Learn Where Fonts Are Stored on your Mac

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Mac Fonts: Where Fonts Are Stored

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 2/5/2009

If you’re just getting familiar with fonts on your Mac, you’ll be surprised to know that there are five places a font can appear. If you plan to work a lot with fonts, it’s important to know where these five folders are.

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    Font Folders

    Five Font Folders: say that five times fast. When you’re finished with that tongue twister, see if you can wrap your brain around why there are five font folders (or more if you share a computer with other users). Here we’ll look at these five places.

    Private Fonts

    The fonts in the Home Folder>Library>Fonts folder contain your private fonts. (If you share a computer with other users, those users will also have their own private Fonts folder.) Fonts in this folder can only be accessed by you, the user to which they belong. As the owner of the folder, you can add your own custom fonts, delete fonts, and customize to your heart’s content. No one else has access. [See Image 1]

    Tip: If you are the only person who uses your Mac but you have multiple users created and active, you’ve got a lot of gunk (including font folders) you don’t need. If you’re sure that a user is gone for good, delete the user and the user’s folders.

    Library Fonts

    The Library fonts are in the Library>Fonts folder. Fonts in this folder are available to everyone who uses your Mac. Only users who are administrators can make changes here. For the most part, this should be considered the main font folder. To install a font that everyone can use, install it here.

    Network Fonts

    Network fonts are those fonts available only if a network administrator has configured a separate and distinct font collection on a network server or other computer, and you have access to that folder. This folder, if it is available, is located in the Network>Library>Fonts folder. Many times, these folders are set up so that all users in a corporation can access standard, agreed-upon company fonts, allowing everyone to create documents, graphics, and e-mail following company standards.

    System Fonts

    System fonts are located in the System>Library>Fonts folder. These fonts are used by the operating system and are necessary for the Mac to function correctly. This font folder holds the fonts used for menus, dialog boxes, and icons. If they’re moved or deleted, you’ll find yourself in a world of hurt. In fact, if a font that a system application needs is missing, it may very well crash on opening. You should avoid mucking around in here for that reason. [See Image 2]

    To borrow a line from one of my favorite movies, Turner and Hooch, “This is not your room.”

    Classic Fonts

    If OS X needs a font and can’t find it by looking in the user’s personal Font folder, the Library Fonts folder, the Network Fonts folder, or the System fonts folder (almost always in that order), it looks in the Classic Fonts folder. That folder is located in the Mac OS 9 System Folder>Fonts. This folder also holds the fonts used by the system when you run OS 9.



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