Dingbats in the sandbox

So you have a new computer and you decide it’s time to start fresh. No migrating this bad boy. Nope this time you install everything new. Fresh Office 365, fresh Creative Cloud, fresh folders, and now everything is sparkly and organized*. It was a pain to do, but damn if it doesn’t feel good. Now it’s time to get down to work. You grab a steaming cup of joe, sit down to your recently cleaned desk, and get comfy in that ergonomic chair. You open up that client file and there it is, the missing font popup, you are missing Webdings and Century Gothic.
What in the world? You check your font manager to activate them. Then you think… “oh yeah, those are Microsoft fonts I don’t need to activate them.” You check your Library/Fonts folder(s) and you don’t see them.  But you know you installed Office. You may even take a moment to open Word, and if you did…guess what…they are there! Now you are really confused.
Oh Microsoft, what have you done? And is this Microsoft or are there other variables at play? Here is the Catch 22 of this conundrum: it’s awesome that the stinkin’ Microsoft fonts are no longer cluttering our font lists, but we may find ourselves missing them once in a while.
Here is the explanation for this situation (and a very general one for the sake of simplicity). In 2012, Apple required all app developers to sandbox their applications. Sandboxing is a security technique, in which, a program isolates itself as much as possible from the system and other applications. Yes, it can gain access to system resources, but it doesn’t add to them unless necessary. You see where I’m going here? The fonts aren’t installed in System/Library/Fonts, Library/Fonts or even User/Library/Fonts. They are tucked away in a place that only the Microsoft apps can get too.
So this is a good thing. If you were a power user who struggled with cleaning out our font menus, by default they are now much leaner. If you weren’t a user who cleaned out your font menus, you no longer have to glance at annoyingly long font menus. But now you need to know how to access those Microsoft fonts, for that one off job, for that particular client. Luckily this isn’t hard, remember how I mentioned the apps had to be self-contained? This means the fonts are IN the apps.

So to access a Microsoft font you can’t find in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc that you know comes from Office…

  1. Navigate to your applications folder
  2. Right click on an office application
  3. Select show package contents
  4. Select either Contents/Resources/DFonts OR Contents/Resources/Fonts. (BOTH folders have fonts in them, the vast majority of them are in the DFonts folder. The fonts Office apps use to function are in the Fonts folder.)
  5. There are your fonts. Copy them to another location—or better yet add them to your font manager from this location.

So there you go. This is how to access those few Microsoft fonts that you actually need. And the scissors glyph. Don’t hide it…I saw you using it last week. It’s okay, we all need a little more webdings in our lives.


*Quick note here: If you didn’t start with a clean installation as mentioned in the first paragraph, then you may not experience this. Microsoft Office 2011 installs fonts into the Library/Fonts folder. So if you have previously installed that Office 2011, they should still be there. 






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *