Table of Contents


To customize your FontLab preferences, select the FontLab VI > Preferences menu command on Mac, or Edit > Preferences on Windows.

The Preferences dialog box allows you to search, open, save, and reset preferences.

!!! Attention:
When you save your Preferences, ALL your settings are saved in an external file, potentially including your password for your Digital Signature (if you saved that in your Preferences). Consider this when sharing your preferences files with other people.

You can customize the following options in Preferences:


Windows and tabs configuration»

There are three types of configurations possible for windows and tabs in FontLab VI:

  1. If is selected, all fonts and glyphs open in tabs within the single main window. You can undock tabs to turn them into separate windows, and you can dock windows back;
  2. If is selected, fonts open in their separate Font windows, while glyphs open as tabs;
  3. If is selected, everything opens in separate windows (like in Fontlab Studio 5) but windows can be docked manually to form tabs.

Font has at least one Font window»

When this option is active, a new Font Window appears every time you open, import or create new font.

Font Map and Fonts panels control fonts»

When this option is active and you open a font, a new Font Window doesn’t appear. Instead you can control opened fonts in the Fonts panel and see glyph cells in the Font Map panel. This way, only two panels replace multiple Font windows.

Activate panels depending on type of activated objects»

If this option is active and you have multiple panels open in a tabbed panel group, selecting a particular object in the Glyph Window, say a node, will bring the corresponding panel, in this case the Node panel to the front.

Close Glyph window sidebar after X minutes of inactivity»

This option allows you to change the idle time after which the Glyph window sidebar is automatically closed. If you do not want it to close based on inactivity, just uncheck this option.

Open Sketchboard on startup»

If you have chosen the second or third Windows and tabs configuration option, you can choose to open the Sketchboard automatically on startup.

Check for updates at startup»

FontLab VI checks for updates and notifies you when an update is available. Updates are downloaded and installed only when you choose to download and install them. To not allow FontLab checking for updates every time it starts, turn this option off. To manually check for the latest updates, click on the Check for updates now button or use the FontLab VI > Check for Updates menu.

Developer’s/Experimental Preferences»

OpenGL allows to turn on OpenGL; Preview keystrokes shows every typed key on the screen; and Colorful redraw helps to track and fix redraw issues in the Glyph window.

Open Fonts»

Options in this section are applied to fonts when they are opened and imported.

Detect tags for alignment zones»

When this option is active, FontLab VI will automatically assign tags to alignment zones when a font is imported. If there is a zone in the imported font that is obviously the “caps height”, it will get the proper tag and will then appear only in capitals.

Make friendly glyph names»

When this option is turned on, which is the FontLab VI default, glyphs with names like “uniXXXX”, “uXXXXX” and “afiiXXXXX” will be renamed to friendly names during import.

Change CID names to Unicode names when Unicode index in known»

When this option is active (default), FontLab names glyphs using its regular glyph naming heuristics when importing CID-keyed PostScript fonts. If you want glyphs named by CID number turn this option off.

Detect element references»

If this option is selected, FontLab VI will browse all glyphs in the font being opened or imported, and find identical Elements. One of the found identical element will become the base element, while the others will be replaced by locked references of the base element. If this option is unchecked, you can still detect element references later by using the Font > Detect Element References menu command.

Decompile binary features»

When this option is active, the application will decompile any OpenType features in the font being imported, and present them as text in the Features panel.

Compile feature definitions»

When this option is turned on, FontLab will try to compile features imported from vfb and ufo file formats. This builds binary GPOS and GSUB tables (in memory), which are used for applying OpenType features to text in the Glyph window.

Convert TrueType curves into PostScript curves»

In FontLab, you can work with PostScript Bezier curves or TrueType quadratic curves. If you open a TrueType / OpenType TT font and plan to generate the font in the same format, disable this option to keep the original outlines and avoid conversion errors. But if you plan to generate your font as a Type 1 or OpenType PS font, you can enable this option to convert the outlines on import. In any case, you can always convert the outlines in either direction at any time during editing. Curves are converted according to the settings set on the Curve Conversion page of the Preferences dialog.

