Damaged Fonts - HowTo and About
David Anders,The Computer Guy, a freelance systems engineer in Seattle, WA.
Resolves computer problems, assists with production issues, designs and installs networks.
FONTS - The Basics
  • System fonts are loaded before the finder, extenstions and control panels - a corrupt font can cause a crash, bomb or freeze at startup. The more fonts that are loaded the more memory the system uses. 128 fonts is the current maximum for system fonts.
  • Corrupt fonts can cause printing anomalies.
  • Damaged fonts can be one ot the most difficult problems to diagnose and solve.
  • Fortunately, since 1995 several utilities have been published which address the problem.
  • There are two common types of fonts - PostScript and Truetype - conventional wisdom is to use one or the other, especially if you use a service bureau or printer.
  • A Postscript font consists of two parts - the screen font, which is usually (and should be) contained in a Font Suitcase (a special container designed for screen fonts), and the Outline or Printer font, which needs to be stored in the same folder as the screen font (whether it is activated by the system (System Folder:Fonts) or a font manager (Suitcase, ATM Deluxe, Font Reserve, or Font Juggler).
  • The Screen font is a bitmap picture of the font at a specific size - ie. 12 point and/or 18 point for example. This is the part of the font that enables the font to be listed in the font menu, it also provides the screen picture of the font at that particular size.
  • For a font to be displayed cleanly at 17point or 18.5point, use Adobe's ATM Deluxe (Adobe Type Manager). http://www.adobe.com
The Rules .
  • Fonts that are always needed are stored in the Fonts folder in the System Folder (maximum number of Suitcases - 128)(suitcase can be merged into one).The more fonts open at one time, the slower your Mac and applications will be.
    Each Font Suitcase in the System's Font folder counts toward the number of files that can be open at one time..
  • Each Font Suitcase in the System's Font folder counts toward the number of files that can be open at one time..
  • For smooth fonts on screen, no matter the size - ie. 17.5 point - use Adobe Type Manager (ATM).
  • Adobe recommends that ATM have 50k of memory per font opened - each font has to be calculated for the size specified if that size is not included in the suitcase (screen font).
  • ATM uses the screen font and the Printer font to calculate the font display
  • If you use more than 25 fonts, it is recommended that you use a font management utility - Suitcase, Juggler, ATM, Font Reserve, etc.
  • Freeze just as the Finder finishes appearing. ATM is typically loaded as the last extension (that is why it has a ~ (tilde) mark starting it's name), as it activates it loads in it's database of fonts. IF one of the fonts is damaged in the correct manner or if ATM does not have enough memory allocated to it, it will cause a freeze, error message or crash (typically, a freeze).
  • Freeze at startup - fonts in the System Folder:Fonts folder are loaded before extenstions and control panels. (and are loaded into system memory as they are moved into the Fonts folder)
  • Incorrect printing, no printing, a PostScript error message, or substitution of Courier for a font.
  • Word 5.1 or >, Pagemaker 3.0 or >, Xpress, Freehand 2.0 or >, Illustrator, or other page layout program crashes on opening. Typically, just when the loading fonts message appears in the application's Splash Screen.
  • Refusal of Freehand or Illustrator to create or correctly create paths from a font selection.

Finding the Damage

  • Disinfectant v3.71 (ftp://ftp.acns.nwu.edu/pub/disinfectant/ &endash; or online services) is a virus protection utility that can sometimes find damaged fonts. This can also point out damaged system files. The 3.71 version will be the last update ot this utility.
  • DTC Font Director was on LaserMaster Printer Install Disks. It is a utility that will find fonts that are missing printer fonts, spread across multiple suitcases, and damaged fonts.
  • FontAgent v8 is a utility that can organize,.optimize and diagnose damaged fonts. http://www.theinside.com
  • Double-clicking on a font suitcase will open it and display the included screen fonts. IF the suitcase refuses to open or an error message is displayed, one or more of the fonts can be damaged &endash; or the suitcase itself can be damaged. Double-clicking on a font within a suitcase will open a window with a 10, 12, or 18 point sample of that font. If the font is damaged, it will not display or display incorrectly.
  • Help! from Total Recall (also part of MacMedic) will find damaged fonts as well as other file damage. (Not available as of Aug 25, 1999)
  • Both Freehand and Illustrator can take text, using the screen font and printer font, to create an outline or path. IF the font is damaged this will not work, produce an error message, or create an inaccurate path.
  • Norton Disk Doctor can diagnose severely damaged fonts.
Repairing the Damage
Repair is not currently possible, replacement with a known-good font is the only alternative.
Font Problems, But It's Not a Damaged Font
  • Allocate more memory to ATM. Adobe recommends 50k per open font. If you only use the installed sizes of your fonts (10, 12, maybe 18 point) this may not produce any differences.
  • Allocate more memory to your font manager. Suitcase or Juggler
  • Allocate more memory to the problem application.
  • Remove the ATM database from the System Folder (move to the Desktop), restart, test.
  • Remove the Preferences Folder from the System Folder (move to the Desktop), restart, test.
  • Allocate more memory to PrintMonitor (increase to 256k or greater) (Extensions Folder) (If background printing is ON) or Desktop PrintMonitor (Extensions Folder) (If Desktop Printing AND background printing is ON).

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