macOS, Reviews

Suitcase Fusion 8 has clean design, is still the font manager to beat for macOS

Suitcase Fusion 8

To manage your fonts on a macOS system, there’s no better tool than Suitcase Fusion. Apple’s own FontBook is a bit on the skinny side and other font managers all fail in some areas. Suitcase Fusion has proven its robustness and value for managing thousands of fonts, supporting your legal duties towards licensing and your design needs.

Suitcase Fusion 8 surprised me with a completely redesigned user interface that no longer supports certain features that were supposed to make it easier for you to see fonts in the context of a graphic design project. However, the new interface does help you find what you need quickly, while I must admit that I always found the tear-off palettes a bit weird — mostly due to the way they were implemented.

So, when you launch the new Suitcase Fusion for the first time, you’ll be greeted with the new Compact Tile display, which is beautifully modern — a minimalist design that works very well to instantly see the design features of a font — with an incredibly clean and attractive look and feel. The new Tile display also lets you fit more fonts on the screen simultaneously, which is a boon with fonts that have lots of variations.

Gone has the split display between font lists and font previews. The app now has only one panel that displays all the information you need to see.

In Glyph view, you’ll get to see more details than before. Glyphs view allows you to see all the glyphs in a font or the glyphs in a specific Unicode block — it’s a bit like Popchar. If you choose to show the Info panel, however, there’s a lot more you can do. You’ll get to see a grid of all the glyphs in the font, but then, when you click on a glyph, you’ll have a full details panel popping up at the right. This panel includes a larger glyph preview, the Unicode name for the character, the hexadecimal code point, the glyph’s ID and the platform-specific keystroke to generate that character from a US keyboard.

The Unicode block pop-up menu lists all the Unicode blocks in the font with at least one glyph. Selecting a block lets you filter the display to only that block. The best part of this new feature is that you can copy a character from the Glyphs panel and Suitcase Fusion will activate the font temporarily. You can then paste the glyph — complete with its associated font information — into another application. This worked with Apple’s Pages app — sort of — in that the glyphs I copied did indeed occur correctly in the empty document I started for the occasion, but the Inspector panel did not correctly list the font that I had copied from.

Much to my surprise, however, this worked entirely as listed in Extensis’ user guide when I tried it with Affinity Designer. It obviously did not with QuarkXPress 2016 (however, the font will be activated, the correct character pasted — but to see it correctly, you’ll need to apply the font to the character manually.)

Of course, Suitcase Fusion 8 has new versions of its Auto-activation plugins for the latest design applications from Adobe and Quark and it still activates fonts in any app when the app asks for it.

In my opinion, this new version of Suitcase Fusion is a must-upgrade, certainly if you’re still using version 6. The tear-off previews and Extensis design templates which allowed you to show fonts in a context have gone, but I’m not missing those — these were always a bit odd to use. The new functionality fits in better with a designer’s workflow and makes Suitcase Fusion not only the best font manager to manage fonts but also the most powerful in terms of design workflow support and the most fun to play with.