I remember there used to be a folder I could just put fonts in and they would work for Adobe InDesign. I thought it was a folder called fonts in the same directory the InDesign document was. I tried that for an Illustrator file. I created a folder next to the Illustrator file called fonts and put my fonts in there. But Illustrator doesn't see the fonts.

I don't want to install the fonts on the system. Is there a simple folder I can put fonts into? Ideally the folder is next to the Illustrator file itself so that I can simply zip up the file and fonts folder and send it to people.

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    Note that for InDesign to recognize and load the fonts temporarily, the folder must be called "Document Fonts." In earlier versions of Id, the package contained a folder called "Fonts." When the automatic font load feature (CS5?) was introduced, the folder name was changed. Aug 19, 2013 at 21:55

3 Answers 3


I believe this is what you're after. I've always thought it a strange practice but, Adobe has provided it's own fonts directory going back a long way.

Windows Program Files/Common Files/Adobe/Fonts

Mac OS Library/Application Support/Adobe/Fonts

I believe some font managers also allow you to activate a set of fonts based on application.

-- update --

FontExplorer is my favorite font manager and apparently it has app-based sets (I knew I remember that from somewhere ;)

Activation control with application-based sets and font request view

This is news to me, but apparently InD has supported document-level activation since CS5:

Fonts in a Document Fonts folder that is in the same location as an InDesign document are temporarily installed when the document is opened.

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    Yes, so I guess it's only for InDesign that fonts folder thing? I'm surprised this isn't more commonly used. It's so convenient to send a zip file with the fonts and adobe file and just have it all work when double clicking.
    – at.
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:06
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    Just to confirm this still works in CS6 - after trying various other methods your solution worked. I can't understand why it couldn't find it when other applications could see it ok. To confirm just put the font in: /Applications/Adobe Illustrator CS6/Fonts and illustrator finds it Thanks SO much!!!
    – Chris
    Apr 18, 2013 at 11:55
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    It should be noted that on windows there are 2 Program Files folders. I accidentally tried the wrong(x86) one because for some reason I didn't see Common Files in the x64 folder and raged about it for a while for not working. I suspect that the correct folder is not always the x64 folder but the same Program Files your photoshop resides in.
    – Pichan
    Apr 18, 2013 at 18:05
  • Thank you. This works also for Ubuntu. If you add them in ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files (x86)/Common Files/Adobe/Fonts or ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Common Files/Adobe/Fonts (depending your installation) photoshop can find them properly.
    – GeorgeKaf
    Mar 6, 2018 at 6:41

It's my favourite feature just from oldest versions (AI 8-10) and in Illustrator CS4 still works. Create subfolder with name "Fonts" in the Illustrator Application folder (path now is: /Applications/Adobe Illustrator CS4/Fonts), put in this folder some font files and restart Illustrator. Fonts now are included in the Illustrator font menu.

  • Still works for me in CS6 on Windows 10. Created the directory: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Illustrator CS6 (64 Bit)\Fonts and then added testing fonts to that folder. They were present upon restart of Illustrator. In Windows, admin privilege is needed to do this action.
    – Krista K
    Mar 3, 2020 at 23:05

Both CS5 and CS6 InDesign applications have implemented a new feature in attempt to "simplify" font usage and activation (in InDesign).

The packaging process saves the INDD file, Links, Instructions and Document Fonts into the same parent folder (specified in Package process). The idea behind the new "Document Fonts" feature is that anyone can open the INDD file and (if all the fonts used are in the Document Fonts folder) they should see ID automatically load all the fonts for use only in that document. So the fonts load, whether or not you have the fonts installed locally on that machine.

The fonts loaded from that Document Fonts folder will appear at the top of the Type > Fonts list as “Document Fonts”. Seems pretty awesome, but without any explanation, many older (Postscript Type 1) font types won’t auto-activate from the Document Fonts folder. So this is not a truly fail-safe method for activating fonts. Not to mention this only works for InDesign. Illustrator does not use this method to load or activate fonts. :(

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