Font Management - Do I need a special Tool?


Good Morning,
I know some of you here have been working with Mac's from the very beginning of the Apple, and you have a very deep understanding of the OS and the process with how it interacts with your applications. I submit these questions to gather some of your insite on how I can truly become an expert with my fonts.

I'm a 20 yr PC user, but converted to the Mac about 6 months ago ( VERY GLAD I DID! ) and I'm moving right along with my development tools, etc.

I'm not a "Design Guru" but I use many fonts over the course of my presentation work. My company probably owns 500 or so that I have access to on a daliy basis. This morning while digging through the Font Book ( OSX 10.4.2 ) I added "ALL" of my fonts to the system ... thought I was browsing them, and I added them.

Two Questions:

1 - Should I remove all of them that I don't use on a regular basis? If so, why?
2 - Do I have to buy a tool like FontAgent or Extensis to really be able to work with my Fonts and "manage" them? Or is Font Book enough?

Thanks for your input.


If you find yourself using lots of different fonts or searching for "that perfect font," you may find a font manager useful. Apples fontbook may be just what you need... it seems to work as promised, and you can sort & browse your available fonts.

As a designer myself, I have used Extensis Suitcase for years, but recently switched to FontAgent Pro on my Powerbook (used for freelance work). Having nearly 3000 fonts on that machine, I find Fontagents ability to autoactivate a font which is closed very handy(most are left closed by choice to ensure a speedy machine). It also has a very nice interface and I am able to type in a sentence and it is rendered in multiple fonts so I can quickly scroll through a list and see what font I prefer for the job. The program doesnt have to be launched at startup (I have found Suitcase X- while it has many of the same features- is rather slow at starting up, must always be on, and must startup whenever your machine is rebooted.

Recently, LinoType released a beta of their own version of a font explorer/activator program ( On the same premis as the itunes music store, it allows you to organize, view & activate your own fonts, while making the Linotype store available for you to browse in case you need to purchase fonts (or just see what is out there). I have been using this on my machine in the office (we have a strict corporate identity so usually only use a handful of fonts- but have an occasional need for creative fonts) After loading over 1500 fonts into fontexplorerX, it doesnt seem to have bogged down the system at all.. and it's FREE.

My advice is to try a few options and see which you prefer- which helps you most. Hope this helps!

Lt Major Burns

"Dicky" Charlteston-Burns
if i add all my fonts (a library of about 1000 free/licenced fonts) it takes about 3 hours to "add" them, at which point i really can't do much in the background. when they are all on, and added, i find that general computer performance is down by about 10-20%.

now, i have them all sorted out in folders, use spotlight to find them and then add individualy to fontbook.

the font management in OSX IMO is not very good.


Thanks for the replies.

To theVR - I don't want to seem like I'm cheap, but I am budget sensative. The money I can save by not buying Extensis or FontAgent can almost fill up my car ;-) so I downloaded the FontexplorerX.

Super easy install, It cleaned my system folder in about 2 minutes, and organized my fonts ( I found that I actually have about 700 ) in under 10 minutes. I'm going back now and deactivating the stuff I am not using. I've already seen a performance increase after my last reboot.

Thanks for your direction and pointing me to this very effective tool ( for my needs ).