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MainType 7.0 • High-Logic

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Released 8th June 2016 • Updated 25th October 2016

If you have more than a few hundred fonts installed you may benefit from using a font manager. MainType is a powerful font manager for Windows that makes it easy to organise your fonts. It is free for non-commercial use.

Sort fonts, organise them into groups, and install or uninstall them easily. If you need some fonts just for the current print job, load the font instead of installing it and it will be gone the next time you reboot.

If you create your own fonts you will find MainType invaluable for keeping track of font projects and comparing fonts for glyph coverage and inconsistencies in design.

Latest Features


Latest Features

Key Features



Organising Fonts

Font Families

Font Groups

Font Tags

Custom Views

Finding Fonts

Comparing Fonts

Installing/Uninstalling Fonts

Removing Fonts

Printing Font Samples

Font Catalogues

Key Features

MainType is now freeware for non-commercial use. To release the advanced features, upgrade to the Standard or Professional Edition. Feature Comparison Chart.


Four Saved Docking Layouts with Shortcuts can be displayed on the Layouts SubmenuCustomised layouts can be saved to suit different tasks. The layout illustrated above is in a window reduced to suit the width of this web page. Mouse-over and click the rollover to see different layouts with some panels disabled or pinned to the bottom.

Five different layouts can be saved for different tasks, and shortcuts from Ctrl 1 to Ctrl 5 can be assigned, making it easy to switch layouts.

The layout includes the MainType window’s maximised or restored state, columns and font sizes, but not the selected view or filtered fonts.


Views (Ctrl F7)

This shows Predefined views and Custom Views. The predefined views are: Active Fonts, Library, Recently Added, Top Rated Fonts, Ungrouped Fonts, Unrated Fonts, and Untagged Fonts. Custom Views can be created using the View Editor.

Open the drop list to select the Search typeSelecting any view then shows a filtered list of fonts in the (unnamed) results panel. Unlike other panels, the results panel cannot be closed or pinned to the side of the MainType window. On starting MainType the currently Active Fonts (fonts that are either installed or loaded) will be listed here.

The Quick Search field at the top right of the window can be used to find fonts by Font Name, Family, Foundry, or Tags. Selecting a group will view the fonts in that group, or selecting a tag will list the fonts with that tag.

Groups (Ctrl F6)

User-defined font groups. Deleting a group does not delete the fonts it contains. To add a group, use Font Folders from the Library menu to tell MainType which folders on the computer should be indexed, and tell it to create a group after indexing the fonts.

Characters (F6)

This panel displays all of the characters or glyphs in the selected font, organized into Unicode character sets. Use this panel to browse the selected font. Click the Glyphs icon in the toolbar to show all glyphs in the font, including those used by OpenType features, but not necessarily mapped to any code-point. Click and hold the mouse on any glyph to show an enlarged view. This can be disabled in Tools, Options, Characters, or set to show only if the Zoom Panel is disabled in Tools, Options, Character.

The Sample Panel (F7)

Shows a text sample of the font at the chosen size. Custom text samples can be added. The font colour and background colour can be defined from the swatch dropdowns.

Zoom (F8)

Shows a single character with its Postscript name and code-point. The font colour and background colour can be defined from the swatch dropdowns.

Font Information (Shift F6)

Lists details of the selected font. General: Full font name, family, style, type, and foundry. Properties: Whether it is installed or loaded, version number, created and modified dates. Metrics: Style, weight, width, monospace or symbol, embedding rights, number of glyphs and characters, funits/em, and PANOSE number. File Information: File size in bytes. Resources: Path to font files. Categorization: Tags, Rating, and Groups. Naming: Copyright, Trademark, Description, Manufacturer, Designer, License agreement; Vendor, Designer, and License URLs.

Font Integrity (Shift F7)

Show any font errors found or verifies that the font is OK. Fonts with integrity errors will often install and can be used without problems, but they don’t strictly follow the TrueType specifications.

Font Tags (Shift F9)

Set, Add, or Remove tags to fonts. See Font Tags below.

Tag Search (F9)

Find and filter fonts based on tagging.

Moving Panels

Apart from the unnamed results panel, any panel can be moved by dragging its title bar, then docked with another panel, left floating inside or outside the MainType Window, or it can be closed and hidden from view.

Drag and Drop Panels on the icons to dock themBy clicking the push-pin icon a panel can be pinned to the side or bottom of the MainType Window. When pinned, panels are collapsed to a button, but will pop up if the mouse cursor is hovered over the button. Click the now side-ways pointing push-pin icon to restore a panel to its former docked position.

When moving panels, drop them onto the arrows to dock them above, below, or beside another panel, or drop it on the centre button to dock the two panels as a tabbed panel (like the Font Information and Font Integrity panels in the layout shown above).

The current layout is reloaded on restarting MainType. Save docking layouts for future use from the View, Layouts submenu. Open the layout manager to assign a shortcut key, rename a layout, or delete it.

