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Fixing Font Problems in Mac OSX

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 10/23/2010

Have you ever had a program on your Mac report a damaged font? Had fonts stop working or just not work right? If you have this article will help you fix your font problems on your Mac.

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    Use Font Book To Trouble Shoot Fonts In Mac OSX

    I regularly use Adobe Illustrator and recently opened the program to find eighty percent of my fonts were not in my font list. They were all missing. A search of the Internet for a solution got me nowhere, so I had to troubleshoot on my own. Eventually I fixed the problem, and here are the steps I took to do that.

    To start open Font Book. Unless you have a third party font utility installed Font Book is where you manage fonts on your Mac. It is used for installing and uninstalling fonts, and troubleshooting fonts. You can find Font Book in your Applications folder.

    Font Book 

    In Font Book you will see a list of fonts installed on your computer. Scroll down the list looking for any red icons next to the font name. If there are any you have quickly found the source of your problem. Click the font and in the preview window you will see the problem. That symbol usually means a damaged font and you should delete it. To delete the font just click the name and press delete.

    You might also see a yellow icon next to the font names. These are minor problems and usually result from duplicate fonts. The quickest way to resolve a duplicate font is to click the font in questions and go to the Edit menu. In the menu choose Resolve Duplicates. The yellow warning icon should vanish on that font.


    To check all of your fonts you can click inside the font list on any font. Then on your keyboard hold the command key and press A. This will select all fonts. Go to the File menu and choose to Validate Fonts. This will open a window that runs through and lists any problems font with you fonts.

    In my case none of the above worked so I had to dig deeper. I open my user folder and inside that folder I opened Library. Inside this folder there is a fonts folder. These are any fonts you have installed. Click and drag that folder to you Desktop and restart. This will erase the fonts.

    Once restarted open Font Book again. This time go to the file menu and choose Add Fonts. Go to the fonts folder on your desktop in the open window and click open. This will install or reinstall all of the fonts in that folder.

    Open the program in question and see if your fonts are now there.

    As you can see dealing with fonts can be very tricky and I highly recommend you have any fonts you have personally install backed up. Be sure to backup your entire Mac, including your fonts, if you don't you might regret it one day.