Detect smart nodes: Servant / Genius»

When an existing font is being opened or imported, FontLab VI can detect smart nodes automatically. You can check whether you would like the application to detect Servant nodes, Genius nodes or both.

Save Fonts»

Silent save v. Save File dialog»

The first set of radio buttons offers two options that let you choose between a “silent save” and showing the Save File dialog. If you choose the first option, Automatically generate file name for saved font file, then the font will be “silently saved.” For example, if you have a font named “FontName-Regular.otf” open and then choose the File > Save Font menu command, FontLab VI will save the font file “FontName-Regular.vfc” in the folder entered in the Save Folder below. On the other hand, if Ask for the font file name is selected, the application will show you the Save File dialog where you can enter both the name and location for the file you are saving.

Save VFC and also»

You can select what font formats you want the files to be saved by default, apart from the proprietary binary format .VFC. The other formats available are UFO and VFB. When working, press CmdS, to save your font in all selected formats.

Save folder»

You can enter the path to the location where new and imported fonts will be saved by default if the [first option is selected in the radio buttons at the top of the panel.

Default rasterization PPM»

Default rasterization PPM defines the resolution for rasterization if it has not been explicitly set.

Font Window»

Default encoding»

Here you can choose between a variety of OpenType or Type 1 encodings to filter glyphs in the Font window/Font Map panel. The default encoding is used for all new and imported fonts.

Cell caption properties»

Cell caption position can be selected to be at the top or bottom of the the cell. The caption may be the name of the glyph, character code or some other glyph information. Similarly, you can select a different Caption font or reset it to the original, and set the Caption size to auto, small, medium or large. Caption content is editable is off by default. If you turn it on you can edit the caption directly in the cells of the Font Window. If the Colorize numeric captions is checked, cell captions with numeric information will be automatically colorized. Numeric captions are those showing glyph width, LSB, RSB, top or bottom of the glyph bounding box, number of elements, script or age. If this option is checked, cells in the List sidebar are also colorized in this case:

Cell Background»

Use this option to select the background color for cells with glyphs. This is white by default, but you may need to change it if, for instance, you are working on a color font that has white glyphs.

Color Flag Brightness»

Color flags for cells are pale and desaturated by default. By modifying the transparency of the color flags using this slider, you can make them more or less bright.

Placeholder Font»

Use this option to select the font that will be used as template for empty glyph cells. Click on Reset to set the font back to the default font. You can also choose how you would like absent glyphs to be shown by selecting an option from Absent Glyph.

Other options that control how the Font Window looks are:

Option Description
Show grid lines Draws thin grey borders between glyph cells
Show glyph metrics If cells are large enough, the advance width is shown with a lighter background so left and right glyph sidebearings are visible
Show hinting icons Draws small hinting marks in the lower left corner of glyph cell having hints
Show note icon Draws the note icon if glyphs have Glyph Notes
Show note text if possible If cells are large enough, the note text is shown

Unicode-name mapping»

Enter the path to the external file that contains glyph name to Unicode mapping rules. The required structure for this file is described in Custom data files and locations.

Interpret glyph name to generate Unicode index»

When this option is selected, FontLab VI will generate Unicode indices XXXX from like uniXXXX or uXXXX.


Show scroll bars in the Glyph window»

You can turn this option off if you don’t need scroll bars in the Glyph Window and scroll with the mouse wheel or pan by pressing Space instead.

Pinch gesture zooms in the Glyph window»

Enable this option if you would like to zoom in the Glyph Window using pinching gestures.


On Windows, if this option is enabled, you need to use CtrlAlt-mouse wheel to change the current glyph in the Glyph window. If it is turned off, Ctrl-mouse wheel needs to be used instead.

Show Cross»

If enabled, a crosshair cursor is shown whenever the user moves any nodes.

