Erik’s Brain

The reward of a thing well done...

Snow Leopard, Adobe, Fonts, PostScript Type 1, Helvetica Neue, and All Things Related

It started with me trying to use an PostScript Type 1 version of Helevetica Neue in place of the OS X version of Helvetica Neue. I won’t get into why I was doing this, but it’s a common problem that a lot of people have dealt with for years. Part of that process involves removing the Mac Helvetica from a couple of System folders, one of which is buried very deeply in folder after folder after folder.

The good news is that I was able to use the version of Helvetica Neue I wanted without too much trouble.

Then things got weird.

It seemed like Flash didn’t see Helvetica Neue at all anymore. Not good. Then I started to realize that NO Type 1 fonts were showing up in Flash. So after some investigating I found that Snow Leopard doesn’t support Type 1 fonts. At least according to many people on the Interwebs. But that really didn’t make sense because Font Book showed the fonts just fine. And programs like Text Edit and Pages worked fine* with the Type 1 fonts.

Then I learned that there was some new weird issues that cropped up with CS4 apps and Snow Leopard. Fonts weren’t working right (duh) and a lot of people gave up and went back to Leopard.

Seeing as how I could no longer work on my biggest current Flash project because a critical font, TheSans, wasn’t showing up in Flash, I thought I was going to have to revert to a backup of Snow Leopard or maybe even go back to Leopard.

And that’s about the time I noticed that even my True Type pixel fonts from Fonts For Flash weren’t showing up in Flash. WTF?! My font list was a lot shorter than it used to be. I had no idea what fonts were missing, but I was getting a little scared. And a lot pissed at myself because the thing that started this string of events, trying to get my big family of Type 1 Helvetica Neue to work, was just me messing around. I didn’t really need the full version of Helvetica Neue. I had decided I was going to use Futura for my new website anyway.

But before I gave up, I decided to try FontExplorer X Pro to see if that would fix things. The good people of the Internet said Font Book sucked and I should try a real font management app. Okay. Sure. Err… no good. Seems like it’s not ready for 10.6 because every time I tried to activate some fonts, it just hung and hung and displayed a colorful spinning beach ball.

Time to fix things. Let’s start by putting the Mac version of Helvetica Neue back in its deeply hidden folder and the System/Library/Fonts/ folder. Reboot. Things work fine. What? Yes, all of my fonts are back in Flash. Everything works great. In fact, even the 3rd party Helvetica Neue works in Flash.

Still, there are some mysteries left unsolved:

  • Some faces, like 25 Ultra Light, don’t show up in Font Book, even though they are in the /Library/Fonts/ folder. And those fonts show up fine in Illustrator and Photoshop.
  • Those same faces that don’t show up in Font Book also don’t show up in Flash. And although I see the TrueType version of Helvetica Neue in Flash, it won’t let me actually select it.
  • The list of Helvetica Neue faces in Pages is identical to that in Font Book, as I would expect. So I can use either True Type or Type 1, but some of the faces, like 25 Ultra Light don’t show up.

I don’t understand it all. All I know is that restoring the system version of Helvetica Neue to its correct places in the System folders seemed to fix the major issues I had caused by removing it. And, really, that’s pretty much the only thing I wanted to share in this blog post.

∗ Some people say that the kerning or spacing is different in Snow Leopard. That might be the case. I didn’t do side by side testing; I was just checking to make sure that the fonts showed up I could use them.