This section examines each of the various macOS releases (High Sierra 10.13.x through Big Sur 11.x) and provides the recommended minimum list of the fonts to be stored in the System folder for that particular release of the operating system in order for it and most third party applications to run properly. These lists also include the fonts most needed for the web, iLife and iWork. The fonts listed should always be active on your Macintosh for macOS and should not be removed.
Note that this first part of Section 1 covers only fonts required in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder. There is also a root /Library/Fonts/ folder with its own set of required fonts, which will be addressed in the second half of Section 1.
From the font lists below, the San Francisco font set is used throughout the system font display purposes. This set, and the fonts HelveticaNeueDeskInterface.ttc and LucidaGrande.ttc must be present for the Finder and OS installed application menus to work.
All other fonts in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder (that are not included in the lists below by release level) can be removed. You will need Administrative access to delete fonts from this folder. It is advised to save them for future use. Create a new folder on your hard drive and copy them there first. If there are any removed fonts you want to use for a project at a later date, they can always be activated with Font Book, Suitcase Fusion, FontAgent, FontExplorer X Pro, TypeDNA, or other font manager.
See section 6 on how to permanently remove Apple's supplied versions of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue if this is important for you. System Integrity Protection was added to the OS beginning with El Capitan, 10.11.x, making it yet more difficult to remove unneeded fonts, but it can still be done.
Other than those fonts the OS absolutely requires to function, when it comes to the fonts you prefer to have on your system there is no right or wrong list. My idea of required fonts is based on years in prepress. So like most shops, the number of fonts throughout the system is kept to a minimum in the effort to make sure you will never have a conflict with the fonts a client sends with their project. Actually, the prepress and full service printers I've worked and freelanced for usually have a much shorter list than even those presented here. Sometimes the barest minimum of fonts they can get away with and still have the OS function. Such shops normally have no unnecessary software installed on their work stations; just what's needed to get production work done.
This bare minimum setup has some advantage, but you will then be missing many fonts commonly used on the web. What then happens is that your browser ends up substituting the missing fonts with whatever is available. The result is that web pages will display so badly at times that it can be difficult (or even impossible) to navigate them. The bare minimum setup also lacks many fonts that Apple supplied applications require to operate. For most users, having only the bare minimum fonts on your system is not recommended.
You can find many different web sites telling you what the minimum font installation for each macOS release should be. Each site has its own reasons for including some fonts that I do not, and others don't include fonts I think should be active. My main decision making was to run every application the OS ships with and many major third party applications, seeing what wouldn't work if a particular font were missing. The end result is the list of fonts you find here. It's a compromise between the Spartan set most prepress shops use, and what a more fully functional OS needs along with proper display of web pages.
Special Notes About Section 1 - Presented in no particular order as each OS release changes the rules a bit. Hopefully each is organized into its own paragraph, but no promises.
Readers who have followed this article for some time will note that Times and Symbol have been added to the required font lists. They were excluded before since this article was originally intended as a guide for prepress, when the article was also much shorter in length. So the lists have been modified to represent what the majority of macOS users should have in their /System/Library/Fonts/ folder, rather than the leaning towards the needs of prepress. For that reason, Courier has been added back into the minimum font lists for the System folder. As with Times and Symbol, remove Courier if it interferes with your need to use a PostScript version.
Users should be aware that not all font managers, and possibly other utilities, will list font names exactly as you see them here. For example, Suitcase Fusion's interface lists Keyboard and Helvetica Neue Desk UI as having a period preceding their names (those come from the font's internal names). Font Book also hides some fonts in its listings from the user in Snow Leopard and later, such as LastResort and Keyboard. But you shouldn't be removing those fonts anyway.
If you haven't already, purchase Adobe's or Linotype's new OpenType PostScript Helvetica fonts if you prefer, or require PostScript fonts for your output. They do not conflict with Apple's Helvetica fonts, so you don't have to fight with the OS supplied fonts as to which ones are active. Use Type 1 PostScript when you have to accurately reproduce a standing older project (see section 6 if this applies to you).
One thing to be aware of when you disable Apple's Helvetica.ttc and HelveticaNeue.ttc, is that you are disabling quite a few fonts. This is because a .ttc file is a suitcase which can contain any number of individual fonts. The following list is based on High Sierra.
