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Tools & Tips

Font Management: Linotype FontExplorer X

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Typography is very important in the world of design, but a growing font library can be difficult to manage and organize. Enter Linotype FontExplorer X. This program allows the user to preview fonts and activate only the fonts needed. This tutorial will cover the use of this free program and highlight its application to Photoshop and design.

Getting Started

First things first, FontExplorer X is available in both Windows and Mac formats. Click here to download a free copy of FontExplorer X. Install the program and import fonts by clicking File > Import Fonts. Then navigating to the fonts you wish to organize.

Linotype gives you the option to import your fonts into the main font library, into a new set, or into a selected set. Much like iTunes, a set is basically a playlist of fonts. The user can create as many sets as desired.

Note: Imported fonts are moved into the FontExplorer X folder in the Home directory and placed into alphabetical folders. You can opt to copy them to this folder and keep them in your original folder (rather than moving them) in the advanced preferences tab.

Browsing and Previewing

After importing your favorite fonts, they can be viewed in the preview window simply by clicking to highlight the font. Selecting multiple fonts allows the designer to compare each font selected. The user can type anything in the text box, and different font sizes and colors can be selected for review.

Activating Fonts

This feature is the bread and butter of FontExplorer X. A font can be activated by clicking the checkbox next to its name. This action makes the font available for use in other programs. Once clicked, the font is placed in the Activated Fonts set.

To use the font in Photoshop, click the drop down box in the character palette and select Reset Character to refresh the available fonts. This way, you can leave Photoshop open while using FontExplorer X to choose the perfect font for your design. Fonts can be deactivated by clicking the checkbox again to uncheck it. This method prevents the font folder from being cluttered with a number of fonts that may only be used for one project.

Creating Sets

Creating sets is a feature that is incredibly useful for daily design. Designers are often working on more than one project at a given time, and a set can be created to organize the fonts for each project. Web designers can name a set after each domain or workflow. To create a new set CTRL+Click (right click for PC) and select New Set.

Additional Features

Exporting Fonts

If you have a large font library, it isn't always practical to keep it loaded on every computer in your arsenal. For instance, I keep my main font library on my iMac. Then I export the fonts for certain projects when I want to edit them on my laptop. This is also useful if you need someone else to work on a PSD with project specific fonts. To export, highlight the set and select Font>Export from the menu.

WYSIWYG Viewing

Command+5 will display the fonts in the font list in a What You See Is What You Get fashion. This feature makes choosing the right font that much easier.

Font Store

Much like iTunes, FontExplorer X offers a browseable store where fonts can be viewed and purchased easily. The browsing features allow the user to view popular fonts in a practical format.

Detect Fonts

Often, I view a .pdf file and find myself wondering what fonts are being used. FontExplorer X can determine the fonts used in any of the following document types: rtf, rtfd, pdf, eps, svg, svgz, and more! Simply, click File > Detect Fonts In Documents and navigate to the file you want to read.

Closing Remarks

Linotype's FontExplorer X can help a designer view an array of fonts and keep them organized without having to physically drop them in the fonts system folder. Start using the program today and explore the many features it has to offer. It is a tool that should be in every designer's arsenal!

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