Fixing font activation issues

Fonts manually activated using Typeface should stay activated until explicitly deactivated, even after restarting your Mac. If that’s not the case there might be something preventing the activations.

Troubleshooting font activations

There are multiple different types of font activation issues, each with different solutions. To solve a particular issue it is useful to determine the general category of the problem: is it something app-specific, font-specific or global on your Mac.

Follow these steps to identify the issue category and to learn what can be done to solve it.

I. Verify font activation status

The first step when investigating a font activation issue is to check if the font is actually activated. Perhaps some external process may have deactivated the font or the font file may not be accessible anymore.

  1. Restart Typeface
  2. Check if the font activation indicator is a blue dot
Typeface activation indicators
Different activation indicator states:
Deactivated / Partially activated / Persistently activated / Temporarily activated

If the indicator is grey that means that the font is not activated. You can activate the font to try again. Is the font automatically deactivating after some time? An external font manager or process may be interfering. Learn more below

If the font shows a question mark that means that the font file is missing. Make sure the font file is accessible by the app. This may happen if the font files are removed from your Mac, or if the fonts are stored on a disconnected external location. Learn more below

II. Determine if the activation issue is app-specific

After verifying the font’s activation status let’s check for app compatibility. Manually activated fonts are made available to all apps on your Mac. There should not be any difference between applications.

If you notice that a font is not available in one app, but it is visible in others, there is most likely a compatibility issue with that particular application. So when you can’t find an activated font in your design application verify whether it is available in other apps on your Mac, for example using TextEdit:

  1. Open TextEdit
  2. Choose Format > Font > Show Fonts from the main menu (or press CommandT)
  3. Select the All Fonts list
  4. Verify that the font is available in the list

Is the font available in TextEdit? Then the font issue may be app-specific. For example the Adobe apps don’t support legacy PostScript Type 1 fonts anymore. These fonts won’t show up in the Creative Cloud apps. Other applications (Word, Pages) may not refresh the font list automatically and you may need to relaunch them first. Learn more below

Note that the Typeface Auto Activation feature activates fonts for a specific app only. If a font is auto activated it may be available in one app but not in others. Learn more below

III. Check if the font is valid

If the font is not available in any app it may be an issue with this particular font. In that case it will be helpful to check if it’s just this font that isn’t available, or if none of your fonts are available.

You can validate a font file to see if it this particular font is corrupt:

  1. Open Font Book
  2. Choose File > Validate File… from the main menu
  3. Navigate to the font file and press Open

Any issues will show up in the dialog. If no issues are displayed the font should be fine and should be available in your macOS apps.

Are none of your fonts showing up in any application? There might be a global issue with the macOS font registration system on your Mac. You can reset the macOS font cache to see if that helps. This is typically a last resort, so make sure to check the other solutions first. Learn more about the macOS font cache

By following these troubleshooting steps you can determine the category of the activation issue: is it something app-specific, font-specific or global. Keep reading for solutions and troubleshooting instructions for these font activation problems.

Suitcase Fusion deactivating fonts

If you’re new to Typeface and you still have a different font manager installed on your Mac that manager might be interfering with your activations. For example Suitcase Fusion keeps running in the background even if the app isn’t open. Suitcase likes to stay in charge and reverts activations made by other apps in the background. This results in fonts being deactivated automatically a few moments after activating them in Typeface.

You can uninstall Suitcase to resolve this. After uninstalling restart your Mac and activations made in Typeface should be persistent.

Font Book, Apple’s standard font manager, does not interfere with other apps and you can (and should) keep that installed. Typeface believes you’re free to manage activations with other applications, that’s totally up to you. That’s why activations and deactivations made in Font Book (or other managers) show up automatically in Typeface and are never reverted.

Fonts located on external locations

You can import fonts into Typeface from any location that is accessible via Finder. That includes external drives or shared locations on servers.

When the connection to those external locations is lost macOS cannot access the font files anymore. That means that activated fonts on those locations will be deactivated by macOS, since applications are not able to use the fonts anyway. After reconnecting the location you can activate the fonts again.

Missing font folder

Temporary activations

The default activations made with Typeface are persistent, indicated by blue activation dots. If you’re trying out some fonts for a specific design it may be useful to temporarily activate them. Temporarily activated fonts are automatically deactivated by Typeface when you close the app, so you don’t have to do that manually.

To temporarily activate a font long press on the activation indicator and choose Activate Temporarily. This option is also available in the right-click context menu by holding down the Option key.

You can change the default action in Settings > Activation. Choose Prefer temporary activations to temporarily activate fonts when you click on the activation dot of a preview. The dot will turn red to indicate that it will be deactivated automatically on close.

Auto activations

Typeface app can automatically activate fonts in the background when you open a design document that uses deactivated fonts. There are two options: Auto Activation for Adobe InDesign and Auto Activation for other apps.

For InDesign Typeface uses temporary activation. That means the auto activated fonts will be deactivated when you close Typeface.

For other apps Typeface activates fonts for that particular app only. The auto activated fonts do not show up in other applications, only in the one requesting the font. Closing Typeface should keep the font available for that particular app. After closing and reopening the requesting app it won’t have access to the auto activated font anymore, unless it requests it again from Typeface.

Activated fonts are not visible in Adobe Photoshop, InDesign & Illustrator

The Adobe CC apps have dropped support for legacy PostScript Type 1 fonts. If the font you’re trying to activate is a PS1 font it won’t be available in Adobe apps.

To check the font kind:

  1. Right click (or control-click) on the font in Typeface
  2. Choose the Info submenu
  3. Look for the Kind item

Regular TrueType and OpenType fonts should typically work fine.

Learn more about PostScript Type 1 support

Activated fonts are not visible in Pages, Keynote, Numbers & TextEdit

When you activate a font on macOS Ventura it may not be immediately selectable in the standard font dropdowns of Pages, Keynote, Numbers and TextEdit. While the fonts are correctly activated and available, they don’t show up in the font pickers. These apps don’t seem to refresh their font list automatically, but after restarting your Mac the fonts will show up.

Restarting your Mac after every activation is of course not very convenient. Instead of using the font dropdown in the main interface you can pick your newly activated fonts by choosing Format > Font > Show Fonts (CommandT) from the main menu, then select the All Fonts collection. This All Fonts list includes your newly activated fonts.

Another workaround is to add a secondary language to your macOS System Languages. You can keep your primary language such that your Mac and apps will stay in the same language, but the font pickers in Pages/Keynote/Numbers will show your newly activated fonts. To do this follow these steps:

  1. Open System Settings
  2. Choose General > Language & Region
  3. Click on the + button and add a single non-Latin language, for example Greek (keep your current primary language, e.g. English)

When you launch Pages the font dropdown will now list all fonts on your Mac, including newly activated fonts and foreign language fonts.

Resetting the macOS font cache

If fonts are not activating and the above solutions don’t help (double check you don’t have other font manager installed) there might be an issue with the macOS font registration system. Clearing the font cache may help in this case.

Learn more about the macOS font cache