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OpenType PostScript Fonts Troublesome in 10.6.7

As the bugs targeted by minor releases to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard become increasingly specific, it’s easy to become complacent about the possibility of an update introducing a new problem. That, however, is precisely what has happened with last week’s release of Mac OS X 10.6.7 (21 March 2011), which, among much else, fixes security vulnerabilities related to font handling.

In a nutshell, font rendering with 10.6.7 is breaking when certain types of fonts are used. In particular, people are reporting errors when printing using certain fonts from Word and Pages, among other programs. Others are experiencing problems when creating PDF documents using OpenType PostScript fonts. (These PDF files work correctly in Preview, but may cause problems in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat on the Mac and in Windows.) We’ve even seen reports of font problems when developing in Flash Professional. That said, the bug will affect all Mac applications that rely on Mac OS X’s mechanism for rendering fonts; programs like InDesign that have their own rendering engines are immune.

According to my sources, the problem is that each font used in a PDF has a description of how the glyphs are encoded, and a change in 10.6.7 resulted in PDFs ending up with an incorrect encoding definition. Since Mac OS X uses PDF as the print spool format, that accounts for both PDF files and print jobs showing the problem. The Flash Professional authoring tool relies on the platform’s font rendering, which explains why it’s having trouble too.

As for why affected PDFs work fine in Preview but not in other programs, that’s a side effect of the fact that Preview doesn’t pay attention to the entire PDF specification (for instance, it also ignores color spaces, thus avoiding problems with badly structured PDFs that manifest themselves in Adobe Reader and Acrobat Professional). Be careful here, since PDFs with OpenType PostScript fonts created in 10.6.7 will have this problem forever, which could result in problems well into the future.

The problem seems to be restricted to OpenType PostScript fonts. As Sharon Zardetto explains in “Take Control of Fonts in Snow Leopard,” OpenType isn’t so much a font technology as it is a font format, created by Adobe and Microsoft. The OpenType standard supports using either a PostScript or TrueType font description, with OpenType PostScript fonts generally using the .otf extension and OpenType TrueType fonts generally using either .ttf or .ttc (occasionally they use .otf for backward compatibility reasons). An easier way to determine if a particular font is an OpenType PostScript font is to view the font info in Font Book (choose Preview > Show Font Info) and look in the Kind field. (Myriad Pro, which I used in the screenshot, is commonly cited in reports of people who have been having trouble.)

The easiest workaround is of course to use a different font that’s not in the OpenType PostScript format, but that may not be possible given institutional font requirements (or just the desire to use a particular font). Short of that, the only solution appears to be to reinstall Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard from DVD, and then apply the Mac OS X 10.6.6 Update Combo to return to the most recent release of Snow Leopard before this problem appeared.

And of course, if you rely on OpenType PostScript fonts for your work and you haven’t yet updated to 10.6.7, I recommend holding off until Apple resolves the situation. It should be an easy fix, but there’s no telling how soon we’ll see it.


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Comments about OpenType PostScript Fonts Troublesome in 10.6.7
(Comments are closed.)

Steve Werner  2011-03-27 19:06
It should be noted that this bug affects all Mac applications under Mac OS X 10.6.7 which use the Mac OS X mechanism for creating a PDF file. That is, any application which uses File > Print and then choose Save as PDF.

It does NOT affect Adobe graphic applications like InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. These Adobe applications use Adobe's own PDF-creating mechanism which bypass the operating system and offer several advantages (ability to customize the PDF, ability to create PDF presets, etc.) I've tested and these applications work fine with OpenType PostScript fonts under Mac OS X 10.6.7.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-28 07:45
Good detail, Steve, thanks! I'll work it into the article...
Yes, thank you. I created a PDF service which opened the file in Acrobat and then printed from there. It worked.
Its not strictly Open Type PostScript fonts. I had an older Post Script Type 1 font (Adobe Garamond Regular) become unusable. Strangely, it was only the Regular face that was a problem, Ital, Bold and all others were fine. Since I have been using this font for 15 years and have hundreds of documents that would need reformatting using another font was not an option. Downgrading to 10.6.6 solved the problem.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-29 06:04
Oh, that's interesting. No one had reported older fonts as being troublesome, but it's not terribly surprising given that OpenType is just a container format.
David McNamara  2011-03-28 21:32
Assuming this is the same bug that prevented my iWork files from displaying (the page just showed as blank) I appear to have fixed it by applying the 10.6.7 Combo Update, in case anyone else is stuck.
Burkhard  2011-03-28 23:35
Maybe this is a bit off topic, but of course Preview supports colour spaces in pdfs. Just try the test page available from
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-29 06:08
I was summarizing, perhaps too much. This is something we hit with all our Take Control ebooks. PDFs generated by Word or Pages with certain graphics have visual problems (overly black, bitmapped-looking text) on pages that contain those graphics in Adobe Reader and Acrobat Professional, but not Preview. The fix is to apply Device RGB to all pages from Advanced > Print Production > Flattener Preview > Page-Level Transparency Color Blending Space.
jpknox  2011-03-29 00:13
I cannot replicate the problem on my Mac. All fonts, including the Adobe Hypatia Sans Pro (OpenType Postscript) render correctly on screen and on the printer (HP LJ 1160).

