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This chapter is from the book

The Finer Points of Using Font Book

Knowing a little more about Font Book's capabilities and interface can help you work more efficiently, even if you don't want to be an expert.

Take advantage of interface features:

  • Get information from help tags: You don't always have to open lists or select collections or fonts to get information about them; instead, let help tags give you the details (Figure 13).
    Figure 13

    Figure 13

    Hover over a name in either the Collection or Font list and you'll see a help tag that provides useful information, such as the number of fonts in a Collection list or faces in a font.

  • Select multiple items quickly: You can select more than one font in the list with the usual Mac approach: Shift-click for contiguous selections, Command-click for noncontiguous ones. This makes it easy to operate on more than one font at a time, whether you're dragging them into a collection or library, expanding them to see their typefaces, removing them, disabling them, or ... you get the idea.

    Less obvious is the fact that you can select multiple items in the Collection list. So, if you want to see all your fonts except the ones in Classic Mac OS, you can select both User and Computer. Or, if you want to view or search through all the fonts in your user-defined libraries, you can select as many of them as necessary.

  • Use multiple Preview windows: You can double-click on a font to open a Preview window that shows a basic alphanumeric sample; this doesn't seem any better than looking at it in the preview area, until you realize that you can open more than one at a time. So, if you want to check out the differences between certain fonts (I have a collection of handwriting fonts with names like ChelsiesHand, HanksHand, and so on, and darned if I can remember which is which) before using or activating them, you can open a Preview window for each one.

    You can also open separate Preview windows for different typefaces in the same family by double-clicking on the typefaces in the Font list instead of on the family name. It's an easy way to compare different weights like bold and semibold, or other attributes, such as condensed, semicondensed, ultracondensed, and so on.

  • Get in the habit of using contextual menus: Using contextual menus (Control-click to get them, or right-click if you have a two-button mouse) is faster than going to the regular menus if you're working on a big screen. The preview area's contextual menu shows up only when it is set to Custom or Info view, and you often have to click in several spots before the menu shows up.

    Just for fun: Leave the Custom view to the default alphabet and numbers, and choose Speech > Start Speaking from the contextual menu.

  • Don't expect much from custom typing: Copying selected text from the preview area in Custom view doesn't work the way you'd expect: the font doesn't come with the information when you paste it elsewhere. You have to format the text to the font and typeface in your document.

Learn the relationship between fonts in Font Book and font files in the Finder:

  • Copy fonts without finding them in the Finder: You can use Font Book's Export command to make copies of fonts used in a project so you can send them along with your documents—you don't have to go digging around your Fonts folders.

    You can export a collection, a library, or individually selected fonts: just select the items you want and choose File > Export Fonts. The name you type in the Save dialog is used for the folder that will hold the copies; you'll get a subfolder inside it for each exported font. Use Font Info: the Info view (Preview > Font Info or Command-I) shows lots of handy information, like the selected font's type. But the two most convenient items are the Version and Location of the selected font. When you have duplicate fonts, you can compare version numbers before you decide which to disable or remove. The location helps you decide, too; in Figure 14, the location is /Library/Fonts.

    Figure 14

    Figure 14

    Font Book's preview area in Info view.

    The Info view shows not just important information, such as the version and font file location, but also interesting info, like this description of the development of the Times font. Old Mac hands may remember that the New York bitmapped font was misnamed because someone thought "Times" referred to the New York Times, and not The Times (of London).

    The location also gives you the actual filename; in the figure, the typeface name is Times New Roman Bold, but the location ends with the filename, which is simply Times New Roman.

  • Find a font file in the Finder: Select a font, use File > Show Font File (Command-R), and you jump right to the file in the Finder. This is a clever and hard-working command: choose a PostScript Type 1 font, and both its files are selected; select a family name and all the separate typeface files for a family are selected. If you start with several different fonts selected in the Font list, they'll all be selected in the Finder, even if that requires multiple windows to open.

Use keyboard shortcuts:

  • Right and Left arrow keys: Expand and collapse the typeface list of selected fonts when the Font list is active. (I listed this first because it's the biggest time-saver.)
  • Tab and Shift-Tab: Use these keys to move from one element to another in the Font Book window. The basic tab order (Figure 15) includes the Collection list, the Font list, and the Search field; if the Size menu is showing, it's included. When the Custom preview is in use, you can tab into it to type—but you can't tab out again, because pressing Tab types a tab in the preview area.
    Figure 15

    Figure 15

    The green-framed areas are the basic Tab controls; with Full Keyboard Access turned on, the orange-framed controls are included in the Tab order.

  • Extended tab control: When the Mac OS X Full Keyboard Access feature is activated, it adds Font Book's Action menu and the plus.jpg, check.jpg, and box.jpg buttons to the tab order (Figure 15). (Toggle this system-wide feature with Control-F7 and learn all about it in Appendix E).
  • Up and Down arrow keys: These keys move you in an activated Collection list, Font list, or Size menu. Page Up and Page Down also work in both lists, and you can type a few letters to jump to a list item.
  • Return or Enter: Opens the Preview window for selected fonts when the Font list is active.
  • Return or Enter: Activates a selected collection or library name for editing when the Collection list is active, and deactivates it after editing.

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