How to install fonts on a Mac

Sick of stock fonts? Installing new typefaces on your Mac is easy

Apple MacBook-review-screen2
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Finding a font you like can be tough — especially if you work in marketing or graphic design and regularly need to locate the perfect font for your project.

Fortunately, MacOS (or on iOS, if you need help with that) has greatly improved the way you can quickly download, preview, and enable new fonts for popular Mac design apps.

Here’s how to install fonts on a Mac, and quickly organize them.

Downloading the right fonts

Bitter ht font

Step 1: Look for the font that you need. There are many, many sources of fonts online, from casual lists to fonts specifically for designers (or you could just decide to design your own font). Most of the lists are free, although some designer fonts come with a charge.

Step 2: Make sure the font you choose is compatible with MacOS. You can tell by looking at the file name. Mac supports TrueType, or “.ttf” files and well as OpenType or “.otf” files. Fortunately this covers the majority of downloaded fonts. However, you will not be able to use PC bitmap or “.fon” fonts, which are not compatible. Presumably, future open source formats will work just fine.

Step 3: You may want to double-check the website reviews to make sure downloads can be trusted — always use a trusted website before you choose to download anything! If everything looks good, download the font file that you want. This will add a new file (potentially compressed) to your Mac download section.

Previewing and installing the font on MacOS

Font Book Sierra

Step 1: Head to your Finder. You can open Finder at any time by clicking on the square smiley face on your dock. Once it’s open, use the search bar to search for your new font file by name. You can open the search function by selection the two arrows pointing right at the top of the Finder screen — or you can try going to All My Files and using the search bar that automatically appears here.

Mac Font PreviewStep 2: Once you have found your font file, open it up (expand zip files as needed first)! This should immediately open up a feature of Font Book. The Font Book is an app that MacOS included several updates ago to help make managing fonts easier, and it has a number of useful functions. When you click on a brand new font, Font Book will pop it up and show you a preview of that font.

Step 3: Take a look at Font Book’s preview. You can change the typeface with the dropdown menu at the top of the window to get a better look at the font in different scenarios. If it’s not what you expected or there’s something wrong with the appearance, you will probably want to download a new version of the font from a different site or try a new type of font.

You can generally trust Font Book to show you the most accurate portrayal of what the font will look like when you start using it in other applications. If the font is satisfactory, move on to the next step!

Step 4: At the bottom of the Font Book preview window you will see the option to Install the font. Click on the button, and the font will be automatically downloaded into the Font Book and made available for use. In theory, Font Book makes a font available for all apps on MacOS. In practice, however, you may encounter some troubles with things like older Microsoft Word apps, which may not be properly set up to accept new fonts.

Installing directly from the Font Book

Font Book Info

There’s another option for installing fonts on MacOS, once that is particularly handy if you have a number of different new fonts to install all at once or if you want to customize how your fonts are organized. It’s useful for designers, web engineers, and others that manage a lot of fonts on a regular basis.

Step 1: Open Applications from the dock and select Font Book, which is a book with a big F on it.

Step 2: Once the Font Book window opens, you can explore all your current fonts, either by looking at the alphabetical order, the “Smart Collection,” or the few general categories that Font Book comes with. If you are carefully searching for a font, it may be a good idea to check your current fonts to see what your options are before downloading new files online.

Step 3: When you’re ready to import a new font, select the plus sign at the top of the window. This will open up your downloads, where you can quickly choose recent font files and import them. It helps save time when downloading multiple files.

Organizing Font Book

Step 4: If you are downloading a lot of different fonts and want to clean up your font lists to save even more time, Font Book can help out. The plus sign at the bottom of the window will let you add new categories, which you can organize by project or preference to sort out your most used fonts.

The File and Edit tabs at the top of the screen also include options to remove font families or disable them if you want to clear up your fonts a bit. If a font is having problems on your Mac, you can also use Font Book to validate them with the File menu.