I’ve been a huge fan of Extensis since long before Mac OS X. In particular, their font manager, Suitcase Fusion, has been one of only two tools I consider mission critical beyond the essential Adobe apps I use.
The recently released Suitcase Fusion 8 doesn’t turn font management on its ear like version 5, 6 and 7 did—but it does greatly improve the experience for designers in lots of little ways.
Extensis completely revamped the user interface of Suitcase Fusion. It’s much more consistent and looks right at home in macOS High Sierra. Gone is the third sidebar that cramped the main window. To replace some of the features found in that sidebar, Extensis added a more contextual pop-up right at the font location in the window. The pop-up allows you to view info about the font, a preview of the font, available glyphs and QuickMatch info (which searches your entire library of fonts for similar looking fonts).
Along with the typical font preview styles such as quick type, waterfall and full alphabet, Fusion now offers a tile view (see image above) to quickly find the font you’re looking for.
Extensis also added the ability to view temporary fonts in their own library, making them easy to find quickly.
Auto-activation plug-ins have been updated for the latest versions of Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects, as well as Quark XPress. All seem to activate smoothly for me. In fact the entire application seems to work faster than ever before.
You can view all the new features here.
Other great features:
The previously mentioned QuickMatch feature is still awesome, allowing you to find similar looking fonts with a simple click.
Suitcase Fusion allows for two installations for a single user. Font Syncing is so handy when you work on two Macs. I have an iMac and a MacBook Pro that I work on, so having my entire font library synced via the cloud makes life easy.
Fusion works not only with the fonts installed on your Mac, but Adobe’s TypeKit fonts and Google Fonts are also supported.
Auto–checking for font corruption virtually removes the need for FontDoctor, but Extensis includes the app anyway.
Speaking of included apps, you also get Suitcase for iOS—allowing you to use TrueType and TrueType-based OpenType fonts on your iPhone and iPad. Perfect for customizing your Keynote presentation!
You can view a more extensive feature list here.
When I started writing this review, I found several things I didn’t like. But by the time I finished this article I had to re-write this section because Extensis released an update that addressed all but one.
The update includes the following fixes:
- Select an entire font family by clicking the family name.
- Activate an entire font family with single-click activation icons.
- Reveal fonts added in place in the Finder by right-clicking or Ctrl-clicking on a font name.
- Preview window “type ahead” feature now allows you to start typing the first few letters of a font name to jump to that font in the preview window.
Those weren’t necessarily bugs, but they were features that were either available in previous versions, or ones that were obviously necessary. I think it speaks to Extensis’ dedication to their users by listening to customers and implementing changes so quickly.
My only remaining complaint is that when you’re in Tile View, Fusion only displays a single font family in each row. If a font family has numerous fonts (bold, italics, black, condensed, etc.) they appear in a grid all the way across the window and down as many rows as needed. But if a font family only has one font (very typical with display fonts, and free fonts from the internet in particular), it still takes up an entire row instead of just showing the next font right next to it—allowing you to see more font tiles at a time without scrolling. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll see what I mean if you try it.
If you’re new to font management, or considering a switch from another font manager, I encourage you to watch the recent Suitcase Fusion 8 webcast Extensis did.
The last word:
Back in the day, there were several font managers for the Mac that competed heavily for the hearts, minds and hard drive space of creative users. Today, there are really only two pro-level font managers left, and Suitcase Fusion is the undisputed king of the hill. You would think Extensis would sit back and enjoy the fruits of their past labors, but every year they release an update that’s worthy of the upgrade price. This year is no exception.
You can grab Suitcase Fusion 8 for $120, or $60 for an upgrade from version 7. A free trial of Suitcase Fusion 8 is available here if you want to give it a try before buying. If you’re ready for a powerful font management app, I only recommend Suitcase Fusion!