How to Locate Mac or Windows Font Files

Use the extensions to identify the type of fonts you find

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Digital font files can appear in many places on a computer, but there are specific default folders for installed fonts on both Windows and Macintosh computers.

You'll find three types of fonts on Windows and Mac computers: TrueType, OpenType and Postscript Type 1. Truetype and OpenType fonts consist of a single file each. Adobe Postscript Type 1 fonts require two files to work properly—a .pfm (Printer Font Metrics) screen font file and a .pfb (Printer Font Binary) printer font file.

Postscript Type 1 fonts are rarely used nowadays. They were the standard for years until the introduction of TrueType and, later, OpenType fonts.

Often filenames for fonts are cryptic at best; the extension is usually the best indicator of the type of font you have. For Type 1 fonts, the two files are often located in different folders.

Windows TrueType and OpenType Fonts

The default location for installed TrueType and OpenType fonts under Windows 95 and above is the Windows/Fonts folder, although the actual files may be anywhere.

Go to your Windows/Fonts folder (My Computer > Control Panel > Fonts) and select View > Details. You'll see the font names in one column and the file name in another. In recent versions of Windows, type "fonts" in the Search field and click Fonts - Control Panel in the results.

All Windows TrueType fonts have an extension of .ttf or .ttc. OpenType fonts have an extension of .ttf or .otf. The icon for TrueType fonts is a dog-eared page with two overlapping Ts. The icon for OpenType fonts shows an O.

Installed fonts that have only a shortcut to the font in your Windows Fonts folder display a small arrow in the corner of the icon. Right-click on the font name and select Properties to find the path to the actual file.

In directories and folders other than the Windows Font folder, the Details View won't show the font name, only the filename. However, if you double-click the filename, it will show you the name of the font. 

Windows Type 1 Fonts

The default location for Type 1 fonts is the psfonts or psfonts/pfm directories, but as with TrueType fonts, the files may be located anywhere.

Use Adobe Type Manager (ATM) or other font management software to locate both of the needed files for a Type 1 (PostScript) font. With ATM open, highlight a font name in the Fonts window then choose File > Properties. A pop-up window displays the complete path to two files.

Each Windows Type 1 font will have a .pfm and a .pfb file. The icon for both the .pfb and .pfm files is a dog-eared page with a lowercase script "a" for Adobe.

Macintosh TrueType and OpenType Fonts

Locating fonts and files in a Mac is somewhat easier than in Windows. Here's how (and where):

The default location for all System fonts in System 7.1 and later is the Fonts folder inside the System folder. In Mac OS X, go to System > Library > Fonts. Fonts may also be found in a user's Library > Fonts and in the computer's Library > Fonts.

There is only one file for each TrueType or OpenType font. The TrueType file extension is .ttf or .ttc. The OpenType file extension is .otf or ttf.

Macintosh Type 1 Fonts

You won't find many Postscript Type 1 fonts on Macs. Look for them in the user's Library > Fonts and in the computer's Library > Fonts. If you are moving Type 1 fonts or sending them to someone, be sure you send both the bitmap (screen) suitcase and outline (printer) file for each Type 1 font.

The bitmap font icon appears as a dog-eared page with the letter "A." Each bitmap filename for Type 1 fonts includes the point size (Times 10, for example). Under System 7.1 or later, all the bitmap files for a font are in a suitcase in the Fonts folder.

The outline file icon appears as a letter "A" in front of horizontal lines. Most Type 1 outline files are named using the first five characters of the font name, followed by the first three characters of each style (HelveBol for Helvetica Bold and TimesBolIta for Times Bold Italic, for example). An outline filename does not include a point size.