The Mac needs this amazing new font menu right now

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Sam William Smith's new font menu design is simple, and perfect.
Sam William Smith's new font menu design is simple, and perfect.
Photo: Sam William Smith

If you do any work with fonts on the Mac whatsoever, you will have run up against the font picker. It’s a piece of design that dates back to when the Mac only came with a black-and-white screen, and yet it’s still the only way to select a font on an Apple computer. That wouldn’t be so bad if it was a good design, but it’s not. The macOS font picker is little more than a drop-down menu. Worse, it’s a drop-down menu that changes every time you use it.

You can use the Mac’s font panel in some apps, but even then you’re faced with long and confusing lists.

Sam William Smith, a designer from Glasgow, Scotland, decided to do something about this. He completely redesigned the Mac font menu, and it’s great.

The problem with the ancient Mac font menu

These are fundamentally the same design. These are fundamentally the same design.

Sam lists three main problems with the existent macOS font menu.

  1. It’s too long, and there’s no way to shorten it.
  2. The “Recents” section at the top isn’t that useful. “Even fonts you only use once get prime spot at the top of the list for a period of time,” writes Sam.
  3. It lacks good keyboard navigation.

A solution for a better Mac font picker

That's better font menu

To address these issues, Smith redesigned the font picker. It incorporates the following four smart features:

  1. A favorites list, where you can keep your most-needed fonts.
  2. A search bar, so you can quickly narrow the selection using the keyboard.
  3. A recents list. This is just like the existing recents list, only it’s given a less-prominent position. Favorite fonts are excluded from this list.
  4. A regular alphabetical list of all the fonts, just like today’s design, for folks who like to use it.

There is another neat addition to Smith’s redesigned Mac font picker: Every entry in the menu has an empty star icon next to it so you can quickly add a font to your favorites.

I like this design, and I think it would be equally at home on iOS. For more of Smith’s work, follow him on Twitter or check out his website.