Highlight nodes on alignment zones»

When alignment zones are not visible and the option is enabled, if you move a point into an alignment zone, the zone will become visible again and the node is highlighted. The highlighting is in a different style when the node is on the zone line rather than within the zone.

Marquee selection selects nodes but not handles»

You can turn this option on if you would like handles inside the marquee selection rectangle to be selected. Note that even when this option is turned off, handles between selected nodes are selected.

Clicking on outline selects segment»

Turn this option on if you would like to be able to select a segment by clicking on the outline. When this option is off, you can still select a segment by Shift-clicking on it.

Force snap to guidelines»

When turned off, a node snaps to a guide only at idle, when you stop your mouse move, so you can move nodes smoothly. But when it is on, the node will snap when the mouse moves, so it feels “harder”.

Pasting contour to another element preserves appearance»

When turned on, copying and pasting contours from/to transformed elements is “wysiwyg”: original contours are copied transformed to keep their look in the source element and so are pasted to the destination element

Holding Cmd activates Contour tool»

When turned on and some other tool is selected holding down the Cmd key activates the Contour tool temporarily

Pen and Pencil tools can continue on a contour»

When turned on drawing with Pen and Pencil adds to existing contours

Rapid tool remembers last state»

When turned on, the Rapid tool remembers the type of added node (straight or smooth) and continues add nodes of this type until Ctrl-click

Live preview (may be slow)»

When turned on and you edit the contour, you can see the “live” preview of the glyph in other windows or in the Preview panel while you drag the mouse. If turned off, the preview is updated at idle or when you release the mouse.


Option Description
Activating Metrics or Kerning tool sets Auto Wrap When you open the new window by clicking on the Metrics or Kerning tool the Text > Wrap > Auto is activated. Otherwise the Manual wrapping mode is activated
Double-clicking to glyph in Metrics mode opens it for editing When turned on, this option emulates the FLS 5 behavior
Glyph can be dragged within the advance width in Metrics mode Turn this option off to not allow dragging glyphs when editing metrics. Only sidebearing lines can be dragged in this case
Inactive kerning pairs are editable When turned on, all glyphs (except the first one) in a line can be dragged to change kerning. It is off by default so only the current and the following glyph can be dragged
Automatically update linked metrics (may be very slow) When turned on, the linked metrics should be updated on the fly. Otherwise you must use the Font > Update metrics menu command.

Glyph Window»

Node showing options include 5 sizes, 3 styles and 3 grades of color:

When the middle Node Style option is selected (default), any node whose handles are aligned perfectly vertically or horizontally (or corner node whose adjacent line is almost vertical/horizontal) will be a darker solid color. Any node that does not meet such a test will be lighter and outlined. This helps identify points that are not quite where you intended, or are not quite proper extrema.

Inactive nodes may be invisible, black or colorful. If black or colorful inactive nodes are visible even when View > Show > Nodes is off.

Open contours can be rendered filled or not depending on what you prefer.

Other options are as follows:

Option Description
Show coordinates for current node and selected/all nodes This option defines which nodes are shown with their coordinates when View > Show > Coordinates is on. If the latter is off only the node under the cursor shows coordinates
Font size for the current node coordinates The size of text for coordinates of the current node
Show node name always/with coordinates Nodes may have names and you can choose to show them always or when coordinates are visible
High contrast rendering When turned on, the items like metrics lines, guides, grid, etc. have more contrast
Glow contour selection When turned on, the selected contour gets additional glowing effect (which is invisible on non-Retina screens)
Always show anchor names When turned on, anchor/pin names are always visible. Otherwise names become visible when the cursor approaches the anchor/pin
Preview stem thickness on the stem/never/on the contour edge When the cursor is over the stem the stem thickness is shows by default. Choosing never switches this off, choosing on the contour edge shows thickness when the cursor is over the contour
Glyph fill transparency This control defines how filled outlines are rendered. The color of fill is the property of an Element. To turn transparency off, use the View > True Fill trigger
Curvature transparency This control allows to customize the transparency for curvature
Workspace color This control allows to customize the background color for the Glyph window in the Text and Editing modes
Metrics color This control allows to customize the background color for Metrics and Kerning tools
Mask background color This control allows to customize the background color for the Mask layer
Mask color This is the color for outlines in the Mask layer
Global mask color This is the color for outlines in the Global Mask