I do NOT have any Microsoft Office applications on my machines. Is the problem specific to Microsoft fonts?

Edited - Ok, I can replicate the problem in a very specific sequence - Print - Save As Adobe PDF. In that case, some of the Hypatia Sans Pro fonts are rendered unreadable. The article is not very clear about the specific sequence needed to create the problem. After isolating the problem, I would ask: is this a OSX 10.6.7 problem or is the problem in Adobe Acrobat?

My experience with Mac updates is - usually - when something breaks it is because Apple has corrected a problem and the other venders - i.e.: Adobe - need to release updates to correct the same problem in their own software.

My two cents...
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-29 06:12
It's not clear to me that the problem is 100% reproducible across installations, although the people who are experiencing it can reproduce consistently. Myriad Pro is the most commonly cited font with problems, with Frutiger second.

I would usually agree with you about Apple and updates, but in this case, it's happening with Apple programs like Pages, and with another company's technology (PDF). I'm pretty comfortable with my sources' assertion that Apple has done something wrong with the encoding definition.
Thanks, folks. I was scheduled to do the update last night, but then something else came in the way. Saved my day!
Christian  2011-03-29 04:54
Thanks for the article. I seem to have the described problems since the last update from 10.6.5 to 10.6.6.
Font book shows me only 5 system fonts. Cleaning font caches get's it back to the original set. But problems reoccur after a while (and i do work with pdf at the moment). I'm still on 10.6.6 now i wonder if things will get worse with going to 10.6.7?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-29 06:14
My gut feeling is that you have some other problem going on, and while the change from 10.6.6 to 10.6.7 might resolve that problem, it very well might introduce this new one. If I were you, I'd either do a major font cleanup or look into reinstalling 10.6 and updating to 10.6.5 or 10.6.6.
Will ONeal  2011-03-29 07:54
We may have found a way around this - Saving as PDF-X embeds the fonts. Files that will not open in Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro when saved as PDF's work fine as PDF-X.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-03-29 08:55
I could see that working until we get a fix from Apple - good sleuthing!
Will ONeal  2011-03-29 11:28
It's not foolproof. It worked for me with simple one font / one weight faces, but it didn't work on more complex documents. Sorry to get your hopes up.
Will ONeal  2011-03-29 13:03
OK, another workaround, and this one works, if the resulting file works for you.

Open the file in Preview, save as jpeg. Send that one. I know, quality is lost, but the recipient gets the file.
Anthony Reimer  2011-03-29 10:38
I can only partially replicate this problem (Mac Pro 2006 running 10.6.7). If I use Pages and the Myriad Pro font, both Preview and Acrobat Pro X render the PDF generated from Pages' print dialogue box without an issue. If I use Word 2011, Acrobat Pro X reports that it cannot extract the embedded font, but since the font is present on the system, the page still renders properly. (Preview renders the document as intended.) As suggested by someone earlier, if I use Save as Adobe PDF instead, Acrobat no longer reports an error.
Joshua Yeidel  2011-03-29 11:07
In Font Book I "walked" the fonts on my machine using your "Show Font Info" tip. It went quickly using the cursor keys. I found NO OpenType PostScript fonts, and only two PostScript Type 1 fonts (both are institution-mandated faces for publications, though I seldom do publications). It was quite a relief, since I already put 10.6.7 on my system.
Daniel A. Shockley  2011-03-30 08:12
You can find all your OpenType fonts by running the following command in the Terminal:
cd ~/Desktop;mdfind "kMDItemKind == 'OpenType font'" > opentypefonts.txt; open opentypefonts.txt
senortim  2011-03-29 11:38
Ah ha! Thank you! One of my Flash projects fell apart last week with this exact problem. MyriadPro and other OpenType fonts were affected and while at first it only affected a couple of sub-faces, the whole font seemed to degrade over time. Since Flash compiles the font along with a SWF (for some text types), portions of the project were fine, but I had to replace the font completely in files that I still need to compile. I didn't see the issue outside Flash, but my efforts to correct the problem created minor havoc on my system that I'm still working through.
ooglek  2011-03-30 10:27
The Iterm2 developer already submitted a bug report on 3/25.

