Use Font Book to organise fonts

Rob Griffiths
12 December, 2008
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Every so often, I’ll be digging around in my archives and find a folder full of fonts—maybe I copied them off a clip art CD one day, intending to sample them and never got around to it, or maybe it’s a backup folder from an old version of OS X. Whatever the reason, it seems that these fonts are never organised into folders by family; instead, there’s usually just a jumble of fonts all loose at the top level of the folder.

To organise these fonts—in OS X 10.5, at least (and possibly 10.4, though I’m unable to test in 10.4 any more)—you can use Font Book. Sure, you could also just add all the fonts to your system, but you may not want to do that. This solution organises all the fonts without adding them to your system.

While there may be other ways to do this using Font Book (or some other program), here’s how I do it. Launch Font Book, and select File -> New Library. This will add a new Library-1 entry in the Collection section of the Font Book window. You can rename this library if you wish, but it’s only going to be there for a while, so it may not be worth the effort.

Next, in the Finder, open the folder containing your unorganised fonts folder. Drag and drop the unorganised fonts folder onto the new Library-1 folder in Font Book, and Font Book will start cataloging the fonts—you’ll see them show up one by one in the Fonts section of Font Book.

When Font Book has finished importing all the fonts, click on Library-1 in the Collection area (just to make sure it’s active), then select File -> Export Collection. In the dialog that appears, select a name (the default will be Library-1) and location for the exported fonts, then click Save. Font Book will then export the fonts, a process that (unless you’ve got thousands of fonts) won’t take very long.

When Font Book finishes the export, switch to the Finder and find the folder that Font Book just exported. Open it, and marvel at the nicely-organised fonts within—every font will be in its own folder, organised by font name. While this won’t help me actually review all these old fonts I have lying around, at least now they’re lying around in a nicely-organised manner.

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