Installing Fonts in OSX

What is a font?

A font is the shape of the letters on the page- sort of. The real definition in typography is more like “a font is a particular weight, size, and style of a typeface,” But “the shape of the letters on the page” is close enough for us. Here is the same phrase, written in different fonts:

On our computers there are two main file formats for fonts. Newer fonts will be OpenType fonts, which end with .otf. Older fonts are often in TrueType format, which end with .ttf. They both are installed the same way.

Finding Fonts

There are many online font sources.  Many times you can find fonts by searching for them with a search engine like google. There are also a ton of online font libraries, including:

Make sure you pick free fonts. If a font is called a “demo versions” it might be missing some characters.

Each one of these sites will have slightly different search engines and download methods, but all of them should let you either download the selected fonts or a compressed file containing the selected fonts. If the downloaded file ends with .zip, that means it’s a compressed file and you’ll need to unzip it before installing.

Installing the Fonts

If you double-click a font file, OSX will open the Font Book and let you install that font. If you want to install more than one font, open Font Book first, then drag the fonts from the Finder to Font Book.


When you install a font, you may get an error. If the error is a minor one, you can almost always install and use the font. If Font Book says there is a serious error with the font, do not install it!

When are the Fonts Available to Use?

Fonts are available immediately. However, they may not show up in all programs.  If Word was open when you installed, use will need to close and reopen it before the fonts appear in Word’s font list. If you are using Photoshop, it will reload the fonts when you select the Type Tool.