Helvetica: Regular, Bold, Bold Oblique, Light, Light Oblique, Oblique
Helvetica Neue: Regular, Bold, Bold Italic, Italic, Light, Light Italic, Medium, Medium Italic, Thin, Thin Italic, UltraLight, UltraLight Italic, Condensed Black, Condensed Bold
Beginning with El Capitan, Apple had almost released Helvetica and Helvetica Neue back to the user. Adobe, Microsoft and possibly other third party vendors have not. In High Sierra and later, it appears Apple has stopped using Helvetica and Helvetica Neue for the OS entirely.
Apple's Grapher program is not something normally used in prepress, which relies on the fonts Times and Symbol. As clients frequently use other versions of Times and Symbol, the Apple supplied versions can be excluded from the lists below if you need them out of the way. See section 3 for more on Grapher.
A note on the MM fonts in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder. Since Lion, the Mac OS has continued to install these Multiple Master fonts. Also since Lion, a Terminal command named fontrestore has existed, which attempts move all third party fonts out of the System, main Library, and the active user account Fonts folders. Run with the -n option, it pretends to go through the steps without actually doing anything; though it still does create the folder Fonts (Removed) in the main /Library/, the /System/Library/ and the active user account folders. When the Terminal command is run, it produces this "error" message:
These fonts are not part of the default system install. They would have been removed to 'Fonts (Removed)':
The message is wrong since a default install of macOS will install these files. Font Book runs the Unix command fontrestore under the option Restore Standard Fonts. When run, it does indeed remove the MM fonts. Proof enough for me they're dead. For this reason, they are no longer included in the list of required fonts in High Sierra or later. The initial purpose for these fonts was to duplicate the Adobe Reader's built in MM fonts for use in Preview. These MM fonts no longer exist in the Adobe Reader, and it appears Apple has followed suit, but hasn't cleaned up the OS installers.
It should also be noted that this command does not restore all fonts installed by macOS you may have removed from the System or root Library folders. What is does restore are System and root Library fonts you may have removed that also exist in the hidden Recovery partition. This is a very incomplete set. Some will come back, but most won't. The command also removes fonts which are not part of the macOS original installation. As such, it "restores" the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder and the /Library/Fonts/ folder to a state which only includes the fonts provided with macOS. The active user account Fonts folder gets emptied out.
To make your user account Library folder permanently visible, open your user account by double clicking the icon of the house within the Users folder. It must be the active folder in the Finder in order for this to work. The fastest way to get to this folder is to be on the desktop (so Finder is shown as the active app next to the Apple logo at the upper left) and press Command+Shift+H. Then choose View > Show View Options, or press Command+J. There will be a check at the bottom labeled Show Library Folder. If the correct user account folder is not open and selected, you will not see this check box.
Required fonts in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder.
The following lists, arranged by the release level of Apple's desktop OS, are the minimum recommended fonts. They represent the minimum number of fonts that allow all macOS supplied apps, and most third party apps to work. The latter being limited to what I can test. Always save copies of all installed macOS fonts before proceeding.
If there are apps you use that will not launch, or text is not displaying correctly after reducing your fonts to these lists, enable the copied fonts one at a time with your font manager (or just temporarily move or copy them into the Fonts folder of your user account) and test the app again. Keep adding until the app launches or displays successfully. Permanently add that font back to the system. As an example, some of the Adobe CS6 and CC 2019 apps will not launch if Helvetica is missing. Or, parts of them will not display properly. Such testing is sometimes more involved than that. For instance, the early release of Microsoft Office 2016 would not reliably launch unless HelveticaNeue.dfont was specifically in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder.
Any time you manually remove fonts, you should clear the font cache files from the system. Remove all fonts first, then see section 17 for instructions. The method using Terminal at the bottom of that section is the easiest. If you use Font Book, you should reset its database (section 7)
In the attempt of being verbose, the System font lists were getting rather lengthy. To greatly shorten them, I've condensed the San Francisco fonts to one line. All fonts that start with SF or SFNS in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder stay.
To remove fonts from the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder in High Sierra and Mojave, disable System Integrity Protection. With SIP disabled, you can put the system fonts you don't want in the trash and empty it. No need to first restart the Mac before the OS will let you do that. Re-enable SIP when you've finished removing the fonts.
