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A Solution for Solving OS X System Font Issues

So if you are reading this I assume you are plagued by OS X’s inability to cope with having more than one copy of the same font installed. 

You can easily tell if this is your issue as you will be constantly annoyed by capital A boxes.  See the example below ↓

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 21.12.56
I was quite worried when I first saw this but actually it is a very minor problem in terms of fixability.  I had been installing a lot of custom fonts earlier in the day so it wasn’t difficult to put 2 and 2 together as to what was causing it. 

Two things must ye know of this issue…

(Blackadder Season 2 quote – I couldn’t resist – the wise woman  conversation is one of the best scenes in the whole show)

First… Macs make a fuss if you install multiple versions of the same font.

Second… The default Mac font is Lucida Grande, so this is generally the culprit for the vast majority of issues.

So with this knowledge in hand let us continue.

Surprisingly, you don’t actually have to delete or uninstall anything (or at least I didn’t) to solve this problem.   You do have to ensure that you resolve the conflicting fonts though to ensure that the problem doesn’t keep reoccurring.  But don’t worry, my solution is pretty simple.


Step One: Resolving conflicting font issues

The easiest way to do this is by using Font Book.  Because Font Book is a default OS X install straight from Apple it will tell you exactly what your Mac is unhappy with.  So…

1.)  Fire up Font Book

Applications > Font Book

2.)  Make sure you have selected the All Fonts list, then go down the font list until you come to a font that has an issue – any font with a clash will have a yellow triangle next to it. 


3.)  Right click on the font and from the drop down menu choose Resolve Duplicates.

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 22.15.39

If the issue is successfully fixed the multiple versions of the font will be turned off. 

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 22.15.49
Step Two: Making your Mac realise that you have solved the font issues

So in order for your Mac to actually acknowledge that you have sorted out your conflicting font issues you need to empty your font cache.  A simple restart does not do this (yes I did try it as I always prefer not to use sudo commands unless I have to).  Your Mac will not notice all your hard work resolving all the font conflicts except under duress.  So…

 NOTE: You need to be an Administrator in order to use a sudo command so change users if you are not currently logged in as one.

1.) Open a Terminal window.

Finder > Go > Utilities > Terminal

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 23.06.25

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 23.08.25

2.)  Close all the apps that are running then type or copy and paste the following command:

sudo atsutil databases -remove

Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 23.17.54


3.)  You will be asked for your admin password.  Type it in.  The cursor will not move as you type so be careful.

4.)  Once the command has run (you will see several lines of script) close Terminal and restart your computer.  It is important that you do this straight away.

And that’s it!

Hopefully you will now find your OS X all happy and font issue free!  Hooray!

Categories: Mac, Mac & OS X, Macbook Pro | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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