are having problems with FEX I kindly suggest that it is more perhaps a user or machine issue, than the application in question.
It is far too common (because it’s easy) to blame the new application.
Ehmm, what condition is your HD in?
Do you know to repair permissions (EVERY) time you install a component on your machine?

I applaud LinoType.
A serously GOOD font manager for OSX was sorely lacking. For too long.
Dunno what Veer’s plans are, I too hope they jump on board with this.
This is one damned solid and cool piece of software.

Feel free to comment, but this is Jason’s (should I be calling him Stan, I don’t mean to imply I know the guy, short of one email)
place so if you need to flame or vent, you can figure out my email address, and please send them my way.

Russell Baseman
Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist
russell_dot_ bassman_at_gmail_dot_com

80. Nick Young says… oct 17, 2005 | 12:12 am

I work at a printing company, and Font book is horrible. It does not crash on my very often, but it does not handle the loading of duplicate fonts at all.

For example, if I install a font I already have installed on my system is just overwrites my previously installed font. After awhile the many fonts become corrupted and just do not print properly.

I recently installed FontExplorerX on the work system, and so far no huge problems. I had to clear out all my fonts, and clear all the font caches first. But that was not a big deal for me. So far so good, and it is not even released yet.

81. Nick Young says… oct 17, 2005 | 12:22 am

Just finished reading the rant above, and I agree. Because I work for a printer I most of the fonts that come along are sent from the designers just for printing the document. And half the time they are corrupted. That is why Font Book got corrupted so quickly.

Anyway, thankfully I can just clean out all the fonts every once and awhile, unlike designers who need to keep their fonts. :)

FEX looks like it will be a life saver. One more thing, I am pretty sure I saw a Font Repair option in FEX.

82. lukas2k says… oct 26, 2005 | 5:59 pm

Humm I had high hopes for FEX but I can’t really be sure of it’s robustness because of this stinking bug I keep having with the auto activation…

Here’s what I did to test it…

FEX is configured not to move or copy files (that’s the way I like it), made a doc in QXpress 6.5 with an available font, saved, quit QXP, disabled the font in FEX, reopened the qxd file, autoactivation starts, got the FEX missing font box, clicked activate all, and BOOM, I get this QXPress window that says: FontXplorer X xsl:template with an ok button. When I press the OK I get the mising font window with the done button, and when I click it, the file opens without the font.

Anybody has the same problem?

83. Jay Konrad says… oct 28, 2005 | 10:05 am

Just found this very interesting thread here - and, somehow, against my usual behaviour, decided to comment on one of the things said:

Might FontExplorerX be spying on me? Could it report back to Linotype that I have a collection of fonts that I’m not licensed to use?

Rest assured: NO, FEX will not be spying on you! Never, ever.

I don’t mean to say that this could not be done technically, but it would definitely collide with our code of honour, our philosophy and our way of life. Rest assured, no data leaves your machine except the update request once in a while (and even that may be turned off).

However, you really should get your fonts licensed :-) Let us just say it is the nice thing to do. And it sure means we can do some more nightshifts on FEX :-))

84. Andrew Burwell says… oct 28, 2005 | 11:30 am

Lukas2k…There was an update to FEX yesterday and it fixes this problem. I was experiencing the same thing.

85. Ian says… oct 28, 2005 | 3:56 pm

I emailed support for Font Explorer. The rep told me that they are working on a windows version and it will be out next year (hopefully earlier than later)

86. Russell Bassman says… oct 29, 2005 | 1:42 am

Hey Nick,

I’m on a Jaguar drive at the moment (my Pro-Tools rig), when I get on an FEX machine I’ll look for the repair utility. In thinking about this, I certainly don’t have a problem with FEX incorporating this feature. I welcome ANY utility that will fix fonts. I’ve been lucky, in that I’ve had the chance to sit with some people and learned some things about FontLab, for example.
My point was more that, it’s not any foundry’s responsibility to fix other people’s errors.
But I’m no one to judge.
I’d really have to say that, again from an IT perspective interested in design, (but I freely admit I am not a designer, I just hang around you people) the hardest, most time consuming element has been fonts and typography. Licensing, distributing, tracking, making legacy fonts work, learning about OpenType…

Figuring out quirky Illustrator transparency printing issues vs. Font Administration? I’d rather hang out with you and figure out this transparency thing. That’s more fun.
Font administration was sucky paperwork at my last major gig, but we made the effort to do it, after we spent that time with you, because we knew you had to get the client work out.

Jay Konrad,

I’m sure you already know this. The newer the shop, the easier Font Administration is to do.

Russell Baseman
Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist
russell_dot_ bassman_at_gmail_dot_com

87. Justin says… oct 31, 2005 | 12:18 pm

Forgive me for being a neophyte on the issue, but where do you start when you want to start organizing your fonts?

It’s something I’ve never done before, and definitely seems like something I should do (I’m an organizational freak), but I don’t really know where to start.

Is it just making groups of fonts that are related? I’m just not sure if I can wrap my head around what what organizing these fonts affords me since it seems like they’re only being grouped conceptually in the program.

88. David says… nov 1, 2005 | 3:10 pm

For the life of me, I can not get newly activated fonts to show up in quark. Does anyone have a suggestion?

89. Jerald says… nov 2, 2005 | 4:46 pm

First off… I totally dig FEX.
Here is my problem. Quark 6.5 will not recognize loaded fonts more than half the time unless I log out and log back in.

I am running 10.3.9 on a DP G5 with 1.5GB RAM

Any ideas?

90. Jerald says… nov 2, 2005 | 4:52 pm

Just found my answer. Here is the link in case anyone else is having the same problem

Click Here!

