Some ways to make Fonts more useful

It’s great that there is a font manager built-in with GNOME, and I think it’s a great start. But it’s not that useful in its current form. I can see which fonts I have, quickly preview them one by one, and that’s it.

I also don’t think it should be much more complex. We’re not trying to compete with Linotype FontExplorer or FontBase or any font managers for graphic design or publishing professionals. And there is a GTK app on Flathub called Font Manager that already have some more advanced functionalities for those who want them.

Still, I thought of a few simple ways that the simple built-in Fonts app could grow without becoming more complex. Just things that would make it much more useful to most people who wants to look into their fonts.

  • Have a way to switch between All fonts / System fonts / User fonts. The last option is very useful to see what fonts did I install myself (and therefore chose and collected) vs. what fonts are just shipping in with my system (that I might be less interested in).

  • Have a way to uninstall a font. Right now, clicking on the “Installed” button does not show any option to uninstall.

  • Have a way to install a font? Not necessary since you can install from the files, but if you are in Fonts already and maybe want to install multiple fonts in one go, an “Add a font” (or “+”) button could be useful and make sense in context.

  • Have a way to enable/disable a font? That is a common option in all font managers. Disabling a font keeps the file but makes it unavailable and hidden in all apps. It might make the OS lighter for people with big font collections? If that’s not relevant or possible on Linux, forget about this one.

  • Group (as an option or as a default), in some way or another, fonts from the same family that are just different styles (weights, italics, etc). That would make the font list much more readable.

  • Have a toggle to switch between the grid view (current) and a new list view: one line per font. Having a list view would allow to compare the same text across fonts, and help choosing a font.

  • In that list view, have a text field where the user can type their own text. The text would be updated live in all the fonts in the list. A dropdown could also offer a few default texts to reset the field to (pangram, alphabets in both cases, font names, etc).

I think adding just those would make Fonts immensely for useful while still showing no much more complexity (that’s just a couple of buttons and a text field). It would still be a simple default utility, but have more use cases than just seeing what is installed.

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