The default system font in OS X is the type face used for displaying practically all system features, including menu items, system preference labels, titles for documents, the date and time, and other instances where system panels and programs display text. While in the Classic Mac OS (version 9 and earlier) Apple included options for changing the default system font, this has not been an option in OS X. However, if you want, you can, with a little tweaking, change the default font to any TrueType font of your choice.
Font files had to be converted between Windows and Macintosh. Regardless, all TrueType fonts contain 'cmap' tables that map its glyphs to various encodings. With Mac OS X 10.5 (2007), Apple introduced full support for Windows TrueType font files, but the files must contain Unicode cmap tables. Jun 11, 2012 font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', 'Microsoft YaHei', 微软雅黑, STXihei, 华文细黑, serif; A look at the major Chinese fonts 宋体12号 – SimSun 12pt font. 宋体, or SimSun, is by far the most commonly used base body font in Chinese web design. Personally, I dislike SimSun, in the same way many designers dislike Arial.
First and foremost, whenÂ customizing the system font it helps to understand the hierarchy of the font folders in OS X. There are three such folders, all called “Fonts,” which are in the following locations:
username > Library > Fonts
Macintosh HD > Library > Fonts
Macintosh HD > System > Library > Fonts
These folders above are listed in order of precedence, so while there is a font called Geneva in the system font folder, any duplicate for Geneva that you placeÂ in the Macintosh HD > Library folder will be loaded and used instead of the one in the Macintosh HD > System > Library folder. The same goes for such a font replacement in the username > Library folder, which will even take precedence over the one in Macintosh HD > Library.There are some limitations to this hierarchy, one of which is that fonts which apply to the system and other users are limited to those in the System folder and root library folder, so you cannot use your user library for such fonts. Nevertheless, this simply means with regards to system fonts, you do not need to modify any aspect of the System folder to replace them, and instead can simply supply a replacement font in the Macintosh HD > Library folder. It will then load instead of the default system font, and change the type face used by OS X.
As a result of this, the key to changing the system font in OS X is to find out exactly how to make and implement a replacement for the default font in your system. In OS X before Yosemite, Apple’s default system font was Lucida Grande, and in Yosemite Apple has changed this to Helvetica Neue; however, if you simply copy a font, change it name to “Lucida Grande” or “Helvetica Neue,” and then paste it in the Fonts directory within the root library folder, you will not see a change take effect.
The Chalkduster font adds a fun touch to the MAc’s interface, and does not look bad at all.
This is because the TrueType fonts used in OS X are basically small databases of glyphs, along with a number of information fields that hold a bunch of metadata, and while the file name can be changed for a font, the internal name that the system uses to identify the font has not been altered.
This metadata, just like that for regular documents, holds details like the font’s copyright information, font weight, designers, and other identifying details. One of these is the font’s postscript name, which is among several internal names for the font file, and the one which Apple uses to identify the file as the default system font.
To change the postscript name of a font, you will need to use a special utility that can edit font files. A couple of these are TTFEdit, and FontForge, both of which are open source and free projects, but both of which will either require Java, XQuarts, or both to first be installed on your Mac.
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For this demonstration, I have outlined how to do this with TTFEdit:
- Download TTFEdit from its SourceForge page
- Ensure you have the latest Java runtime installed from Oracle (For security reasons, once installed use the Security tab in the Java system preferences to disable Java content in your browser).
- Locate the font you want to use as your default system font, and copy it to your Desktop.
- Open TTFEdit, and then use the File menu in the program to open the font file on the Desktop.
- Along the left-hand side of the program’s window, choose the “name” tab, which will display the name table for the font.
- Locate the field named “PostScript name of the font.” If there are multiples of these, then use the one with “(Macintosh, Roman, English)” at the end of the name, and not any mention of Windows or other platforms.
Using TTFEdit, you can select the name table (arrow) and adjust the Macintosh PostScript font name to override the one that the system uses. Note that in this case the use of the lowercase “r” in “regular” will prevent the font from being used by the system.
In this postscript name field change this field to be exactly one of the following (be sure you place the period before the name):
For OS X prior to 10.10 Yosemite:
For OS X Yosemite:
While “Regular” will be the default font, there are times when OS X will use bold text, or italic text, so if you have these variants for the font, then similarly change this name but use “Bold,” “Light,” or “Italic” instead of “Regular” in the postscript name. Also note that these names are case-sensitive, so while “.HelveticaNeueDeskInterface-regular” will not work, “.HelveticaNeueDeskInterface-Regular” will.
The font face you choose may or may not be the best. In this case, Chalkduster (to the left) looks far more pleasant than Zapfino (to the right).
