Changing the System Font on Yosemite

Update: A Step by Step Guide is now available.

Mac OS X comes with a new system font, Helvetica Neue.

Maybe it’s just me, but for such a new and modern interface, Helvetica Neue feels… ancient, and Helvetica is already everywhere…

A more futuristic font such as Avenir Next may be a better choice. After all, Avenir means future in French!

The System Font can be Changed

It has been found out that Mac OS X did not use vanilla Helvetica Neue for system UI font; it uses a special version of the font, .Helvetica Neue DeskInterface. I suspect that the dot in front the name hides that font from the font menu.

It has also been found that if you put a font with the same PostScript name as that of .Helvetica Neue DeskInterface in ~/Library/Fonts, Mac OS X will use that font instead.

For this reason, people created system font replacement packages, such as Lucida Grande and Fira for Yosemite.

Let’s Do It

I created a tool to patch the font to replace the system font. This involves steps such as:

  • Adjusting the font’s metrics (scale, ascend, descent) to match the metrics of the system font.
  • Changing the PostScript name.

This is possible because FontForge provides a Python scripting interface, thus making this easy.

Update: A Step by Step Guide is now available.

You can find the scripts below:

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