91. jacob harvey says… nov 2, 2005 | 11:40 pm

So far I’ve had good success with FEX. Threw together a quick concert program last week with Lacuna, one of the free fonts talked about somewhere recently (one of those good free fonts posts) and everything worked great. Of course that wasn’t anything with thousands of fonts or anything… :)

I cannot wait for the Windows version. I could really use this at work where I mostly do web stuff on a windows PC. Sometimes I get a random print thing and it’d be nice to be able to organize fonts and be able to use them only when I needed them.

Hopefully that Windows version will come sooner than later… pleeeeeaaaaasseeee ;)

92. Scott says… nov 8, 2005 | 11:47 am

I’ve been working with RC3 of FontExplorer X and it’s constantly crashing while importing fonts. In particular, it seem to be having problems reading the Postscript name during the import process. Of course, these are really old fonts, so my guess is that they are damaged and causing FX to get confused.

93. Jessica says… nov 13, 2005 | 3:46 pm

Thanks for posting the update to the original post. I also fell in love with Font Explorer X and it replaced my suitcase on my computer as well.

94. Ashley Bowers says… nov 23, 2005 | 4:13 am

Font Explorer rocks !! Like your dream, it would be nice to someday see it become a reality!

95. Paximus says… nov 23, 2005 | 5:18 am

FontexplorerX has finally liberated me from the sluggish Extensis suitcase. It is light on resources, incredibly quick and hasn’t given me any hassles yet.

If you are worried about changing cos you don’t want to have to try to revert to your old font manager when the new one crashes then I would say don’t worry at all. Even if it was half as stable as it seems to be it would still perform better than Extensis Suitcase.

And the online font store is a nice added extra. Even if it is only Linotype fonts available.

Breath easy fellow fonters… Lay down your weapons because this would seem to be a solution to the struggle. Linotype FontExplorerX.

And by the way. If you even think of using the apple default FontBook app then go and bang your head against a brick wall. It hasn’t got half of the functions you will need. Anyone with a font library of over 100 (probably all of us) will find fontBook useless.


96. christian says… nov 29, 2005 | 6:26 pm

hi. read all the posts above, and I see that some people have the same poroblem I have, which is FEX not activating fonts properly in quark even though the fonts are inside FEX.

The documents I’m trying to open were saved under Suitcase X1. Does that curl things up?



97. Tim Diacon says… dec 1, 2005 | 7:26 am

Quark is the bane of my life! FEX works perfectly with everything except Qaurk which will not activate fonts which are active in other programs!

I’ve tried the Jaws solution posted earlier but still not working - anyone worked out a solution?

98. nkh says… dec 1, 2005 | 7:40 pm

I have a problem with FEX. When I launch Word 2004, it gives me an error that says “The font xxx is corrupt and should be deleted.” and continues through each and every MS font. Suitcase never did this. Is there a workaround?

99. deeg says… dec 7, 2005 | 4:28 pm

Hi! Thanks for all the great posts. Can’t wait to get home a perhaps fix my current font woes. Question. Do you have to do anything with FontBook (like remove the font libraries added there) to allow FEX to work it’s magic? Seems like the two would butt heads… Thanks again. deeg

100. deeg says… dec 8, 2005 | 12:23 pm

I installed this app last night and hit some snags. This is how I worked around them. The initial setup stalled on the San Francisco font (remember that one?) while copying the files during the “management” process. Now I had an incomplete library that FEX was using. Remembering they were copies, I trashed the folder and imported the files from my finder folders as new sets. Now each foundry has their own set that I can activate fonts from. Slick.

Some font folders had “no fonts” in them when trying to import. I looked in the folders and found FINDER.DAT & RESOURCE.FRK files. Turns out they are from working in a PC environment. Yep. I had backed up my collections on a PC Zip disk! Thought I was screwed good, but no. I fired up the PowerBook running OS 9, copied the files back where they came from, moved ‘em back to the G5 on a MAC Zip disk and imported the fonts into FEX again. Wa-La!

I could have done a dance when some of my favorite fonts came out of the printer from an Illustrator test document! I love this app!

101. Jerald says… dec 13, 2005 | 1:00 pm

Follow up to my experiences with auto activation in Quark.
Removing the items in the JAWS folder as described in my previous post resulted in less than stellar results.

The following seem to work:
1. Log out and log back in. This is cumbersome but works 100% of the time. Quark will pick up the newly activated fonts. Make sure you have FEX set to keep the fonts activated after restart/logout.
2. Quit FEX and Quark. Relaunch FEX first and Quark second. This is more convenient than number one but will only work 90% of the time. Still a bummer I have to do this.
3. Switch to InDesign. This option offers the benefit of not having to deal with Quark in the first place.


102. Britney says… dec 19, 2005 | 5:05 am

Thanks for all the great information can not wait to try out some of it and see what FontExplorer X can do for my stuff!

103. Stephanie says… dec 28, 2005 | 10:12 am

This software rocks! It will no doubt be using FontExplorer the rest of time!

104. Steve says… jan 21, 2006 | 11:03 pm

Some features I have found:

Get info for a font and apply a rating, add a comment. Then Option-click or right-click categories at top of font list to display this information. You can see at a glance your rating and comments. You might want to make a comment such as: grunge, messy; or script, formal. Then you can search for those comments. You have to click on the magnifying glass on the search field to change from Search for Name to Search Comments.

Of course, adding comments to thousands of fonts can be tedious, but it is so cool to be able to search for scripts, or some other descriptive word so easily after the information has been entered.

105. Ana says… apr 12, 2006 | 5:13 pm

my font explorer doesnt automatically activate the fonts. I have the plug ins but they dont seem to be working. what do i do to fix this? its a pain to activate each font every single time.