With these edits in place, choose “Save As” from the File menu, and then save the font in the Macintosh HD > Library > Fonts folder, giving it a unique name by appending a word like “System” to it. You now should be able to log out and then log back in to your user account, and the system should pick up this new font as the one to use. If it does not, then try rebooting your Mac into Safe Mode (hold the Shift down when you hear the boot chimes), followed by restarting when you get to the Login Window. This will have cleared your system’s font cache, allowing the new font to be loaded properly.
You can also manually clear the font cache in OS X by running the following command in the Terminal under an administrative account (supply your password when prompted):
Be aware that while this will change the system font, any font besides either Lucida Grande in OS X 10.9 and earlier, and Helvetica Neue in OS X 10.10, will not have been tested for use as a system font. Therefore, any changes might result in some words not appearing correctly, and at worst may show garbled text. For the most part these should be rare occurrences and should only be aesthetic, so you will not lose any functionality; however, if they occur then you might have difficulty understanding the purpose of a specific menu item, button, or other label.
Font Book can be used to select the modified font and then disable it, if desired. Be sure you properly identify it from your non-modified ones by the postscript name and its full file path (outlined here).
To revert your changes and go back to Apple’s default font, simply move your modified fonts out of the Macintosh HD > Library > Fonts folder, and then restart or log out and back in to your user account. This approach will also have the font available in Apple’s included Font Book utility, so you can also use this program to select and disable the font accordingly.
Fonts begin where character sets end. The characters defined by the encodings inside your computer are abstract, whereas the glyphs defined by a font are concrete visual forms that can be rendered on screen or paper.
Outline fonts are fonts in which glyphs are described mathematically as 'outlines,' a series of line segments, arcs, and curves. They are fully scalable: to print or display a character, the outline is scaled to the desired size, then rendered by filling the outline with bits or pixels. The information provided here is limited to what the typical Chinese Mac user might want to know. If you want to learn more about font formats and printing technologies, Ken Lunde's CJKV Information Processing is very thorough on these topics.
Developed by Adobe, PostScript is a 'page-description' language for printers. It supports both graphics and text, with built-in support for fonts. The most common PostScript font format is Type 1. Chinese Postscript fonts use the CID format, which uses Type 1 character descriptions tailored especially for East Asian writing systems. CID stands for 'Character Identifier,' which refers to the numbers that are used to index and access the characters in the font. OS X provides full support for all types of PostScript-based fonts.
In 1991, Microsoft adopted Apple's TrueType font format, but they used a different approach to storing the font data. Font files had to be converted between Windows and Macintosh. Regardless, all TrueType fonts contain 'cmap' tables that map its glyphs to various encodings. With Mac OS X 10.5 (2007), Apple introduced full support for Windows TrueType font files, but the files must contain Unicode cmap tables. Most Windows 98 and later fonts have them, while most Windows 95 and earlier fonts do not.
OpenType is an open standard developed by Microsoft and Adobe in 1996 to absorb the underlying differences between the TrueType and PostScript formats. OpenType fonts also use cmap tables. There are two kinds of OpenType fonts: those that use PostScript Type 1 names and outlines and carry the .OTF extension, and those that use TrueType names and outlines and carry the .TTF (or .TTC) extension.
TrueType 'collections' with the .TTC extension contain multiple fonts, usually different weights of the same font. They can also use the Unicode technology of glyph variants (supported in OS X 10.6 and above) to provide localized glyphs for users in China/Singapore (the 'SC' locale), Hong Kong (the 'HK' locale), and Taiwan (the 'TC' locale).
Note: Formerly part of the TC ('Traditional Chinese') locale, the HK locale became necessary with HKSCS-2016. Previous editions of the HKSCS were compatible with Big Five, but the 2016 standard is Unicode-only and diverges by replacing 22 Big Five characters with variant forms from Unicode. See HKSCS.
One way for individuals to obtain reliable, high-quality Chinese fonts is in retail bundles from established foundries. There aren't many of these companies. The making of an original Chinese font is a huge undertaking, somewhat less so now with the advent of new approaches and advanced technologies, but producing a finished, unique font is still a monumental task, involving a team of people working for months, if not years.
Many font bundles include installers (and other software) that only work on Windows, and thus they are sold as Windows-only, but you can always manually install the fonts on OS X. The best place to put them is in a folder of their own within your computer's /Library/Fonts/ folder, or your local ~/Library Fonts folder, which is where Font Book puts them if you use it to install them.
