By Karl Hodge Macworld UK | on April 30, 2009
Company: Linotype FontExplorer X
Pros: Create smart sets; integrates with all leading creative applications.
Cons: Absence of one-click filters; complex interface.
For any designer, font-management is a constant source of headaches, and one that requires specialist software to manage. Whether you’re working in editorial, advertising or web design, it’s likely that your machine is clogged with system-hogging faces that make sharing files with colleagues and clients a problem – especially if you’ve got several versions of the same font.
That’s where tools like Linotype’s FontExplorer X Pro come in. The name understates the power of this industrial-strength tool. While font managers allow you to preview, add and remove fonts, FontExplorer X Pro integrates with your key applications and enables you to accomplish those tasks within them. You can also customize previews, create active font sets and find missing fonts – and even buy replacement faces from within the application.
The main application collates and backs up the fonts already on your machine, whether they’re installed system fonts or application-specific, giving you access to everything in one place. From there you can arrange fonts into sets manually, or create smart sets.
Like an iTunes Smart Playlist, a smart set is a set of files that meet configurable criteria. You can group fonts by creator, application, family and a couple dozen more criteria. Then, like some omnipotent god of fonts, you can deactivate whole typeface swathes in a single click.
Plug-ins connect FontExplorer to design applications like Photoshop, InDesign and QuarkXPress, giving you much-needed control over how you handle text styles in those programs. The installation process is pretty seamless and is reversible.
FontExplorer X Pro might not be the most exciting application a designer can install – but you’ll be guaranteed to make use of it every day. It’s close to being a ‘must-have’ for Mac-based graphics freelancers.