Organising Fonts

Column headers enabled in the default installationA major advantage of using a font database is that you don’t really need to organise fonts unless you want to install or uninstall whole groups at once. Fonts can be found just by using the Quick Search field. Fonts can be added to one or more groups, given a star rating, or sorted by column headings.

Font Families

Fonts can be grouped by weight to see the numbers of each at a glanceFonts can be displayed in a tree view like that on the left, in this example grouped by Weight Class. Sorting by Embedding will identify protected fonts, and if fonts have been rated they can be grouped by quality, with those still unrated listed last.

By enabling Family Grouping, fonts of different weights or styles, but belonging to the same Font Family, will be grouped and listed together.

Each branch can be expanded to show the whole family or collapsed to save space. The number of styles in the Family is shown in parenthesis after the name. If the number of glyphs or the font version is identical for each member of the family that is also displayed in the appropriate column, but if one style has fewer glyphs or a different revision number that column is left blank.

Manually setting the Time Stamp for Date Modified in FontCreatorIt is unlikely that the Date Modified field will be identical for each type style, but the Date Created or Date Added fields may be. Time stamps can be matched to the nearest second when exporting fonts from FontCreator.

Font Families can be shown as one gorup to save spaceMy Kabala font family includes eight styles, the Garava font family includes five, Talapanna has two, Cankama and Odana have only one, while the rest have the usual four: Regular, Italic, Bold, and Bold Italic.

Sukhumala has the four basic styles, plus another called “Hand Tooled,” which is treated as another font family. Although it is a modified version of Sukhumala Bold, it is classed as Regular because that’s how it is meant to be treated by Windows.

Applying bold or italic attributes to fonts that lack bold or italic styles generates faux fonts that are converted to curves when published to PDF.

If Sukhumala Hand Tooled was classed as Bold, then if no Bold attribute was applied, the Regular style would be a faux font.

Font Groups

If fonts are already sorted into folders on the hard drive, MainType can automatically create groups when adding fonts to the font library.

After installing MainType and running it for the first time, you can import font groups from MainType 2 or 3, or choose a primary font path that MainType will search for fonts to add to the font library, creating groups automatically from subfolders, and sorting them in alphabetical order.

This first time cataloguing and indexing of fonts may take a few minutes or longer depending on how many fonts you have collected. For 5,000 fonts it only takes a few minutes.

Font Tags

Tag Fonts in Text Mode or GUI ModeUse the Tag Manager to Merge TagsTags can be created and applied to selected fonts using the Set tab of the Font Tags panel. In text mode, just type a tag and press Enter to create and apply it to the selected fonts. In GUI mode click the green buttons to apply or remove tags.

Open the Tag Manager to create, rename, merge, or delete tags.

Use tags to filter fonts for viewing, installing, uninstalling, organising, or exporting to font catalogues.

When exporting to an HTML font catalogue, tags can be included in the catalogue by typing the {FONT_TAGS} field code in the HTML templates in C:\Users\<User Name>\Documents\MainType\template.

In my online Font Catalogue, I have included fonts tagged with the Download tag, and that tag is linked to my download page by inserting this code into fontitem.htf:

<a href="http://www.softerviews.org/Fonts.html" title="Free OpenType Fonts"">{FONT_TAGS}</a>

Custom Views

Save New Custom ViewClick the icon at top left of the View Panel to open the Custom View Editor. Select various font attributes such as Weight, Greater than Bold to filter fonts by their attributes. Save the view if you wish to reuse it later, or just close the dialogue and ignore the warning to show the results of your search temporarily in the results panel.

Save search results as a new viewTagged fonts can also be saved as a new view by clicking the eye icon on the Tag Search Panel.

Don’t select impossible search criteria such as Greater than Extra Black or Less than Thin, or you will never get any search results.

Finding Fonts

Fonts that don't support all characters typed in the Preview Text field are highlighted in RedOpen the Drop Sown Arrow to Search by different Criteria

Because MainType uses a database, filtering fonts is as fast as typing. Use the Search field at the top right of the MainType window to enter part of a font name. To search by Family or Foundry, open the drop down by the magnifying glass icon to select the search type from the list.

Type “Linux” to find all fonts with “Linux” in the font name. The filtered list of fonts appears in the View panel as you type. If you make a typo, you will soon realise it when no fonts are found, and can backspace to retype the correct spelling.

The number of fonts found (20) is shown in parentheses in the panel’s title bar. The search results can be sorted by installation state, preview name, foundry, etc., by clicking on the column headings.

MainType flags (in red) any fonts that don’t include all characters typed in the preview text field. We can see at once that Linux Biolinum Kb lacks the t dot below. The green bullets show which fonts are already installed.