Simply disabling SIP does not work in Catalina, and likely any version of macOS from here forward. The safest method is to install Catalina on another drive or partition. You can then startup to any other bootable drive and remove system fonts from the non-startup drive without disabling SIP at all. Only your admin credentials are required. See section 2 for methods using Terminal.
macOS, 11 Big Sur
Big Sur has taken an even bigger step in security. It is now a Signed System Volume, much like iOS. You can't view a Big Sur drive in any meaningful way from Catalina or older. If you boot to a Big Sur drive, the folder structure of another Big Sur drive looks as you would expect. But, you cannot modify even the non-startup drive from another Big Sur drive you booted to. This is great from a security standpoint, but is going to drive prepress professionals nuts.
"Houston. We have a problem.": Remember those five fonts (Athelas.ttc, Iowan Old Style.ttc, Marion.ttc, Seravek.ttc and SuperClarendon.ttc) that have been missing in Apple's apps since El Capitan? Turns out, that's not a mistake. It's intentional! How do we now know that? Because Big Sur hides yet more fonts from itself. Like the 101 Noto Sans fonts in the Supplemental folder. Yes, you read that right. Not only can't you remove any fonts in Big Sur, Font Book doesn't even list them all so you could at least have a choice to disable these and other unnecessary fonts.
Why in the world would anyone at Apple think this is a good idea? Big Sur and any apps Apple writes will not show you many of the fonts the OS itself installs. This means if you do client work in any app created by Apple, such as Pages, you cannot get at fonts you may need to work on a multi-language project. You can't get them to appear by using another font manager. You can't copy them to another location and activate the copies in the hopes they'll appear. They are invisible to everything Apple.
At the same time, all third party apps do exactly what every app should do; they show you all active fonts. Sure, just great. I really love having to constantly scroll past the 101 individually listed Noto Sans fonts of the Supplemental folder and lots of other completely unnecessary fonts in Microsoft Office, Quark XPress, the Adobe CC suite, etc.
How do you disable any of the fonts installed by Big Sur? You don't. In the Big Sur betas, you could open Font Book and disable a lot of foreign language fonts. In the official release, Apple has Font Book preset. Anything they think you don't need is already disabled. Everything else is enabled and you cannot disable them. This includes many fonts English speaking users don't need you could disable in the betas, but now can't.
If you don't use Font Book for your daily font management, do a Get Info on each font type you use to associate them with your preferred font manager so Font Book never opens when you double click any fonts in the Finder. Because like the excess fonts, you can't get rid of Font Book, either.
In a sort of good way, many of the Supplemental fonts Big Sur won't let you disable are all of the basic web fonts I list for the older Library and Supplemental folders. This may be a major problem though for users who must use other font types of Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma and others. You may not be able to avoid creating a font conflict as you cannot disable the OS supplied versions of these fonts.
Where does this leave us, and professionals in particular? For now, at the bottom of a very deep pickle barrel. I've looked around to see if there's a way to get past Big Sur's defenses. There are sites that explain how to modify a Big Sur drive. I haven't tried it yet so don't want to make any suggestions or share the steps. I will say you need to be reasonably well versed in Unix as Terminal is the only known way to modify a Big Sur volume. There are a couple of very similar methods, but they aren't easy.
Additional information regarding the previous paragraph: I've taken a couple of days to dig into this to see what it does and how it works. These are purposely, very incomplete steps.
• Disable FileVault if you're using it.
• Disable SSV's authentication.
• Create a new folder to use as a mounting point.
• Use the mount command to connect the volume name Big Sur is on to the new mount point.
• Modify the system files (in this case, removing unwanted fonts).
• Bless the mount point to create a bootable system snapshot.
• Restart to make the changes take effect.
What this does is treat a folder as a mountable drive. Using a specific argument when mounting the folder (step 4 above), you tell the OS to hide the folder so it doesn't appear as a partition/volume.
If I understood the results correctly, everything you modify doesn't really get removed or added. As one person said, the files or folders you modify get "swept under the rug, so to speak". The modifications only exist in your mount point.
At least one major issue of this procedure is you cannot re-enable SSV. If you do, the Mac ignores your pseudo drive and boots to the real System volume. Anything you changed will be undone. Meaning, you must live with the fact you've disabled a huge security provision of Big Sur and cannot turn it back on. Another possible problem are OS updates. What will happen when Apple releases them? Will they install, but only to your pseudo drive? Or will they simply fail?
The information is out there if you want to experiment. But because it requires permanently disabling SSV and relies on a pseudo drive setup to work at all, I won't be adding the steps to this article. It isn't overly complex if you're comfortable with the Unix command line, but is a very good way to trash your Mac if you don't know or understand what it is you're doing.