Paste & Duplicate»

Option Description
Duplicate offset (100:50) This setting controls the distance by which outlines are duplicated
Copy/Paste offset (0:0) This setting controls the distance by which copied outlines are pasted

Scale Artwork»

There are six options available under Scale Artwork:

Icon Option Description
Do not scale or align The copied artwork will be pasted without scaling and won’t be positioned at specified location in the glyph space
Align Only The artwork will be pasted without scaling, but will be vertically positioned on the baseline
Scale to UPM, Align to Descender The artwork will be pasted scaled to the font UPM size and will be positioned on the Descender
Scale to Ascender - Descender The copied artwork will be pasted scaled to Ascender + Descender size and will be positioned on the Descender
Scale to Caps Height - Baseline The artwork will be pasted scaled to the Caps Height size and will be positioned on the baseline
Scale to Caps Height - Descender The artwork will be pasted scaled to the Caps Height + Descender size and will be positioned on the Descender


Operations are a number of different commands from Font, ===Glyph== and Element menus:

New glyphs»

When you double-click on an empty cell in the Font window the glyph is created and element references are added to the new glyph. The same happens when you use the Font > Add Glyphs command. FontLab generates the contents of the glyph using rules from the “alias.dat” file. Turn this option off if you do not want to automatically generate the glyph contents.

Power guides»

When you call the Glyph > Add Power Guides command, FontLab automatically creates element guidelines and links them to nodes. You can draw those element guidelines in advance or add glyph or font guidelines and select here which of them will be used as power guides. This option just gives you more control.


Precision and smoothness are the options to tune up the autotracing algorithm which is called from the Element > Image > Autotrace and Element > Image > Separate and Trace operations. See the Autotracing section for details.

Detect element references»

When FontLab automatically creates element references (Font > Detect Element References) it locks all references except the one which is called primary element. You may choose to switch this option off to keep all references unlocked.

Optically separate shapes»

The OCR system used in FontLab can recognize characters of two languages: English and Russian. This is used in Element > Image > Separate and Trace when you need to transform a bitmap image to the number of outline glyphs. You can switch one or both languages on; or turn OCR off if needed. More languages can be added later without a special notice.


Some useful distances can be tweaked here to slightly change the behavior of editing tools. We have put the default values in brackets:

Option Description
Hit to node (3) When you need to select a node, you need to click it with the mouse. You don’t need to click the node precisely, but you must be within the “hit to node” distance defined here
Hit to guideline (4) When you need to select a guideline, you need to click it with the mouse. You don’t need to click the guideline precisely, but you must be within the “hit to guideline” distance defined here
Join distance (10) This setting defines the distance within which two nodes will join when you move one to another
Snap distance (5) If any of the objects in the GW has the “snap-to” property turned on, moving a node will cause it to snap to that particular objects if the distance between the node and the object is not larger than the distance (in pixels) specified here. Tip: Enabling “snap to grid” and increasing the snap-to distance may be helpful when designing pixel fonts
Min curve handle length (7) This setting defines the minimum length (in screen pixels) of the handle (BCP) to display it. So handles which are shorter will hide to reduce clutter in glyph display. To make them display whenever possible, set the value to 1
Outline arrow key moves (1) This setting defines the distance (in font units) by which objects are moved when ++Arrow++ keys are used
Metrics arrow key moves (1) This setting defines the distance (in font units) by which sidebearings are moved or kerning value is changed when ++Arrow++ keys are used
Outline shift+arrow key moves (10) This setting defines the distance by which objects are moved when ++Shift+Arrow++ keys are used
Metrics shift+arrow key moves (10) This setting defines the distance by which sidebearings are moved or kerning value is changed when ++Shift+Arrow++ keys are used

Glyph window default zoom level»

Every time you open a new Glyph window it opens at the default zoom level. The default zoom level for Editing mode is the one you set with the View > Zoom 100% (Cmd3) menu command. What is meant by 100% can be defined here in the preferences. Choose among four different options and check how this fits your needs.


