Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from Take Control of Fonts in Mac OS X, a $20 electronic book available for download from TidBits Electronic Publishing. The 255-page ebook contains previously unpublished information about Mac OS X’s font handling, including details about supported font types, font storage locations, load order, managing fonts, dealing with legacy fonts, Unicode, and more. This excerpt focuses on removing fonts you don’t want.
There are two pressing issues of font removal: how to remove fonts, and which ones to remove (an art explained in Trim the Excess Font Fat ).
When you don’t want to use a font, and won’t want to use it again in the foreseeable future, you remove it. When you want it hanging around for easy access or a recurring project but don’t want it cluttering your Font menus in the meantime, you can disable it instead. (For details on disabling fonts, see the discussion in the full ebook.)
Use Font Book to remove fonts
To remove a font, select it in Font Book’s Font list, and press Delete or choose File -> Remove FontName. The font file is (usually) moved to the Trash, so if you don’t want it erased the next time you empty the Trash, you have to drag it out and store it someplace. This isn’t so draconian when you consider that a copy of the font file was placed in the target folder during installation, with the original left in place; so, you should already have a copy of any of your user-installed fonts. For system-installed fonts, you have to be more careful because there’s no easy way to get fresh copies.
I said the font file is “usually” moved to the Trash, because there are exceptions:
/System/Library/Fonts—is removed only from Font Book’s Font list; the font file is not removed from its folder. (See Remove or Replace System Fonts.)
/Library/Fonts) removes it from the Font list, but the font file remains in its folder.
Even when a deleted “font” is sent to Trash, which font files are deleted—and the effect on some of your other installed fonts—depends on what you’ve selected in the Font list and what kind of file(s) are related to the selection:
/Library/Fontsare removed; if User is selected, only the copy in
Font removal from Fonts folders: You can remove a font directly from its Fonts folder; its absence is reflected in Font Book’s list almost immediately. But Font Book deletion is a better option because you can see whether you still have a copy of that font available in a different Fonts folder, and, in the case of PostScript fonts or OpenType families with separate typeface files, you won’t have to select the multiple files yourself.
Tip: Un-remove the Remove warning!
As you can imagine, during the course of writing Take Control of Fonts in Mac OS X , I gave Font Book quite a workout, adding and removing many fonts many times. I got tired of the confirmation dialog “Are you sure you want to remove this font?” making every font removal a two-step process. So, I finally checked Do Not Ask Me Again in the dialog. It wasn’t long before I selected a font and, as I hit Delete, realized I had mis-clicked and selected the wrong font in the list. But Delete was already pressed, and, with no confirm dialog popping up, it was too late.
Font Book’s font removal warning
And then came another one of those annoying little interface problems. The Do Not Ask Me Again checkbox is only in the confirm dialog; since the dialog doesn’t show up after you turn it off, you can’t uncheck the checkbox to turn the warning back on. If you’ve already made the same mistake (or do so in the future despite this warning), the solution is to quit Font Book and delete
~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Fontbook.plist. Prior to Tiger 10.4.3 with its Font Book 2.0.2, this would also make Font Book forget about any disabled fonts, re-enabling every single one of them, but that’s no longer an issue.
If you’ve used Font Book to remove a system font, reinstalling it is tricky: although the font name disappears from Font Book’s Font list, the font file remains in its folder—and how do you install a font where it already exists? (And where do you get it from?). In addition, Font Book doesn’t provide any way of installing to
anyway; items put in Font Book’s Computer library go to only
Warning! Do not remove these system fonts—some of which don’t even appear in Font Book:
The following section provides details about these, and other fonts that you can, but probably don’t want to, remove; for a roundup, see Do Not Remove or Disable These System Fonts.
Here’s how to get a “removed” system font back in play: