Solutions to fixing fonts in Quark 6 on OS X


By Ron Ellis


In nearly every printing plant I enter I am asked questions about Quark 6 and Fonts. The questions usually involve Quark 6, Suitcase and of course OS X. The symptoms are printing problems, crashes, and font issues. Most operators report that other applications such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator work fine and that these problems only occur in Quark 6.

A large part of this problem is fonts. Although OS X can use a wide variety of fonts including Windows TrueType fonts, both Quark and Suitcase seem to have a more difficult time. The combination of Quark and OS X seems to be problematic.


What can be done?

Here are some of the solutions that people are using to solve these problems.

  1. Use font doctor. Suitcase comes with a third party utility called font doctor. This utility can also be purchased directly from What does font doctor do that makes it so valuable? Font Doctor can be used to check all the fonts that you are moving from OS 9 to OS X. Font Doctor will detect problem fonts, fix them if possible, and if not move them into a damaged fonts folder. This is important because many older fonts were never originally tagged correctly and appear to cause problems when used in combination with Quark and OS X. In addition, Font Doctor also contains the ability to move and organize fonts. It can scan a drive and then catalog the fonts into a folder hierarchy. If you are organized this wonÕt help, but if you have fonts all over the place this is a good feature.
  2. Use Suitcase. Update it to the latest patch. Suitcase X1 with the patch has been reported to fix some problems, but of course not all of the problems. Although Suitcase does not solve the problem of bad fonts, it does have one great feature. In Suitcase X1, the autopen for Quark works well. If the fonts are loaded in Suitcase, in most cases it will automatically open the fonts when you open the document. Suitcase is also supposed to be able to detect and warn you about bad fonts, but in testing I have found that bad fonts detected by Font Doctor are not marked as bad by Suitcase. This means that Suitcase isnÕt always telling that fonts are a problem, and may even lead you to believe that they are fine. Suitcase also has a problem with some TrueType fonts that the regular system font utility, FontBook, does not appear to have. (Suitcase is given the same bad words by many operators that Quark also receives in relation to OSX. Life without Suitcase is even worse though, so most of us live with it. While there are alternative such as Extensis owned former competitor Font Reserve, and Master Juggler neither of these seem to solve all problems either.)
  3. Make sure you donÕt have duplicate fonts. OS X allows you to install duplicate fonts, which wreak havoc. It also allows you to install fonts in five different locations (There are five different /Library/Fonts folders — which is another good reason to use Suitcase.) In addition remove font files from all Mac OS X font folders, except the System/Library/Fonts folder. This will help you make sure you donÕt have any duplicate fonts installed. Fonts are best placed in folders and loaded and activated when needed in utilities such as Suitcase.
  4. Use FontCache Cleaner. OS X uses something called the Font Cache which seems to become corrupted. A good indication of this is a garbled preview of text. This can be fixed by clearing the font cache. It can be done using a command line, but even easier is a utility called Font Cache Cleaner which can be downloaded from The application cleans the font cache, and clears up viewing, font, and system crash issues that result from a corrupt font cache.
  5. Revert back to OS 9 or run Quark in Classic mode. The approach in many shops has been to avoid OS X altogether. This is made more difficult by the knowledge that the old applications are not being upgraded, and designers are using new applications such as the Adobe Creative Suite series. On some level everyone has moved or is moving (or at least thinking about it) to OS X. For Quark however, many shops take Quark 6 docs and save them down and then work on them in Classic Mode or in OS 9. Many of the problems people are experiencing with Quark 6 go away when the job is saved down and run in Classic mode. This appears to be the preferred method for dealing with Quark documents, especially for those such as commercial printers who are dealing with a wide variety of customers and fonts. Even though 6.1 has fixed many problems, it hasnÕt fixed them all. For everyone who tells me that 6.1 made Quark 6 usable, another person tells them it didnÕt fix much and is still unusable.
  6. Fix Bad fonts in Fontographer. For those who cannot revert or move back to Classic Mode, bad fonts that font doctor is unable to repair can often be opened and resaved in Fontographer to fix the font issues. Although Fontographer cannot run as a native OS X application, it can be run in Windows or in Classic mode. Fontographer is a time-tested way to straighten out problem fonts.
  7. Talk customers into switching to InDesign. Not practical of course, but more and more designers are moving to InDesign, and more and more frustrated printers are thinking about making the switch.


Fonts, Quark, and OSX are a problem that we have to deal with for the near future. As the font utilities get better, and as users hopefully upgrade or change fonts, the issues will lesson. Right now operators have to be crafty to simply get jobs out. ItÕs early though in the evolution of OS X, and things will get better.


About the author: Ron Ellis is a prepress consultant specializing in workflow training and integration. He worked in the commercial printing industry for 18 years and brings a strong background to all aspects of prepress. He has consulted on numerous CTP installations and he provides color management, integration, training, workflow development, and troubleshooting solutions to the graphic arts community. He can be contacted at 603-498-4553 or through his web site at