Dominic Williams

Occasionally useful posts about RIAs, Web scale computing & miscellanea

Google Chrome browser fonts problem on Mac OS X

with 11 comments

Just about everyone in the Web/tech industry now has worked out that Chrome rocks. It rocks so much, that once you use it for a while, any other browser becomes unbearable (I won’t go into the design decisions that make it so much better, but please take it on trust and try using this browser for a while, searching via the address bar, adding extensions etc, if you are not already).

That is, except for some people on Mac OS X, because in some configurations Chrome screws up the display of certain fonts. When this happens, text in the fonts in question are represented by a series of A’s.

Cause: You have a font manager installed, such as Suitcase Fusion, which maintains fonts outside of the Mac OS X fonts folder. If the manager activates a Web font that is also a “system” font, such as Arial or Tahoma, when Chrome Beta requests the font from the system it will be directed to the managed copy. Unfortunately however, Chrome’s security model does not allow it to access and load font files outside of the system fonts folder.

Fix: Carefully go through the fonts in your font manager. Deactivate any copies of Web fonts such as Arial, Tahoma and Georgia (these fonts should already exist in your system fonts anyway). Restart Chrome.


Written by dominicwilliams

February 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Chrome browser, Client tools

Tagged with , , ,

11 Responses

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  1. I don’t know that I would call these “System Fonts” on a Macintosh. By the sound of it, they’re *Windows* system fonts.

    As a designer, I work with a vast number of fonts. and in my experience the way to give yourself problems in a range of design and publishing applications is not to have a font manager.

    Over a period of years I’ve discovered that the way for a simple life is to let the font manager (Suitcase Fusion in my case) handle everything.

    As a result, I’m afraid, if Google can’t be bothered to support a very common and standard method of handling fonts on the Macintosh because of some nebulous “security model” (is this really true? it sounds absurd) then I can, frankly, stick with Firefox – much as I like Chrome on Windows a great deal. I’m not compromising my workflow for a browser.

    We should at least have a checkbox in Chrome’s Prefs that allows us to use a font manager and warns us of the (negligible) risks if we do.

    It seems to me as if requiring *Windows* system fonts to be handled in a special way on a different platform is simply laziness on the part of the developer. Font managers don’t break any rules: they’ve been part of the Mac scene for many many years. All other applications I know of have no problem with this.

    Richard E

    March 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

  2. Thank you! This was my only hold-up with using Chrome, as I could not use it whenever Suitcase Fusion 2 was open (a big bummer). Now it works!

    Jackson Latka

    April 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

  3. Really helpful post, but I feel about the same as Richard E. Chrome may be good, but having fun browsing doesn’t holding a candle to keeping my workflow functional. I’ll stick with Suitcase Fusion and Safari or Firefox.

    Josh Freeman

    June 8, 2010 at 12:26 am

  4. Dominic, can’t seem to edit that typo. If you can, great. If not…I’m sure people will get the idea. Again, great info.

    Josh Freeman

    June 8, 2010 at 12:28 am

    • Thank you for the solution. The problem’s so annoying. So, glad i found this post.


      June 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

  5. Yay, Thanks Dominic! I had looked for so many additional solutions, and yours was the final piece of the puzzle. In my case, I copied all ‘common website’ fonts into my system folder System/Library/Fonts and deactivated them in the other locations where I have them placed (in FontExplorer, for instance). Restarted Chrome and it worked a charm. Cheers.


    July 5, 2010 at 8:58 pm

  6. Thanks so much for your solution, Dominic! Now my Chrome is finally fixed! Last time my browser was full with A’s.


    August 18, 2010 at 8:50 am

  7. Dominic, one more thing to try for your friends who are still having problems:

    It worked for me!

    Patrick Watts

    February 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm

  8. […] Williams posted a solution for the Mac Chrome font issue that consists of deactivating the main system fonts in your font manager and activating them in the […]

  9. Dominic – you are a lifesaver. Thank you. Almost fell off my chair when I went to preview a WordPress Blog I’m designing in Google Chrome to see a font meltdown. Followed your disable fonts advice and voila. Am using FontExplorer Pro as the font manager on my mac. Again, thanks.

    Paul Wilson

    April 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

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