4 Ways to Preview Fonts in OS X

OS X comes with a large number of different fonts included, and if you also install third-party software such as Microsoft Office, your system should be full of fonts. Now, this isn’t really much of a problem I mean – come on. What harm is it to have a large number of different fonts to choose from? The only issue is that if you want to see what a font looks like before using it, you will have to slowly go through a large list which can become impractical.

Luckily for you, Apple also cared to include several options in OS X for previewing fonts which can really help you streamline this process. More details follow:

Most well-known word processors and design applications include font menus. These font menus let you access fonts from a built-in menu which also lets you preview them before using them. Sometimes some applications, either because of a software limitation or by design, don’t let you “preview” the font and only show you the font name. Others programs simply don’t have the option enabled. For those apps that do support this option, you can simply enable this feature in the program’s preferences. For example, for Pages, simply navigate to the Preferences menu in the Pages menu and enable the checkbox similar to the one below:

Preview-Fonts-OS-X-Font-Preferences

In addition to the Font menu, many others apps in OS X make use of Apple’s Font panel for customizing typefaces. This can be accessed by clicking “Command +nT” and can also be accessed somewhere in the Edit, Font, or Format menus, depending on the type of application you are using.

Preview-Fonts-OS-X-Font-Font-Panel

What the Font panel actually does is offers access to font collections and families and allows you to select and preview them to see their various typefaces. This is still not the best solution for previewing fonts, but it may be more convenient than selecting your text in a document and then setting the font one at a time. The Font Panel also sorts your fonts via different methods. For example, you can choose to use a font out of your “Recently Used” fonts.

Your third option is to use the Font Book utility. Font Book, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, allows you to browse your fonts and see previews. It’s only downside – it does not show the typefaces in a list, similar to Font Panel.

Preview-Fonts-OS-X-Font-Book

Your fourth and final option is to make use of the OS X Dock’s Stacks to preview your fonts. Stacks is where you drag a folder to the Dock, and then click it to view its contents in a list, or ‘fan’ view. This is useful for quick situations when you don’t want the hassle of opening Finder. You can also do this for the font folders in the system and then take advantage of this previewing feature to get a glimpse at the font files’ typefaces. Simply locate and drag the following two folders to the Dock, and then right-click the folders in the Dock and set them to Grid view.

Here are the Font folders’ location in OS X:

Macintosh HD/Library/Fonts
Macintosh HD/System/Library/Fonts
<strong>username</strong>/Library/Fonts

Preview-Fonts-OS-X-Font-Stacks

Note: In the Font folder stack, the typefaces you see will simply be shown as little boxes that say “Ag.” However, once you scroll through the list, hover your mouse over a font, and press the space bar; you will be given a QuickLook preview of the font’s standard alphanumeric characters. You can use this to quickly go through your fonts and pick the one you want to use. Just be sure not to open the font from this menu; doing so will launch the Font Book program.

So there you go – four options to preview your fonts in OS X. Do you have any other tips for us? Be sure to tell us in the comments below.