The current model for distributing fonts is via annual subscriptions. Adobe led the way with what is now TypeKit, and the rest of the industry has, for the most part, followed their lead. [NEED MORE DETAILS HERE] [DISCUSSION OF WEB FONTS AND CSS3]
Taiwan. Known for a set of four fonts released with a broad public license in 1999 and 2000, used widely in open-source software:
- AR PL Mingti2L Big5 (文鼎 PL 細上海宋), AR PL KaitiM Big5 (文鼎 PL 中楷)
- AR PL SungtiL GB (文鼎 PL 簡報宋), AR PL KaitiM GB (文鼎 PL 簡中楷)
In 2010, they released a pair of updated fonts with a revised (non-profit) public license:
- AR PLMingU20 Light (文鼎PL明體U20 L)
- AR PLBaosong2GBK Light (文鼎PL報宋二GBK)
You might be able to find a copy of one of their retail bundles:
- Arphic OpenType 221: Arphic's full OpenType set, mostly Traditional-Chinese.
- Arphic OpenType 43: A selection from the full set.
- Arphic UniFonts 字博士 2: Arphic's full TrueType set of 255 fonts, mostly Traditional-Chinese.
- Arphic UniFonts 字達人 2: A selection from the full set.
In 2015, Arphic moved to a subscription model, called 'iFontCloud' [文鼎雲字庫]: http://www.ifontcloud.com/
Hong Kong. Formerly DynaLab. Maker of the 'DynaFont' [金蝶] line. They are the source of the current Apple fonts LiHei Pro and LiSong Pro in OS X, as well as most of Apple's fonts for Traditional Chinese in the Chinese Language Kit and OS 9. They also make the MingLiU/PMingLiU and DFKai-SB fonts that come with Windows. Most recently, their Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taiwan divisions worked together with Apple to create PingFang, the new system font introduced in OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
There are Pro and Home (less expensive, for non-commercial use) editions available for DynaFont's 2016 TrueType font bundle: [Pro PDF] [Home PDF] They also sell an OpenType variant of the Pro edition, in which the font names match those of DynaFont's high-resolution CID-keyed fonts used by publishers: [OpenType Pro PDF]
To buy, see: R&B Computer Systems LTD (Hong Kong)
They've also implemented an annual subscription model: 'DynaFont Treasure' [華康寶藏] [PDF]
Hong Kong. A long time vendor of Chinese OEM fonts, in 2006 Monotype's new owners [Monotype Imaging] also acquired China Type Design [中國字體設計] in Hong Kong. Maker of the 'Microsoft ZhengHei' fonts that come with Windows Vista and later. Fonts from both sources are available via LinoType. You can also get a Monotype Library Subscription. Priced for the commercial publishing market.
Beijing Hanyi is a well-known Chinese foundry, with an excellent web site showing a fine selection of original fonts, most available online through LinoType. Priced for the commercial publishing market.
Beijing. Founder Group was created at Beijing University in 1986 and incorporated in 1992. Maker of the 'Microsoft YaHei' fonts that come with Windows Vista and later, as well as Simsun (Founder Extended).
FounderType [方正字库] is still based at the Chinese Type Design and Research Center [中国文字字体设计与研究中心] at Beijing University.
Beijing. ZhongYi is the maker of the standards-compliant SimHei (simhei.ttf), SimSun (simsun.ttf, simsunb.ttf), FangSong (simfang.ttf) and KaiTi (simkai.ttf) OEM fonts that come with Windows.
Another important commercial foundry is SinoType in Changzhou, Jiangsu. They don't sell fonts retail, but their 'ST' fonts have been widely distributed on a variety of platforms, including OS X (STHeiti, STKaiti, STSong, and STFangsong) and Microsoft Office. Adobe Heiti Std, Adobe Kaiti Std, Adobe Song Std, and Adobe Fangsong Std are also based on the ST fonts.
Adobe has defined two Chinese 'character collections' for its fonts:
- Adobe-GB1: https://github.com/adobe-type-tools/Adobe-GB1
- Adobe-CNS1: https://github.com/adobe-type-tools/Adobe-CNS1/
Adobe's Creative Cloud installs two Chinese OpenType fonts by default, Adobe Song Std Light and Adobe Ming Std Light. You can use TypeKit to install current versions of the CS 6 fonts listed below, along with Source Han Sans and Source Han Serif.
Adobe's Creative Suite 6 (2012) comes with the following OpenType Chinese fonts:
- Adobe Song Std (Light) [Adobe-GB1-5]
- Adobe Heiti Std (Regular) [Adobe-GB1-5]
- Adobe Kaiti Std (Regular) [Adobe-GB1-5]
- Adobe Fangsong Std (Regular) [Adobe-GB1-5]
- Adobe Ming Std (Light) [Adobe-CNS1-6]
- Adobe Fan Heiti Std (Bold) [Adobe-CNS1-6]
Adobe's 'Std' designation means the fonts cover standard Chinese character sets as defined in the Adobe GB1 and CNS1 collections, without defining glyph variants or other 'Pro' OpenType features. As of 2017, Adobe does not provide 'Pro' Chinese fonts.
