Released 11th January 2013
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 keep your fonts organised.
You can sort your fonts, organise them into groups, and install or uninstall them easily. If you need some fonts just for the current print job, you can load the font temporarily and it will be gone the next time you reboot.
MainType 4.0 was completely rewritten to use a database approach to organising fonts. This results in much faster loading, even with thousands of fonts.
MainType 5: Load and display all active fonts and all the fonts in my library takes about 10 seconds.
Version 5.1: Some bugs were fixed
Customised layouts can be saved to to different tasks. The layout illustrated above is in a window reduced to suit the width of this web page. It shows six of the seven available panels, except for the Integrity panel, which will report any errors detected in the selected font.
The Groups Panel: (Shortcut F5) lists user-defined font groups. Select a group to display the fonts it contains in the View Panel. Deleting a group does not delete the fonts it contains.
The Font Information Panel: (Shortcut F6) lists details of the selected font. General: Font name, family, style, type, and foundry. Properties: Whether it is installed or loaded, and version number. Metrics: Style, weight, width, embedding rights, number of glyphs and characters, funits/em, and Panose number.
The Integrity Panel: (Shortcut F7) lists 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 specification.
The Zoom Panel: (Shortcut F8) previews a single character with its postscript name and code-point.
The Characters Panel: (Shortcut F9) lists all of the characters 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 (the zoom panel can be closed to save space).
The Sample Panel: (Shortcut F10) previews a text sample of the font at the chosen size. Custom text samples can be added.
The Views Panel: (Shortcut F11) shows a filtered list of fonts. The search field at the top right of the window can be used to quickly find fonts by part of their name, or selecting a group will view the fonts it contains.
Panels can be closed, resized, docked, or rearranged. The current layout is reloaded on restarting MainType. Shortcuts can be assigned to custom layouts.
On wide monitors different layouts can be created by restoring the MainType window and then detaching a few panels. Below is a sample layout with a detached panel, arranged to fit this web page.
If your fonts are already sorted into folders, MainType can automatically create font 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 primary font path where MainType will search for and add fonts to the font library, creating groups automatically from subfolders, and sorting them in alphabetical order. This first time cataloguing and indexing of your fonts may take a few minutes or longer depending on how many fonts you have installed. For 5,000 fonts it takes only a few minutes.
The main advantage of 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 wherever they are just by using the search field. However, you can also add your fonts to one or more groups, give them a star rating,
Fonts can be displayed in a tree view like that on the right, either by Font Type, or, in this example, by font family. Fonts in the same family are listed as one font, and each branch can be expanded to show the styles in that family or collapsed to save space.
Because MainType 4 uses a database, filtering fonts is extremely fast — as fast as typing. Use the Search field at the top right of the MainType window to enter part of a font name. I typed “Linux” to find all fonts with “Linux” in the font name. The drop list in the search field offers to search by family or foundry. The filtered list of fonts appears in the View pane as you type.
The number of fonts found (27) is shown in brackets. The search results can be sorted by installation state, preview name, foundry, etc., by clicking on the column headings.
MainType 4.5 flags (in red) any fonts that don’t include all characters typed in the preview text field. We can see at once that one font lacks t dot below, and two other fonts have the wrong character (y ring) in its place.
Add two or more fonts to the Font Information pane to compare their details. Drag and drop or use the button on the Information pane title bar to add or remove the selected font from the comparison. The green background indicates values that match, the red background indicates fields that do not.
Any selected fonts or 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.
When I am editing or creating new fonts in FontCreator, I install each new version to test it. MainType keeps the previous version in its library so one can quickly 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), right-click, and select “Remove.” The “Remove Fonts” dialogue offers three options. I always use the third option to keep my drive free from clutter. I also keep backups of my fonts in 7-Zip archives in case I need to restore them.
Ignored fonts can be restored to the MainType library, using Tools, Ignored fonts.
Print samples of fonts at a range of different sizes. Use a PDF printer driver to create a PDF.
Print a full character set for up to ten fonts at once, including all characters or glyphs in the Character pane.
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.
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, and some OpenType fonts that come with Vista. The *.htf template files found in %AppData%\MainType\template\ can be modified to change the appearance of the catalogue. I used Batch Text Replacer Wizard to refine the HTML output to suit my needs.