Currently working on an application, which will be released on Multiple platforms, targeting OS X and Windows devices first, followed by iOS release. The current focus is on the OS X version, which will be released first.

During the design process, I have opted for Myriad Pro. Which suits the application in various areas very well. i.e. Titles, Labels, Menu Texts etc.

After some research though I have released it is not shipped with Macs or other OS.

I am currently working on OS X Lion and have no access to Avenir, however, I had the chance to try Helvetica and H. Neue, which looks fine but does not fit as well as Myriad Pro.

  • What fonts should I try to use?

  • What would be your suggestions as experienced designers on the subject?

Thank you

  • 2
    Arial is always a safe bet..
    – Dom
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 14:35
  • What are your limitations? I assume it has to be a system font?
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 2:03
  • I don't really have limitations other than not wanting to pay money to use or distribute a custom font. I'm ok to use different fonts on different systems if necessary. And I'm probably ok to use a custom font that looks good as well. Myriad so far, looks most suitable for the project though but I am not good with fonts so something else might be equally good looking or even better and I am open for all suggestions and recommendations of your favourites. Thank you.
    – Phil
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 9:31

3 Answers 3


The default system font for OS X is Lucida Grande, so if you want a native look I'd recommend that. It's also more of a humanist style like Myriad.

If you don't like that, check out Geneva. That's also a very "Apple" font (albeit more of a historical footnote than practical reality in my experience)

Beyond that, Gill Sans and Futura are quality choices, though they definitely wouldn't have as much as a native feel.

  • None of them are available on a basic Windows install! Note that OP is working on an application which will be released on Multiple platforms (OS X, Windows devices, iOS).
    – e-sushi
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 21:34
  • I am no software programmer, but is it not possible to use two different fonts, depending on the platform?
    – gburning
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 21:55
  • @e-sushi Hmm... Do people not use different fonts when doing multi platform applications?
    – Brendan
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 4:45
  • 1
    @Brendan When doing multi-platform designs, the optimal goal is to use resources available on all systems natively, to ensure that the design and UX is the same across all devices. Second best option is to find "similar alternatives" which only differ minimally from each other. (As an example, the later is reflected in CSS font-stacks … different fonts with a similar size, weight and look.) Beyond these two options, a designer has only one option left: abandon the idea of "same look across all devices" — unless it's an option to "install" resources that aren't natively available.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 6:15
  • Hi @Brendan. Since what version of OS X are Geneva, Gill Sans and Futura available to use? I guess I'll use a system-dependant stack of fonts and these sound and look ok for OS X but I am not sure which versions of it come with these?
    – Phil
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 9:34

Take a look Google font in the sans serif category http://www.google.com/fonts

  • Google's font repository does not represent the fonts installed on osX, iOS, and Windows devices…
    – e-sushi
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 21:45
  • Thank you @FerdiCildiz. I will see although fonts I've seen so far lack certain "details".
    – Phil
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 9:34

Arial is present on most systems. It's hard to fail using that font as your basic sans-serif font for multi-platform designs.

As far as I know "Arial" is the only sans-serif font which is natively installed on all 3 systems — iOS, osX, and Windows. If Arial doesn't suit your needs, you might have to opt-in for "font stacks" (which group different fonts with the same characteristics and the same visual appearance). In case you don't know: there is a good base of font-stacks to be found in the realms of "CSS font stacks" if you could need some grouped font names to get you started.

  • 1
    Thank you very much @e-sushi. You seem to be right about availability of Arial but it doesn't fit the design well. So I will go with the "font-stack" logic.
    – Phil
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 9:35
  • @Phil Glad I could help.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Aug 25, 2013 at 9:42

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