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« Unable to install OpenType .otf & PostScript Type 1 fonts?

Sometimes folks can’t install any OpenType CFF (“.otf”) or Type 1 (a.k.a. “PostScript”) fonts on a Windows computer. There are (at least) four known causes for this. (The new outbreak of problem #4 below spurred me to write them all up.)

  1. What version of Windows is the user running? If a really ancient version (Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 95, or Windows NT 4), then they need to install ATM (Light) on their computer. Note that Windows NT 4 uses a different version than Windows 98/ME. Type 1 and OpenType CFF fonts simply will not work on these operating systems without ATM.
  2. One common source of this problem in the past was if the user uninstalled ATM (Light or Deluxe) without first updating/patching things properly. This problem can occur on Windows 2000, XP and Vista. Adobe has had a simple fix for this since 2002. (Similar problems could occur if one somehow ended up with the Windows 9x/ME ATM installed on a 2000/XP/Vista machine.) This problem is uncommon now, as few people on these operating systems have had ATM installed in the first place.
  3. If somebody has turned on the “/3GB switch” on the computer, that can cause this problem, but the use of the /3GB switch does not cause this problem for all users. You may want to better understand what the /3GB switch does, the consequences thereof, and then look at how to toggle it (how to turn it on is also how to check it or turn it off). Basically it’s a matter of removing the phrase “/3GB” from the boot.ini file. On Windows XP, one can go into the control panels and select the “System” (System Properties) one. Go to the Advanced tab. In the “Startup and Recovery” section, select “Settings.” Then click on the “Edit” button to edit the startup settings manually. This will open the boot.ini file in Notepad. Typically the /3GB switch if present will be the last entry, right after “/fastdetect”.
  4. The latest and currently most common problem occurs even with brand new and unmodified machines running Windows XP or possibly Vista, being unable to use Type 1 or OpenType CFF fonts, with an error message that the fonts are “invalid.” It is a video driver configuration issue, and reverting to an older (!) video driver generally solves the problem, but that’s not ideal. A few weeks ago, this problem was solved: it can be fixed with a simply registry edit. NVidia says the problem occurs on Windows XP only, and Vista users are unaffected, but at least one Vista user has reported they had this problem and the fix resolved it. It affects multiple cards from both NVidia and ATI. The fix, posted by David Ingraham in a horribly lengthy thread on the Adobe User Forums, and in a post by “PixelNinja” on the NVidia forums is this:— start of email from HP —Good news. Nvidia has identified the problem and provided a fix. The way it was explained to me, Windows expects the device driver to be a certain size (maximum). In this case, the nvidia driver is slightly larger than expected. A simply registry entry will resolve the issue in WinXP (the issue doesn’t occur in Vista).To resolve the problem, do the following:Open the registry editor (regedit)Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

    Add a new REG_DWORD entry called SessionImageSize with a value (decimal) of 20

    Reboot

    The Type 1 fonts should now open/install without any problems.

    — End of HP email —

    Tech support is a painful and mostly unsung profession. We should all give a special thanks to HP tech support guy John Camparone, who apparently went to truly great lengths to diagnose and debug this last problem with NVidia. Thanks, man.

42 commentsto “Unable to install OpenType .otf & PostScript Type 1 fonts?”

  • January 30, 2009
    Paul wrote

    Thanks for this. I have a new laptop running XP with 4Gb and suffered the same prob. The registry change fixed it 🙂

    PLEASE BEWARE: when i copied the new keyword from your text I added a space to the end by mistake which got pasted into the registry. This obviously caused the fix not to work. Silly mistake but took me a while to find it. Doh!

  • February 3, 2009
    Jacob Stokholm wrote

    Thanks. We are having the font problem on all our new laptop computers, with XP SP2 installed. The registry hack helped instantly on all computers.

    The hack also fixed an other problem. We could only select the default (4:3) screen resolutions, even though they are widescreen monitors. After the hack, we could also see all the widescreen resolutions. Thanks again.