Grid distance defines the distance between vertical and horizontal gridlines.

Slant angle allows slanted vertical gridlines. The angle can be within the -45˚+45˚ range. This option is overridden by the next one.

Follow the font’s italic angle checkbox will cause an oblique font to display a slanted grid and sidebearings and the upright font to display a vertical grid regardless of the slant angle in the previous option.

Color and style allows to change the color of gridlines.

Curve Conversion»

The Curve conversion tolerance options are used whenever you convert TrueType to PostScript or vice versa. Use the tolerance controls to define how close to the original should the result be. The less the value the more precise the conversion is. But note that FontLab may add points to make conversion more precise.

When Add nodes every two TT off-curve points is active, FontLab may add unnecessary nodes between off-curve points. If this option is off, unnecessary nodes won’t be added.

The Auto kerning tolerance options are used whenever you run the automatical kerning creation in the Pairs and Phrases panel.

TrueType Autohinting»

The TT Autohinting options are as follows:

Generate triple hints»

If this option is active FontLab will try to generate TrueType instructions that simulate PostScript triple hints for characters like ‘m’ where the distance between stems must be kept the same at all PPMs.

Automatically interpolate positions of the cusp points»

A Cusp is a point where the contour sharply changes direction. If this option is on, FontLab will generate an Interpolate command that will link the cusp point to one of the links.

Try to automatically generate middle delta instructions»

Our research shows that it is useful to include small middle delta commands at the end of links that connect round parts of the glyph.

Digital Signature»

This option controls settings for digital signatures that can be included in the OpenType (TT or PS) fonts that you generate. For more information about digital signatures, please refer to Microsoft Typography’s detailed explanation of the subject.

Digitally sign exported OpenType fonts»

When this option is enabled, a DSIG table will be generated that includes a digital signature. Note that you need to own a valid Authenticode code signing digital certification to be able to digitally sign fonts. When disabled, a “dummy” empty DSIG table is generated and all the following options are disabled as well.

File paths»

You should point FontLab to the certificate file (.spc or .cer) and private key file (.pvk) that you will receive from your certification authority. It is a good idea to store the private key file in a safe location, e.g. on a USB key, although you can use any location. The option to add these file paths becomes available only when Digitally sign exported OpenType fonts is enabled.

Request private key password every time»

If selected, FontLab will ask you for the password for your private key every time you generate a font.

Use the following password»

If selected, FontLab will remember the password for your private key in the preferences file.

!!! Attention:
When you save your Preferences to an external file, all your settings are saved, including the password for your Digital Signature. Be careful when sharing your preferences files with other people.

Generate the time stamp using the following URL»

Paste the link to the service that is making time stamps here. If empty, a time stamp will not be generated.

Algorithm to build font data hash»

From this dropdown menu, you can choose the algorithm, MD5 or SHA1, that will be used to build the font data hash. MD5 is selected in this menu as default.

Font vendor URL»

In this field, you need to enter the URL of the font vendor. This URL must match the one in your certificate file.

Default Texts»

When testing your hinted fonts, test a range of sizes. View sample text at what you consider to be “normal” viewing size, and test at 3-4 sizes above and below. Keep in mind that you may run your machine at much higher or lower resolution than others. Someone with a 1024 x 768 17 inch monitor will likely choose a smaller size than someone using the same resolution on a 12 inch laptop.


Here is where you set the type of sample texts you wish to use, such as Lorem Ipsum…
You actually have titles at the left and texts at the right. Double-click on a title to edit it. Use + to add more samples or - to remove the sample which you do not need.

These sample texts appear in the Text drop down menu in the Property bar of the Glyph window.