Don’t underestimate the power of fonts. Few things can alter the mood and look of a graphical element as effectively as a new font set. Newsletters, web designs, resumes, and even beautiful Windows themes – all of these can be rendered worthless when paired with ugly letters. Fonts are the building blocks of digital aesthetics.
It’s a shame that Windows doesn’t come with a font manager. Fortunately, several third-party programs can help you bridge the gap left behind by Microsoft.
Why Use A Font Manager?
A font manager will come in handy for several reasons, but only if you tinker around with your system fonts a lot. For example: web designers, graphic artists, and video editors can spend a lot of time creating and installing new fonts and spend even more time removing the ones they don’t want because Windows does not play well with fonts.
That’s the crux of the issue. Fonts are just a pain to manage in Windows. At best, they’re cumbersome and hidden away in deeper parts of system controls. At worst, they can weigh heavy on system resources and slow down computer performance because Windows loads all font information at boot time.
How does a font manager mitigate all of that?
- Easy installation of new fonts with intuitive interfaces, negating the need to dig through system directories.
- Font protection against accidental deletions. If you spend a lot of money on expensive fonts, you’ll definitely want to keep them safe.
- Organization of all fonts. Depending on the font manager, you may be able to store fonts in multiple directories to maintain some semblance of order.
- Dynamic loading of fonts to reduce system resource usage. Again, this one depends on the font manager, but some allow you to load and unload fonts at will instead of loading them all into memory at startup.
Managing Fonts In Windows
Of all the font manager programs out there, which one is best for you?
Default Windows Method: To install a font on Windows, you must move or copy the target font files into your C:\Windows\Fonts folder. On Windows 7, there is a shortcut where you can right click on font files and select Install to let the operating system handle it for you. As for management, all you can really do is browse through the Fonts folder and manually delete files.
Font Frenzy (Free): This nifty program comes with four useful tools that you’ll come to love. FrenzyMan lets you add and install one or multiple font files. Defrenzy deletes all fonts except the ones that shipped with the system. FrenzySnap takes a snapshot (or backup) of the Fonts folder and Refrenzy can restore fonts that were snapshotted by FrenzySnap. For most users, Font Frenzy is awesome.
AMP Font Viewer (Free): This incredible program offers a lot of usefulness for its price. It can hold a repository of fonts that are separated into two groups: Installed and Non-Installed fonts. Fonts can be temporarily installed in case you want to just test them out or you only need them for a little while. They can even be tagged and categorized for easy organization.
Nexus Font (Free): This program works somewhat uniquely. Instead of installing fonts to the system, you can install them into NexusFont itself. While NexusFont is running, all fonts loaded into the program are available to the system. When NexusFont is closed, the fonts become unavailable. This saves on space and memory, plus NexusFont doesn’t need to be installed, making it a serious contender for best portable program.
Suitcase Fusion ($100): Serious font collectors require serious tools. If free tools just don’t cut it for you, then you ought to consider Suitcase Fusion. It’s expensive, yes, but the price is justified. This powerful font manager is more than an organizational aid.
The built-in QuickComp feature lets you mix-and-match various font combinations on the fly for quick experimentation. Then there’s Fontspiration, an amazing feature that helps you locate the newest and most interesting fonts to really kick your creative work up a notch. And, of course, fonts can be activate and deactivated to save on system resources.
Where To Find Free Fonts
Font management isn’t very useful if you don’t have any fonts to manage. Among the sea of “free font sites” that you can find with any search engine, there are two free font repositories that are especially good and worthy of remarks.
Nowadays, it’s impossible to discuss free fonts without hearing mention of Google Web Fonts. For a proper introduction, check out our post on why you should use Google Web Fonts. Long story short, Google has a huge selection of free fonts that anyone can use. Not sure where to begin? Start with these twelve beautiful fonts hosted by Google.
The more traditional recommendation is FontSquirrel, which is a curated database of high-quality fonts that are free for both personal AND commercial use. The site layout is clean, intuitive, and categorized in such a way that browsing is a breeze. When searching for free fonts, I always start here.
Note: When using a “free font” for commercial use, always check and make sure that the font’s license allows for it to be used that way. Even when a font is labeled in the affirmative, the terms of the license may change from font to font.
With these programs, font management in Windows has never been easier. Which free fonts do you like to best? Are there any other sites or programs that you recommend for finding new fonts? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!