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FontNuke FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of FontNuke?

It's really no secret. FontNuke has 2 primary functions. First, FontNuke does nothing more than remove font cache files. Its as simple as that. Remove a bunch of cache files, literally. Second, FontNuke forces a system reboot, to guarantee proper font cache file recreation after the font cache files have been removed.

What is a 'font cache' file?

We can break this down into two parts, 'font' and 'cache'.
I think we all know what a 'font' is, and if not...well, you probably have no business with FontNuke. But here's a quoted definition of font from wikipedia.com:

"In typography, a typeface consists of a coordinated set of glyphs designed with stylistic unity. A typeface usually comprises an alphabet of letters, numerals, and punctuation marks; it may also include ideograms and symbols, or consist entirely of them, for example, mathematical or map-making symbols. The term typeface is often conflated with font, a term which, historically, had a number of distinct meanings before the advent of desktop publishing; these terms are now effectively synonymous when discussing digital typography. A helpful and still valid distinction between font and typeface is a font's status as a discreet commodity with legal restrictions, while typeface designates a visual appearance or style not immediately reducible to any one foundry's production or proprietary control. (...)"

A cache file is defined by wikipedia.com as the following:

"(...) A simple definition of Cache would be: A temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access. (...)"

Basically, a temporary file used to (theoretically) improve the performance of fonts.

What 'font cache' file(s) are removed?

  • /Library/Caches/com.apple.ATS/* (System)
  • files that contain 'font cache' from ~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/ (MSOffice)
  • ~/Library/Caches/com.microsoft.browserfont.cache (MSOffice)
  • ~/Library/Caches/Tasman Browser.cache (MSOffice)
  • files that contain "ATSServer" from /var/tmp
  • AdobeFnt.lst files on the startup disk (AdobeFnt*lst, *.lst) (System/Adobe)
  • /Library/Fonts/font-cache* (System)
  • /Applications/QuarkXPress 6.x/jaws/* (Quark)
  • ~/Library/Preferences/Quark/QuarkXPress 7.0/jaws/* (Quark)
  • files that end with ".ps" from any subdirectory of ~/Library/Preferences/Quark/
  • ~/Library/Caches/Adobe (Adobe general cache)

What are some problems caused by bad 'font cache' files?

  • Fonts which have been added to the system or activated with 3rd party software, do not show up in application font lists
  • When multiple styles for a similar font family are active, the font displays as a different style then is selected (e.g.; Garamond-Bold is selected but displaying as Garamond-Italic)
  • Text is garbled or random characters are inserted
  • Text disappears entirely
  • Applications stall or quit immediately after launch
  • Fonts look correct on screen, but when printed:
    • convert to Courier or other random fonts
    • do not print at all, an error may be generated or nothing happens at all
  • ...many, many more. (I will update this list as I remember/encounter scenarios.)

Why do I need to remove font cache files? Why is it a problem? What causes font cache problems?

Ahh yes. The burning question indeed. I know not the sole answer, however I can provide a list of my observations and conclusions. I have deconstructed many fonts in an effort to determine the driving force behind OS X and the font related scenarios that are common for many publishing and creative users, yet still I have encountered intermittent results, making a source to the problem, almost entirely unidentifiable.
  • Type 1 fonts using a common suitcase of merged styles
  • Different styles of the same family contain identical and/or incomplete FOND information
  • ...much more. (I have a great deal of information, yet to sort out and validate. My intermittent results with various tests complicate greatly what should produce a rather simple summary.)

Why can't we resolve the root cause of font cache related issues so we don't even have to deal with them?

Well, that's how we always like to operate. However, there are many questions regarding font caches to which I do not have answers. If you can't resolve the issue of font caches permanently, the best I can provide a tool to make dealing with the problems manageable and easy, so we can continue doing what's important with the remainder of our day. Cheers.

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