How big is your font collection? If you’ve been busy downloading all the free fonts you can find, or if you’ve invested in some premium typefaces chances are you’ve got hundreds (or thousands!) of font files that are bogging down your system. Font managers are important tools that allow you to activate and deactivate your fonts on the fly, organise your collection into groups, and easily test out multiple typefaces at once to find the perfect choice for your designs. I browsed through graphic design forums and messageboards to find out which font managers were recommended by real professionals. This roundup features the most popular programs for both Windows and Mac, including free and premium apps for you to consider.
What do you want from a font manager?
Aside from the basic function of activating and deactivating fonts, are there any other features you might find useful from a font manager? There’s plenty of lightweight and often free choices, but sometimes the premium apps contain some really handy capabilities that can really benefit design professionals. Grouping, labelling, tagging and organsing your fonts helps you pick out the exact style of typeface that you need from your massive libary. Previewing multiple fonts at once with custom wording can really speed up your logo designs by allowing you to visually compare different typefaces. Some font managers even come with Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign plugins so any required fonts will be automatically activated when they’re needed. These are important features to consider when weighing up the value of the different programs on offer.
Windows Only Font Managers
NexusFont is the most commonly recommended font manager for Windows. It’s simple little freeware application that has all the basic functions of activate & deactivating, sorting and searching your collection.
The Font Thing (Free!)
It was made in 1999, but The Font Thing is a tried and tested piece of freeware that is still in service for many designers. It allows you to install, organise, preview and filter your fonts from a lightweight program.
FontBase is a new font manager for Windows 7 or higher. Unlike many free programs for Windows, this app has a beautiful interface that makes it easy to live edit, style, preview, search and compare your fonts.
AMP Font Viewer (Free!)
AMP Font Viewer is another free option for Windows users. It has many features for installing and categorising your fonts, including temporary installation of fonts so they remain active until the program is closed.
Mac Only Font Managers
RightFont is a relatively new font manager for Mac. It helps you preview, sync, and organise fonts stored in any location without installing them, which is great for users with multiple devices. Fonts can also be filtered by classification, width or weight.
FontAgent Pro ($99)
FontAgent Pro is a classic font manager for Mac. It’s quite pricey, but you know you’re getting a tried and tested piece of software with lots of features. FontAgent Pro also comes with auto-activation plugins for the latest versions of Adobe CC and Quark.
Fontyou is a new style of cloud based font manager. Rather than import all your fonts from your hard drive and access them via a traditional utility program, you upload your files to the cloud and manage your collections via the browser.
Font Explorer X 1.2.3 (Free!)
Font Explorer X has been my font manager of choice for many years. Originally this was a free version of Font Explorer X Pro, but it has since been removed from the Font Explorer website. Thankfully this handy free version is still accessible via Softpedia.
The Professional’s Choice (Win & Mac)
Suitcase Fusion ($119.95)
Suitcase is the biggest name in the design industry when it comes to managing fonts. At $120 it’s the most expensive program in this roundup, but it’s compatible with all the Adobe Creative Cloud software, QuarkXPress and even basic desktop appplications.
FontExplorer X Pro ($99)
FontExplorer X Pro is a comprehensive font manager with a wealth of features. It can also connect to FontExplorer X Server, which provides shared font management between entire teams, making it a great solution for teams and agencies.