Early this month (May 2013) Google announced they are partnering with fonts.com by offering their complete collection of open source Google Fonts available for free for download to your desktop.
To this point Google Fonts have mostly been for use on the web, typically used by web designers to incorporate any of the nearly 500 Google Fonts in their web work (if you count italic/bold etc. there are over 1,100 fonts).
By having Google Fonts readily available on your desktop/laptop, graphic designers can now easily use any of the Google Fonts fonts in their work.
There have been ways to download zip files of Google Fonts, but up to this point it was a fairly difficult process, and there was no way to sync any updates to Google Fonts or newly added fonts to the Google Fonts library, so the process is getting much easier for those who would like to store fonts locally for design work.
Another nice benefit of having Google Fonts locally on your computer is that web pages using Google Fonts will load faster (if they are using the fonts you have downloaded, which may not be that many…see ‘download one-by-one’ below).
The SkyFonts Application from Monotype
Google Fonts are managed on your desktop via the SkyFonts application from Monotype (free download for PC and Mac).
From the fonts.com website:
fonts.com: “We are proud to have teamed up with Google to offer desktop versions of their popular Google Fonts free of charge. Offered for use in print, these fonts are delivered using SkyFont’s patent-pending font delivery technology and can be used anywhere.
Each time a font is updated — such as when new characters are added — SkyFonts will automatically update the font on your device. Syncing Google Fonts with SkyFonts will also improve your web browsing experience, by cutting the time spent downloading fonts.”
If you have a fonts.com account you will need to sign in to keep the fonts on your desktop updated and synced with your fonts.com account. If you don’t have a fonts.com account you’ll need to create a free account if you want to download and manage your fonts offline with SkyFonts.
Needs Some Refining
When I signed up with fonts.com I was surprised to see that they didn’t offer Google Account single sign-on verification like so many sites are doing these days. I had to create a separate fonts.com account using email address & password (no big deal though).
Another peculiarity is that the SkyFonts utility isn’t represented by an icon when I toggle through all my open apps on my Mac, so twice I had to minimize other apps one-by-one until SkyFonts showed up…it wasn’t until many minutes later that I discovered that SkyFonts puts an icon in the system tray (maybe it’s just me that didn’t know to look in the system tray right off the bat).
But for a free utility and tons of free fonts, who’s complaining?
Selecting and Downloading Google Fonts For Use Locally
I had a hard time finding Google Fonts (the Google Fonts collection) on fonts.com, so you might want to just use this link to browse Google Fonts on fonts.com. Once you have some fonts loaded into SkyFonts, you can click on the Fonts tab to browse the list of fonts installed/downloaded, then to go view more Google Fonts on fonts.com you can click the Manage link.
While browsing Google Fonts there’s no way to add entire font families or a ‘select all’ option, even on a per page level for selecting currently displayed fonts, so I had to add about 12 fonts one-by-one just to get the font family I needed. Plus it takes 3 clicks for adding 1 font (times the 12 fonts that I needed for my current project makes 36 clicks), so I’m hoping they come up with a more elegant solution for adding fonts.
If you want to see a font preview you need to click the Manage button next to the font in SkyFonts since there isn’t a preview directly within SkyFonts.
I didn’t see a way to have fonts that were downloaded to SkyFonts be automatically added to my computer’s font library for use in Photoshop, etc. I ended up using SkyFonts -> Services tab -> Google Fonts -> Manage -> Open Google Font Folder button to grab the TrueType fonts for adding to my Mac’s Font Book utility (maybe I’m missing something if there is an easier way). I guess if I had the time I could create an Automator routine that automatically adds fonts to my system when new fonts are added to the SkyFonts folder, but that will have to wait for now.
Good Tool To Use
Overall I’d say that SkyFonts is a good tool to use, but that it requires some refinement. I’m really glad to have easier access to Google Fonts on my local computer for my graphic design work, especially when I want a font I’m using in a graphical banner to match the web fonts I’m using in my web design.