Helvetica and Leopard

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I guess Apple didn’t see the movie (or maybe they did). Anyway, the guys over at CreativeTechs have uncovered the fact that, with the release of Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), Apple is now insistent on the fact that they, and only they, have the correct version of Helvetica.

Yes, if you want to pull Apple’s version of the font and replace it with your older PostScript Type 1 versions of Helvetica—a common occurrence in production environments—you can’t. Unlike previous versions of OS X, Leopard won’t let you swap out one version for another.

This is an important issue for designers and prepress folks because there are slight differences between the TrueType versions of Helvetica that Apple ships with OS X and the PostScript Type 1 versions of Helvetica that many of us have used over the years. These differences can wreak havoc in print documents intended for production; for those people who don’t work in these environments, it’s not a big deal at all.

CreativeTechs’ solution is to move to Adobe’s OpenType version of the classic font, Helvetica LT. Of course, you can get it for a mere $2,599 (with 2,300 other OpenType fonts from the Adobe Type Library) on Adobe’s recently released Font Folio 11. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can also pick up Helvetica LT for a mere $29. (Don’t forget our friends at Veer, who have plenty of Helvetica for sale as well.)

Since this was originally posted, reader Jon Blaskovich let me know that it is possible to substitute the Apple Helvetica with your own Type 1 versions. Font management vendor Extensis has posted a PDF entitled “ Best Practices for Managing Fonts in in OS X,” which details a method for swapping Helvetica in Leopard:

  1. Log-into your Mac OS X computer with an Administrator account.
  2. Open Font Book.
  3. Choose Font Book > Preferences
  4. Disable the Alert me if system fonts change preference.
  5. Copy the following folder to a safe, backup location on your hard drive:
    /> /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A
    /Frameworks/ATS.Framework/Versions/A/Resources/ProtectedFonts />
    Note: Never delete your backup copy of the ProtectedFont folder, in case it they are required by a document or application you encounter in the future.
  6. Open the original ProtectedFonts folder listed above and select only Helvetica.dfont and HelveticaNeue.dfont and move them to the Trash.
  7. Authenticate with your Administrator username and password.
  8. Open the /System/Library/Fonts folder and move Helvetica.dfont and HelveticaNeue.dfont to the Trash.
  9. Open your font manager and permanently activate (always on) your preferred versions Helvetica and Helvetica Neue.
  10. Restart your computer.

[Thanks to Adobe’s John Nack for the pointer.]

[Updated 9:50 a.m. with further clarifications regarding the TrueType and Type 1 versions of Helvetica.]

[Updated 11:45 a.m. with link to Extensis’s PDF.]

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