I'm hoping Apple gets a clue that hiding fonts from themselves neither the OS or their apps need is easily one of the worst design decisions they have ever made. If Apple themselves think you don't need to see many of these fonts in their own apps, then why do users have to put up with them in all third party apps? Better yet, why are they even installed? Make them provisional to download and install through Font Book if you need them, as many other fonts already are.
All we as users can do at the moment is swamp Apple with complaints about it and hope they'll both stop hiding fonts, and give users more control over them. Apple claims they are still committed to the professional fields with the Mac line of computers, but at the same time don't give you a way to use them in a manner professionals require.
macOS, 10.15 Catalina
By far, the biggest change is all OS supplied fonts are now in the System folder. I don't know about anyone else, but I really like that Apple has pulled everything out of the /Library/Fonts/ folder. This means only user installed fonts will ever be there. Want to empty it at any given moment? Go ahead. You won't be removing anything the OS may be looking for. All fonts that used to be in the /Library/Fonts/ folder are now in the /System/Library/Fonts/
The downside? No matter what font manager you’re using, the OS does not allow you to disable fonts in the System folder. Since all OS installed fonts in Catalina are now in the System folder, you can’t disable them with any font manager. The one and only way to handle the OS supplied fonts now is to copy all unnecessary fonts to a separate folder you can control. Next, remove all of those same fonts from the System folder. Finally, handle the copies with your font manager so you can enable/disable them as needed.
In a change to OS security, the major parts of the OS and all of the OS installed apps and fonts are now on a read only partition. See more in section 2 on how to remove OS installed fonts in Catalina.
Apple has really cleaned up and minimized the necessary fonts in Catalina. The few oddball fonts that used to be necessary for the keyboard viewer or emojis in Messages have been fixed/removed. Such as, the need for
ヒラギノ角ゴシック W3.ttc has finally been eliminated. Its only remaining, previous purpose was so emojis would appear properly in Messages.
There are 24 San Francisco fonts, down from 71 in Mojave. Nice of Apple to cut down on having so many of these.
The slew of subset (stub) Asian fonts that used to appear in every app under Mojave are now properly hidden in Catalina. They're deeply buried in the System folder. Font Book still shows them as grayed out items, but since you no longer incorrectly see them in your apps, they're also not important.
The support fonts for the iLife/iWork apps (iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, Keynote) that used to be in the /Library/Application Support/Apple/Fonts/ folder, are now in the /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/
FontServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/Fonts/ApplicationSupport/ folder. Don't move or remove these fonts. If you like, you can add these fonts as a set in your font manager so you can use them in your other apps. If you do, make sure they are added in place so you don't create font conflicts. Though technically, it would still be a conflict since the OS already considers them active, and you're activating them again so you can use them in your other apps.
If you thought Apple would have finally done something with the mysterious missing fonts issue, you'd be wrong. Athelas.ttc, Iowan Old Style.ttc, Marion.ttc, Seravek.ttc and SuperClarendon.ttc still appear everywhere – except in Apple's own products. Well, some of Apple's provided apps do use them, buy you can't. They won't appear in the font lists of any Apple created app, such as TextEdit, Font Book, Pages, Numbers, etc. As with previous macOS versions, the only way to fix this is to replace these fonts with copies from Yosemite. Someone at Apple must really hate these fonts, or it's turned into a running gag. It's a mystery to me why this still hasn't been fixed.
And now we get to add another one. Apple Chancery.ttf. When I look for this issue regarding Apple installed fonts, I simply open TextEdit and see what doesn't appear in its font palette. Apple Chancery is there, so no problem, right? Buzzzz!!! Wrong!
This font is slightly less broken than the other five. Apple Chancery does indeed show in Font Book, but the only other app written by Apple I've found it will appear in is TextEdit. Preview and Pages are two I've tested that will not show Apple Chancery in their font lists. As with the other five mystery fonts, Apple Chancery will appear in all third party apps. The fix? It's the same as the other five. Copy Apple Chancery from Yosemite and replace the version installed by any newer version of macOS.
I had a reader email me a while back saying they couldn't use Zapf Dingbats in Pages. Nothing I tried could make it appear in the font list. After much playing around, I finally discovered you could copy/paste Zapf Dingbats text you set in TextEdit into Pages. You can do the same with Apple Chancery. Both will then appear above the line as a recently used font. That holds a maximum of six font names. After you've selected enough other fonts, you'll walk Apple Chancery and Zapf Dingbats off the list. But once pasted in, you can keep typing in (example) Apple Chancery, with Pages all the while continuing to pretend the font doesn't exist. Other than replacing Apple Chancery with a copy from Yosemite, using TextEdit as a bridge is the only workaround I've found to get a font into Pages it won't show you in its own list.
