Fontcase: Elegant Font Management

Whilst OS X ships with a huge array of stunning software, one area lacking is that of font management. The basic tool shipping with Leopard is Font Book, a very straight forward and simple app with few advanced features. A few tools have appeared to fill this gap in the market, notably FontExplorer X and Suitcase Fusion. Another competitor emerging in recent months has been Fontcase, developed by Bohemian Coding.

Fontcase aims to replicate the ease of use found in an application such as iPhoto, applying it to the task of managing your font collection. The interface is uncluttered and intuitive, sharing many innovative user interface design features found in Apple software. A few feature-highlights include versatile metadata support, the ability to share fonts on your local network and fantastic ways to preview all your fonts.

This review will provide an overview of what Fontcase has to offer, along with why it may be worth giving a try over your existing font management app. It isn’t yet perfect, but breathes fresh air into this area of software.

Interface & Features

If you’re familiar with the iLife suite, you should feel right at home in Fontcase. The main display features attractive depictions of every font in your collection. Moving your mouse over a font will show all the available variations within it (Bold, Italic, Condensed etc).

The main Fontcase interface

The main Fontcase interface

A slider controls preview size, allowing you to see a close-up of particular fonts easily. The left column shows the different views available; Collections, Smart, Tags, and Designers. In addition, you are able to define a number of sentences to use when previewing the appearance of a font.

Fontcase places a great deal of emphasis on metadata. For every font and weight, you can set tags, genres, assign designers, foundries and much more. These are not simply pieces of text, but actually show up in the source list, right under your smart collections. It makes smart folders infinitely useful, as you’re able to organize fonts in any way you choose – by tag, source, copyright/license, rating, price.

Activation is handled by clicking a ‘Tick’ icon in the upper left of the window, with the option of activating a single font or the whole collection currently being viewed.

Previewing Fonts

Whilst the general overview of all installed fonts is useful, selecting several followed by the ‘Compare’ icon leads to a useful comparison window:

Comparing several fonts at a time

Comparing several fonts at a time

Three options are available for comparing:

  1. Characters – View all the individual characters of a typeface side by side with the others. Great for comparing particular elements rather than the overall look and feel.
  2. Header Text – This shows a pre-defined sentence (as shown above), scalable by window width or a precise font size.
  3. Body Text – This section displays several columns, each with a different font on display. Automatic text is generated through Lorem Ipsum (or your choice of similar systems). Alignment can be altered to sample different forms of justification.

This is great when you can’t quite decide which font to use for a particular task, and far quicker than manually comparing a selection in another application.


When working with clients or in teams, it can be especially useful to share and exchange fonts with other people. Instead of maintaining a dedicated font server or manually sending the fonts to other colleagues, Fontcase is able to maintain a central sharing system. Just like in iTunes, you can share your Library with other people, with the added benefit of allowing other people to download fonts from your vault. Obviously this requires you all to be on the same local network.

The sharing window is similar to iTunes

The sharing window is similar to iTunes


Whilst the interface and functionality is great, there are a few issues with Fontcase which I hope will be rectified in future releases. The main problem is a lack of automatic activation. If your system opens a file which is installed but deactivated, it isn’t able to request that the font be activated for use. This functionality is provided by competing software such as Font Explorer X, which allows you to choose which applications are able to request the automatic activation of a particular font.

Another slight concern is the inability to activate fonts for all users of your system. I found that there are a few minor bugs in the application, occasionally finding myself stuck in a certain view with no way of moving to another area (short of quitting the app).


Personally, I made the switch to Fontcase a few weeks ago and haven’t found the activation issues to be a huge problem. I love the interface, and it makes sending font examples to clients a very straight forward process. Do you feel that it represents a worthwhile purchase, or are you happy with the functionality offered by Font Book?

Fontcase requires Mac OS X 10.5, and is currently priced at €35 (around $45). A fully functioning demo is available to give you a chance to try the app.