Installing Fontforge in Mountain Lion

[alert type=”warning”]UPDATE: There is now an even simpler way of installing Font Forge on a Mac. The development team now provides  compiled binaries, linked from the beta Fontforge site. There you can download a good old .dmg file with an app you can just drag to your app folder.[/alert]

I’m new to the Mac world, and not a developer, so trying to install FontForge in osX Mountain Lion has been a challenge. The instructions I found online usually assumed a level of knowledge far beyond me. If someone tells me to “sudo glib blablabla”, I’m not even sure where to type that in.

So after a bit of searching I was able to find clearer instructions, which I’m sharing for all those that are curious but have found it hard in the past. It is a long process, far from dragging an app to your Applications folder, but i’s not really hard.

Basically, you’re going to use HomeBrew, which downloads all dependent libraries and installs the software for you. But you need a few things for it to work. You’ll have to use the command line, which for me sounded scary, but all you need is to copy and paste the necessary commands

Step by Step guide to installing fontforge

1. Register as an Apple Developer

It’s free, you just need an Apple ID and to fill out a form. Just go to this page, and go to the very end where it says “Register as an Apple Developer”.

2. Download XCode command line tools

After you’ve set up your developer account, download the tools for mountain lion .

3. Download and install XQuartz

Get XQuartz and intall it.  With this you’re all set up to begin the actual fontforge installation.

4. Dowload and install Homebrew

Open up your terminal.Copy and paste this command:

ruby <(curl -fsSk
Homebrew is automatically installed.

5. Download and install Git

Copy and paste this command in the terminal:

brew install git

6. Download and install Fontforge

Copy and paste this command in the terminal:

brew install

This will take a while, since it will download and install all necessary libraries.

7. Make a link to the app

Copy and paste this command in the terminal:

brew linkapps

This should make a shortcut to the app in your apps folder.

Note: In my case, at least, this shortcut was not in my normal apps folder, but in /Users/kemie/Applications/ I could just drag this into my apps folder

8. Run Fontforge



David Lanier’s instructions were the base that helped me understand it all

The fontforge mailing list was also of great help

8 thoughts on “Installing Fontforge in Mountain Lion

  1. Hi, I’m stuck at step 4, it downloads, but it asks for a password. When I type in step 5, nothing happens.
    Can you help me?


    1. It should be your account password, have you tried that?
      Otherwise, it might be much easier to just download a pre-packaged build fromthe fontforge site

  2. checking for gcc… cc
    checking whether the C compiler works… no
    configure: error: in `/private/tmp/fontforge-sZxB/fontforge-20120731-b’:
    configure: error: C compiler cannot create executables
    See `config.log’ for more details.

    I can’t get step 6 to complete to create the executable for Fontforge.

  3. I tried to download Xcode and XQuartz and now I can’t find them installed anywhere on my computer so that I can open them.

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