  • March 4, 2009
    Gabi Lichtenberger wrote

    First I want to say thanks.
    This is the first Web page which shows exactly my problem (Point 3) and tells what to do.
    I installed now my Fonts.
    My problem is that I need the 3GB switch for some Applications. So when this is on and I open in Frame Maker a Document it loses the right fonts and goes back to standard settings. This means if you have installed your Fonts and you go back to the 3 GB you can’t see the installed PostScript Type1 Fonts.
    Do you have solution for this, too? Would be great!!
    Thanks again, I hope you can help me again

    [Sorry, I don’t know of any other way around this issue, besides turning the /3GB switch off if it was what was breaking your font support. – T]

  • March 9, 2009
    virtualize wrote

    Thank you VERY much. You saved my day!
    In my case it also was a XP Pro with nvidia.
    So the registry flag solved it.

  • March 10, 2009
    Ville wrote

    Thanks so much for sharing! This saved my day… And it also solved problem with another software, Reason 4.0 which is a audio composing program. Since I bought my new NVidia card I was unable to use that program at all.

  • March 20, 2009
    Kevin Connor wrote

    Thanks, Thomas! You just saved me! I was getting a borrowed laptop ready for a trade show presentation next week, and this problem had me totally stumped. I never in a million years would have guessed that I was dealing with a video driver problem. Luckily, Google led me straight to your post when I searched for an answer.

  • March 23, 2009
    Stephen wrote

    Seriously fantastic. I had to reformat my computer and after said format I updated my video driver because the monitor was displaying fonts blurry. That fixed it and everything was great until I reinstalled all my programs and found that OTFs weren’t recognized and there are 2 that I use on my website.

    Thanks a bunch for posting this with long AND short help links!

  • March 30, 2009
    Martin wrote

    Hello! Thank you for posting. The removing of /3GB has worked out. Windows XP SP3, Lenovo ThinkPad T61. Note that I had this /3GB switch for year and the fonts work ok. Have no idea what’s changed in my system lately so fonts become unapplicable.

  • April 1, 2009
    JM wrote

    Thanks a lot!! I was getting crazy in the last days trying for a solution in XP SP2 with Nvidia Geforce 8500 GT and I had not found anyone in Spanish. The new registry entry solved the problem with OTF fonts, but after the reinstallation of Adobe Type Manager 4.1 I could manage Type 1 files either. I also updated the Nvidia drivers from version 178.24 to 182.08.

  • April 6, 2009
    Chad wrote

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I only wish I had found this days (and hours of wasted time) ago!

  • May 3, 2009
    Sam wrote

    Oh, wow. Thank you.
    Case 4 was precisely what was wrong for me.

    This is really quite useful.

  • May 6, 2009
    Kurt wrote

    Glad to see this solved for you guys, but now I am facing this exact same problem with an Intel Q35 chipset family video card.
    Tried to change the SessionImageSize value (it already existed but with a different value) but to no avail.. 🙁

  • May 14, 2009
    Kareem Sabri wrote

    Thanks for the fix. My MemoryManagement directory already contains a D_WORD entry of that name, with a value of 16 (decimal). Any harm in over-writing? Thanks.

    [I don’t know. If it were me, I’d try it, but there’s always the risk of messing up your system. If you do get in a situation in which you can’t boot, try starting Windows in “safe mode” and then change the registry entry back. – T]

  • May 15, 2009
    ph0enix wrote

    Does anyone know why the /3GB switch breaks open type fonts? I’m trying to understand the problem better so that I can figure out a permanent solution. Removing /3GB from boot.ini is a temporary fix. I need the /3GB switch.

