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How can a freelance web designer who doesn't own a Mac visually identify and compare fonts similar to their primary webfont choice, that are present on most OSX devices?

I need to define a fallback font stack for a website for:

  • when webfonts fail to load/render
  • decrepit browsers on older Apple systems don't support webfonts
  • The font that sometimes appears before the webfont renders in some browsers

    (I'd prefer for it to be as close to the webfont as possible to lessen the appearance of change when the webfont does render)


I've found a tool called CSS Font Stack which lists common Windows/Mac fonts and their availability, but it only renders the Windows fonts for me, and the default stacks aren't great, so it's almost as time-consuming as looking up a list and checking each individually, and I still don't have a way to see the Mac fonts rendered in paragraphs, headings, different font sizes etc.

There are also many exhaustive lists around that will take ages to peruse, find and compare fonts well. This is quite a simple part of a website design project, and shouldn't be given too much time, but it is a requirement of a well-rounded website design.

Is there a resource anywhere that I can use to quickly render Mac fonts reliably, or at least a decent list of screenshots of the available fonts on OSX sorted into type categories?

What can I do to find similar fallback fonts available on OSX, when I don't own a Mac?

  • 3
    A google search for "Fonts included in Mac OS" will answer this. Then subsequent looking at a font vendor would provide visual reference. – Scott Apr 19 '15 at 22:51
  • Recent versions of OS X come with all common Web fonts, so this would not seem to be a problem. – usr2564301 Apr 19 '15 at 23:05
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    Web fonts are web fonts. They are customarily platform agnostic (otf, ttf, etc). and fallbacks are only if it fails to load. That would be solved by looking at the fonts included in the Mac OS. – Scott Apr 20 '15 at 0:06
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it lacks any evidence of effort by the asker. This is widely available information. – plainclothes Apr 20 '15 at 7:22
  • User grudges? This is just a question that can easily be googled, is all. – DA01 Apr 20 '15 at 15:59
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Oh, there are ways. Here are some options in order asc from shitty and easy, to less shitty and hard.

  • Rely entirely on this one article and make sure to always use serif or sans-serif as the final font in your list.
  • Check out the OS font stack for OSX on wikipedia. Google around for type specimens for those fonts, and trust that it looks ok in your usage.
  • Do the same as above, but actually check to make sure it looks ok on the computer of a friend who owns a mac. What no friends with macs?
  • Semi-legally install OSX into a virtual machine on your Windows PC. There are *cough easily accessible instructions online. Then view your website on there.
  • Buy and iPad, and view your website on iOS. iOS and OSX available fonts and rendering are remarkably similar.
  • Buy a Mac.
  • Thanks for the answer, lmao at the friends link, I need to action some of that advice on here if I want help. I wasn't aware there was an easy way to create a Mac VM so I think that's probably what I'll go for, as it allows other Mac testing aswell. I'm going to wait a few days to accept to see if anyone else chimes in with some good options, if not it's a guaranteed accept. Thanks again. :) – Dom Apr 20 '15 at 11:52
  • @Dom while running OSX on non-Apple hardware is possible ("hackintosh") it's not necessarily pain-free to set up. If time is money for you, it'd probably be easier to buy a used Mac Mini or something for a couple of hundred bucks. – DA01 Apr 20 '15 at 16:00
  • @DA01 I'm familiar with setting up VMs so in my case it's a good option, probably not for everyone. I appreciate the advice, and while yes, time is potential money, money is actual money :). I'd rather not have to purchase an additional device just to determine font stacks, testing directly on Macs is not a necessity for me, just an added benefit of using a VM. – Dom Apr 20 '15 at 16:05
  • @Dom there's more to it than just setting up a VM. Just be wary of that. – DA01 Apr 20 '15 at 16:06
  • (FWIW, I tried the VM route a few years ago and it was a huge pain and I never did get it fully running in the end. If you have the time, by all means, give it a shot. It can be fun if you get it working. Just note that it's a fragile endeavor and any update can come along and break thing on you. I believe your current PC also has to be 'hackintosh friendly' so check that prior) – DA01 Apr 20 '15 at 17:07

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