Testing Your Fonts in Adobe Apps

  • by Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer
  • Tutorial
  • – Modified on

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

Adobe Fonts Folder

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

Activate the Export Destination checkmark, click on the Path button and in the save dialog that appears, navigate to: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts/. If the Fonts folder does not exist, just hit Cmd-Shift-N and create folder called Fonts (with a capital F).

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.

Note: If you created the Fonts folder while an Adobe app was 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, see the font update in realtime. Cool.

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 CS 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 any Adobe app. Just create a folder named Fonts inside its application folder, 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 the 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.

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. 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.


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’.