Mac OS X Hints - May 2007

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Get a handle on fonts

Whether you’re trying to disable a typeface you never use or add a new one to your system, you may be somewhat confused about how Mac OS X handles fonts. This month, I’ll explain how OS X organizes its fonts, and give you some tips for working with them.

Where the Fonts Are When you’re trying to wrangle a collection of fonts, one of the first things that can trip you up is the fact that OS X stores them in many different places.

System fonts—the ones that OS X uses in dialog boxes, menu bars, and elsewhere—live in the /System/Library/Fonts folder. In general, you don’t want to touch anything in here, or you may find, for instance, that Safari won’t correctly render the text on a Web page.

All of a Mac’s users can access fonts stored in the /Library/Fonts folder. But only administrative users (those listed as Admin in the Accounts preference pane) can add fonts to, and remove them from, this folder. Each of a Mac’s users also has his or her own Fonts folder ( your user folder /Library/Fonts). It holds fonts available only to that user.

If you’re using Classic and you want a new font to be accessible in both OS X and Classic, you should store it in Classic’s System Folder/Fonts folder. OS X can see fonts here, but Classic can’t see fonts stored anywhere else.

Solving Problems with Font Book Since OS X 10.3 (Panther), all Macs have included a basic font-management tool, Font Book (/Applications). Font Book lets you see a list of all your fonts in one window. You can preview, or get detailed information about, any font (see “Control Fonts”). Some, such as Bookman Old Style and Arial, even come with interesting descriptions of their backgrounds.

You can also use Font Book to deactivate fonts—in other words, to turn them off without removing them from your system. (To be honest, though, Font Book isn’t the best application for doing this. You need a full-featured font utility.)

Font Book is most useful for dealing with common font problems. For instance, when you install applications, sometimes they place newer versions of system fonts in your user folder’s Fonts folder. This can result in duplicate fonts, which might cause problems in some applications. To resolve this, click in the Font column, press 1-A to select all, and then choose Edit: Resolve Duplicates.

Also use Font Book to check for font corruption, which can cause application crashes and other unexpected behavior. Select all the fonts in the Fonts column again; then choose File: Validate Fonts. Font Book will indicate problematic fonts in the Font Validation window. To remove a font, select the check box next to its name and then click on Remove Checked.

Put your Mac to sleep from afar

Apple’s Mail program lets you use rules (Mail: Preferences: Rules) to manage your incoming e-mail. But you might not be aware of another aspect of Mail’s rules—the ability to run an AppleScript on a filtered message. With just a little bit of planning, for example, you can send yourself an e-mail that will put a remote Mac to sleep.

This very simple script asks you to confirm that you really want to put the computer to sleep and then does so, unless you click on Cancel. Launch Script Editor (in /Applications/AppleScript) and type this script (or download it ):

	tell application "Finder"
	display dialog "This Computer will go to sleep in 1 minute." buttons {"Sleep", "Cancel"} default button 2 giving up after 60
	end tell

Choose File: Save to bring up the Save dialog box. Name your script and save it somewhere you can find it later. Leave the other settings in this dialog box as they are.

Now open Mail’s Preferences (Mail: Preferences) and click on Rules in the toolbar. Click on Add Rule. In the window that appears, give your rule a name and then create a set of conditions to ensure that the rule will act on only the right e-mails. (To see how I set up my rule, see “Set the Rules.”)

Once you’ve set your conditions, set the Perform The Following Actions pop-up menu to Run AppleScript, and then click on the Choose button and navigate to your script. Click on OK, and you’re done. The next time you forget to put your Mac to sleep before leaving on a trip, just send yourself an e-mail that matches the conditions you created.

[ Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs the Web site. ]

A Mailbox Shortcut: Quickly create nested mailboxes in Mail by typing their names, separated by a slash, into the New Mailbox dialog box. Here, I’m creating a folder named Vacations that contains a folder named 2006.Control Fonts: Font Book lets you see what a font looks like, learn more about it, turn fonts off and on, and do some troubleshooting.
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