At a Glance
Managing your fonts can be as painful as getting your teeth cleaned. You do it only when you have to, and it's no fun. Just as you hope for a dentist who works quickly, efficiently, and gently, you want a font-management application that helps you find, group, preview, and access your fonts painlessly. Extensis's Suitcase X1 (pronounced eleven) has an improved windowpane interface that makes font management this easy. And it's quite fast in Classic, Jaguar, and Panther (Panther users will have to download a patch).
You can now activate Suitcase features from any of its three panes, including the Preview pane. And when you add fonts to a set, Suitcase automatically scans and repairs them.
Best of all, the new keyword engine lets you customize and assign your own sorting criteria on-the-fly. This feature is an instant font-set maker, giving you speedy activation and organization in one easy step.
Do Not Press This Button
Suitcase X1 makes it easier than ever to manage your system fonts -- perhaps too easy. If you're the type of person who can't resist opening doors labeled Do Not Enter, then this warning is for you: Suitcase has a door you really shouldn't open. You can cause work-stopping trouble on your system simply by deactivating seemingly innocuous fonts such as Lucida, Geneva, and Courier. These are only some of the fonts OS X relies on to make the Aqua interface readable. Creative professionals and prepress specialists might, under certain circumstances, want to replace the system's Helvetica with another Helvetica, but they know enough to step gingerly through this minefield. We truly wish Extensis had put a large red warning over the option that gives everyone access to such a powerful tool.
The introduction of Panther's built-in Font Book application -- which organizes, activates, and deactivates fonts -- raises a question: Is Suitcase, or any third-party font-management application, necessary? The answer depends on your usage. Suitcase X1 is best for the creative pro who uses more than 100 fonts on a daily basis. Font Book, which has some drawbacks, might be acceptable for people who don't use many fonts. If Font Book doesn't meet your needs, check out FontCatalog ($30; www.prepressmiami .com/fontcatalog) -- a shareware application that's compatible with Panther. Slower than Suitcase X1 and not as full-featured, FontCatalog offers a simple, clear preview interface with drag-and-drop activation.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Extensis's Suitcase is a great font-management tool for people who regularly work with more than 100 fonts, who need more than Panther's Font Book provides, and who need greater speed than FontCatalog can muster. Suitcase X1 is faster, easier to use, and more efficient than its predecessors, thanks in part to its keyword and QuickFind features. Aside from the dan-gers of accidental system-font deactivation, Suitcase X1 is a pain-free way to keep your fonts in line.
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