"I filed a bug with Apple. It is bug #9192439."
hibernian56  2011-03-30 12:50
I agree with the bitmap work around...

Open the offending PDF in Preview, then save as a GIF (Keeps multi page formatting). The Gif will be opened in Preview, where you can then save it as a PDF, only this time it will embed the GIF's.
The only penalty is obviously file size, but until the fix comes from Apple at least you can be spared any blushes.
This error has already cost me a job where by a potential client called our work "rushed" and "sloppy" looking. Thanks Steve.
Kaleb Wyman  2011-03-31 00:08
I just had a font meltdown in Flash CS5 as well, Photoshop was unaffected... Futura Bold Condensed stopped working for me, and Flash CS5 interface text started disappearing if certain fonts remained in my Library fonts folder. This is a major problem, I hope Apple is on top of this... :(
Betsy Rubinstein  2011-04-01 08:07
I actually had problems in 10.5.8 after downloading the latest update -- and it did affect InDesign (CS4), as well as Illustrator and Acrobat, which all crashed every time I tried to open certain files. My working theory, after trouble-shooting for four hours, was that the update made the system more sensitive to damaged fonts. Once I pulled a couple of fonts out of Suitcase and restarted the computer, the problem vanished. Prior to the update, I'd been using the same files (and fonts) for the past year without issues.
Since no one has mentioned this it may not be related, but I had the SeaMonkey browser crash on startup after the update do to a corrupt Courier font. I deleted the font to correct the problem. I used the SeaMonkey Composer when the problem started.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2011-04-01 13:32
In a article by Ted Landau ( which referenced this article, he suggest an easy way to identify any/all of the at risk fonts on you system by using Font Book and typing OpenType PostScript in the Search box. As it happens I have quite a few of these fonts, but found out about the problem only after updating to OS X 10.6.7. So I will have to tread carefully until Apple fixes this bug. I'm torn between hope and skepticism about how soon Apple can be expected to deal with it. Given Apple's standing among graphics professionals one would hope it will be sooner rather than later. But Apple has always been unpredictable when it comes to fixing bugs, so a certain amount of skepticism also seems appropriate.
macraffel  2011-04-04 00:48
I found an easy though bit longer workaround. In Filemaker Pro e.g. I use Myriad pro bold which causes problems. I print as a .ps file and then distill through acrobat. Problem fixed... (double time and effort but at least I don't have to change all my filemaker layouts ;)
I started having the problem about two weeks ago using Myriad Pro, but it was out of InDesign. My work around was to convert everything to outlines, but that is really a pain in the butt, especially when clients make multiple revisions. By the way, the computer was running OS 10.6.6, not 10.6.7. The client who received the pdf said that it looked fine on screen, but when it was printed, a section of the file had garbled type. It didn't affect all of the Myriad, just some of it.

My other Mac is running 10.6.7 and I've experienced the problem when saving a text edit file as a pdf and trying to open the file in Acrobat Pro. The affected font is VAG Rounded Std-Bold, another open type font. I can open the .rtfd file over my network on the computer that is running 10.6.6 and save it as a pdf and the error doesn't occur.
As it was mentioned before to wait for Apple to release a fix - at least Apple UK (according to a chat with senior support on the phone today) has not logged it as a problem on their end, is basically not aware of it and as a result does not work on any fixes.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-04-05 15:45
I know developers have logged bugs in Radar, Apple's internal bug tracking database, but that information is never shared by Apple, so I'm not surprised a support rep wouldn't know.

That said, it's not good to hear that the problem and the fix are not so well known within Apple that even the support reps would be informed.
gianmarco  2011-04-06 01:40
I think i've found a solution: try to convert the font with FontXChange into an other format (OTF to Postscript Type1).

Delete the previous font. Install the new one... It seems to work with Flash CS5 (i had problems with Helvetica Neue LT Std and many more...). (i use FontCase as font manager)
We used OnyX to delete all font's cache and it seemed to fix the bugs with OT fonts.
Hope this help...
Just to follow up: I used MainMenu to clear font caches - also no problem discovered. Works fine here.
Leslie Kinsland  2011-04-08 09:52
On my intel iMac, Photoshop CS5 can no longer use Symbol font, and Word 12.2.8 cannot use some of the characters in the symbol font set.
RESOLUTION 100% no need to go back to 10.6.6

