A font is what your computer uses to display and print text. OS X comes with a heap of built-in fonts (eg Helvetica, Arial, Lucida Grande) but chances are you have more than just these few on your computer. This can cause a problem if you create a keynote presentation or pages document on your computer, and then you go to use it on a different laptop where those fonts are not installed. This article looks at where the fonts live on your computer and how you can you copy them to another computer.
Chances are you have more than the fonts that just came with your computer. If you have installed a new printer for example from Canon or Epson, it may have come with extra fonts that were installed on your computer. Lots of software, for example Comic Life, iWork and Microsoft Office, install extra fonts onto your computer when they are installed. It may also be that you have deliberately purchased one or more new fonts and added them to your computer.
All these fonts are stored in a ‘font’ folder inside your ‘library’ folder.
You actually have two library folders. One is here, on your main Hard Drive:
The other one is here in your ‘users’ folder:
You find it by clicking on your hard drive icon, then ‘Users’ then your username, and then you should see it in amongst your music, movies folders and so on.
Inside both of these ‘Library’ folders will be another folder called fonts, and inside the font folder will be all the fonts on your computer. The first fonts folder contains the fonts available to any user on your computer. The second one in your user directory contains just the fonts that are available to your user.
If you want to copy one of these fonts to a different computer you can just copy it like any other file. You can drag the font to a thumbdrive, e-mail it to yourself at a different computer, or copy it across the network to your laptop. On the new computer you simply need to double-click the font and you will get a little window showing you a preview of what the font looks like. There will be either a button saying ‘ install’ which will install the front onto that computer if you click on it, or there will be a little grey message saying ‘ installed’ which means that that font is already installed on that computer.
If you are copying a font be sure to copy all the different font files. For example in the following example the Arial font has quite a few files, one for the bold one for the italic and so on. It’s best to copy them all.
Most of the time the fonts will just work and you won’t need to worry about them, but every now and then you might go to open one of your documents on a different computer and the font will be missing. This is how to copy the font across.
If you want a document that you can open on any computer at all, and you don’t need to worry about whether that computer has the font or not, save your document as a PDF file. PDF files include the font in the file so they will work on any computer even if it doesn’t have the right font!