The 10.15.5 update added a lot of fonts to the OS, though you have to choose to download them through Font Book. There are 103 files in total, which are more fonts than that since many are .ttc fonts and have more than one typeface in them. All together, they make up 277 more fonts. All of which get installed to various subfolders at /System/Library/AssetsV2/ .
The majority of these are foreign language fonts. Like, at least 90%. As you go through the grayed out fonts in Font Book, you'll see what's what in the previews.
Which kind of leads to point two. Many of these are not new and have been installed with the OS for quite a while. In Yosemite, they were right in the /Library/Fonts/ folder. Later, they were deeply buried. Like the 48 items installed here by Mojave:
There are many that are truly new and haven't been in any previous release of macOS or OS X. But unless you're able to read them, most aren't of any use to an English speaking user.
That's not to say there are no Latin glyphs to use. They almost all have a simple set of glyphs you can use for English that are essentially pulled from other fonts. Like Xingkai SC Bold. If you type away in English, you'll get what is pretty much Brush Script. Others have a basic Times like font in the English/Latin positions. But with Xingkai as the example, what it really exists for is its over 46,000 Kanji characters.
Those new fonts an English speaking user would actually want are the following:
Because of where Font Book installs these fonts, only Apple's apps can see them. If you want to use them everywhere, copy or move them to your user account Fonts folder, or the main /Library/Fonts/ folder. Or, of course, set them aside wherever you want and activate them with your font manager.
The minimum fonts recommended for Catalina in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder are:
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
SFNS… (all other San Francisco fonts)
See below for the Supplemental subfolder.
Fonts updated in 10.15.1
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
macOS, 10.14 Mojave
Apple has again expanded the number of San Francisco fonts in macOS. There are now 71 in Mojave (79 in the original release). The required fonts for Mojave are the same as High Sierra, plus the new, additional SF fonts.
A reader has found there's one more font that needs to be available in High Sierra and Mojave. If NotoSansSyriacEastern-Regular.ttf is missing, the return key arrow doesn't display in the Keyboard Viewer. Instead, you get the boxed question mark from the font, LastResort.
This makes no sense at all. Viewed in a font editor, there isn’t even a return arrow glyph in that font! And yet, it has to be on the drive in High Sierra and Mojave for the keyboard viewer to display correctly. Not only that, this font isn't in the normal System or Library Fonts folders. It's at, of all places, /Library/Application Support/Apple/Fonts/Language Support/, along with a slew of other Noto Sans fonts.
If not seeing this arrow bugs you, and you've emptied out the above mentioned folder of what should be unnecessary fonts, you need to put NotoSansSyriacEastern-Regular.ttf back on the drive. And you can't put it back in its original location. You must put it in either the root
/Library/Fonts/ folder, of the Fonts folder of your user account. I can only guess that's because it relies on some bizarre chain of available fonts for it to work from the original location.
Apple continues the orphanage of a handful of its own supplied fonts. Those currently being Athelas.ttc, Iowan Old Style.ttc, Marion.ttc, Seravek.ttc and SuperClarendon.ttc. As before, you can use these fonts in any third party app, but they will not appear in any app written and supplied by Apple. The fix is the same as in High Sierra. You must retrieve the same named fonts from Yosemite and replace those installed by Mojave.
There's an issue now with most font managers, including Font Book. If you try to reactivate copies of any removed fonts from the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder with your font manager, most will not appear in its list of imported fonts. You may also get a message about not having permission to read the fonts.
This only happens with fonts you've removed from the System folder, and only with some, but not all font managers. Font Book, Suitcase Fusion and FontExplorer X Pro all have problems with these fonts. FontAgent is unaffected.
Fortunately, there's a simple solution. If you do need any fonts previously in the System folder activated, you can manually place them in the Fonts folder of your user account.
The minimum fonts recommended for Mojave in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder are:
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
SF… (all San Francisco fonts)
Fonts updated in 10.14.2
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
Fonts updated in 10.14.3
The 10.14.3 delta update contains all of the same updated fonts as 10.14.2 (except Apple Color Emoji), but there are no changes. They are exactly the same versions and sizes as previous.
