Since I’m writing this post during that unique period in between Christmas and New Year’s . . . when you have no concept of whether it’s Tuesday, Sunday, or even still December, I figured I would write about something that brings me great joy. Fonts. I am a collector of fonts. I have ones that are beautiful, ones that are classic, straightforward, jovial, and downright odd. I learned today I have 1,266 of them to be exact. Most I know I’ll never use, but hundreds of them MAY get used . . . one day. I am a font hoarder.
As a Christmas present to myself, I decided I would find a good utility for browsing my collection. When I am trying to decide on the perfect font for a project, this very common, teeny tiny, one-font-at-a-time preview is not nearly sufficient:
I went out seeking a utility similar to google’s font viewer . . . where I could type in my desired preview text and then browse the available options in an easy-to-see size and easy-to-scroll format.
If you are in the beginning stages of forming your brand, having a tool like this — to see your company name and test out body copy in all your currently installed fonts — would be a wonderful luxury. Once your brand has solidified a bit, you’ll still have instances in which you’ll need to choose a different font for a specific need . . . whether you’re creating a Happy New Year graphic for social media or a “clearance” sign for display in your store.
So I went looking for the best available font viewer. I read a number of articles reviewing the options, and I sampled a select few of them based on the reviews . . . .
CPS Font Viewer
This program was my absolute favorite, checking all the essential boxes on my font viewer wish list, excepting the very important fact that my computer would freeze for about a minute every time I interacted with the program, which is designed for a 32-bit version of Windows. (I’m guessing this is an important fact.) Frustration prompted my uninstalling the program before even taking a screen shot for you, but I was able to grab one from the software provider:
If your computer is a rare gem running 32-bit Windows, this program is a great choice.
I initially really liked FontBase, performing the requisite job in a clean and modern interface. I also like that you can easily switch from your fonts to Google’s selection of 2,533 free fonts as desired. However, I really wanted to better utilize all that wasted screen space and increase the number of fonts I could peruse at a time. Unfortunately, the ability to switch from a row view to grid style, along with a number of additional options, requires an upgrade and at a pretty hefty price tag at that. Many seemingly functional buttons annoyingly transport you to this screen, where your options are $3/mo, $29/yr, or $180 forever.
Since I try to resist the low-price allure of ongoing subscriptions whenever possible, I was left with the $180 option, which was about $100 more than I was willing to spend. Goodbye, FontBase.
If you don’t mind the free row layout and can quickly learn which buttons to avoid OR you’re willing to pay for the upgrade, this program is a solid choice.
Another modern and clean interface that can also easily switch from your installed fonts to google’s free fonts, this viewer is a big step up, providing a grid layout entirely free of charge. In fact, this is the only utility I sampled that is browser-based and didn’t need to be installed. Your only required payment comes in the form of one font block dedicated to an advertisement every other screen or so – a very reasonable price to pay in my book. However, this utility scans and previews your installed fonts using Adobe Flash Player, outdated software that Adobe has announced will no longer be supported as of December 2020. I noticed a bit of a lag on the web page itself and even more inconveniently in my other software while accessing Wordmark.it. (So going back and forth from discovering a possible font option on Wordmark.it to trying out the font in my project was not a smooth flow.) Hopefully, the company will find a more current way to make this utility available, because it’s pretty slick otherwise.
This program has an old-school feel. The installation process and program interface are reminiscent of the good old days . . . Windows 97, 56k modems, and floppy disks. I almost immediately wrote the program off as a result.
Upon browsing all the options in the program’s menu, I found that the view is almost completely customizable, and I was able to scroll through my 1,000+ font options with ease.
Unlike the outdated Flash Player, this program’s age adds to its allure . . . not modern and clean but user driven and quick. I happily declare my unlikely victor!
Do you have a favorite font viewer? Let us know in the comments below. Did you have an opportunity to try out one of the reviewed options? I would love to hear your experience.