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How to Install Fonts on a Mac

by Derek Rodenbeck
art & design, featured

We look at them every day, they tell us what others want us to understand, a kind of telepathy, one mind leaving translatable information for another mind to interpret. And we have been using it for thousands of years, in a variety of modes, from books to computer screens. No this is not a riddle, though it could be a great segue for one.  I’ll spare you the bad jokes and dive in, we’re talking about how to install fonts on a Mac.

Fonts, the artistic design of a language, something easily taken for granted, were not actually always so wildly available. We have Steve Job’s interest in calligraphy to thank for that. The Macintosh today has a seemingly endless variety of fonts to be used on its systems for users like us. But let’s we be honest, we can never really have enough fonts. This tutorial will show you how to install new fonts to add to your rolodex of design tools.

How do you install a font on a Mac?

Guess what, I have a secret, it’s fast and easy. It seems that the operating systems designers made it so intuitive and autonomic that we don’t really need to think too much about how to do this. But It can never hurt to have a refresher and if you want a little more control I’ll show you a few ways to add fonts to your computer’s library.

There is no one correct way to do this, but each way will give you a different level of control and is entirely up to your personal preference.

Option 1: Install using Font Book:

Font Book is an application that helps users, install, organize collections, and manage fonts. I’m usually doing 100 things at once, so I love to use it. Anything that can make a task easier, I’m game! This is my favorite method.

Step 1: Download your font from the source. It will appear in your downloads folder.
Step 2: Double click the zipped file and the font file will appear next to it, double click it.

Step 3: Font Book will open a preview window in the shape of a square. The name of the font will be at the top, a preview of the text in the middle of the box, also an install font button in the bottom right corner of the box. Note, the bottom left corner will tell you if the font is installed on your computer or not.

Step 4: Click the Install font button.

  • Font book will automatically install the font by default into the user folder in your collections column. This is on the left side of the font book window. The font will only be usable to the user the file was installed under, if you want the font to be usable for all users it needs to be installed to the computer collection above it.
  • The new font will appear in the column next to the collection selected telling you where it is located and who has access to it.

Total time to install font using this method. 00:15. Tell me now, who can beat that?

Option 2: Install Drag and Drop method using Font Book

Another way to install using Font Book is to drag and drop your files from downloads folder to the collection in the application.

Step 1: Open Font Book. Select the applications folder in your finder window or use the search bar. It is the magnifying glass icon in your toolbar. Type in Font Book and the application will launch when you select it, you can hit the Enter key to open it Font Book.

Step 2: Select your collection, keep in mind if you want the font to be user based or accessible to the entire computer by selecting user or computer. User is the default selection.

Step 3: Click and hold the font file and drag and drop it into the category selection inside the Font Book window.

Step 4: The font is installed.

Total time to install font using this method 00:18.

Option 3: Install directly into the Library

We also have the option to go directly into the Library folder to install our fonts too. But first we must find the Library folder because it’s hidden.

Step 1: Open a new window where the font file is located. Usually it’s the downloads folder.

Step 2: Open a new Finder window, you can use the hotkey Command + N.

how to install fonts on a mac

Step 3: Using the tool bar at the top of your screen select the Go tab, it is in between the View and Window buttons.

how to install fonts on a mac

Step 4: With the mouse hovering on the Go tab hit the option key on your keyboard. Library will pop up in the window and you can now select it. Click it, this will open a new Library window.

how to install fonts on a mac

Step 5: Locate the font folder in the Library window that just opened. You can scroll to find it or search for it in the window search bar.

how to install fonts on a mac

Step 6: Select the fonts files that were previously opened in a different window, (usually the downloads) and drag and drop them into the font folder in the Library window.

how to install fonts on a mac

Step 7: Congrats the font is now installed!

Total time to install using this method. 100 years. Just kidding, 00:41 but I bet you could beat my time.

If you want to look at all your new fonts or delete them you can access the files in Font Book or the secret Library window when you select the font file. Both lead to the same place and will give you the ability to manage, and create all your typography needs.

Challenge, if you can beat my font install times, let me know in the comments below.

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Derek Rodenbeck

Derek Rodenbeck is an Army vet who swapped military life to become a comic book illustrator, adventurer, and entrepreneur. He can teach you many practical survival skills, as well as some retro breakdancing moves. Both might get you hurt, so please don’t try them at home. He is passionate about helping those who are marginalized and creates in the name of the public good. He is currently traveling with his girlfriend and two gigantic dogs, Kuma & Balto. Lover of science, photography, nature, and all things nerdy.