Whether macOS or Windows, many fonts are included and countless more are also available for purchase or rent. So you can quickly lose track. Fonts and thus font management programs support people in a variety of professions: graphic designers, typesetters, type designers, illustrators, etc. – all those who need fonts as a basic part of their work. They buy their fonts either directly from large and small foundries or from websites that specialise in selling fonts (FontShop, MyFonts, Fontspring and others). In the end there may be thousands of fonts on the respective computer systems. Effective and reliable font management can help and even give pleasure.
Self-created font lists and nice previews are faster to browse than endless drop-down menus. The automatic activation and deactivation of fonts by plug-ins for various programs also provides more comfort. For example, fonts are only temporarily loaded if a specific document requires them. After saving and exiting, they are deactivated again.
The apps briefly presented here are available to the author either as a test version or with purchased license. The main criterion for selection was an active development of the programs.
Fontbase is still a quite young software, which is developed by Dominik Levitsky. The first version was released in 2015. In the meantime its range of functions has grown considerably and represents a solid alternative. There is a free and a commercial version, called Awesome. The app is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux.
- Management, sorting, activation / deactivation of fonts
- Font preview
- Google Fonts integration
- Advanced search
- Automatic activation and deactivation of fonts
FontExplorer X Pro
Developed by Monotype, the commercial FontExplorer X Pro is probably the most comprehensive software product in this segment for many years. Available for macOS and Windows it offers a wide range of functions. This is also reflected in the – at first glance somewhat confusing – user interface. But this can be adapted to your own needs. For larger teams there is also a server version available.
- Automatic font activation and deactivation (Adobe Suite and QuarkXPress)
- Extensive font information
- Character overviews
- Web Preview – a preview with which existing websites can be temporarily altered with fonts
- Font classification
- Light or dark UI
Another powerful app is RightFont. The commercial solution is available for macOS; a Windows version is under development. As with the previous tools, fonts can be automatically activated and deactivated in programs. RightFont offers the possibility to synchronize libraries with teams. This can be done for example with Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, or OneDrive. Furthermore, services like Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts, SkyFonts and the Monotype Library are supported. Icon fonts are not unknown for the program either. You can easily choose from thousands of icon sets.
All in all, it is a recommendable solution with a simple user interface. Added to this is the relatively low price tag.
- Automatic font activation and deactivation (Adobe Suite, Affinity Apps, QuarkXPress)
- Synchronization with teams
- Integration of cloud fonts
- Character overview
- Several UI color modes
Previous experiences with Suitcase refer to older program versions. The developer Extensis has now switched to the popular subscription model for its software. A test is only possible with a trial subscription. Unfortunately this could not be done in the context of this blog.
Typefacts’ Keyboard Shortcut has been highly appreciated for years. This is confirmed again and again by e-mails from readers. But if you need access to characters as well as extended information while offline, the following solutions are certainly interesting for you.
A still young but already very mature commercial app is Entity Pro. The app is developed and maintained by Martin Lexow.
The basic idea: search smart, copy fast & learn digital typography. This is exactly what it provides. The app, designed exclusively for macOS, runs natively, very fast and offers rapid access to various characters. Own favorites can be easily created. Additionally, there are explanatory texts and even a display of metrics. Furthermore, you can copy the name-giving entities for e.g. html, Swift, Unicode in no time at all.
Also Glyphfinder is a relatively new app. It is developed and distributed by Philipp Kühn and Hans Pagel. The biggest advantage of the software is its availability for macOS and Windows alike. Unfortunately this is also a weakness. For example, the initial startup takes a disproportionately long time. Fortunately, this is no longer noticeable in daily use. The app offers quick access incl. keyboard shortcuts for a lot of characters; a simple directory for fast copy / paste.
Although Glyphfinder does not claim to be typographically correct, it is surprising that »"« is listed as quotes. Actually an absurdity.
Typefacts’ Special Characters Workflow
At this point also again a hint to our Alfred Workflow.
If you want to experience the full spectrum, we recommend FontExplorer X Pro. For those who can do without one or the other feature and save some money, the very good RightFont is recommended. Here you also get support for the popular Affinity apps. For quick access to characters, Entity Pro is clearly the first choice.