I was asked about fonts and font-management by someone who “has tons of fonts.”
If you really have “tons of fonts” then that could be having an effect on your system. I personally keep my -active- font collection pared down to a minimum, and use Font Agent Pro to activate other fonts as needed. For example, one seldom needs “headline” (aka “decorative”) fonts active all the time, and those constitute the bulk of most font packages. With software that auto- activates the font only when it’s needed, you can remove some of the sludge from the system during normal use.
Such font software will also check for font problems (and there is also the excellent Font Doctor which does the same thing.) Font book also has an implementation as well, although I”m not sure if it will repair broken fonts.
Fonts are considered part of the operating system, and a damaged or corrupted font can cause all kinds of mysterious issues. I’ve experienced this over the years myself, hence my recommendation, above.
I generally leave the Microsoft and Adobe font packages alone (unless, of course, Font Doctor finds a corrupt font) and try to keep my /Library/Fonts folder down to what Apple supplies and a few others that are needed by specific software, such as the Britannica et al. Equally, I try to keep ~/Library/fonts tiny too.
I do have some 1500 other type faces (many of which are “headline” fonts) that I’ve acquired over the years (and have converted to OTF, to stay up with OS changes) but these are all kept in a separate folder, organized and activated only as I need them, using Font Agent Pro.
(I was then asked about what was “the best” font software, to which I replied:)
Can’t reply as to whether or not Font Agent Pro (FAP)is “the best” because I’ve been using it so long that I’ve not kept up with the others. If you already have software that is current and manages fonts, you probably ought to use that, as I’d assume the differences between packages is minor.
By way of reference, I have about 90 font-families / 140 fonts active on my computer right now. FAP lists 4247 fonts in my collection (which probably represent about 1200 families, I’d guess.)
As to using a font manager vs not: yes, it is far simpler to not use one.
Changing from one manager to another isn’t particularly difficult, but can be stressful if things don’t go right.
Generally they keep the actual fonts organized in a separate folder. Changing then would entail uninstalling the software, and moving all those fonts to (say) your user/library/fonts folder, and then running the new font manager. The font manager will gather up and redistribute the fonts according to it’s own needs.
That said, most font managers will let you create your own catagories and arrange things to your heart’s content. Converting -that- from one manager to another is pretty much impossible, if my experience is telling, and a serious time-sink to convert. For that reason, I generally don’t bother; large type houses and grapic design firms do bother.
Personally, I’ve found FAP to be more than adequate for my modest needs, but, as I noted, that likely applies to whatever you have as well. Just make sure you have the latest version before you go mucking about.
As to how to proceed: I’d get a clean install of the system fonts from somewhere, and move your /library/fonts folder out of the /library and install the clean /library/ fonts.
Do that for your ~/library/fonts as well.
Then run the font management stuff, and include those moved folders. As it is right now, on my setup, I have a “MyFonts” folder at the root level of my hard drive.