The font folder, like the party, never seems to get smaller

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/05/01 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

Alvin asked (in the Suggestion Box after reading this blog that listed the fonts in Vista):

...could you suggest a list of fonts that can be safely removed in Windows Vista?

Or in other words, what are the system fonts in Windows vista that cannot be removed? Thanks.

This is a question that reminds me of a blog from not quite three years ago entitled What isn't in the default install for NLS.

In that post, I talked about the fact that neither East Asian Language Support nor Complex Script Support are not a part of the basic default install of Windows and why. And how this effects (among other things) fonts for the languages that fall in these two categories.

And I also talked about how this had been a huge source of trouble for a lot of people who may not have permission to add them later if they need them.

I suppose it is inevitable that if one group is made happy by the move to address this long-standing issue that another group is going to be unhappy either because they are annoyed by the cluttery mess in the font folder and the font choosing dialog or because they don't use these various languages and therefore are more than a little annoyed at the way they are all included (giving them no choice in the matter).

It is kind of funny how at the same time as some people are most unhappy about the piece of Unicode not yet covered by fonts that others would like to have even more pieces not covered. :-)

This may all seem familiar to regular readers. They are likely remembering Like a mattress tag, the rule is DO NOT REMOVE from this last November.

And unfortunately for those who would like a less cluttered font list and/or a smaller disk footprint1,2,3, that is the answer -- none of them are considered to be removable, and removing them can leave your system in a state that could affect subsequent applications or installations in ways that can be difficult to predict.

And therefore I really have to advise against it -- you are officially own your own if you figure out a way to "solve" this problem.

With that said, at least I can assure people that the folks who own the Fonts folder and the Font chooser dialog have had the problem here communicated, loud and clear. And in case anyone leaves comments here, I will definitely be forwarding this blog onto those various people, so that people who would like to reinforce the message or punctuate it will have that opportunity.


1 - As unrealistic as that might be given the footprint of Vista itself.
2 - I mean, who are we kidding? Worrying about the footprint of the font folder compared to the rest of Vista is almost like worrying about the jaywalking problem when people rush to the body of someone run over by a car!
3 - Okay, that last footnote did not give an entirely analogous analogy, but you know what I mean.


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Alvin on 2 May 2008 4:42 PM:

Thanks for the the tip, Michael. I understand that it is sort of dangerous to remove some of the fonts, but we all can have trial-and-error on that. I did disable some of services, uninstall some of Windows components, make regular defrag and so on. So, basically, removing the fonts is the next step to make Vista work better. But anyhow, I will try to follow your advise not to go overboard in remvong the fonts.

John Cowan on 4 May 2008 11:05 AM:

Maybe the font folder could at least be sorted to show what scripts particular fonts might be useful for (within reason).

While you're at it, the Install Fonts dialogue box is a disgrace.

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