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mijlee's picture
500 pencils

FontExplorer X

FontExplorer X active window

For anyone wondering what to use for there font management needs under OS X Linotype have just released a new version of Font Explorer for OS X. Even more interesting is that they have released it as a completely free product.

It seems to be bastard child of iTunes and Suitcase. It has all of the important features of Extensis's $100 product and includes features from iTunes such as smart folders and an integrated online store for browsing and purchasing new fonts.

They make it clear that a although it is a Final Candidate release it is still Beta software so be wary of using it in a professional environment but I have it on a test machine here and have found very little wrong so far. The only thing that has bugged me so far is that there is no bundled auto-activation plug in for Illustrator (although there is one for InDesign and Quark)

Download it and give it a try.

I think I will definitely be switching once it reaches the final release.


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Claypole's picture
3 pencils

Given this a good go. It's impressive with a small number of fonts. I've tried the lot, and considering this is free, it's even better. Extensis could have done so much more with Suitcase, but it is just far to buggy to use in a professional environment to start with? I don't have the answers.

mijlee's picture
500 pencils

I have tested with the 1243 fonts we have on our system here and I did not come up against any problems at all. Auto-activation worked perfectly in Quark 6.5 and InDesign CS and i have set up smart folders, sets and folders by job and category. It worked a treat for me.

There are even tools for finding problem fonts and fixing some problems. The thing i love the most though is the interface, it just seems much more sorted than Suitcase.

I think this is the answer, or at least it will be.


Ben's picture
121 pencils

Thanks for pointing this out mijlee. I've been using Suitcase for a few years so i'm eager to see how this will compare. I'm also tired of upgrading costs. Looks like it has a ton of features. What about Apple's FontBook? HaH!

Wow the interface does look and work great. The installer also had a great feature of moving non-system fonts out of the system folder. I remember doing this by hand using Suitcase!

mijlee's picture
500 pencils

I think the interface is one of the greatest selling points (even if it is mostly stolen from iTunes). Also on playing a little more I find the whole package stable and useable.


yofal's picture
26 pencils

...the "manage system fonts" in Suitcase?

It was just about useless before I found that feature. Conflicts would slow the app to a crawl.

Hoping for the best from FontExplorer...

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pechos's picture
120 pencils

Is anyone familiar witht the previous version they have for download on the site?
Is it similar to version X? I can't DL X due to XP OS, but would love to give the program a whirl if the previous is as capable as this latest release.

grafixforlife's picture
226 pencils

Is there a way to deactivate FontBook so that there's no conflict and it's easier to see the performance difference? I'm using FontBook now with Tiger but have been looking for a solution like this for some time.

Yes Illustrator auto activation would be nice too!

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mijlee's picture
500 pencils

I think that all Font book does is move font in and out of the relevant folders (user/library/fonts system/fonts etc) so as long as you don't have it open and mess with anything while you are trying out FontXplorer there shouldn't be a problem.

To go back to FontBook though you may beed to start from scratch?


mijlee's picture
500 pencils

I recommend testing it before using it for real. I will not move all 6 of my machines until i am sure it works better than X1.

If anyone is using it conjunction with 10.4 I would love feedback as I have held off upgrading till i had a guaranteed working font management system. in place. If you are using Indesign CS that would be even more of a vindication, should it workout for you.


luntereiner's picture
1 pencil

I use it and have no problem…
why switching?


mijlee's picture
500 pencils

IMO FontBook is only a viable solution if you use a handful of fonts day to day. I have well over a thousands fonts and need something way more professional. This seems to fit the bill.


mattone's picture
15 pencils

i'm a font agentpro user for a few years. today i've been using font explorerx and love the interface. its much easier to understand. after importing my font agent library (221mb) into font explorerx, i see that it doubled in size to 441mb. some of this extra data is from the system fonts and other apple fonts but it seems odd. another thing, it does not appear to import dfonts. i haven't checked all of them but several are not able to be imported.

my 2 cents.


Apfhex's picture
324 pencils

For FREE one can hardly complain, but will it remain free after beta? The interface looks nice. I'm wondering how fast it is compared to FontAgent Pro and if more auto-activate plugins will be included, because that's one of the best features of font management software I think and Photoshop and Illustrator are very significant ones to include.

Is it FontExplorer "Ex" or "Ten"? ;p

mijlee's picture
500 pencils

Available now. Free.
FontExplorer X is available now for download, free of charge. No license fee, no shareware fee, or nag screens, and no functionality limits. FontExplorer X is free. A service from Linotype.

That certainly sounds like it will always be free to me. I think the business model is very like iTunes. They want as many people to use this as possible so they buy fonts directly using the built in LinoType store.


JimD's picture
2626 pencils

If you look in the app, you'll see that it has an iTunes Music Store-like system in place to purchase fonts from right inside the app, including search and previews. This is most likely how they plan to pay for the ongoing development of the app.

It's also smart. When you think what Apple has done in regards to getting people to buy music legally, this app is trying to do the same for fonts. I'll be the first to admit that out of the thousands of fonts I have, I've only actually purchased a few. Most I got from here, there, and God knows where else. The ability to easily purchase them legally should serve to drive down prices of fonts and make more of them available for purchase.

I've already installed and started using FontExplorer X and so far it looks VERY nice to me.


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lrenhrda's picture
207 pencils

Wow, I've been using this ever since I saw it here on CreativeBits and I'm loving it! Much more comprehensive than FontBook.

Has anyone had any experience with using this on a NetBoot + Open Directory-based network? I help run the Mac network at my college, where we use NetBoot to manage the hard drive contents of each machine and Open Directory to manage user's Home folders. I'd love to allow students to start using this, but if the app actually imports all 2000-some fonts that we make available to them off of the machine's local HD (where we store them) into the user's Home folder (which is up on the server), then it'd be a no-go. Needless to say, that would bog down the server and always results in corrupting the user's Home folder.

Edit: I just noticed.. "Windows version to be released soon." That's AWESOME! I've been looking for a good free font manager for Windows for a long time.

Ivan's picture

Very nice so far! Thanks for recommending this one. Thanks god we have so many choices for Font managers. I remember the time we only had Suitcase as a viable solution.

mijlee's picture
500 pencils

Personally I liked the days when ATM ruled. I loved it. Features were pretty basic but it had the gold 'it just works' advantage. Never crashed, and was really simple. I have never been a huge fan of Suitcase despite buying the last 2 versions.

This to me is the best solution out there, and hopefully will encourage people to buy more legal fonts. We just need the other big players to sign up so that the selection is more than Linotypes base set.


phatcactus's picture
109 pencils

It's replacing Suitcase for my 2500+ fonts, but I do wish there were a way to override /System/Library/Fonts/ fonts. I can do it in Font Book. Oh well. I'll just the two together the way I did with Suitcase.


designbyjez's picture
80 pencils


where can i get these plug in's for auto activation in font explorer.



Ivan's picture

Most apps will work with it by default.

cornhustlah's picture
1 pencil


but i prefer PC as they cost a fraction of what apple charges, so my newest comp is a Windows box. but the full release of a PC version of FontExplorer x is now stuck in limbo...

Linotype: crap or get of the pot!

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

They just removed the beta version from their website for pc so a full version should be coming along any time now. Their market is mainly mac users so you can understand the impetus hasn't been there the past few years for them to put out a windows version.

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