Comparing Fonts

Compare two or more fonts side-by-sideAdd two or more fonts to the Font Information panel to compare their details. Drag and drop fonts to the panel, or use the buttons on the Font Information panel title bar to add or remove selected fonts from the panel.

Adjust column widths by dragging the separators in the column headers to fit more fonts in the panel.

The green background indicates values that match, the red background indicates fields that do not. Values that are not coloured are not compared by MainType. PANOSE data is only rarely completed properly, so a perfect match is unlikely, and would not be very useful for identifying identical fonts.

Comparing similar fonts can be useful in deciding which to keep, but to fully inspect the quality of a font I recommend opening them in FontCreator to see how well they are made.

There are many font vendors who made illegal copies of fonts to make a quick buck, and sold them at a significant profit to users who do not know about their true origins. One danger sign is that the Foundry is shown as Altsys or Macromedia/Made with Fontographer, which are not Foundries, but font-editing software used by the vendors of cheap clones or illegal copies to edit fonts, removing their identifying copyright and trademark fields. The absence of any Foundry is also a warning that the font may not be of professional quality. If the foundry is FontLab or High-Logic there’s a better chance that the font was made by professionals or enthusiastic amateurs.

OpenSource fonts often have a Foundry of FontForge or SIL International.

Fontographer was the first affordable outline font editor.¹ It was released in 1986 by Altsys, acquired by Macromedia in 1995, and by FontLab in 2005. FontLab Ltd., sell both FontLab ($649) and Fontographer ($399). High-Logic FontCreator Professional is currently only $199 — within the reach of keen amateurs.

¹ Though when I first started editing fonts with CorelDraw 3.0 in 1993, it was still too expensive to consider. CorelDraw 3.0 was heavily discounted to £150 ($242) when CorelDraw 4.0 was released. That’s equivalent to about $400, or the price of Fontographer today.

Installing/Uninstalling Fonts

Any selected fonts or an entire font group can be installed or uninstalled quickly, so rarely used fonts can be left uninstalled until needed. Having fewer fonts installed makes selecting fonts quicker. To uninstall a font, click the green button in the State column; to install it click the empty radio button. There is an option in Tools, Options, Warnings to warn you if you’re prone to clicking buttons in error.

Install, Load, or Uninstall FontsThere are also Install/Uninstall icons on the main toolbar. The Load button will make the font available in applications for the current Windows session only — when the computer is rebooted, or the user logs off, the loaded fonts will no longer be available. If an “Access Denied” error occurs while trying to install a font, it may be necessary to reboot the PC to fix this issue.

Removing Fonts

Remove old versions permanentlyWhen editing fonts with FontCreator, I install each new version to test it.

MainType keeps the previous version in its library so one can soon find that there are a dozen different versions of the same font. After saving a new font to the hard drive, update the MainType font library from the Tools menu to install the latest version. Then, select the older version(s) and press delete.

The “Remove Fonts” dialogue offers three options for removing fonts from the MainType database. I always use the third option to keep my font library uncluttered. It deletes the old font from disk too unless it was installed from a location unknown to MainType, e.g. C:\TEMP\ where I sometimes download fonts just to look at them. MainType now remembers the state of this dialogue.

However, if the delete option is used on a font in a group view, an additional option on the dialogue allows the removal of the font only from the group.

This has no effect on the font in the MainType Library, and does not remove the TrueType file from the hard disk either.

Ignored fonts can be restored to the MainType library, using Tools, Ignored fonts. I keep backups of my fonts in 7-Zip archives in case I need to restore them.

Printing Font Samples

Print font samples at a range of different sizes. One can use a PDF printer driver to create a PDF. I have used CutePDF and PDF995, which both work well. The Foxit Reader PDF printer does not.

Print a Font Information Sheet or a full character set for up to ten fonts at once, including all characters or glyphs in the Character panel. If a single font is selected, the output filename will be MainType - <Fontname> Character Set.pdf or MainType - <Fontname> Font Information.pdf.

Font Catalogues

The Export Font Information wizard offers several different options for producing font catalogues. Having selected fonts or folders of fonts in the browse window or the installed fonts window you can export an HTML or Rich text format font catalogue, or just a plain text list of the font names.

MainType 7.0 renamed {FONT_NUM_GLYPHS} to {FONT_GLYPHS} and added HTML Export support for {FONT_FILE_SIZE} and {FONT_FILE_SIZE_BYTES}

This HTML catalogue is a list of the fonts that come with various Serif™ products, plus my own free OpenType fonts, some free Linux fonts, some Google fonts, some IM Fell fonts by Igino Marini, and some free OpenType fonts from SIL International. The *.htf template files found in C:\ProgramData\MainType can be modified to change the appearance of the catalogue. I made a copy of the template files in the MainType %AppData% folder, and told MainType to use those. Now, reinstalling MainType won’t overwrite my edited templates. Remember to backup the edited files too.

Page last updated on 06 November 2016