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Using SIL fonts in other Operating Systems (non-Windows) – FAQ

Questions on this page

Question: Can SIL fonts be used with Mac OS X?

Answer: SIL’s Macintosh TrueType fonts should work fine on Mac OS X, as they are traditional Macintosh fonts. Some of the special features, such as WorldScript support, would be available only in Classic apps that support them. Unfortunately, the SILKey keyboards will work only in Classic apps as well.

SIL’s Unicode fonts are usable on the Mac, but only to the extent the application allows. SIL’s Unicode fonts are not fully functional on a Mac, because they rely on OpenType features to handle such things as diacritic placement, and OS X does not support OpenType features. It is up to the application to support OpenType, and very few Mac applications do so at this time. The few applications that do support OpenType provide varying levels of OpenType support.

Users of Microsoft Word for Macintosh should note that versions of MacWord prior to Word 2004 do not support Unicode. Furthermore, although Word 2004 supports Unicode, the "smart rendering" technologies required to correctly render SIL's Unicode fonts have not been implemented in Word 2004.

More information about using Unicode fonts on the Mac is available at:

Question: How do I install SIL fonts in Mac OS X?

Answer: In order to install fonts in Mac OS X, you will need to be sure you have both read and write access to the Fonts folder located in the Library folder. Open the Library folder and select the Fonts folder. In the Finder, click on Get Info, then on Ownership & Permissions. In the palette that opens, check to be sure that Access is set to Read and Write. (If the pop-up menus are grayed out, click the padlock icon to unlock the pop-up menus.)

In OS X, fonts may be placed in four different places: (a) the Library:Fonts folder in the Home directory of a user account; (b) the Library:Fonts folder; (c) the Library:Fonts folder in the Mac OS X System folder; and (d) the Fonts folder in the OS 9.2 ("Classic") System folder.

Fonts in (a) are usable only to the user of that account. Fonts in (b) are available to all users. Fonts in (c) are also available to all users, but are essential for system use. Fonts in (d) are used by Classic applications, as well as by applications running in OS X.

In all cases, the fonts must all be "loose" in the System:Fonts folder or Library:Fonts folder — not grouped in family folders — or the system cannot see them.

For installation instructions for the SIL IPA93 fonts, click here.

To install other SIL fonts in Mac OS X:

  • Save the download file to a temporary location on your hard disk.
  • Double-click the download file. A folder with the same name as the download file will be created in the same location as the download file.
  • Open up this folder, and find the font files.
  • Copy the font files to the Fonts folder in the Library folder on your hard drive. You may also want to copy them to the Fonts folder in your OS 9 System folder.

Question: Can I use SIL fonts in Linux (Ubuntu or other distributions)?

Answer: SIL offers freeware and SIL Open Font License (OFL) fonts in TrueType and Opentype formats. All fonts available are posted on SIL Fonts for downloading.

Since it is possible to use TrueType and Opentype fonts in Linux, it is also possible to use SIL’s fonts in distributions such as Ubuntu or derivatives. Most of our Unicode fonts now have a Debian/Ubuntu package or are included in the default repositories.

Ubuntu users can also subscribe to the software repository and get current versions of our fonts and updates automatically. See the  detailed instructions about adding the repository.
(Our legacy (custom-encoded) font packages do not have Debian packages and have not been tested on Linux).

Question: My documents with SIL IPA93 fonts are no longer visible in Word 2004. What can I do to make them visible?

Answer: We are grateful to David Kamholz for the following information:

The characters were encoded in the ordinary 8-bit ASCII ranges and, there is no way to view them properly in Word 2004 in that encoding. I’ve written the following macro, which does a character by character search and replace to fix the characters. It finds only characters in the font specified. I also noticed that for some reason tabs and newlines in the SIL font were a problem, and could not be converted to the new encoding, nor left alone, because they displayed as rectangles that way (although the tab and newline formatting still worked). So I changed these to another font — Times New Roman in this case, but you can just edit the string in the macro.

