- Familiar, easy-to-understand interface
- Great organizational and filtering functions
- System Font Handler can remove unneeded System fonts
- Inconvenient font previewing
- Runs slightly slower than previous versions when scanning for new fonts
Font management for the Mac has never been easy, and OS X made it even more confusing by storing fonts in at least four different places on your machine. Managing fonts without the assistance of a utility such as DiamondSoft’s Font Reserve or Extensis’s Suitcase is a time-consuming journey that few of us want to take. Although Font Reserve 3.0 Single User trailed Suitcase 10.1 (4.5 mice. ; Reviews, April 2002) in coming to OS X, it’s a worthy competitor. This version of Font Reserve has a new Aqua interface and the program’s tried-and-true easy font filtering; it lets you manage your fonts in OS X’s Classic mode in a familiar way and introduces a feature that helps you avoid font conflicts in both OS X and Classic.
Font Reserve 3.0 consists of four main components. The control panel, now called Font Reserve Settings, activates or deactivates the browser and the database. Font Reserve Browser lets you organize your fonts into sets; activate, deactivate, and preview fonts; and print out samples. Font Reserve Database is where all the font sets and the links to fonts reside. And Classic Activator enables fonts for applications running in Classic.
Font Reserve’s basic interface is similar to that of previous versions, and Font Reserve Settings has essentially the same layout as the earlier Font Reserve control panel. From this panel, you can set Font Reserve to turn on when your Mac restarts, activate certain fonts in Classic, activate fonts automatically when a program or document calls for them, and choose which user’s Font Reserve Database to cull your fonts from.
To Each His Own (Fonts)
Font Reserve has always been able to let each of a Mac’s users have a completely different font collection. And within each database, or working set of fonts, each user could also have different font sets. This works especially well now, given OS X’s multiuser-centric setup.
But by design, OS X doesn’t allow Font Reserve 3.0 to turn on or off any of the fonts found in OS X’s or Classic’s System font folders–if they’re in the System Folder, they’re activated.
To work around this, DiamondSoft has added an excellent new feature called System Font Handler. Found under Font Reserve Browser’s File menu, System Font Handler lets you disable all but the most essential of your System fonts. By eliminating these from the list, there’s less chance of font conflicts between similarly named or duplicate fonts activated from another user-based font set. This feature can prove a valuable asset if you want your fonts to load as quickly as possible, speeding up your workflow.
Activating and organizing fonts in Font Reserve is the easiest part of the program, as it should be, and the way it’s done hasn’t changed much in this version. If you know where your fonts reside, you can just drag the folder or set of folders directly onto the Font Reserve Browser window and let Font Reserve build its database then and there.
If your fonts are in various places on your hard drive–or if you just don’t know where they are–you can simply drag your hard drive’s icon directly onto the Font Reserve Browser window and let Font Reserve find the fonts for you. This version, running in OS X, scanned fonts more slowly than Font Reserve 2.6 did in OS 9, but the one-time speed slowdown may be imperceptible to the average user.
To use Font Reserve to preview a font, you must hold down the 1 key while clicking on the font–a minor but inconvenient step. In Suitcase, a preview of all your fonts is always available in the interface’s right-hand pane.
One of Font Reserve’s best longtime features is its filtering, which makes it easy for you to view only the typeface or font style you want to see. For instance, using the filter, you can view only active fonts, only System fonts, only fonts with duplicate IDs, or only PostScript or TrueType fonts. You can even sort them by the Font Foundry if you wish. The lower pane of the Font Browser window shows you results and allows you to activate fonts individually.
But Wait, There’s More
Like previous versions, Font Reserve 3.0 includes plug-ins for QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign that provide automatic activation of fonts from within those programs.
Note that while running Font Reserve, you can’t run any other font-management utilities. So if you have Suitcase installed in OS 9 but Font Reserve in OS X, you may need to deactivate Suitcase before starting work.
Font Reserve has also added a font-buying link to Font Reserve Browser. MyFonts.com, an online font clearinghouse, is certainly a great resource, but the MyFonts.com button built into the Font Reserve Browser window is a little intrusive. We haven’t yet decided whether this button is geared toward the user’s convenience or the company’s marketing strategy.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Font Reserve is still a great utility, and it’s bridged the OS 9-OS X chasm without sacrificing its well-earned position as one of the two most comprehensive and easy-to-use font-management applications around.
The major difference between Font Reserve 3.0 and its competitor, Suitcase 10.1, is that Suitcase runs as a separate application that disables all your activated fonts when you quit the program, and Font Reserve works as a background application that’s active for as long as you set it to be. The choice between them may come down to their respective interfaces–Suitcase’s is slick and attractive, while Font Reserve’s isn’t as pretty but provides a fine degree of control.