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Installing Fonts in Windows | Installing Fonts on a Mac

Installing fonts in Windows

One of the questions I get asked a lot as an instructor is how to install fonts in windows. Here's's really easy!

Note: These screenshots were taken in Windows XP, but it's the same procedure in Windows 95, 98, and ME as well.This page is graphics intense and will take a while to load.

Categories of font downloads

There are hundreds of sites on the net that offer fonts to download for free. They fall in several categories:

  • Commercial: These are commercial fonts and require a payment to use. You can usually pay by credit card before downloading, or order on CD.
  • Demo: These are partial sets of commercial fonts you can try before buying.
  • Freeware: These are really free, and they ask nothing of you to use them. There may, however, be restrictions on commercial use so read the license.
  • Shareware: Some are shareware, which means if you try them and decide to keep them, you must pay a small fee, which is usually small.
  • Careware/Dontationware: You may find Careware or Donationware where the author asks you to give a donation to your favorite charity or theirs to use the font. Not required, but it is nice and helps someone and you get a new font and feel good all day!
  • Postcardware: You may run across Postcardware, where the author provides an address and ask you send a postcard to him or her, or in the case of one font author, his young daughter (who is probably grown by now but probably still loves to get postcards!)


Finding fonts to download

This is simple. Type "font downloads" into Google without the quotes. You'll find more links that you can possibly imagine. The hardest part of installing fonts is choosing what to download and keep. There are thousands od choices and they are as addictive as chocolate. I won't turn this page into a page of links because there are thousands of those already, so why reinvent the wheel when someone else has already done the work? I do provide links to some of my favorites in the classrooms on the Class Resource Page in most of my classes. if you happen to be one of my students, you can start there.


Types of fonts

Fonts come in various flavors. Even though you can use Postscript (Type 1) and Open Type fonts in windows, if you are a enough of a beginner to need this tutorial, you probably aren't ready for that anyway. We will only be concerned here with Windows True Type fonts. 

True Type fonts have an extension of .ttf. Example: myfont.ttf

If the font you are downloading has an extension of .zip, it is compressed with a program like winzip, and you will need winzip or another unzipping program (I use Alladin Stuffit Deluxe for Windows). Windows XP comes with zip/unzip built in.

Example: is a compressed file and must be decompressed before installing. You will need to double click on to expand it. The file inside, myfont.ttf, is the file you install to windows, not the .zip file.

If a font has a .sit extension, example: myfont.sit, then it is a Macintosh font and you will not be able to use it in Windows even if you can open it, which you will not be able to do without a .sit expander like Alladin Expander.

After you expand the zip files make sure you pay close attention to where you extracted them! You will need to know where the ttf files are to install them.


Installing the downloaded fonts

My Computer  Double click on the My Computer Icon on your desktop.


This will open a window like this. Again this is Windows XP so yours may look different but it should have a control panel icon.

My computer


Windows default view is larger icons than the above screenshot, or you may be like me and prefer a list view, and have changed the view, so you might have something like this:

list view


However your My Computer window is displayed, you should have an icon called Control Panel. Double click on it to open the control panel. The control panel lets you control the inner workings of your machine, but if you don't know what you are doing, don't touch anything except the Fonts folder. You do not want to cause problems for the computer!

The control panel can also be displayed as large icons, smaller icons, a list, or details. Yours may look different but you get the general idea.

control panel


The fonts folder icon will look different in different versions of windows, but they all go the same place. Double click on it to open it.

fonts folder

The fonts folder looks something like this in list view.

Fonts folder


You might see several different kinds of fonts displayed, unless you are using an older version of Windows. Then you will have only True Type fonts in this folder. True type fonts have an extension of .TTF, and what you download from the web will usually be true type fonts.

Open Type

True Type

Type 1

open fonts
true type


Go to File > Install New Font. It might say Install Fonts or something else but it means the same thing.



The Add fonts dialog opens. Choose the drive and folder where the fonts to install are located.

Make sure to check the Copy fonts to Fonts Folder box so they will be added. Otherwise it will only add a shortcut to the file and if you move the font files, windows won't be able to find them to load them.

The list will load in the upper left window. Highlight the ones you wish to install.

add fonts


Click OK. That's it. The new font or fonts are installed and should appear in the font folder.

added font


They are also now listed in any application that uses fonts.




For more font installation information, go to Adobe's font installation page.


Temporarily installing Fonts in Windows

Fonts my be temporarily installed in windows without placing them in the Fonts folder. To do this, double click on the .ttf file and it will open in a preview. Minimize this preview and as long as you leave it open, the font will be available in your windows programs for use. You may have to close and reopen some programs to get them to load the font.

Installing Fonts on a Mac

True type font files have an extension of .ttf, and Open Type fonts have an extension of .otf. If they have a .zip extension, they are zipped and MUST be unzipped before you can install them!  Fonts on the Mac can be installed for the current user only, or for all users on the machine.

To install fonts for the current user only

If the font file is zipped, unzip it and then copy the font's .ttf file to the user's Home folder. MacintoshHD > Users > Home (where Home is your username) > Library > Fonts folder.

To install fonts for all users

If the font file is zipped, unzip it and then copy the font's .ttf file to the MacintoshHD > Library > Fonts folder

Note: Do not mess with the Fonts folder in System > Library! These fonts are needed by the operating system.



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©1995-2004 Sara Froehlich

Page updated on Ocober 10, 2004