Testing your fonts in Adobe apps

by Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer

3 August 2022 Published on 9 December 2012

Adobe provides a great way to quickly test your fonts. It’s fairly simple, but you need to do it exactly right. This tutorial shows you how.

Do you have a version of Adobe’s Creative Suite or Creative Cloud installed? If you export your fonts into a certain folder, they are immediately activated in Adobe apps. This allows you to circumvent font cache problems. No restarting, no cache-emptying and no re-loading required.

Creating the Adobe fonts folder

So, let’s make that certain folder. Should you already have it, you can skip this step, of course, and scroll down to the next headline. But if you do not have that folder yet, here is how to create it.

Switch to Finder, and from the menu bar, choose Go > Go to Folder (Cmd-Shift-G), then paste this line into the dialog, including the leading and trailing slashes:

/Library/Application Support/Adobe/

The dialog should look something like this:

Confirm the dialog by pressing the Go button. The Finder will take you to Adobe’s app support folder. Now, inside that folder, you need to create a new folder called Fonts. To do that, choose File > New Folder (Cmd-Shift-N), and type Fonts (that is, uppercase F, lowercase o, n, t, s), followed by Return. You may be asked to enter your Mac password because you are changing something inside the Mac’s Library, and that requires your credentials.

Pro tip: Add the Fonts folder to your Finder sidebar (View > Show Sidebar, Cmd-Opt-S, but the Toolbar needs to be visible to display it: View > Show Toolbar, Cmd-Opt-T). Simply drag the Fonts folder into the window sidebar, right under Favorites. Now you can quickly access it from every Open/Save dialog, FTW!

Exporting into the Adobe fonts folder

In Glyphs, when you export a font (Cmd-E), pay attention to the lower half of your File >
dialog, where it says Export Destination:

  1. Activate the Export Destination checkmark.
  2. Click on the Path button and a save dialog sheet will appear.
  3. In the dialog, navigate to the Adobe Fonts Folder you just created.
  • Tip 1: You can comfortably choose Fonts form the sidebar on the left if you have followed the the pro tip I gave you further above.
  • Tip 2: Alternatively, you can press Cmd-Shift-G to invoke the Go dialog, paste this in its path field and confirm by clicking Go:
    /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts/
  1. Now the Fonts folder should be selected in the dialog. Confirm the dialog by pressing the Open button in its lower right corner.

After this, you are returned to the Export dialog, where the Export Destination should read Library > Application Support > Adobe > Fonts. You can now export into the Adobe Fonts folder by simply clicking the Next button, and boom: Any font saved into that folder will immediately be activated in all running Adobe apps, be it Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign, no matter which CS or CC version.

And what’s even better, Glyphs remembers these settings! So, next time you export, you just press Cmd-E, and hit the Return button, and your font export into the Adobe Fonts folder is done. Cool.

Important note: If you created the Fonts folder while an Adobe app was already running, you do need to restart that app, but only this once. That’s because Adobe programs check for the presence of this folder at startup.

If you re-export the same font again, it will be overwritten in the Fonts folder. The changes take effect immediately. So you can simply switch back to your Adobe app, and perhaps, if you’re quick enough, even see the font update in realtime.

Getting the permissions right

If your fonts do not appear in the Adobe app of your choice, even though you are sure you exported it into the Adobe Fonts folder you just set up, please verify two things:

  1. Make sure you are actually exporting into the right Adobe Fonts Folder.
  2. Make sure you have the permissions to write in that folder.

About point number 1: It may interest you that there are no less than three Library folders with Application Support folders inside, and you might have accidentally picked the wrong one. There is /System/Library/ (a.k.a. the System Library), there is ~/Library/ (a.k.a. the User Library) and there is /Library/ (a.k.a. the Root Library). You want the last one, i.e., the Root Library. Best way to make sure is to press Cmd-Shift-G (in Finder or in the File > Export > OTF path dialog) and paste the path /Library/Application Support/Adobe/ into the Go to Folder dialog that appears, and then go looking for the Fonts folder. Create it with Cmd-Shift-N if it is not there.

About number 2: In Finder, navigate to the Adobe Fonts Folder by either pressing Cmd-Shift-G or choosing Go > Go to Folder…, pasting the path /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts/ into the dialog and pressing the button labeled Go:

Once you are there, choose File > Get Info (Cmd-I) to bring up the folder info. In the Info window that appears, look for the last section, Sharing & Permissions, and make sure the user labeled with (Me) has Read and Write permissions:

If a user labeled (Me) is missing: click the lock symbol in the lower right corner of the window, you will be asked for your password or Touch ID, and then click the Plus button and in the following mini dialog, add yourself to the users with permissions, and attribute Read & Write to yourself. Click the lock again to confirm the changes.

If a user labeled (Me) is present, but the wrong permissions are being indicated (No Access, or Read Only or Write Only): click the lock symbol in the lower right corner of the window, you will be asked for your password or Touch ID, and then click the Privilege entry next to your user, and pick Read & Write from the pop-up menu that comes up. Click the lock again to confirm the changes.

Now try again.

App-specific fonts folder

If you do not want to clutter all your Adobe font menus with your test exports, you have the option to only use InDesign for testing purposes. In that case, you simply export your fonts into the Fonts folder inside the InDesign app folder:

Straight out of the box, only InDesign already has this folder. But actually, this trick works for most Adobe apps. Just create a folder named Fonts inside its application folder (next to the app itself), and export your fonts there. Again, if you create that folder while the app is running, you have to restart it that once, but then, you’re good to go forever after.

Tracking down problems

You may still run into problems, though, especially when a font does not seem to update after exporting into the Adobe Fonts folder. In that case, switch to InDesign and choose Type > Find Font… In the upcoming dialog, select the font that is giving you a headache, then click on the Reveal in Finder button. You will be taken to the Finder location of the actual font file in use. This way, you can make sure if really the font you just exported is in use, or a previous version, or perhaps a conflicting font that is installed in one of the fonts folders of the system.

Unfortunately, other Adobe apps like Illustrator do not offer this button in their Type > Find Fonts… dialog, so you have to open InDesign for that. And, if you run into trouble in Illustrator, you will also have to check in Illustrator’s app-specific Fonts folder.

If that does not help find the problem, try emptying your Temp folder: In Glyphs, choose Script > Open Scripts Folder (Cmd-Shift-Y), and you are taken to the Application Support folder of Glyphs. Next to the Scripts folder, you will find a Temp folder. Open it, select everything in it (Cmd-A), and move the selection to the trash (Cmd-Delete). Then, back in Glyphs, export again (Cmd-E). An outdated file in the Temp folder of a project may interfere in the export process.

Adobe apps refreshing slowly

Do you find that, after you exported your fonts from Glyphs and switching to InDesign or Illustrator, the app seems to be frozen or ‘hanging’ for a few seconds? Maybe it takes even 10–15 seconds before the Adobe app becomes active again and refreshes its windows.

The most likely reason for this is simple: too many fonts in the Adobe Fonts folder. So, every once in a while, do check back and have a look to see if there are too many font files in it. Also subfolders count. We have seen noticeable performance decreases with as few as a a few dozen font files in it. Switch to Finder, go the Adobe Fonts folder, select all files (Cmd-A), move them to the Trash (Cmd-Delete).

The second most likely reason: parallel app-specific and system-wide Adobe Fonts folders. My advice: get rid of the app-specific folder. Cmd-click on Illustrator’s, Photoshop’s or InDesign’s Dock icon, and the containing app folder will open in Finder. Move the Fonts folder (the one you find next to the Adobe app) to the trash, and restart the app.

The third most likely reason is a font conflict. Possibly even within the Fonts folder: font files with different file names can coexist in the same folder, and they can still have same family and style names. A font conflict can confuse the Adobe app about which font to activate and display in its font menu. This may also cause a delay every time you switch to the Adobe app. The good news is: if you have followed the advice in the previous two paragraphs, this should be taken care of already.

If, however, you have tracked down a conflict between a font in the Adobe Fonts folder and a font that is installed in the system, you may want to add two system restarts for good measure: the first with the Shift key held down, which triggers the system to start into ‘Safe Mode’ and delete and rebuild its caches, including font caches; and the second for restarting without ‘Safe Mode’, resuming normal operations. Note: the rebuilding caches may take a few more minutes, slowing down the system for a little while after the second restart. Want to know more? Read the Eliminating Font Cache Problems tutorial for all the ins and outs.

No direct installation from out of the Adobe fonts folder

So, you think you are done with testing your font in the Adobe Fonts Folder, and your font is ready for prime time? Then there should be nothing wrong with installing it in the system. But there is still one catch: You cannot install a font from within the Adobe Fonts Folder in macOS versions prior to High Sierra 10.13.6. When you double click a font file, or right-click and choose Open With > Font Book, Font Book will complain with something like this:

Do not worry, your font is fine. The error message is just misleading. The real reason is that Font Book will not accept fonts from out of the Library. The solution is simple: move your fonts to the Desktop before you install them. Ta-daaa, now the same fonts suddenly install without a hitch, ha. Or upgrade your macOS to version 10.13.6 or later.

Update 2016-12-19: updated screenshots, added Reveal in Finder trick.
Update 2017-07-16: added ‘No Direct Installation from out of the Adobe Fonts Folder’.
Update 2018-06-05: added section ‘Getting the Permissions Right’.
Update 2018-07-23: added section ‘Creating the Adobe Fonts Folder’, minor changes in the following section.
Update 2018-08-01: added note about High Sierra, where installation bug is fixed.
Update 2018-10-21: added section about slow app refreshes; rephrased opening paragraph; added sample font credit.
Update 2018-12-15: corrected an unfinished sentence from the last update.
Update 2022-08-03: updated title, related articles, minor formatting.