Whether you are a graphic designer, web designer, illustrator, or make digital scrapbooks, you may work with a lot of fonts. The fonts you select communicate style, tone and attitude, and they must complement the other fonts you are using. So after a few projects, it's easy to have collected quite a few font files from various font foundries. Font manager software can assist you in a variety of ways.
The best font manager software was designed initially for Macs, where font files may be stored in a variety of places. Windows operating systems generally store active fonts in one place on the control panel. You may have separate files of fonts you have downloaded, but when fonts are installed on the control panel in Windows, they are available for use in all applications on your computer. Some applications, such as those in the Adobe Creative Suite, maintain their own cache of fonts, although Windows fonts are also available to use there. Windows provides some font management functions, so in order to provide value, font manager software must offer you additional features.
This review page features retail software packages (as opposed to the less-equipped free ones) that are designed for single users in a Windows environment. The top software packages we found include Suitcase Fusion, Font Agent Pro and FontExpert.
The following list includes some of the basic functions of font management software.
Prevent Drag on Your System. Many fonts include hinting – programming code which adjusts fonts for use in various point sizes and for viewing on a computer screen versus in print form. This code can take extra time to load each time you open or close various programs. Font managers allow you to deactivate fonts you don't need all the time in order to prevent that drag on your system.
Preview and Compare Fonts. The best font viewer software allows you to easily preview and compare fonts before you apply them to your project. For example, you may be looking for a cursive font or a font with a western theme. The best software will allow you to compare a font's glyphs and kerning pairs in both printed and electronic form so that the font you choose will complement the others you are using.
Manage Font Licensing. You may rent or purchase fonts from type foundries on a regular basis. Examples of type foundries include Adobe Systems, Carter & Cone, Font Bureau and Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Font managers help you manage the licensing of those fonts, especially if a license only permits you to use the fonts for certain applications or projects.
Font Consistency Between Print and Online Use. If you are designing a business logo, you want the fonts to be consistent between printed and electronic media. PostScript and TrueType fonts will give you the crisp look you want in a printed logo, but an OpenType font will work better than them in the rasterized, lower-resolution environment of a computer screen. The best font software will help you find the matching fonts you need in both printed and online formats. For more information on TrueType and OpenType fonts, see our articles on font manager software.
Access to Many Fonts. Whether they come with the installation package or they are available online, access to fonts is one feature of many of the software packages we reviewed.
In our review, we evaluated a font manager's features, performance, ease of use and technical support services.
Features are an important part of any font software package. Although software that includes many features is nice, the best software has the features you really need. The essential features offer by font managers are:
Protecting system fonts and the other fonts you install. The software will allow you to activate or deactivate fonts without removing the files off your computer. The best software will store deactivated fonts in one central location so they can be viewed all at once.
Including plugins that work with Adobe software, especially Indesign. The plugins allow for automatic activation and deactivation of fonts that you only need for particular files. The fonts are activated or deactivated just by opening or closing the file that contains those fonts.
Collecting fonts in a folder for easy output. This function is particularly helpful when you need to email a full Indesign file, as opposed to just a PDF or other graphic image of it. When you transmit the file to a colleague or a professional printer, you need to also attach any graphics files or font files that are used.
Detecting corrupted fonts, as well as providing quarantine and repair.
Activating or deactivating groups of fonts at one time.
Supporting PostScript, TrueType and OpenType fonts.
Providing the ability to view and print sample fonts.
Ease of Use
Programs should be easy to install, and they should be designed intuitively so that you can quickly get started. Navigating more complex tasks should also be straightforward.
Font viewer software should help you complete projects easier and better. If the software doesn't do that, you will find other methods of accomplishing the same tasks. Programs should also perform the way they say they will and without harmful side effects to the rest of your system.
Help & Support
Software should include access to a user manual, FAQs, tutorials, and contact information for customer service and technical support.
The best font manager software today helps you preview and compare fonts in one central place, activate and deactivate fonts according to need and manage your font licensing. They also give you access to a library of useful fonts. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™