    [What you need presumably is more memory available to applications. But the /3GB switch is a hack, which makes more RAM available to apps by taking that memory away from the OS, which can cause problems, such as breaking some font rendering. These issues are presumably why it’s not on by default, and not heavily promoted by Microsoft. All this is only an issue with 32-bit Windows OSes. You might consider going to 64-bit Vista or 64-bit Windows 7, which can address more RAM, and don’t have the same segregation such that a /3GB switch even exists. Good luck! – T]

  • May 20, 2009
    Mike L. wrote

    I am having a Type1 font problem and tried these steps to no avail. I’m hoping you may have some ideas, maybe I missed something. I’m running a new pc with xp-64bit and adobe cs3. I copied all the fonts from my old pc and installed them on the new pc. They all show up in the Windows>Fonts folder and work in Word, Outlook, etc but they do not show up in any of the Adobe programs. I’ve done the steps you mentioned, rebooted, deleted all the “.lst” files etc. I don’t know what else to do. Thank you for your column, I hope you can help.
    Mike

    [I believe I recall that Adobe’s fonts installed by CS3 apps on 64-bit XP have some sort of issues with the installation… did you copy the fonts over from your old machine *after* installing CS3 on the new machine? Is it those bundled fonts that aren’t working, or others? Finally, you might try tech support…. – T]

  • June 30, 2009
    kat wrote

    i’ve just upgraded to windows 7 and cannot figure out how to install an opentype font. i am freaking out- i have a lot of adobe fonts that are useless because i can’t install them. anyone have any suggestions?

    [If the OS hasn’t gotten busted in some way (as discussed above in my post), OpenType fonts install the same way as all other fonts in Windows 7. What exactly have you tried that didn’t work? – T]

  • June 30, 2009
    Chris wrote

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! Finally figured out how to get the fonts to work on the new laptop. The hack worked perfectly!

  • July 8, 2009
    gregoire wrote

    thank you so much !

  • July 29, 2009
    Enlightened Everyday wrote

    This post was awesome and just what I needed.
    Thanks John Camparone, for finding the fix.
    Thank you, Thomas Phinney, for posting it!

  • September 16, 2009
    Ben wrote

    Like ph0enix, I have software that needs the /3GB switch (Avid Media Composer). The registry change did not fix it. What fixed it for me was simply to install the latest nVidia drivers for my QUADRO FX1500 card. I left the registry change though, just in case.

  • October 3, 2009
    Joe wrote

    I’m having a problems installing Postscript fonts onto Windows Vista Ultimate. I’m curious if these fixes still require the fonts with certain extensions (PFB & PFM) in order to work or will this make all Postscript fonts loadable in Vista?

    [This is just about making Windows work with the kinds of Type 1 fonts it is supposed to work with. PFA/AFM and classic Mac Type 1 fonts are not natively supported on Windows, and would require conversion to work on Windows. – T]

  • October 5, 2009
    Guy Michaelov wrote

    Many thanks for the information this help us on some of the PCs with 3GB Switch on.
    I wounder if anyone try this on Win XP 64bit OS? It’s look like we are getting problemswith this OS too when trying to install OTF fonts.

    Thanks.
    Guy

  • November 4, 2009
    iceman wrote

    Thanks so much for the answer in number four. Followed directions to a “T” and now I can install fonts.

  • December 2, 2009
    Andreas wrote

    I had a similar problem with a Windows XP installation in Bootcamp on a MacBook. Most times I access the BootCamp partition via VMware Fusion, only once in a while, when speed and power matter, I boot directly into XP. But, while my PS fonts were allright in the VMware mode, they were inevitably “invalid” every time I fired up Windows directly… To make a long story short – the registry hack (#4) solved the problem, and everything works fine now. Though I still don’t understand why one and the same wWindows behaves different depending on whether it is booted directly or within a virtual machine …
    Anyway, thank you for that helpful post!

  • December 2, 2009
    Pu wrote

    My problem i think is the 2nd one. but the link is not working. just takes me to the adobe site.

    anyone can help?

    thanks!

    [Seems the page no longer exists, but I’ve changed the link so it points to the page that has the download. – T]

  • January 20, 2010
    Kim T. wrote

    Fix #4 worked perfectly. I indeed have a newer NVIDIA driver.