Fonts updated in 10.14.4
Well, here's a new one! Apple removed a handful of system fonts. All nine of the previous San Francisco SFNSRounded fonts are deleted by the update and replaced with the single item, SFNSRounded.ttf.
Fonts updated in 10.14.5
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
In the /Library/Application Support/Apple/Fonts/iLife/ folder, DrukHeavyItalic.otf has been replaced by Druk-HeavyItalic.otf. Added are DrukText-Bold.otf and DrukWide-Medium.otf.
macOS, 10.13 High Sierra
I like easy. This version of the macOS turned out to be like that. The minimum fonts are almost the same as Sierra. There are quite a few more San Francisco fonts than previous. In Sierra, there were 33. In High Sierra, there are now 58.
An early update to High Sierra changed something that affected the display of emojis in Messages. Possibly a framework installed for the Safari 11.0.1 update. Whatever the cause, Messages now requires the fonts AppleSDGothicNeo.ttc and ヒラギノ角ゴシック W3.ttc to display emojis. Otherwise, all you get is the question mark in a box from the font LastResort. These two fonts have been added to the minimum font list for the System folder.
The five (now six) fonts that will not work properly in El Capitan or Sierra (Athelas.ttc, Charter.ttc, Marion.ttc, Seravek.ttc and SuperClarendon.ttc) continue to be a problem in High Sierra. The issue was momentarily fixed in Sierra, but they went missing again as of 10.12.2. These five fonts remain in limbo with High Sierra. Iowan Old Style.ttc has joined this list in High Sierra.
When I first tested the original five known problem fonts upon High Sierra's initial release, renaming the fonts still worked. One of the recent updates to High Sierra caused renaming the fonts to stop working. It made me wonder if removing the buried .ATSD and .fontinfo data still worked.
I booted into Recovery mode to turn SIP off, then removed all of the info data for those fonts. Nothing! Not after a restart, clearing font caches, or renaming the fonts on top of removing the data info. None of Apple's apps will recognize these six fonts as being on the system. Microsoft Office, Adobe's and everybody else's software does. Just not Apple's.
At this time, the only fix is to copy these fonts from Yosemite and completely replace the High Sierra versions. That is, if you need to use these six particular fonts in Pages, TextEdit, or whatever Apple software you're using.
10.13.4 updated quite a few fonts, one of which was Charter.ttc. That font now works everywhere. Yay! However, Apple continues to ignore the other five that don't work. Boo! You still need to pick up Athelas.ttc, Iowan Old Style.ttc, Marion.ttc, Seravek.ttc and SuperClarendon.ttc from Yosemite if you want to use them in any of Apple's supplied apps.
Here's one I didn't think I'd ever see, and is something press and prepress shops in particular will love! Though I can't fully guarantee this, it looks like Helvetica and Helvetica Neue are now completely unhooked from the OS. Removed from the System folder, there wasn't a single OS supplied app that wouldn't launch, or behave incorrectly with them gone. I would have to assume the OS and all Apple supplied apps now use San Francisco for all display purposes.
Experiment as you wish with this possibility if you're of the group that has to wrestle with the OS versions of Helvetica and Helvetica Neue conflicting with your older Type 1 PostScript versions. All of the Adobe CC 2018 apps I have installed launched without either font set active. But, Premiere Pro displayed boxed question marks (from the system font, LastResort) where the timer numbers should be. So it is obviously using either Helvetica or Helvetica Neue. Office 2016 surprised me. Given the fact it wouldn't even launch in its earlier point release versions if Helvetica Neue was missing; Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook all launched and behaved as if nothing were wrong.
This is all moot for most users. Helvetica and Helvetica Neue are used rather extensively on the web. And other than people like me who have to work around these fonts in prepress, there isn't a good reason to remove them. So, I've left Helvetica and Helvetica Neue as required fonts.
Apple has just about killed off their proprietary .dfonts in favor of OpenType. There are only three .dfonts left in High Sierra. Courier, Geneva and Monaco. Even the fonts in /Library/Application Support/Apple/Fonts/ are now all .ttf or .ttc. The only three that aren’t are in the Deprecated folder.