Note: Other vendors use the 'Pro' designation differently, meaning the font simply has an extended character set, like the LiHei Pro and LiSong Pro fonts (Big-5E and HKSCS-2001) that come with OS X.
Fonts via Apple
Apple distributes a basic set of Chinese outline fonts with Mac OS 9 and OS X.
|Family||File name||Charset||OS 9||10.3||10.4||10.5||10.6||10.7||10.8||10.10||10.11|
|Fang Song||Fang Song.ttf||GB2312||x||x|
|LiHei Pro||儷黑 Pro.ttf||Big-5E|
|LiSong Pro||儷宋 Pro.ttf||Big-5E|
|Apple LiGothic||Apple LiGothic Medium.ttf||Big-5||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Apple LiSung||Apple LiSung Light.ttf||Big-5||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
- Unicode+ = Contains the CJK Unified Ideographs block, Extension A, and a selection of 6,217 characters from Extension B. These fonts support GB 18030, Big-5E, HKSCS, Japanese JIS X 0213, and Vietnamese Hán-Nôm.
† = Beginning with OS X 10.8, STKaiti and STSong are located within the larger Kaiti SC (楷体.ttc) and Songti SC (宋体.ttc) font collections. In OS X 10.9 and above, these file names change to Kaiti.ttc and Songti.ttc and include TC fonts.
Hiragino Sans GB ~ Beginning with OS X 10.6, Apple includes this GB18030 character-set font in two weights [Hiragino Sans GB W3.otf, Hiragino Sans GB W6.otf]. Designed to coordinate with Hiragino Sans, a Japanese font that comes in ten weights.
Arial Unicode MS ~ Beginning with OS X 10.5, Apple includes this basic Monotype Unicode font from Microsoft Office [Arial Unicode.ttf] for the same interoperability reasons it includes other Microsoft Office fonts, like Arial, Courier New, Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana, and so on.
Beginning with OS X 10.8, Apple includes a variety of additional Chinese fonts with OS X. For the character sets and weights for each, see the Fonts section for your OS: 10.8, 10.10, 10.11.
* = In OS X 10.8, the file names for this font are in Chinese: 雅痞-简.otf and 雅痞-繁.otf.
Fonts via Microsoft
Microsoft Windows and Office contain a core set of Chinese fonts. With Windows 10 and Office 2016, these have become harder to access for use outside of Windows and Office. [HOW TO?]
|Font name||Chinese||Charset||File name||Windows 2000||Windows XP||Windows 7||Windows 10|
- Unicode = Contains the Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs block.
- UnicodeA = Contains the Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs and Extension A blocks.
- UnicodeB = Contains the Extension B block (only).
* = PMingLiU is a proportional font, while MingLiU is monospaced. This difference does not affect Chinese text.
† = Includes MingLiU_HKSCS and MingLiU_HKSCS-ExtB.
‡ = Also supports Unicode's CJK Unified Ideographs Extension A block.
In addition, the Microsoft Office XP Proofing Tools (and Chinese editions) include the font Simsun (Founder Extended) [SURSONG.TTF, 宋体-方正超大字符集]. Created in January 2001, it contains over 64,000 hànzi, including most of the CJK Unified Ideographs Extension B block. Works perfectly in OS X 10.3 and above. Install it in the /Library/Fonts folder, and re-login after installing it. To avoid problems in OS X 10.4 and above, you should use Font Book to install this font. Use File > Add Fonts..
- DFKai-SB has the same PostScript name ('DFKaiShu-SB-Estd-BF') as BiauKai, which comes with OS X. Only one font with a given PostScript name can be active in OS X at a time. They are the same font in terms of design and weight, but the Apple font is limited to the Big Five character set, while the Windows version is a GBK font. If you want to use this font for both simplified and traditional Chinese, then use Font Book to deactivate BiauKai and activate DFKai-SB instead.
Noto CJK Sans and Noto CJK Serif
These are useful, free fonts from Google in seven weights (each) that pretty much everyone should have, unless you have already installed Adobe's Source Han Sans and Source Han Serif, which are the same fonts. The principal designer was Ryoko Nishizuka of Adobe, working with Google and three font foundries in China (SinoType), Korea, and Japan. The selection of the character set was overseen by Ken Lunde of Adobe.