    Thanks so much, this was driving me crazy!

  • January 20, 2010
    Kim T. wrote

    …I should mention, I’m running XP on Bootcamp, like Andreas up there.

  • January 20, 2010
    Nestor wrote

    Thank you very much!!! The removing of /3GB has worked out with my Windows XP SP3. As other people said, you save my day and I wish I have found this before.

    Cheers

  • February 8, 2010
    christian wrote

    thanks! this worked for me on my 2009 Apple Mac Mini with Windows XP SP3 on bootcamp with 4GB RAM. THANKS AGAIN!

  • March 11, 2010
    Thomas E. wrote

    The regedit-fix did the job! Even if there is no sign of Nvidia drivers on my system (only Intel and ATI, Win XP with SP3)

    Thank you so much!

  • March 20, 2010
    Debbie Martin wrote

    Thank you SO MUCH! Worked like a charm.

    I have one of those “unspecified ATI cards”. The card I have is:
    The ATI Mobility FireGL v5250

    I wanted to post that so that, hopefully, this page will show up if someone searches for it.

    Debbie

  • April 6, 2010
    Zachary wrote

    I am having the same issue as some of the people above.

    I’m running XP on bootcamp, so newer NVIDIA. And I can’t create a new value called “SessionImageSize” because there already is one. Does anyone know what to do here?

    [I’d think you could try adjusting the value of “SessionImageSize” to 20, if it’s something else. – T]

  • April 20, 2010
    Paige wrote

    I have WinXP and cant access an Open Type font….
    I have been advised to fix I need to change an entry in the registry.
    I can get to Memory Management in the Registry editor, and then if I right click on I see an option for a Key (which seems to make a new file below Memory Management), or below that there is a an option for DWord value, but if I click on that nothing happens.
    Any ideas?

  • April 29, 2010
    Rapho wrote

    Thanks a lot. Great post. I thought that all of my fonts had somehow “spoiled”)) The 4 point fixed the problem:) Thanks!

  • June 21, 2010
    Mile wrote

    this just end my 6 hours of torture, thanks for the info!!

  • July 9, 2010
    Mic wrote

    We are running Win7 / CS3 in XP mode / having trouble with PS font (Management tool Universal Type) – anybode tried this and have a solution

    [There are some known issues with PostScript Type 1 fonts, 64-bit Windows, and Creative Suite. One workaround is to manually copy the fonts to an Adobe fonts folder such as C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Fonts. – T]

  • October 26, 2010
    Chris Gavin wrote

    Thanks so much for posting this hugely helpful info.

    I’ve just wasted half of a pretty crappy and unproductive day tring to install some fonts before finding this! I have an Nvidia card, but changing the reg entry to 20 didn’t seem to crack it. It was the /3GB switch that was the answer for my problem.

    But does this really mean I can’t use all my RAM and HelveticaNeue ?

    Thanks again and best wishes from London.

    [I guess not, at least not on a 32-bit version of Windows. Bummer! – T]

  • November 24, 2010
    Geoff Jackson wrote

    Ahaa, huge help, thanks so much for posting this.

  • May 11, 2011
    Andy wrote

    Dear Mr Phinney. You are a saint of the first order. Trust me, the air has been somewhat blue here due to this ludicrous fonts issue. I am seriously indebted to you.
    Cheers, Andy

  • January 14, 2013
    edelweiss wrote

    i have same problems…thank’s for share

  • January 28, 2015
    Fizz wrote

    I cannot load otf fonts on vintage 2010 windows 7 laptop (Toshiba Satellite A665). Strange thing is: it SOMETIMES works, then not for days/weeks. I have yet to determine a pattern of when it does/does not work…. or why do sometimes does. I have tried the Regedit fix to no avail. Would love to hear any other ideas. I have spent many hours scouring the web to no avail……
    Thanks.

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