I know there are some threads going on on that question, but I figured it's best to open a new one as I am looking for some very specific features and will be giving feedback on a few apps I tried.
What I tried
Having spent the better part of the last weeks to finally get a good structure and system into my font collections, what I still lack is a good manager for Windows. One that will really ease browsing through all of them and sorting them into arbitrary categories & lists. So far I found and tested 3 that are very promising, and have a better interface and performance than all the "old & known ones" imho, but still, they lack features that I'd like to see in them...
+ Very nice interface and handling, lots of options to configure the preview of the fonts and the display of a folders content.
+ All-in-one view of the font information (preview + metadata in a list) or tile-view, lets you really use the screen space well
+ The "Create Library" feature lets you auto-collect fonts from any folders, and merge (copy or move) them into a new folder structure that can be 3 levels deep and sort the fonts by alphabetical order, family, style, and other options.
- The same feature won't let you choose the foundry/creator as an option for the folder structure to create, rendering it somehow useless for anybody who likes to keep fonts organised by foundry.
- Any group or folder view will only let you preview fonts in that very same folder
Extensis Suitcase 4
+ Good interface and set/group organisation. Smart Sets seem to be a handy feature, though I haven't used it that thourghly to really wrap my head around it
+ Split view with font previews in one panel, and a listing by font family in another panel (the collection by family gives you details and metadata about each font in the family)
+ Adobe Plugins to automatically temporarly activate fonts needed for a file
+ QuickMatch feature lets you select all similar fonts to the one you selected, either by classification or by visual appearance (with astonishing accuracy), and lets you even set a threshold to decide *how* similar the fonts you look for have to be.
- Somewhat slow preview rendering
- Also, the preview only shows fonts in the very same folder, and otherwise displays the folders contained (like in normal windows explorer). This is the big issue for me
+ Hey, it's free!
+ Most straightforward and easy to use program of them all. Lets you organize your fonts into groups (sub-folders) and sets (arbitrary collections)
+ Great usability, simple interface, good previews
+ View cannot be cutomized a lot like in FontExpert
+/- Preview rendering when scrolling the list is great, but selecting a collection or set can result in some waiting time as the previews seem to be pre-generated each time (don't make groups with 1000s of fonts, trust me)
- Adding fonts can be somehow slow (see above)
- Groups can only go one folder level deep, only scan for fonts one folder level deep (drag and drop your parent "fonts" folder onto a new set? Here, have a lot of empty groups)
- Switches for bold/italic don't actually filter the fonts for bold or italic variants, but applies faux bold and faux italic styles to the previews (WTF?)
What I need
So far, I have a few features I like here, and a few features that all of the programs lack. As I need a font manager mostly for having a good overview of the collection and quickly find and decide about different fonts, I am looking for a program that can do 3 things:
- Add folders to a collection and scan deeper than just one level (drag "foundry-X" folder to the new collection, have all fonts added)
- Preview all the fonts in a folder and it's child folders, not just what is in the very same folder (I don't need a f*n font manager for that, that works just fine with windows itself)
- An option to show fonts by family, but still have preview of the font. So far the best I could find was Extensis Suitcase, but still, there is only a folder-like structure of families and no preview in that view. Yet a family with 18+ fonts quickly clutters the list and makes it hard to browse different families quickly with good visual feedback.
If anyone knows a program that could cover these 3 points, that would be awesome. Every program I tried so far had either big limitations in features & usability, or made it necessary to create collections and sets by hand instead of beeing able to just "see all fonts in folder X".
All in all I just need a font manager that lets me drag in folders of fonts that are X levels deep, that will import the structure yet already show all the fonts contained in the uppermost parent folder, and that will let me narrow down my search without cluttering the viewport with all the font files of each family