Font Management in OS X

In LMP, we’ve decided to use Extensis Font Serve server/client font management tool. One of the reasons is being the fact that id has true server/client implementation. We can have all standard fonts stored in a place where they will not be altered and fonts that are used for specific jobs stored in other place. Added fonts are automatically appear in users’ client windows and are synchronized with the server automatically.

Font Reserve Server/Client is quite good, one user adds font, others can see it. Supervisor, or senior staff members can setup Sets, share them and all users in the department would just activate fonts from that set to make sure they use right version of the font.

picture-10-copyFont Book, provided with Apple OS X, is another font management software on workstations. Unfortunately you cannot use Font Reserve only and remove all fonts from Font Book. Helvetica is a required font for OS X to run as many other fonts. Microsoft Office adds 70+ fonts into the Font Book and Office components would freak out if you remove those fonts.

Using right version of the font is important, but with two programs it is hard to figure out which application has the font you need, which font you are suppose to use, and what to do if fonts in the Font Reserve are not activating.

One of the basic principles is make sure you have TrueType version of your fonts deactivated, before you can activate PostScript version.

picture-11Here is an example:
Trying to activate Helvetica in Font Reserve, some faces activate, some don’t. Open Font Book and deactivate Helvetica, then activate it in Font Book. By default, Font Book will have only required system fonts and MS Office fonts, but depending on your setup, it might be different. Deactivate all TrueType version fonts in your Font Book, PostScript versions of which you will be using and activate them in Font Reserve (those fonts might be: Garamond, Helvetica, Times, Zapf Dingbats etc.

picture-12After you deactivate those fonts in Font Book, make sure you activate them permanently in Font Reserve. Fonts like Helvetica are required by system and if they are not activated permanently in Font Reserve, there might be a conflict, or system might decide to activate TrueType version from Font Book. Make sure you don’t have any applications launched automatically when you log in. Those applications might require certain fonts that are disabled in Font Book, and will request them before Font Reserve client is able to activate them.

Having proper settings for Font Reserve are essential as well. Refer to Troubleshooting Font Reserve article for proper settings in Font Reserve client.

Permanently activated fonts in Font Reserve client would stay activated even after you restart your machine, which is convenient, but having too many permanently activated fonts will slow down computer performance as well as add additional time on startup. Having not more than 100 fonts permanently activated will make it easier to manage them. Every time you open file which requires one or another font, Font Reserve auto-activation plugin will automatically activate the font, so you wouldn’t have to worry.

Fonts are not appearing in InDesign

From time to time you might have problems when after activating font in Font Reserve you still miss it in InDesign. As a mater of fact, you will miss these fonts in all Adobe applications.

99147As you can see from this example Garamond family is active including Garamond Light, but Light is not appearing in InDesign font menu. For that matter, Garamond Light would be missing from all Adobe applications including Illustrator, Photoshop etc. This is a sign of corrupted Adobe font caches.

To clean it up quit all Adobe programs (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Bridge etc.) quit Safari as well, because it might be using Adobe Acrobat Reader plugin.

Navigate to your Home Folder/Library/Caches/Adobe/ and delete following folders: Fonts, TypeSpt, TypeSupport. You might not have all three folders, so delete those that you have.


Restart your workstation. Relaunch your InDesign and now you should have all activated fonts available.

Troubleshooting Font Reserve

Font Reserve is great Font management software, but every now and then you might experience font problems. Main reason for that is font caches. According to Extensis, font caches have to be purged on regular basis. They do not supply any tools, so you have to do it manually.

From time to time FontReserve preferences and temporary database might get corrupted. When it happens you might get error messages. fonts will not activate automatically or not at all. Following is a shortlist of error messages you might get:


When you get last error message in this list: “DocFontInfo::DoActivate – exception caught # (1)” it means that Font Reserve is getting corrupted. Usually none of the symptoms are present after that error message and everything seems to work fine until Font Reserve stops working at all. So, when you get “DocFontInfo…” error message, it is a good practice to clean Font Reserve preferences. Here is how.


Quit all Adobe applications (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Distiller), quit Safari. Open System Preferences from Apple menu and choose Font Reserve. Uncheck “Turn on when log in” checkbox. Click on “Stop” button to stop FontReserve and make sure it says “Font Reserve Off”. Close this window and System Preferences window.




Navigate to Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Font Reserve/ and delete folders Databases and Trash.


Navigate to your Home Folder/Library/Preferences/Font Reserve/ and delete all files from it.



Empty trash. All your FontReserve preferences, such as server to connect to, login name and password, Font display in Font Reserve Client would be gone.

Open System Preferences from Apple menu and choose Font Reserve. Check “Turn on when log in” checkbox. Click on “Start” button to start FontReserve and make sure it says “Font Reserve On”.



Launch Font Reserve Client, and connect to Font Reserve server using your own username and password. Contact your supervisor to get a host name for your Font Reserve Server. Make sure to check ‘Save user name and password’ to save your login information.


In Font Reserve Client you might want to display Fonts grouped in alphabetical order and in families. To do that:


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