Is it possible to change the systems font? (finder, alerts, menus etc)

  • You should not change system fonts unless you’re experienced with fonts and know how the change will affect your computer.
    – user44516
    Mar 26 '13 at 21:56

Here are the corresponding hidden preferences:

defaults write -g NSSystemFont LucidaGrande
defaults write -g NSSystemFontSize -int 13
defaults write -g NSBoldSystemFont LucidaGrande-Bold
defaults write -g NSBoldSystemFontSize -int 13
defaults write -g NSFont Helvetica
defaults write -g NSFontSize -int 12 
defaults write -g NSFixedPitchFont Menlo-Regular
defaults write -g NSFixedPitchFontSize -int 11
defaults write -g NSMessageFont LucidaGrande
defaults write -g NSMessageFontSize -int 13
defaults write -g NSLabelFont LucidaGrande
defaults write -g NSLabelFontSize -int 10
defaults write -g NSToolTipsFont LucidaGrande
defaults write -g NSToolTipsFontSize -int 11
defaults write -g NSTitleBarFont LucidaGrande
defaults write -g NSTitleBarFontSize -int 13
defaults write -g NSPaletteFont LucidaGrande
defaults write -g NSPaletteFontSize -int 10

They don't affect windows shown by processes owned by root, like the force quit window. sudo defaults write -g (which modifies /var/root/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist) affects only them.

There is no way to change many fonts (like the font used on the menu bar) and text elements are not aligned correctly when using different fonts. You can also replace Lucida Grande.ttc with some other font.


A third party application TinkerTool can change these, on its Fonts screen:

enter image description here

TinkerTool works by setting defaults, so it is reasonable to expect there is an equivalent defaults write command.

  • Please be aware that Apple does not recommend tinkering with system fonts. support.apple.com/kb/PH11149
    – user44516
    Mar 26 '13 at 21:59
  • Tinker Tool just changes the preferred system font. You will see these fonts only if the developer of the app wants you to see them. So almost never. Mar 3 '14 at 14:34
  • @ManuelSchneid3r - most apps will read these as the default font on the first run then you can set them
    – mmmmmm
    Mar 3 '14 at 14:39
  • Im on Mavericks. I see no changes except for plain html and mails. Mar 3 '14 at 14:41
  • Please dont use it on Yosemite it messed up my fonts entirely. Mar 18 '15 at 13:15

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