Common Font activation issues in newer versions of macOS
macOS 11 (Big Sur), macOS 12 (Monterey), and macOS 13 (Ventura) use and automatically-activate several common fonts such as Helvetica, Helvetica Neue, Arial, Courier, Times New Roman and more. This can create several issues with font management tools in regards to how they handle managing these same fonts in a personal font collection since those fonts are already present and automatically-activated by macOS.
By default, Apple includes and automatically activates many common versions of ubiquitous fonts, which are active and locked in their System Fonts collection; as such, Apple does not allow the user to deactivate, move, or remove System Fonts in macOS 11 and later. This also includes via the use of apps such as FontBook or any other font management tool, as they too are not able to deactivate fonts that reside in the System Fonts folder that may conflict with fonts from a personal collection that share the same name as a System Font.
Below is an example of fonts that are active and locked by macOS. If you have fonts in your personal font collection that share the same name or Postscript Name as these fonts, you will be unable to activate and use them as macOS will try and favor using the System Font version. Trying to activate fonts that are conflicting with System Fonts can cause ? icons to render in place of text in various applications. To combat this, you will need to use the version of the font supplied by Apple in any of your projects moving forward.
As an example, the list includes the following Helvetica Fonts:
- Helvetica Bold
- Helvetica Bold Oblique
- Helvetica Light
- Helvetica Light Oblique
- Helvetica Neue (multiple faces)
For a full lists of System Fonts included in recent versions of macOS, see these articles:
macOS 11: Fonts included with macOS Big Sur
macOS 12: Fonts included with macOS Monterey
macOS 13: Fonts included with macOS Ventura
Extensis and others have provided ways over the last several years on how to minimize these System Font conflicts to keep these System Font conflicts to a minimum. For more on information about this, please download our Mac OS Font Management Best Practices guide from Connect Fonts Support.
What can you do now?
At this time, we suggest using another version or face not managed and locked by macOS. Choosing a font with a different Postscript Name that is not seen in the list or link above will remove the need for these fonts being used in a future project.
We are also advising our customers to contact Apple directly to inquire about restoring the ability to disable or manage their own System Fonts in future versions of macOS, like was present in OS X.