FontAgent Pro 5 for Mac

Major Upgrade to Professional Font Manager

FontAgent Pro is arguably the best font manager for the Mac, and this new version 5 makes it even better, with several new features and improvements. The most obvious update is its ability to auto-activate fonts in Adobe CS6 software—InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InCopy.

FontAgent Pro 5 works on the premise of Libraries and Sets. You can have as many Libraries as you wish, depending on how you like to organize your fonts. (Professional designers with a repertoire of hundreds or thousands of fonts generally need a robust font manager.) The fonts are added to a central location but not to a locked database; they're simply checked for missing/corrupt fonts, copied, and organized. (If desired, you have the option to delete the original fonts after copying.) FontAgent Pro can also auto-gather fonts via an AppleScript. (While this feature is promoted as new, it's simply a Finder search, and is woefully documented in the online Help, the Help PDF, and the website.) From there, fonts can be broken down further into Sets, again based on the designer's needs. A Set is a simple, folder-like organization, and as with folders, you may have Sets within Sets. A Set is part of FontAgent Pro but it doesn't reorganize your fonts on the hard drive; however, Sets may be exported.

In addition to checking the fonts, FontAgent Pro 5 now includes Smasher—a program that can clear operating software (OS) and program caches, and remove fonts from old, unnecessary font suitcase files. You can solve two issues, however, by keeping your OS and software up to date, and using OpenType fonts rather than the older Type 1 (PostScript) fonts. FontAgent Pro 5 supports OpenType, Type 1, Macintosh TrueType, Windows TrueType, and Mac dfonts. Technically, the new software covers Adobe CS3-CS6 and QuarkXPress 6-9.

Useful features in FontAgent Pro 5 for finding just the font you want include Font Player, Font Compare, Glyph View, Find, Smart Sets, and Font Classifier. With Font Player you automatically scan through fonts (via selection, Set, or Library) to preview them one at a time. Font Compare is similar, but shows all the selected fonts at once in a scrollable window. Both Font Player and Font Compare allow you to print a specimen book (and with Mac OS PDF tools, you can print to PDF). The new Glyph View lets you see the actual glyphs (often called "characters"). A nice touch is the ability to drag-and-drop the glyphs into a program; however, Photoshop is the only major program that really needs this feature, and I couldn't get it to work. InDesign, InCopy, Illustrator, and QuarkXPress already have a built-in Glyph panel. The Find feature lets you search for fonts based on a wide range of criteria, such as font format, foundry name, slant, comments, and much more. One of the more powerful features, the Smart Set, works just like Find, except that your Sets automatically update as new fonts meet the criteria. Using Font Classifier, you can preview fonts by basic classifications (text serif, text sans serif, display, script, etc.) and then by subcategory, such as oldstyle, modern, or transitional. For fonts unknown to FontAgent Pro 5, you can apply a custom classification. And for those who want even more fonts, there's an AppleScript to download 650 Google open-source fonts.

There are a few more features I'd like to see in an update (rather than the next version), for example, a floating, customizable Font Player window for overlay in other applications; and Font Set activation directly in Adobe and Quark programs. (Granted, these suggested features are taken directly from Extensis Suitcase, but they're nice ones.) Also, I'd like to see a simultaneous release of Mac and Windows versions—with an identical feature set, of course.

FontAgent Pro 5 costs $99.95 new and $49.95 to upgrade from version 4. Other versions of this software include the Workgroup Edition for $129.95 (upgrade $65) for font sharing without using the FontAgent Pro server; and FontAgent Pro PLUS for $149.95, which includes 750 Bitstream OpenType fonts.

Company:  Insider Software
Price: $99.95 (Upgrade: $49.95)
Rating: 4.5
Hot:  Easy to use and set up; works with CS6
Not:  Mac only version (Windows still at 4.1)