six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Fixing some weird fonts in Safari

Recently, I’d been encountering an odd font issue. Specifically, a pair of websites—The Wirecutter and the New York Times crossword, —which both happened to be owned by the New York Times—weren’t displaying a font correctly.

Here’s a screenshot of the Wirecutter’s deals page, as seen in Safari on my iMac.

Charming, right?

This issue didn’t occur in Chrome on the same computer, or in Safari or Chrome on my MacBook Air. I’d concluded it was a font issue, but I had some trouble tracking down exactly which font was at fault. While Googling revealed some reports of fonts displaying as garbage characters, they didn’t seem to be quite the same issue that I was running into.

I tried validating fonts using Font Book, but it was a bit of a slog wading through the warnings and errors (many of them simply about duplicate fonts).

However, in my searching, I did come across a suggestion on Apple’s discussion boards that the culprit might reside in a folder I’d hitherto left unchecked: ~/Library/Fonts (the font directory within the Library in your Home directory). Turned out I had nearly 80 fonts in there, only some of which I remembered installing. I dragged them all into the neighboring Fonts Disabled folder, restarted Safari, and voilà: normal text had returned.


I haven’t tracked down exactly which font is responsible—I re-ran Font Book’s validation on just my User fonts, but none of the ones that reported errors proved to be the culprit; when I disabled them, the problem persisted. I’ll have to instead opt for the time-honored tradition of adding fonts back a few at a time and see which one causes trouble.1

  1. Or, far more likely, leave them all disabled until I find I need one again.  ↩

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]