Cleaning Out One's Font Closet

Hi all,

This may be an unpopular question based on the reaction that this user got when they asked if perhaps there were just too many typefaces in existence:
[Overload by typefaces]
It’s a question I’ve asked myself. I suppose my critique is vaguely related to capitalism and copyright, and maybe even ecological concerns (don’t fonts occupy space in “the cloud” or the server farms being built across the globe?). But honestly, it feels a little too slippery to engage in that discussion here.

What I actually would like some insight on is how to keep my font library clean and useful. I know some people like having giant collections of typefaces, but I find it overwhelming. I would like to be able say that I regularly use at least 75% of the typefaces in my library, and know them well. I would like to get rid of old ones I am not using just as I accumulate new ones I am excited about. I am the type who gets overwhelmed by endless options and is prone to decision paralysis, so to me, cleaning out my font library should be just like cleaning out my closet. I bought a new computer, and this feels like a great time to address the situation.

The question for me, is where to begin? Part of the problem is that when I was student and then an intern, I was gifted large collections of fonts by teachers, peers, mentors, boutique design agencies that I happened to work with, the list goes on. Some fonts I purchased after carefully considering them. Therefore, there is a huge range in terms of quality, and plenty of them are a bit dated today.

I suppose I could spend hours and hours and days and days trying them all out and deleting the ones that don’t appeal to me. But I am wondering if anyone has any other ideas? The only thing I can think is to find a senior design whose work I admire and who lives where I live (Portland), invite them to lunch or coffee, my treat, and ask them to help me clean out my library.

Any other thoughts?

Font Explorer helps with the sorting, previewing, comparing, classifying, etc.

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Pretend you had a hard drive crash and burn.
Throw them all away and start over,
using only the typefaces that suit the jobs at hand.

(yeah, this is where someone says, “But I paid for those.” Waste of money if you don’t use em. Bill new ones to the job at hand.)


Regarding the other thread … I was being a bit tongue in cheek.
Even though I love to see what’s new and shiny, doesn’t mean I have 1000’s sitting on my PC.

Do what feels best for you. :slight_smile: Mojo and PD gave you a couple good ideas :slight_smile:

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I don’t want to dwell on this, but I’m guessing that most of those gifted fonts were copies without an accompanying license to use them. You could separate those from the others.

Adobe will begin not supporting old PostScript Type 1 fonts after the first of the year. This will make many people’s old collection of fonts mostly useless over the next couple of years unless those people take the time to convert them to a newer format.

The Macintosh font menu is awash in useless system fonts that hardly anyone wants or needs. Even those that Apple allows its users to remove tend to show up again with the following software upgrade.

It’s not a perfect solution, but you might try placing your not-so-often-used fonts on a flash drive. It’s not difficult to install and remove fonts, so keeping them handy and out of the way might help.

As Mojo mentioned, there are always font management tools, such as Font Explorer, but they cost money.

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I wrote that Adobe will “begin” not supporting Type 1 fonts after the first of the year and that they’ll become “mostly useless over the next couple of years,” as 2023 approaches.

On the page you referenced if you click the first dropdown arrow, it says…

“Note: Photoshop will end support for Type 1 fonts in 2021, as announced in 2019. See the Photoshop announcement for more information.”

I just checked the latest version of Photoshop, and PostScript Type 1 fonts are still listed in the app’s font menu, so I’m assuming that sometime after the first of the year, they’ll release an update that no longer supports Type 1 fonts.

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Thanks everyone.

I’m still trying to understand what “Type 1 fonts” are. I just looked in finder and the majority of my font files are OpenType fonts. Maybe 15% are TrueType Fonts, and a quarter are Font Suitcases.

Does this mean that I will lose all of my TrueType Fonts in the next few years, unless I update them? What about suitcases? And what are suitcases, exactly

Mac font suitcases are the old Macintosh operating system’s way of keeping font families (and their various component resources) together. The macOS hasn’t used this system for about 20 years. Font suitcase files are still recognized on macOS Big Sur, but I’ve read where’s Apple is phasing out support for them.

It’s so long ago that my memory is a little fuzzy. If I remember right, those suitcases could hold either the old Type 1 fonts or TrueType fonts. I can’t even remember how to open them to see what’s inside. I don’t know whether Photoshop and other Adobe apps will support them, even when they contain TrueType fonts.

I’m seeing Apple’s and Adobe’s decision to phase out support for old fonts as being the beginning of a general move in that direction by everyone. I can’t think of too many other kinds of software still supported after 20 or 30 years, so I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before now.

PostScript Type 1 fonts were the first fonts to support scalable vector data. They date back to the first Macs in 1984 and were the standard for fonts on Macs (Mac and Windows PostScript fonts weren’t compatible) well into the 1990s. TrueType was introduced around 1990 as a format intended to break Adobe’s monopoly on vector fonts. Eventually, TrueType and OpenType (essentially TrueType with additional capabilities) gained the upper hand. Thousands of old Type 1 fonts still exist, however. They’re often squirreled away on old disc drives in people’s closets and desk drawers.

There were also the – little-used – type 3 format.

Very early on in my career, I worked with a typesetter who had exclusively Berthold fonts. As type1 was Adobe format, other vendors, unless they licensed the format, used type3. Apparently, it was far more versatile than type1, but because Adobe had such widespread market penetration, type1 became the de facto format. It died out almost completely pretty soon after, in the early 90s. Betamax vs VHS.

I remember the guy who owned the typesetters always banging on about how berthold fonts were far richer than Adobe’s – In much the same way White Star boasted how the Titanic was unsinkable.

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When I got a new computer I copied all my fonts over along with everything else, but I didn’t install them all.

I have all my fonts in a folder and I install them as I need them.


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