Our most common support issues are not caused by Insider products, but by troublesome temporary files called font caches created by the Mac operating system and applications.

What Are Font Caches?

Font caches are data files that help macOS and applications speed the display of text on your screen. You can open and examine most cache files with a text editor because they often just list font files or their properties. macOS has its own cache files, as do applications in software suites such as Adobe Creative Cloud, QuarkXPress, Apple iWork and Microsoft Office.

Every time you activate or deactivate a font, these cached lists need to be updated or activated fonts might not appear available in many applications. In addition, when the updates don’t occur, the cache files easily become corrupt or damaged—or simply fall out of sync with their associated applications—and cause additional application instability.

It is difficult to tell if a cache is corrupt simply by looking at the file. Often the first indication is bizarre or unexpected behavior in your applications. So how do we solve this pesky problem?

Why Clear Font Caches?

When font caches are behaving properly, font names appear in your application menus as they should. When font caches become inconsistent or corrupt, they can cause display problems, garbled fonts, strange font substitution, printing problems and application crashes.

For example, you could set text to Palatino in a document, but it might appear as dingbats on screen or Arial on your printer. It’s a maddening problem, but one that can be solved by clearing your font caches. In essence, this means you have to delete the cached font lists and start with a clean slate.

Graphic of the head of a broom cleaning font caches

Using FontAgent to Clear Caches

To prevent the problems caused by corrupt and out-of-date font caches, FontAgent® includes built-in cache clearing for your Mac. Use the FontAgent > Preferences menu command to specify how you would like cache maintenance to be performed on your Mac.

FontAgent clears user font caches each time you log out or restart your Mac, and it clears macOS system font caches each time your computer restarts.

Screenshot of FontAgent caches preference dialog

Turning Cache Clearing On and Off

Here are some tips for managing your font caches with FontAgent:

  • To turn automatic cache clearing on, select either All users on this machine or This user only. You must have admin privileges for your Mac to clear caches for all users.
  • To turn cache clearing off, select the Never option.
  • When cache clearing is set on, FontAgent clears caches after you log out, shutdown or restart your Mac.
  • To clear caches on time manually, click the Clear Caches Now button, and then restart your machine.