Type Tips

How to Clear your Application Font Cache

March 24, 2016 by
David Sudweeks
David Sudweeks

Fonts generally work as designed, but occasionally you get really odd behavior out of them. Especially when that unusual behavior is present in one of your design apps but not the others, it’s evidence that there’s an application font cache problem. It happened to me, and here’s how I fixed it.

When updating from a previous release version of a font family last week (to FF Chartwell 2.0), I noticed that the OpenType features weren’t working correctly in InDesign. ’That’s strange, there must be a problem with the font,‘ I thought. Then I checked in Illustrator (a design app I use much less often) and everything worked perfectly. I checked with the font’s production team, who alerted me to the much simpler explanation: Something was wrong with the way InDesign cached the font, and I needed to clear the cache.

So I downloaded FontExplorer X Pro, installed it, cleared the cache, et voilà! I was back in business.

This isn’t the only way to do it, mind you. Adobe’s recommendation for clearing font caches requires no additional downloads, but it is a fairly complex sequence to follow. Here it is for Mac OS X, and for Windows. I would recap here, but it’s quite involved.

I did find a couple of other apps that clear up this kind of problem, both of them only for OS X: Mark Douma’s Font Finagler specializes in clearing font caches, including application font caches. The process for identifying and clearing the cache was essentially the same as in FontExplorer X above.

And Jake Pietrykowski’s FontNuke does the same, with a bit more of an alarmist tone.

Lastly, if following these steps doesn’t resolve your problem, it may mean trouble with your system font cache, which any of these apps can handle as well. Or if you like, here’s a how-to from Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer of Glyphs App about how you can make a script to automate the process of clearing your system font cache. Thanks Rainer!

Chartwell is a trademark of Monotype GmbH and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. FF is a trademark of Monotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. FontExplorer is a trademark of Monotype Imaging Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain jurisdictions in the name of Monotype Imaging Inc. or Monotype GmbH. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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