Removing Nonessential System Fonts in Leopard
In previous versions of Mac OS X, experienced design and prepress users who wanted to optimize their production computers have removed nonessential system fonts, especially those which conflicted with PostScript Type 1 fonts of the same name?for example, Helvetica or Times. If you are one of those users, you should know that there’s an important change in system behavior in Leopard and a workaround.
I was informed of this change today by font guru and consulting colleague, Chuck Weger of Elara Systems, and I wanted to pass this on to InDesignSecrets readers.
The method of removing nonessential fonts has been officially documented by Apple for past Mac OS X systems. The latest resource is the PDF, “Advanced Typography with Mac OS X Tiger.” Refer to the section, “Optimizing a Production System,” beginning on page 22.
I’ll include what Chuck found in his own words. Pay special notice to Chuck’s warnings about using this technique at the end:
In the past, pro font users tended to remove problematic system fonts such as Helvetica, because they tended to conflict with the users’ own preferred fonts of the same name. These “required” system fonts were (and still are) stored in:
In Tiger and earlier systems, you could delete such fonts by selecting, deleting, then authenticating as an admin. No problem (well, there were sometimes cache-related problems, but those were easily solved by adding back or enabling your own version of the deleted font, and before Tiger you probably had to clean the font cache as well).
In Leopard, however, if you delete a “required” font like Helvetica this way, it will delete fine, but then you’ll see a dialog that says “The system font ‘Helvetica’ was removed. This font file is required by Mac OS X to display onscreen text. It has been restored.” And shazam, the font miraculously reappears in /System/Library/Fonts.
So, NO WAY to get rid of such fonts? Not to worry, there’s a solution:
Navigate in the Finder (or your favorite file manager substitute) to:
Here you’ll see a copy of key fonts needed by the system. Delete the font from this directory first, THEN you can delete it from the /System/Library/Fonts folder.
You’ve essentially just broken Leopard’s ability to repair itself as far as that particular font goes. But, in a pro publishing environment where your Helvetica is not the same as Apple’s choice, that’s something you sometimes have to do.
As far as I know, the major font managers have not yet been updated to deal with this change.
WARNING: don’t try this at home if you’re not sure what you’re doing. This technique should only be used by experienced design/prepress users who simply MUST control their font destiny. If you remove Helvetica (for example) in this way, IMMEDIATELY replace it with the Helvetica of your choice (PostScript, OpenType, TrueType) — but don’t put it in the /System/Library/Fonts folder, instead put it in a higher-level place, like /Library/Fonts.
And in NO case should you ever remove the Lucida Grande, Keyboard, or LastResort fonts.
Hope this helps others who battle with fonts daily.