How to Add/Install Fonts in GIMP

Using a stylish new font is one of the quickest ways to raise the design quality of any project, but how do you add fonts to GIMP? There’s a couple of different ways that you can handle it, but let’s keep things simple and start with the quick and easy way!

GIMP checks its own custom fonts folder as well as the default font folder set by your operating system when it’s generating the list of fonts that are available. It’s simplest to install your fonts to the default font folder unless you’re in a special situation – we’ll cover a couple later in the guide.

On Windows 10, the font installation process is extremely simple. Open File Explorer and open the folder where your font file is located. Double-click on the font file, and choose Install. Windows handles everything else, and you just need to reload GIMP to access your new fonts.

The Windows font viewer looks barebones, but it works

For macOS users, the process is exactly the same. Open Finder, and then navigate to the folder containing the font file you want to add. Double-click to open it, then click the Install Font button at the bottom of the font preview window. Font Book will open to process it, and it’s ready to use.

Even though it shows less info, the macOS font preview still manages to look much nicer

Linux users are probably used to a bit of hardship during any setup process, but they also get a relatively easy ride here. These instructions may vary a bit depending on which flavor of Linux you’re running, but covering all the variations would probably be an entire article all by itself!

To install for your own account, simply create a new folder named ‘.fonts’ in your home directory and copy all your font files there. To install them for everyone, copy your OpenType OTF files into /usr/share/fonts/opentype/ and TrueType TTF files into the /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ folder. 

If you’re not sure where to get new fonts, I’ve put together a few of the best options below. 

The GIMP Fonts Folder

Most of the time, it’s better to use your operating system’s default fonts folder. When you install your fonts there, they can be accessed by all the programs on your computer, which usually makes things a whole lot easier. 

There are a few situations where it’s not possible to edit the default system folders, such as on a public or shared computer. Luckily, there are other font folders you can use to install your fonts to use in GIMP. The locations will depend on your OS, but you can always find them the same way.

Open GIMP, and open the Preferences dialog. On the left pane, scroll down to find the Folders section and expand it by clicking the small + icon beside it, then select Fonts. The right pane will show you the current custom locations GIMP will search for fonts, and let you add new ones.

The Font Folder preferences in GIMP on Windows 10 showing default locations

If you’ve already got a folder full of fonts and you don’t want to move them around, you can tell GIMP where to find them and it will scan and load them in their current location. It’s easy to set up, but take care not to add too many fonts at once or you might slow GIMP’s load time.

You can either type in the path to your own font folder if you’ve got it memorized already or select the small folder icon beside it (highlighted in red above) to browse for your font folder’s location. 

Finding Fonts for GIMP

You’re not the only one who loves to collect fonts – there are tons of websites that are dedicated to nothing but fonts. Here are a few of the best sources of fonts for GIMP:

DaFont

DaFont is one of the oldest and largest free font sources on the internet, and it has a font for literally any occasion you can imagine (and probably quite a few that you can’t.) The interface is a bit hard to navigate, but there are decent search tools available to help you find what you need.

The only thing to keep in mind is that most of the fonts on DaFont are only licensed for personal use, which means you can use them for your own personal projects but not for any commercial purpose whatsoever. Be sure to read those licenses and make sure your usage is approved!

FontSpace

FontSpace claims to have over 77000 free fonts in its directory, and there certainly seem to be more than you could ever use in a lifetime. The organization system is simple, but it would be nice if the Styles section allowed you to combine multiple tags. 

Adobe Fonts

Adobe provides a beautiful collection of typefaces from the leading foundries, with an excellent search tool and large customizable previews to help you narrow down your choices. All the fonts are licensed for personal and commercial use, which is essential for serious work.

The entire collection is free to anyone signed up for one of the many Creative Cloud subscription plans, including the ultra-affordable Photography plan that includes Photoshop, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic, along with 20GB of cloud storage for just $9.99 per month.

A Note About Font vs. Typeface

Typographers and designers reading this might be annoyed that I’m using the word ‘font’ when I should be using the term ‘typeface’. We can be a very picky bunch sometimes, but I decided it was more important to help as many people as possible rather than be totally precise.

If you’re not sure of the difference, the term ‘typeface’ is general, while ‘font’ is more specific. For example, Helvetica is a typeface, and Helvetica Thin 40 point is a font. Helvetica Bold 24 point is technically a different font, even though both fonts are part of the Helvetica typeface.

If that’s still confusing, think about it as a family: even if you and your siblings share a surname (typeface), you’re still different in your first names, appearance, and so on (font). 

Most (non-designer) people use the terms interchangeably, so let’s not get too caught up in the semantics. Get back on track and make something beautiful now that you know how to add new fonts in GIMP!

About Thomas Boldt
I’ve been working with digital images since the year 2000 or so, when I got my first digital camera. I've tried many image editing programs. GIMP is a free and powerful software, but not exactly user-friendly until you get comfortable with it, and I wanted to make the learning process easier for you here.

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  • Brian

    Is there a reason that Gimp would not be pulling Helvetica from my system when MS Word clearly has it installed?

    Reply
    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Brian, I don’t think there should be any reason, no! That’s a bit strange. Here are a couple of possible avenues for diagnosis:
      Is it possible that it’s appearing in the font list in GIMP under a different name?
      Is it available in any other programs other than MS Word, or is it just GIMP that can’t see it?

      Maybe try re-installing the font?
      Hope one of these helps!

      Reply