I was prompted to write this tutorial after being contacted by a reader who had a question. Upon initial searching, I found that there are a bunch of articles and sites you have to wade through in order to install and run FontForge on Mac OS X. So I decided to figure out how to do it the simplest way.
To begin with, FontForge is not a regular OS X application. So there are some prerequisites in order to install it and get it running on your Mac. The method I have provided uses MacPorts. I tried the beta version .app and Homebrew, but neither seemed to be consistent across the different versions of OS X. I have always been a fan of MacPorts and once again it has proven to a solid performer. This tutorial was completed using OS X Mavericks 10.9.2, but I also tested on other versions as well. I ran successful installs on the following:
Mountain Lion 10.8.5
Snow Leopard 10.6.8
Install FontForge on Mac OS X using MacPorts
This method is a little involved and takes some time, but this method will reward your patience with a working version of FontForge on Mac OS X. The reason why it’s time consuming is that it gets built from the source code.
For this method you will need the following installed before beginning. If you do not have them, follow the links to learn how.
Once you have these installed you are ready to begin. If you are running on Snow Leopard then you will not have the Command Line Tools, as they are not available for Snow Leopard. I believe the specific version of MacPorts for Snow Leopard takes into account for this. But, that’s just a theory.
Install MacPorts by going to the following URL. Click the Download button in the upper right hand corner to get the package for particular OS X version.
Once you have it downloaded. Go to your Downloads folder and run the installer. Depending on your system’s security, you may be prompted for your password. Click “Next” and accept all the defaults until it begins to install.
Once the install finishes, you will need to configure MacPorts. Copy and paste the following lines into a terminal window.
Now, let’s install a few utilities that will make the install go smoothly. Run each of the following commands separately. Enter your user password if prompted. Also, keep in mind that these are getting compiled, so they can take a while to complete.
Once you have all those installed, it’s time to install FontForge. Type the following command and hit Enter.
Once it has finished, you’ll want to make an icon that you can click on in your Applications folder. Open up the “Apple Script Editor” and type the following line into the editor. My previous instruction was to copy and paste it in and some people were experiencing problems. One of our readers discovered the issue was with the copy/paste. Take a look at Glenn’s discovery in the comments section.
Save this script by going to File->Save. Name the script FontForge and be sure to change the file format to “application” format. Place it in your Applications folder or wherever will most convenient for you.
Next, go to your Applications folder and double click the icon. You should see XQuartz or X11 open up, followed by FontForge!
Once you hit Enter, you should see the following resulting line(s)
Now, paste the following line below into the terminal window and hit Enter. You will see either “+universal” or “not 64-bit capable” as a response. As long as you see one of the two, everything is okay
Now would be a good time to reboot your computer. I’ve done it with and without, but for consistency across all the different OS’s, it’s better to just do a quick reboot.
This one definitely takes a while, so be patient.
There you go. That is the easiest and most consistent way to install FontForge on Mac OS X. Hopefully you are able to get it installed successfully. If not, leave a comment with the issue you are having.
You can also watch the video tutorial on our YouTube Channel here.
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