Solved: Fonts on a Mac for Microsoft office – why are they not updating? Where are they?

Macs are not perfect even though one’s productivity is much higher with one. When things go wrong – they can sometimes really go wrong.

One customer had issues with a critical branding font that installs fine on everyone else’s Macbook but not theirs. I now know more about fonts that I ever wanted to know especially how Microsoft fonts fit into the Mac picture. I researched dozens of websites each adding a piece to the puzzle. Here we go …

  • There are 4 font stores on your Mac
    • user fonts stored in /Users/youraccount/Library/Fonts
    • computer wide (all accounts) fonts in /Library/Fonts
    • system fonts in /System/Library/Fonts (never ever touch these)
    • Microsoft Office fonts in /Library/Fonts/Microsoft (ahhh I see)
  • ONLY TTF fonts work for Office – or so MS claims
  • To install fonts for MS Office 2011 – don’t double click them – this installs them naturally in the user fonts
    • instead – start up Font Book (use the spotlight or magnifying glass to find it quick in the upper right of your Mac)
    • drag them from your Finder onto Computer (under the Collection section at the left of the Font Book app)
  • A reboot triggers the Mac Font store to sync with Office. Don’t forget to reboot before ripping your hair out
  • Adding fonts to the user fonts will never show up in Microsoft Office products
  • Don’t assume that because a font works in lets say Word, that it will appear in Excel – it might once the cache catches up
  • Microsoft font cache file can be delete so it will force a refresh – but it can be in 2 places – check both. Microsoft moved it for Office 2011 for Mac for some computers different than others
    • Lion? goto finder and hold the option key and …
    • click the menu Go->Library or type in a folder /Library by choosing the Go->Go to Folder option then navigate eventually to /Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2011
      • not there? Microsoft moved them in later releases of Office 2011 to /Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Preferences/Office 2011 – even MS’ articles are incorrect!
      • also you might need to look in /Users/yourname/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Preferences/Office 2011
    • when you re-start work or Excel you will now see a task completing to rebuild the cache files and if you observe the location above you will see new cache files
  • Here is a link to completely remove Office on a mac and is the final puzzle piece that allowed me to solve this riddle

Many thanks to these sites:

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17 thoughts on “Solved: Fonts on a Mac for Microsoft office – why are they not updating? Where are they?

  1. Hi

    I have been having the same issues with fonts, been trying to figure it out myself for weeks, really pulling my hair out, have had to work on a macbook thats over 10 years old as my new macbook wont show the font I need. I spent 3 hours on the phone to apple and 2 long calls with Microsoft, and no one can help me. Your post was how i found my font cache, no one else even told me it could be somewhere else!
    I have followed everything in your post, but I still can not get the font I need to work, and infact other new fonts I download do not appear either!
    Is there anything else you could advise? I’m at the very end of my tether…


  2. Hi

    I have been having exactly the same problem and have been struggling for quite a while with this issue. Eventually I managed to make it work, with a purely random solution: In my case, I ended up leaving in the folder /Users/youraccount/Library/Fonts exactly the fonts that wouldn’t work and putting all the other fonts in the folder /Library/Fonts.
    Strange, but it did the trick for me 😀

    – Ursin

    • It does feel good to find these random solutions. THANKS FOR POSTING IT. I get a lot of hits on this article oddly – so this is valuable info.

  3. I am aware this is an internal naming issue – and its a crappy issue. But I am at my wits end! I need certain fonts to work and to be certain that when I tell a client to download the same font I used, that they too will be able to use it.

    This is maddening. None of these suggestions help. The only thing I think will work is renaming the fonts in a font design program, which I do not know how to do. Why doesn’t microsoft aware of this and fix it??

    • I phoned Microsoft’s helpline to report an Excel bug to them. They kept asking me for my credit card no matter how much “but I am trying to help YOU”. I don’t know why sometimes either. Sorry these suggestions didn’t help – it seems there are many issues surrounding all this. It could also simply be they don’t know and the complicatedness is understood by Apple and is so complicated that it is hard for Microsoft to figure it out. Did you know that Microsoft has been supplying MS Office for Mac since Mac’s inception (I am watching too many Netflix documentaries)?

  4. Thank you so much for your step by step process! I had an issue with Didot.tff font after upgrading my MacBook where didn’t show up correctly in Microsoft Word (the numbers were all messed up). Having typed all of my family recipes in this font, I didn’t want to have to redo them all just to get them to print correctly. I copied a previous version of the Didot font from my old MacBook that wasn’t upgraded and installed it using your steps above. Finally no more tweaking each file for it to print correctly! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  5. I have been struggling with this for years on my MacBook Pro, and your solution fixed my problem. I had been working with custom fonts that I thought just wouldn’t work properly with Microsoft Office. Then I bought a MacBook Air and found that they were working just fine on it—same exact system install and same exact Office version. That got me looking for a solution, again; and I found your post.

    Thank you SO MUCH!

  6. My partner was unable to access a font in Word 2008 that she has used on all of her publicity fliers. The problem arose when she updated to El Capitan and for the past two weeks she has struggled to find a solution. Your instructions to install the font using Font Book solved the problem – though interestingly we had to remove the font from ‘All Fonts’ before an install into ‘Computer’ on the left side of the Font Book window would work properly.

    Many, many thanks!

  7. I am so confused! For a few years now I have download new fonts into my Font Book and can use them all in PPT and Word. Recently I bought and downloaded a new font bundle and only half the fonts would load. I have tried creating a new collection to download the other half and while they appear in the font book they don’t appear in PPT. I tried downloading different fonts and the same thing happened (they are in my Font Book but not in applications. I have restarted my computer (many times!) and I can’t find the Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Preferences/Office 2011 – it doesn’t appear to exist!!! Any ideas on what to do next??

  8. Ok, I did everything i could do make my OTF font appear in Powerpoint for my Mac, (It showed up as installed in my Font Book) No luck. Until I read somewhere to go to the dropdown box in Powerpoint, and, if I did not see my font there, to simply type it in. VOILA. As simple as that. But I had to go bald first. Hope this helps someone out there!

    • this is genius. so sick of struggling with fonts, and while not a perfect fix, this is getting me through the project I’m working on now, until I have time to wrestle with caches etc etc!

  9. Office 2011 – OSX El Capitan – Thank YOU!!! Rebooting is the key, however, if you’ve already installed the font, a reboot won’t help. You have to go into Font Book and remove the font completely, then do the drag-drop part, then reboot. If you start PowerPoint and don’t see “Updating Fonts” in the splash screen, you’ve missed a step. Once you see the magical “Updating Fonts” message in the PowerPoint splash screen, you’re good to go!

  10. R Alexandra is absolutely correct! I was having the same issue and simply typed the Voyager font into the font box in Word and it worked!!! Should have read this 2 hours ago and saved my hair! Thanks!

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