Instructions for creating and running this macro:

  • Download this text file, open it in a text editor, copy the text to your clipboard.
  • Open your document in Word 2004
  • Choose Tools / Macro / Visual Basic Editor
  • In the VB Editor: Choose View / Code or press  F7  to view the code editor
  • Paste the macro text in.
  • Choose View / Microsoft Word or click in your document window to dismiss the VB editor.
  • Choose Tools / Macro / Macros....
  • Select the SILConvert macro and click Run.
Word 2004 Macro
Lorna A. Priest, 2005-10-27
Download "Word2004Macro.txt", Text document, 2KB [5505 downloads]


This fix is likely to be helpful for any of our legacy symbol fonts (e.g. SIL Galatia, SIL Hebrew), not just IPA93.

Users should consider moving to Unicode rather than maintaining legacy data.

Contact Us

As our fonts and utilities are distributed at no cost, we are unable to provide a commercial level of personal technical support. We will, however, try to resolve problems that are reported to us.

We do hope that you will report problems so they can be addressed in future releases. Even if you are not having any specific problems, but have an idea on how this system could be improved, we want to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Please note that our software products are intended for use by experienced computer users. Installing and using them is not a trivial matter. The most effective technical support is usually provided by an experienced computer user who can personally sit down with you at your computer to troubleshoot the problem.

General troubleshooting information, including frequently asked questions, can be found in the documentation. Additional information is also available on the FAQ pages. If that fails to answer your question, please contact us by starting a topic on the  Language Software Community site.

We also have an email contact form, however we will responding to those messages only as staff resources allow. Please use the new community site before using the form.

Note: the opinions expressed in submitted contributions below do not necessarily reflect the opinions of our website.

"N. Brunberg", Thu, Sep 29, 2005 08:44 (EDT)
Mac OS X OpenType support

Mac OS X has native support for OpenType since 2001, please refer to the following link in the Apple support database:

"Noriko Sakai", Mon, Apr 14, 2008 04:39 (EDT)
installment of fonts

Mine is Mac OS X Version 10.4.11

How to download SIl. Encore IPA93 fonts

Thank you.

jonathan, Tue, Apr 15, 2008 02:48 (EDT)
Re: installment of fonts

See the IPA93 page, and look for the Download link. You may need a utility such as StuffIt Expander to decode the archives.

Note that the IPA93 fonts are obsolete and unsupported, and you are strongly encouraged to use Unicode-compliant fonts and software instead.

"Confused", Mon, Sep 23, 2013 15:13 (EDT)
Using SIL Fonts

So I downloaded the SIL fonts (the exe files onto my mac) and put them into my system/ font library but the fonts still do not show up when I open documents that use the font. What do I need to do so that the font will show up when I open an MS document?

stephanie_smith, Wed, Nov 13, 2013 06:14 (EST) [modified by stephanie_smith on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 10:08 (EST)]
Re: Using SIL Fonts


Apologies for the delay in our response.

exe files are intended for use on Windows operating systems. Some of our fonts have both Windows and Mac-compatible downloads available; if you let me know which fonts you are trying to access I can tell you where to find the Mac version, if there is one available.



"nata", Wed, Jul 4, 2018 10:44 (EDT)
sil fonts on Mac not showing in full

Trying to use GENTIUM PLUS on my mac os10.4 and have copied fonts into three different folders on my mac. However I cannot find extensive selection of symbols as on pc with the same fonts.

I am trying to use sanscrit romanised script such as letter n with a dash over it and similar.

How can I find symbols they must be visble somehow, I even installed MsWord for Mac

martinpk, Thu, Jul 5, 2018 09:11 (EDT) [modified by martinpk on Thu, Jul 5, 2018 09:11 (EDT)]
Re: sil fonts on Mac not showing in full

Hi Nata, if you ask your question over on the newer SIL Language Software Community, you'll reach a broader audience: — Thanks!

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