Too many active fonts can slow your computer down, make the font menu long and unwieldy, and lead to a host of other computer problems. So to coax a little more speed and stability out of your copy of InDesign, graphic designers should keep those long font menus under control.

But what if you are brainstorming a new logo? That’s exactly the time you want access to your full library of thousands (and thousands) of creative fonts.

Happily, the big three font managers (FontAgent Pro, Suitcase, and FontExplorer) all provide a quick way to try out your fonts — without having to activate them first. Type a name or phrase into the preview window. Then scroll through your huge font collection and see what catches your eye. When you find something you want to play with, turn that font on for use in your graphics applications.

Preview fonts in FontAgent Pro’s Font Compare window.


Font Compare is in the lower right side of FontAgent Pro’s main window. This allows you to view any text in a variety of fonts in any size or color you wish. You can quickly activate interesting fonts by clicking on the small grey dot to the left of their name.

Preview fonts using Extensis Suitcase Fusion’s QuickType option.


On the right side of the Suitcase window is a preview area showing the fonts you have selected. Change the pop-up menu at the top of that window to “QuickType” and type in a word or two in the field beneath. To activate a font from the preview list, click on the small circle to the left of the font name.

Preview fonts in Linotype FontExplorer X.


The preview area is in the lower right half of FontExplorer’s window. Type a word or phrase in the text field, set the font size and color if you wish. To activate an interesting font, highlight the example and choose Font > Activate from the main menu, or use the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-A.

Preview fonts in Apple’s Font Book.


Apple’s Font Book offers a very basic font preview. You can only view a single font at a time, and you only have control over the font size. In order to type your own sample text in the preview, you must first choose Preview > Custom in the main menu.

Source: This tip inspired by Craig Swanson’s Wednesday morning workshop, Font Management in Mac OS X, where we’ll be digging into these font managers in greater detail.

Nov 28, 9:30-11am — Font Management in Mac OS X. Want a fast, stable, healthy Mac? You’d better get a handle on your fonts. Join Creativetechs’ Craig Swanson for an in-depth look at font management for graphic designers. We’ll help you understand what’s going on with all those odd font folders scattered around your Mac — and we’ll help you slim down your system fonts so InDesign doesn’t take forever to scroll to Zapf Dingbats. And as a bonus we’ll reveal what’s changed about font management in Mac OS X Leopard!