There's a trick I've seen other graphic designers do wehre they'll highlight a block of text, and then seemingly down-arrow through their whole list of fonts, seeing how it looks on that text block, 'til they find one that looks right. Yet when I try to emulate, it doesn't work for me: I have to manually click the Font box, pick one, see how it looks, and repeat. It goes from being an effortless tap-tap-tap on the keyboard to a click-drag-click-drag chore. What's the trick?

  • 5
    The real trick is to not have so many random typefaces that one has to do the 'click until it looks right' method to begin with. ;)
    – DA01
    Feb 6, 2012 at 1:37

7 Answers 7


The Macintosh version of Illustrator won't do this. It's been requested for literally years that they fix it, but it's still not fixed. It works fine in Windows Illustrator and Win/Mac Photoshop. But you just can't do it on a Mac with Illustrator.

Keep your fingers crossed that they might actually fix it with the next release.


Adobe Illustrator CS6 has added the ability to simply use the arrow keys to walk through fonts in the font menu. Only Illustrator CS6 (v16) or newer will do this on a Macintosh.

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    Only way that I know that stops me from getting totally insane is going from the top menu to: Preferences > Type and setting Font Preview size to Large and then just select your text and right click inside the document and go to font and browse the fonts.. It's not perfect though. (all of the font lists show the previews as large, but I find the right clicking to work nicer for me). Scott, I don't see them fixing it anytime soon.. people have been bitching about this since the dawn of time :D
    – Joonas
    Feb 5, 2012 at 20:25
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    @Lollero.. you never know what they are doing behind the scenes. Illustrator is about the only non-64bit app Adobe has anymore. CS:next may very well have a few surprises.
    – Scott
    Feb 5, 2012 at 20:35
  • It's still buggy 6 years after it was implemented. Some fonts will "stop" the scrolling and will have to be skipped manually through the menu Jan 27, 2018 at 0:57

What program are you using? Because in Photoshop (maybe other Adobe programs as well, I'm not too sure), you highlight your text, click inside the font chooser box and then whilst your text is still highlight (don't click anything at this point) put your mouse anywhere you want on the page and use the scroll bar and it will roll through all the fonts, whilst changing it on the text you've highlighted. Or, instead of scrolling, just tap the up and down keys.

I know it doesn't do this with word, as far as I know, though.

  • I've been trying to do this without success in Illustrator.
    – baudot
    Feb 5, 2012 at 20:11
  • It works fine Illustrator CS5.5 on Windows 7. What operating system are you on - also it may be different for Macs.
    – Willow
    Feb 5, 2012 at 20:14
  • @baudot If you're on Windows (and not Mac, as noted in Scott's answer) - make sure you are clicking on the font name and not the drop-down arrow. Your cursor should be an I-bar.
    – Farray
    Feb 5, 2012 at 20:37

I found how you can do it on the mac!

On windows it's down arrow. On mac it's SHIFT+down arrow.

(I tried on CS6 mac)

  • On Photoshop CS6 is actually ctrl+down arrow keys rather than shift+down arrow Oct 12, 2016 at 15:24

I hadn't realized this bug existed on the Mac version of Illustrator before (I'm a Windows user, but I also never use this feature since I generally have about 100+ fonts active at any given time, so it's just a bit impractical), but I would recommend these workarounds:

  • Using the Type->Font menu as your preview. The preview shows the font name instead of your text, and it's rendered in the GUI colors, but it's better than nothing. And I believe it's possible to change the font size used for this preview.
  • Using a font manager to preview fonts (including inactive ones). Most font managers will allow you to change the preview text, and many will allow you to change the foreground and background color, as well as insert a custom background image. It's a bit of work to do this for every type element you wanna edit, but it's probably worth it for certain cases.
  • Use the DiskFonts plugin (works in CS3 to CS5 for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; in CS5 it also works for Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Premiere). This is commercial software, which costs $29, but it lets you preview your text in any font on your computer, whether it's active or not, and is also dockable on your Android or iOS device while you're working. It looks like it lets you choose the FG & BG colors, but doesn't support BG images.
  • 1
    On Mac, if you're going to go outside of Adobe anyway, there's always Font Book which comes with OS X.
    – baudot
    Feb 6, 2012 at 7:51

I'm working on a PC. Here's the answer: Highlight the text you want to preview - then go over to your character box and click in the font box to highlight the font. Don't click the drop down menu, just click in the box to highlight the font. The text in the layer has to be highlighted too. Then use your down arrow to quickly preview the various fonts. The secret is both the text and the font name have to be highlighted before you use your arrow key to scroll through to preview.


I tried the other suggestions but they did not work for me, but what actually worked was 1. highlight your word/s 2. go to the font box and double click the font and it will change. Have been trying to solve this problem for a long while............!!!


If someone posted how to do this already, then apologies.

What you do (in Photoshop):

  1. Type whatever you want and then highlight it.

  2. Go to the "font" box and instead of clicking the arrow to see and select your fonts, highlight the current font already showing in the box.

  3. Use your page up and down keys and the highlighted font in the box will change and so will your highlighted text on your page. You can easily scroll your text through all the fonts to preview it.

  • Yup. The issue was that I was on Illustrator CS5 for Mac, which had a bug that disabled this technique. The accepted answer explained that.
    – baudot
    Mar 7, 2013 at 23:50

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