After years of debate and speculation, subscription fonts have made their debut in the real world. But are they right for you and your organization? Do they provide everything you need or are they just part of a larger puzzle? Let’s take a look.

It’s Not About the Cloud

Despite their use of the word “cloud,” subscription fonts are not really a cloud technology, but a pricing strategy used by font sellers. To be fair, the most widely used part of Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions aren’t cloud services at all, but the downloading of Adobe applications to subscribers’ computers.

White letters representing fonts floating over a blurred image in which a man's hand is touching a Subscribe button

“Cloud” Fonts Must Still Reside Locally

For dependable stability and performance, macOS and Windows require fonts that are stable components of your system’s software bedrock. Operating systems depend on fonts to reside locally, where they can be accessed quickly and reliably.

What Exactly Are Subscription Fonts?

Today’s leading sources of subscription fonts are the Adobe Fonts included in Creative Cloud subscriptions, and Monotype Fonts. The Adobe and Monotype subscription services let you access a collection of fonts whose original files are stored in the cloud.

The services provide simple desktop applications that enable you to activate fonts in the collection. When you activate a font, the software copies its associated files to a folder on your computer, usually with obfuscated filenames or contents. The software then tells the OS that the fonts are active to make the fonts available to the OS and your applications.

Graphic of assorted alphanumerics in various fonts contained in a cloud, depicting cloud-based font storage and control

All-New Questions to Answer

While it may seem that signing up everyone in your organization for subscription font services could simplify things, the truth is that subscriptions raise as many questions as they answer.

  • Does the subscription service contain all the fonts we need for our corporate identity and projects?
  • Are the fonts in the collection available for unlimited commercial use? Online web use?
  • Which members of your team utilize fonts enough to justify a subscription?
  • Should I get my business users a subscription or just my creatives?
  • What if I want users to have access to only a subset of the fonts in the subscription collection?
  • How do I integrate my subscription fonts with the rest of the fonts that I have already licensed?
  • How do I consistently and reliably distribute my non-subscription fonts to all my users?
  • How do I control, monitor and report on the use of specific fonts for specific purposes?
  • How does the ongoing subscription cost compare to perpetual licenses for just the fonts you need?

… and the list goes on.

Individuals Still Need a Font Manager

Even after purchasing font subscriptions, the great majority of serious users still need a font manager — like Insider’s FontAgent® — that integrates their traditionally — license fonts with their subscription fonts.

FontAgent lets you organize, search, view, compare and share your fonts. And FontAgent gives you a unified tool for managing all your fonts in one easy-to-use place rather than using multiple, incompatible tools that work their own way, deliver limited functionality, and interfere with each other’s operation.

FontAgent goes far beyond the simple tools offered by macOS, Windows and font subscription vendors to:

  • Let you organize, search, view, compare and share your fonts
  • Auto-organize Monotype and Adobe subscription fonts into their own UI folders
  • Enable you to activate and deactivate subscription fonts
  • Let you blend subscription and regular fonts in sets for easy viewing and management
  • Give you a unified tool for managing all your fonts in one easy-to-use place

Enterprises Still Need a Font Server

Interested in blending subscription, free and traditionally-licensed fonts while creating font consistency across your users? You need the top-down, centralized control enabled by FontAgent Server, which enables you to:

  • Control which users are using which fonts on which projects
  • Manage free fonts, traditionally-licensed fonts and subscription fonts side-by-side
  • Assign selected fonts to role- and project-specific sets
  • Work fonts seamlessly into Adobe, Affinity, Microsoft, Quark and other enterprise workflows
  • Lock down user desktops from importing rogue fonts into projects
  • Track font usage across the organization to maintain license compliance
  • Manage all your font license details including receipts, contracts and terms
  • Integrate with enterprise directory services and Kerberos technologies

Make the Right Font Licensing Decisions

FontAgent’s support for all varieties of font format, foundries and licenses gives you a unified solution that frees you from using multiple, incompatible tools that work their own way, deliver limited functionality, and interfere with each other’s operation. Need help deciding the right font strategy for your organization? We’re here to help.