How to Download and Install Fonts to Use in Your Software

Increase your font library with free and commercial fonts online

Vintage Wood Type

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Whether you are a designer who is looking for just the right font for a client or a user who loves collecting them, you'll benefit from the vast number of typefaces available on the internet. Here's how to obtain, open, and install fonts on Macs and PCs so that you can use them in your software programs.

Font Sources

Fonts come from many locations. They can come with your desktop publishing, word processing, and graphics software. You may have them on a CD or other disc. You can also download them from the internet.

When fonts come with software, your computer installs them with the program. Usually, you don't have to do anything extra. Ones that come separately, whether via CD or direct download, require installation before you can start using them.

How to Download Fonts From the Web

Free and shareware fonts are available for download on many font websites such as ​FontSpace.com, DaFont.com, 1001 FreeFonts.com, and UrbanFonts.com. Visit any of these sites and examine what the site offers free or for a fee. Most come in TrueType (.ttf), OpenType (.otf), or PC bitmap fonts (.fon) formats. Windows users can use all three formats. Mac computers use Truetype and Opentype only.

When you find a type that you want to download, look for an indication of whether it is free or not. Some will say "free for personal use," while others say "shareware" or "donate to the author," which indicates that you may choose to pay a small fee of your choice to use it. Click the Download button next to the font and (in most cases) the font downloads immediately to your computer.

About Compressed Fonts

Some fonts you download from the internet are ready for installation, but they usually arrive in compressed files that you'll have to expand. 

When you click the Download button, your computer saves the compressed file. It most likely has a .zip extension to indicate it's compressed. Both Windows and Mac operating systems include a file-expansion capability.

  • On Macs, double-click on the zipped file to uncompress it.
  • In Windows 10, right-click the zipped file and select Extract All in the contextual menu that appears. 

Installing Fonts

Having the font file on your hard drive is only part of the installation process. Making the font available to your software programs requires a few extra steps. If you use a font manager, it may have an installation option you can use. Otherwise, follow these instructions:

How to Install Fonts on a Mac

  • To install a font on any Mac running OS X 10.3 or higher, double-click the uncompressed font and tap the Install font button at the bottom of the font preview screen.
  • In any Mac OS X version, drag the uncompressed file into the dedicated folder at Macintosh HD > Library > Fonts.

How to Install TrueType and OpenType Fonts in Windows 10 

  • In Windows 10, 8, 7 and Vista, select the uncompressed font files, and then right-click Install.
  • Or, in any Windows version, place the uncompressed font files in the Fonts folder. In most cases, that folder is at C:\Windows\Fonts or C:\WINNT\Fonts. If not there, try Start Menu > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Fonts.