How Do I Make Downloaded Fonts Show Up in the Font List of My Software?

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Question: How Do I Make Downloaded Fonts Show Up in the Font List of My Software?

Fonts you download may not be readily available for use in your software. You need to open the font archive and install the fonts properly.
A frequent question I receive in email is how to make fonts show up in the software font lists, especially after downloading them from the Web. This FAQ shows you step-by-step how to obtain fonts, open archived fonts, and install fonts for Mac and PC so that you can use them in your word processing, desktop publishing, and other software programs.
These instructions apply to free fonts, shareware fonts, and fonts you buy online.


Obtain the Font

Fonts come from many locations. They can come with your desktop publishing, word processing, or graphics software. You may have them on a CD. They can be downloaded from the Web.

• When fonts come with your software they are often installed at the same time the software is installed. Usually no further action is required by the user. However, if you are using some types of very specialized software (some CAD programs, older 1990s era software) the fonts that come with the software may be proprietary and not in TrueType, OpenType, or PostScript format. Those fonts can probably only be used with that specific software.

• Fonts on CD or other disk need to be installed to your hard drive (unless you plan to always have that disk in the drive). The disk may come with an installation program for the fonts or you can use the methods described further down this page.

• Fonts downloaded from the Web may be ready for installation; but, usually, fonts from the Web are stored in archives that must first be opened. This is where many new font finders run into problems. Occasionally fonts on disk may also be in archives so you'll need to follow step 2 for them.

  1. How to Download Fonts From the Web
    Free and shareware fonts are offered for download on this site and many others on the Web. If you've never downloaded a file from the Web before, here are the basic instructions to download fonts. Sometimes the hardest part is just finding the download link and then finding the file on your computer once it is downloaded.
  1. How to Expand Font Archives: Windows | Mac
    Many free fonts on the Web are in a compressed archive to make them smaller. BIN, HQX, SIT, and especially ZIP are the most common filetypes. Learn how to open these font archives up so you can install your new fonts. (Skip this step if you downloaded a file with .TTF or .OTF extension; they are not archived.)

Install the Font

Simply having the font file on your hard drive is only part of the installation process. To make the font available to your software programs requires a few extra steps, especially for Windows users. The installation process also depends on the type of font you have: TrueType or OpenType or PostScript (Type 1). Most fonts downloaded from the Web are Windows TrueType fonts although OpenType is becoming quite common. If you use a font manager it may have a font installation option you can use. Otherwise, follow the appropriate instructions shown here:

  • Windows 7 makes it easy to install fonts. It automatically puts the font files into the Fonts Folder. From the Fonts Folder you can also preview and delete any installed fonts.
    • Less common but in case you still need to know:
    • How to Install PostScript Fonts in Windows 3.1/95/98/ME/NT
      In order to use PostScript Type 1 fonts in your word processor or other programs you must install them using Adobe Type Manager (ATM) if running Windows 3.1/Me/98/95/NT.
    • How to Install PostScript Fonts in Windows 2000/XP
      Windows 2000 and XP have built-in support for PostScript Type 1 fonts so the use of Adobe Type Manager (ATM) is not required. The procedure to install PostScript fonts is simple, but make a note of the tips in this tutorial.

Occasionally installation will hit a snag. See the answers to I can't use the fonts I just installed. What's wrong?

for troubleshooting advice.

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