The minimum fonts recommended for High Sierra in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder are:
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
SF… (all San Francisco fonts)
Fonts updated in 10.13.1
Apple Color Emoji.ttf
Fonts updated in 10.13.2
In the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder:
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
In the /Library/Fonts/ folder:
DIN Condensed Bold.ttf
Malayalam Sangam MN.ttc
Oriya Sangam MN.ttc
Fonts updated in 10.13.4
In the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder:
Apple Color Emoji.ttc
In the /Library/Fonts/ folder:
DIN Alternate Bold.ttf
DIN Condensed Bold.ttf
Gujarati Sangam MN.ttc
Fonts in the 10.13.5 delta update
There are many fonts in this update that were supplied with 10.13.4. However, none of them are actually new. All of the fonts in the 10.13.5 update have exactly the same sizes, creation dates and version numbers as in 10.13.4.
Required fonts in the /System/Library/Fonts/Supplemental/ folder for Catalina.
Required fonts in the /Library/Fonts/ folder for High Sierra and Mojave.
These two folder locations contain many standard web fonts. They are identical. In Catalina and Big Sur, Apple has moved all of the fonts that used to be in the root Library folder to a subfolder in the System's Fonts folder. The only exception in Catalina is it has one item in the otherwise empty /Library/Fonts/ folder; an alias that points to Arial Unicode.ttf in the /System/Library/Fonts/Supplemental/ folder. Since this is not a required font, it will simply be an alias that points to nothing when you reduce your system to these minimum font lists. You can either leave the alias, or delete it.
At minimum, the following fonts should remain in order for web pages to display properly. The names below are how they will appear in High Sierra, 10.11 through Catalina, 10.15.
Recommended minimum fonts for the /System/Library/Fonts/Supplemental/ or the /Library/Fonts/ folders:
Arial Bold Italic.ttf
Arial Narrow Bold.ttf
Arial Narrow Italic.ttf
Arial Narrow Bold Italic.ttf
Comic Sans MS.ttf
Comic Sans MS Bold.ttf
Georgia Bold Italic.ttf
Times New Roman.ttf
Times New Roman Bold.ttf
Times New Roman Italic.ttf
Times New Roman Bold Italic.ttf
Trebuchet MS Bold.ttf
Trebuchet MS Italic.ttf
Trebuchet MS Bold Italic.ttf
Verdana Bold Italic.ttf
A reader contacted me about another set of fonts you may want to have active at all times. The 29 STIX fonts are filled with math symbols. While there are quite a few common symbols in the other required fonts, there are many more in the STIX sets. This is of course important to mathematicians, or anyone else who routinely use these symbols. He found that at minimum, you should have the general set enabled.
Depending on your needs, you may want all of them.
All other fonts in the /System/Library/Fonts/Supplemental/ or the /Library/Fonts/ folder can be removed.
If you use iLife or iWork: The following fonts are also located in the /Library/Fonts/ folder. For Catalina, they are in the /System/Library/Fonts/Supplemental/ folder.
While the iLife and iWork apps will launch without the following fonts, the supplied templates use them. Apple suggests these fonts always be available for these apps.
Of the above list, the font Optima.ttc is in the /System/Library/Fonts/ folder.
Once you have manually reduced the fonts on your system to the minimum, always use your font manager to control all other font activation and deactivation. The better font managers will stop you from creating font conflicts. Your font manager can't help prevent that if you manually place fonts you want to use in a Fonts folder.
An important step you should take after manually removing fonts is to clear the font cache files from the system. See section 17 for the proper procedure. Font Book users should also reset the application to update its database. See section 7 for more details.
When it comes to font managers, there's one thing I can't stress enough: have only one font manager on your Mac at a time.
When you double click a font, macOS no longer launches multiple font managers if they're installed, and hasn't for a while. It will only launch the one assigned to your fonts. Though even that can mean different font managers if for instance, Font Book is still assigned to older legacy Mac TrueType fonts, and everything else to your third party font manager. That's a problem when you don't really want to use Font Book. Having Font Book's database on the system can prevent another font manager from working correctly, and just the act of having Font Book launch creates a new database. Then you have to remove the database again. So if you aren't using it, you should not have Font Book on the drive. See section 7 on the steps for completely removing Font Book and its database. Note that you can't do this in Big Sur.
A scenario of having more than one active font manager: You open a font in Suitcase. Then later, you open the same font in FontExplorer X Pro. You then disable that font in Suitcase. However, the font is still active in all of your applications. Why? Because FontExplorer X Pro is still holding the font open. I used Suitcase and FontExplorer X Pro for this example, but this will happen in virtually any case of multiple font managers on your system. Once you have decided which font manager you are going to use, completely remove any other font manager from your Mac.
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