The basic idea is a set of fonts that can be used together as a unified font in a document that combines CJK languages, with the forms of the glyphs for each language correct for that region. They neglected to include glyphs localized for Hong Kong, but that will be rectified in v 2.000. You set them as the default for each language in your word processor or page design application, and off you go:
Note: The SC fonts contain both SC and TC code points for the core 8,105 characters encoded in Unicode as of 2016 and listed in China's 通用规范汉字表 standard (a.k.a. TGH-2013), so there's no need for a separate TC font for China (as opposed to Taiwan and Hong Kong).
The Hanazono fonts are an offshoot of the GlyphWiki project, a database project based in Japan, with all the advantages and drawbacks of the Wiki approach:
http://en.glyphwiki.org (English translation)
As of January 2018, Hanazono Mincho [花園明朝] is comprised of two fonts with a total of 88,884 Unicode kanji plus 8,828 glyph variants registered in the current Ideographic Variation Database (IVD):
- HanaMinA.ttf (CJK Unified Ideographs, Extension A, Compatibility Ideographs, Radicals, Strokes, plus the IVD variants)
- HanaMinB.ttf (Extensions B, C, D, E, F)
Andrew West's free, open-source BabelStone Han font is focused on providing GSource glyphs (i.e., those defined by China as the standard forms) for Unicode hanzi. His discussion of the details of this ongoing project is illuminating. West is an IRG participant as a member of the UK delegation, so he is well-informed and up-to-date on the progress of their work, and his fonts reflect that knowledge. See: http://www.babelstone.co.uk/Fonts/Han.html
He also provides complete fonts for Phags-pa and Tangut, among others.
None of the tools listed here provides specific information about Chinese character-set coverage in a given font. At best, they organize the glyphs in a font by Unicode character blocks. This can be helpful, but it won't tell you, for example, what version of Hong Kong SCS is supported. Toward that end, we provide text files containing the hanzi for selected Chinese character sets:
- 通用规范汉字表 (TGH-2013): [China Simplified] [Hong Kong Traditional]
- Big Five (CNS 11643-1992, Planes 1 and 2), ordered by Academia Sinica educational level: [Download]
- Beyond Big Five: Big-5E (1998), listed by Big-5 block: [Download]
- Beyond Big Five: Hong Kong SCS 1999, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2016: [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs (1993+): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension A (1999): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension B (2001): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension C (2009): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension D (2010): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension E (2015): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Unified Ideographs Extension F (2017): [Download]
- Unicode CJK Strokes 2005, 2008: [Download]
In theory, you can use these by copying and pasting the text into the Preview > Custom window in Font Book. In practice, such large files can cause problems. LinoType FontExplorer has a similar feature. Font File Browser also works for this. See below.
Comes with OS X. You can create smart collections for Chinese fonts by setting the Languages criteria to 'Chinese (Simplified)' and/or 'Chinese (Traditional).' 'Chinese' also works. For the most complete collection, use all three together. This works well for the fonts that come with OS X, but YMMV when you start adding other fonts:
For curated collections limited to Chinese fonts you might actually want to use, build regular collections from this Chinese smart collection.
Note: There is a bug in macOS 10.12 Sierra for smart collections and Chinese. They don't work. Fixed in macOS 10.13 High Sierra.
Primarily a font manager like Font Book, but functions well as a font viewer, also like Font Book. LinoType is a vendor of high-quality fonts from a wide range of foundries, including Chinese. See our discussion of Chinese font foundries, above. OS X 10.9 and above.
Font File Browser
Browse the contents of any font, whether it is installed on your machine or not. Useful for examining fonts without installing them.
OS X 10.11 and above.
Apple Font Tools
Free. Apple provides a suite of command-line font tools, along with a set of instructions and a tutorial.
DTL OTMaster 6
From the makers of DTL FontMaster, Dutch Type Library's OTMaster 6 allows you to review and edit the tables and contours of fonts in all OpenType and TrueType formats. Full Unicode support for large CJK fonts and complex-script (Indic, Arabic etc.) fonts.
OS X 10.7 and above.
Glyphs 2 has the stamp of approval of FounderType at Beijing University, since they sell it on their site for the domestic Chinese market, here.
OS X 10.9 and above.
FontLab VI is FontLab's current flagship product, released December 2017 after more than two years in development.
As of December 2017: 'CJKV fonts may be imported into FontLab but they can only be generated as TrueType fonts and will have no vertical metric sidebearings.' I don't know what that means, but FontLab has a history of good support for Chinese fonts in products like AsiaFont Studio.
OS X 10.10 and above.