I used FontXchange (1 month trial) from FontGear Inc, to convert all the font affected by 10.6.7 bug (Mostly Bitmap and PostScript Type 1) to Open Type (.otf)
Uninstall all old problem font and install the new converted fonts.
Checked all OSX font folders using Font Doctor to make sure no duplicate or broken Postscript left and NOW ALL IS WORKING FINE AGAIN, even old pdf that were displaying the font problem are now OK.
Don Moeller  2011-04-14 08:11
So, How do you know which fonts are affected?
Don Moeller  2011-04-18 12:38
I am guessing that its all OpenType PostScript fonts, or is just a select few?
ooglek  2011-04-13 10:52
Using Onyx to delete the Font Cache did NOT solve the issue for me.
Nick Plumb  2011-04-14 04:20
This is a complete nightmare. Since I updated to 10.6.7 I can't print to any office Canon printer or save word docs to Adobe pdf format. My fav font is myriad pro and it's in every single document I use. So how am I supposed to overcome this problem as waiting for Apple to fix it is really not an option at all. Frustrated of Farnborough
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-04-14 10:55
Sounds like a downgrade to 10.6.6 is the best workaround. Sorry!
Nick Plumb  2011-04-18 07:34
can I do this without disrupting my filesystem and applications or will I loose it all?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-04-18 09:16
You should certainly not attempt such a thing without a good backup (and I'd make sure to have both Time Machine and a bootable duplicate), but in theory, you should just be able to boot from the Snow Leopard DVD and reinstall the OS, then download and use the 10.6.6 combo updater. It's non-trivial, but is the only guaranteed workaround for the 10.6.7 font problems that I know of.
Sonny W  2011-04-15 01:26
In my experience, the problem can be reduced to ligatures no longer being prased. All "liga" features in opentype and truetypes are ignored. This is completely unacceptable. The proposed conversion hacks are simply for butchering perfectly good fonts. The only acceptable fix is for Apple to unbreak what was broken!
Nick Plumb  2011-04-19 14:03
Phew - Apple have just released an update with a patch that seems to have resolved the issue. Glad I didn't roll-back to 10.6.6 now. But I will think twice before I automatically download any updates for anything ever again.
Where? Is it part of another update?
Tom Gewecke  2011-04-19 17:29
Sounds like you are confusing a private fix with something released by Apple. If not, please provide some reference or url
Nick Plumb  2011-04-20 11:51
Sorry, I should have said. This was an auto update from Apple for 10.6.7. But I will say this seems to have worked on my macbook pro but I have an identical set-up on another mac (iMac) and it still has issues.
Tom Gewecke  2011-04-20 20:21
I can't find any references on the web to Apple having done anything at all to fix the font problem. There was a patch for Macbook Airs to deal with a different issue. If that really did fix fonts for you, I think you should let MacFixit and everyone know, as they seem to be in the dark about what you are describing.
There is indeed no fix by today, neither from Apple nor Adobe. Apple does not offer any statement or even acknowledgement of the problem, which I think is really unkind and inappropriate. Only Adobe acknowledges at least a part of the problem but only related to Flash:

For me it is quite frustrating how Apple deals with this.

I have exactly the problems described in the article and I wonder how Apple was just not capable to get known of this bug before they released the so called "Update" to 10.6.7. — maybe we call it now "Bugdate" ;-)

"Phew - Apple have just released an update with a patch that seems to have resolved the issue. Glad I didn't roll-back to 10.6.6 now. But I will think twice before I automatically download any updates for anything ever again."

Sorry, as far as I can see there is no update from Apple at all by now which fixes that problem. I checked all the updates, and also the Adobe update today does not fix that problem, so the issue is still unresolved—though almost a month has passed now.
There is a real solution but not from apple:

I checked it and it functions very well without any problem.
I switched back to 10.6.6 and I do not use Apple updates at the moment.

I had quite some trouble with some of my clients since they received bad pdfs.

I am very disappointed of Apple. I thought they will have a bug fix very quickly.

May be a quick bug fix can be more expected from Microsoft than Apple. Since MS actually admints they have bugs sometimes.
Tom Gewecke  2011-04-26 21:52
One from Apple finally:
kati Teague  2011-05-02 18:16
I just installed this and it still does not resolve the problem - cannot save as pdf from the print menu.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-05-02 18:33
That sounds like a different problem - people weren't having trouble making PDFs, they were having trouble with the fonts in those PDFs not displaying correctly.

Perhaps try logging in as a different user; I can't think of what other aspect of the system could be tweaked by the user to test a fix.
Michael Bradley  2011-05-02 23:56
Kati, which program won't let you create a PDF file from the Print menu? In InDesign, for example, you choose Export from the File menu, not Print.