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Fonts behaving badly.

Before upgrading your Mac OS from 10.5.8 to what will eventually be 10.6.8, especially in these complicated times, you really have to plan ahead if you use your computer for work. Especially if that work includes graphic design that uses fonts, they will betray you! But you can get them to come crawling back, you just have to spend a little time taming them.

I had decided to be lazy, against everything I’ve learned in the past 15 years, and try to upgrade my OS while leaving my software as is. I have 14+ applications that I use regularly and I was not up for reinstalling all of them. Looking back, that was a stupid decision, in addition to being lazy. It made a mess out of pretty much all of my design apps and trashed my font management abilities completely.

I started looking for other users comments and experiences and found I was not a unique case, and I just needed to update until I reached 10.6.8 to regain control of my fonts. Whew! Since I installed the new OS from a purchased CD, it was not up to date, it was just plain OS 10.6, a lot had changed. I figured all right, I’ll download the system updates, and all will be well (with a home DSL connection, these take forever). Updates downloaded, and installed, my fonts were still behaving badly. They were not being recognized and every time I tried to verify a font I got an error message and a new “big red x” beside the font.

Now I’m thinking I have to go back to my old OS 10.5.8. Fortunately I had backed my entire system up to a bootable drive so I could go running back in time if it got too scary. I was clueless about the font problem when I did this or I may not have upgraded at all! Note here: I never save work to my computer’s hard drive. I always work off of external drives. I love the ones that contain two drives that you can set up to mirror each other. I have backups of everything, and it’s all in one neat little box!

I looked into updating my font management software thinking that would help. Well, that wouldn’t even install. No matter how many times I pleaded with it. I’d invested a good 15 hours in this process between downloads, research and installs, and I was not going down without a good fight. I lost the battle. I caved…

Since I abhor disorder, and weirdness going on while I’m working, I concluded my only intelligent options were to go back to the old, or wipe the entire drive and start from scratch with the new OS from the CD. I would like to add here, this is where I should have started, as I mentioned earlier. Don’t be lazy, just back up everything to a bootable drive, your safety net, and dive in, wipe that drive clean, install the new OS and all of its updates.

Next, check with the vendor website for each of your apps to see if you need to update them to be compatible with your new OS. You don’t want to install incompatible software and mess up your pristine new system. I spent another 15 hours updating and installing and installing and installing. It was worth it though, my machine was and is screamin’ fast now! But my fonts were still having issues.

Back to web research, I’d found before I did the clean install that the Mac OS’s prior to 10.6.8 had issues with Postscript, Type 1 and OpenType fonts as well as a bunch of other font issues. This site is very informative and helpful.
Once I read this, since my system software was now up to date, I looked for the solution on my font management software vendor’s site and learned that they offered a fix for the font problems I was having. Personally, I’d rather have software manage my fonts then delve into some of the more complicated solutions. I just want the fonts to be there when I need them, magically!

Most importantly this took care of my font weirdness once and for all. Bad font problems like fonts that won’t display, incorrect font menus, garbled text, faulty font substitutions, false font corruption warnings (which I got for every single font), application instability and all weird performance problems. Big relief. Imagine not being able to open any of your legacy client files. No don’t. I did, and it was not an enjoyable experience.

Insert me here, hugely grateful at this point. Please understand, since I’m a bit obsessive compulsive, I had been at this process pretty much every waking hour since I’d started. I downloaded while I slept! I needed to be up and running to get back to work. Today, everything is running great, and I’m glad I finally got smart and decided on the “clean install” avenue, even though it is time-consuming. I suggest a nice glass of wine to keep you patient, ok, sane, when working during cocktail hour.

As usual, I will not upgrade to the newest, the world’s most advanced OS, Lion 10.7, until 10.8 is announced, since stability, performance, and predictability are important to me while I’m working. I’ll let you brave, edgy folks out there test it out first, oh many thanks to you daring Mac OS devotees. By the way, what animal do you think we’ll have as a mascot for 10.8? Or, hey maybe Apple will use a raptor? Ya think? How about an osprey?

Anyway, just fyi, I use Adobe CS5 Design Premium, Insider Software’s FontAgent Pro for Mac and that cool solution they provide called, Smasher 2. The font tamer!!! Love it. Docile fonts! Find them right here… While you’re at it check out their sweet deal on OpenType fonts!

So far, Office, Toast 11, Spin Doctor, Painter 11, Genuine Fractals Print Pro, Photomatix Pro, and VueScan are all doing well with the appropriate upgrades where needed. I haven’t been able to get my LaCie Blue Eye Pro to work correctly yet, and the upgrade won’t install…hmm, ya just can’t rest the mind these days…I must find the answer to this one. Eventually, it’s not a big issue.

I decided to post this just in case any of you are thinking of being lazy. ☺ Don’t make more work for yourself. It really is true. Do it right the first time. It takes way less time! And yes it did take me quite awhile to write this to explain why I did it wrong…and I know better!

“It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow