Restoring default OS fonts?


macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 3, 2006
Queens, New York NY-5
A while ago I installed thousands of fonts and I didn't realize it would mess up my system so much by removing or replacing some fonts needed for other applications. Is there anyway I can remove all of those fonts I installed and go back to the basic installed fonts? I do have my restore discs, but I haven't tried anything with them yet.

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
Adelaide, Australia
As much as it sucks, I think the easiest way might be to do an Archive & Install. Remove all the fonts manually first, back everything up and then start the reinstall. It shouldn't take long and if you select the right boxes it'll retain all your data and settings. Admittedly it's a bit of a sledge hammer approach, so hopefully someone better will come along and give you a cleaner solution. However, the fonts are generally so embedded in the system (hence the mess you're in) that I can't think of a quicker and easier way. :)
I was dreading this!


A bit after the fact but I just loaded about a thousand fonts into fontbook and have been having problems ever since.

Mail and Safari are refusing to render Helvetica or Times correctly, opting instead, to provide an intriguing display consisting of numerical fractions crammed together.

This is not consistent and changes from line to line. ie, Three or four lines will be ok, but there will be one in the middle that is munted.

The only other app that seems to be affected is NoteBook (circus ponies). You can copy the munted text from one app then paste it into textwrangler (barebones) and it will be fine??? Sheesh, I've spent a few hours trying to nut it out but I can't seem to grasp the logic of it. I don't think I can be bothered with anything other than the Archive and Install suggested by Mad Jew. A pity to do this with a two week old SR MBP!
Did you try Resolving Duplicates from Font Book?
No, I considered that but thought it would be too complicated. I might give that a try although it may be pushing the limits of my capacity for mental endurance, LOL.

I mean, how do I know which of the 20 or so variants of helvetica are the ones that must be retained, etc?

Thanks for the idea, I'll back up the important stuff and try that first, it will be an education at the very least, and if I kill it, well, I was going to do a re-install anyway!

Cheers! Thanks.
Oh No! Screw Font Book!

Tell us how it goes. As you say, the worst that can happen is you'll have to reinstall. Good luck! :)
Well, I spent about six hours backing up to DVDs, three duds, tried to resolve duplicates in FontBook, deactivated all recently added fonts, checked and repaired permissions, threw in a couple of reboots for luck and the problem of the fraction fonts was still there!

Archive and Install took an amazing 2 hours, (these intel macs remind me of the bad things about windows) I'm used to taking 19 minutes on my old powerbook with tiger.

I know, I know, I forgot to hunt down the fonts and *delete* them!

So it's 24 hours later and I'm back to square one, although I do have everything backed up now! Will try to eliminate the naughty fonts and re-install again.

Thanks for your help kind macfolks!

Tell us how it goes. As you say, the worst that can happen is you'll have to reinstall. Good luck! :)
Hey, something weird happened and logic took over. I copied and pasted the offending text into a textedit doc, selected a munted bit, opened the font format dialogue and discovered that the offending font was called helvetica fraction bold.

I went to the System library and there was nothing like it in there. A quick trip into the user library fonts folder had me stumbling apon 'HelveFraBol' which I deleted with reckless abandon.

Half expecting a system conniption, I quit Mail and reopened it.....viola, all better now!:D I will get back to you if the fix comes unfixed! Once again, thanks for your community spirit and macliness eM_Jay.;)
Ah! The famous Helvetica Fraction font fiasco! It is so easy when you finally figure it out:
Well, at least you got to spend some quality time with your Mac...!
LOL, Ha, 'ol Murphy's at it again! Typically giving you what you needed when you don't need it anymore. Would you believe I did a couple of searches there with no results! Better brush up on my search technique, eh!

Thanks for the link, it least it confirms that I got it right!;)


macrumors newbie
Feb 9, 2008
Restore Original OSX Fonts

Just like the guy above i recently installed like 1000 fonts. But it was by accident. I try to resolve duplicates but it won't allow me to. It just sits there for a bit and ends up doing nothing with the duplicates. I can't install fonts anymore either. It just has the rainbow thing and then acts as if it finished but the font is never there and it still says not installed. I can't delete the fonts either that wont work. I want to get rid of all the fonts except for the original Tiger and Leopard fonts. I got my MBP in Nov 2007 so it came with Tiger installed along with a Leopard upgrade DVD. I want to retain the Tiger and Leopard fonts while delete all others. Would Archive & Install let me do that??