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Identify Mystery Fonts With Find My Font Pro

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Find My Font Pro

    PCWorld Rating

    Font utility Find My Font promises to do just that, plus some alternatives, both locally and online.

It's after dinner hour and you're still at work searching for the font your boss requested. You want to strangle the person who suggested the boss keep a scrapbook of designs they like. How long can it take to match a font to this magazine clip? Find My Font Pro ($69, 30-day free trial) is here to help. How much it can help depends on your sample quality and the rarity of the font.

Find My Font Pro is really easy to use. Simply open your .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .pbm, .pgm, .png, .ppm, .tif, .xbm, or .xpm file, then use the tools to select the text of the unknown font. To make matching fonts easier, Find My Font offers tools to magnify, rotate, split letters (for when your letters are too close together to get a good sample), and alter the baseline shift if your sample letters are not straight. In addition, if your image is not high resolution, you'll probably need to hold down the shift key to select additional pixels of the letter to give Find My Font a good sample.

Find My Font screenshot
For fonts that probably no longer exist, Find My Font may come up with a near match that could work as well.
Once you have your mystery-font letters selected, enter the actual letters using upper- and lowercase, and no spaces. Find My Font Pro searches your computer and the Internet quickly. (The $49 Basic edition checks only local drives for your mystery font.)

Unfortunately, Find My Font is not very accurate when it comes to especially detailed or archaic fonts, or when working from a low-resolution file. And Find My Fonts will be no help if you don't know what the corresponding letters are (as is common with dingbats or pictorial fonts). Plus, if you have a PDF, you'll need to convert it first into an image file (.bmp, .gif, .jpg, .pbm, .pgm, .png, .ppm, .tif, .xbm, or .xpm) readable by Find My Font, or take a screenshot.

Find My Font did much better at identifying standard fonts, especially those from a really clean sample. This may be useful if you see a font you like, but can't afford it and need to search for a similar freeware alternative. That said, if you have no budget to purchase fonts, you're unlikely to want to spend almost $70 on Find My Fonts, and when the 30-day trial has expired, my guess is that you'll prefer a free online service like MyFont.com's own What the Font?, which works the same as Find My Font, only without the local search.

Once you have a number of matches, chose the best fit and use Find My Font to purchase (if the font is not freeware) and download the font from the official owner of the font set. This is a useful addition to Find My Font, as is the automatic installation of fonts if you happen to be running Windows 2000 or XP (Windows Vista and 7 don't require you to install fonts, just drop them in your fonts folder).

Unfortunately, Find My Font doesn't include the function that I would find most useful: a font creator for those fonts you just can't match. How great would that be, to take a sample of the closest match in Find My Fonts and be able to tweak it until it matched perfectly? Something for a future, slightly more expensive pro version, maybe. If this is a function you really need, try FontCreator 6 Home Edition ($79) or (if you need it for commercial purposes) FontCreator 6 Professional Edition ($199). Both versions offer a free trial, and are good---if not complex---programs to create a bespoke font. If you're on a tighter budget, try similar Type 3.2 ($65), or its free, limited-functionality Type light version.

Find My Font could be useful if you have a clean sample of a font that you know is somewhere hidden in your fonts folder, or that may be an easy match. Otherwise, Find My Font may be your last resort when others fail, but depending on the font you need, you may be better off searching one of the many font sites online.

--Clare Brandt

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Font utility Find My Font promises to do just that, plus some alternatives, both locally and online.

    Pros

    • Search locally and online for alternatives

    Cons

    • Pricey
    • Need good sample to find a match
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