Using the new ClearType fonts on your Mac

One of the nice touches of OS X is the use of the Helvetica typeface for rich-text editing in TextEdit and other programs. Microsoft’s version of Helvetica is Arial, which is basically a lower-quality rip-off of the original. (To understand my attraction to Helvetica, I recommend watching Helvetica, the documentary.)

However, in Vista/Office 2007, Microsoft released the ClearType Font Collection, a great new set of fonts, including several designed especially for viewing text on computer screens. The two I find particularly useful in this regard are Cambria, which is optimized for viewing small text, and Consolas, which is a monospaced font useful in programming and the like.

So how do you get these fonts in your Mac? Well, they come with Office 2008 for the Mac. After you install office, just go into your favorite editor’s preferences and select Cambria and/or Consolas as your default font.

If you don’t have Office 2008, things are a little trickier. This tutorial will guide you through installing the fonts in Windows and Linux – and OS X, if you install the required Linux utilities via something like MacPorts. Office 2004 users can get some of the fonts with the Open XML Converter. If you have a Vista computer, you can copy them from C:WINDOWSFonts to /Library/Fonts. If you have a pre-Vista OS, you can get them with the free Powerpoint 2007 viewer. If you are still out of luck, you can always purchase them directly from the foundry.

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