September 16th, 2008 by Bryan Kinkel
I received an email this afternoon asking me which fonts are “system fonts” and should not be uninstalled. The timing of this question is good because I’ve been working on how to add a safety net feature to Printer’s Apprentice so users are warned before deleting important fonts such as Arial or Courier.
As far as I know, Windows itself does not maintain an internal list of fonts that are considered “system”. Most menus and dialogs use the fonts specified by the Display Properties dialog box. If a specified font is not available, Windows will fall back on some other OpenType or TrueType font. So how do you determine if a font is vital and should not be deleted?
There is also a list of fonts, originally shipped with various versions of Internet Explorer, that are considered core fonts for the web. This list includes favorites such as Comic Sans MS, Impact and Georgia.
The complete list, by product, plus web core fonts can be found at the URL below.
Here is what I recommend – if a font shipped with your version of Windows or is considered a core font for the web, don’t delete it.
The reasoning behind this is simple. Even though you might not use Webdings or Georgia, because the font shipped with Windows, it is likely that you will encounter a file or document that uses it. It might be on the Internet, or from a co-worker or a in a PDF.
The same goes for the Eastern and Arabic language fonts. You might come across an article, via Google, that is in Western language newspaper published in Israel or UAE or Japan. The article itself might be in Western ANSI text, but many of the ads on the site will not be presented correctly because the fonts are not installed.
So don’t delete a font if it shipped with your version of Windows. Disk space is cheap. Instead, send those tacky display fonts with lightening bolt letter strokes to the recycle bin.