Sync Google Fonts to your Computer with GitHub, not SkyFonts

OMG These fonts are beautiful. Thanks @Google and @GitHub!Google fonts are amazing. It’s a huge library of free, open-licensed fonts that give web designers a huge new palette to work with, going beyond the same old tired “web safe” fonts. (Look around! I use them extensively on TedCurran.net. Nice, huh?) They’re hosted on Google’s servers and can be added to your website or blog with a single line of code, making it easy to bring exciting typography to your online work. Since they’re all open licensed, they’re also a great way for budding designers to build up their font collection knowing that nobody is going to come ‘round asking for royalties.

Until now, it’s been difficult to download all the Google fonts to your hard drive so you can experiment in your desktop design apps. Recently, Google and Skyfonts announced a new tool/service to automatically sync Google Fonts to your desktop. Skyfonts is looking to profit by making Google’s free fonts available offline, but there’s no sense in paying them to do something you can do easily (and freely) yourself.

Luckily for us, W0ng created this Github repository of the entire Google Font directory in one convenient folder.

Now, you could just go there, press download, and copy all the files into your computer’s Fonts directory. Easy. The only problem is that Google’s fonts are updated constantly, so you want to ensure that you’re receiving all the updates.

To do this, get the GitHub app for Mac or Windows and install it. When you open it up, it’ll ask you to create a GitHub account. This is free and probably good for you. Do it.

When that’s done, go back to W0ng’s Google Font directory page and press “Clone in Mac” (or “Clone in Win”). This will tell your desktop GitHub app that you want it to check W0ng’s Font Directory for updates any time it opens.

 

Once that’s all set up, you can just open your GitHub app from time to time and refresh your app collection, all for free.

[I’m sure there’s probably a more direct way to do all this if you like using the command line, but I don’t. If you do, please feel free to leave instructions in the comments. Thanks!]

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Ted Curran

Ted Curran is a Learning Content Designer/Developer for Autodesk. He is committed to empowering educators and learners to create transformational change through effective pedagogy and technology integration. You can follow Ted on Twitter, or learn more at my 'About" page. These thoughts are my own.

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14 Responses

  1. Steve Kelem says:

    W0ng’s site now says:
    Please use Google’s official GitHub repository: https://github.com/google/fonts

    This repository is now redundant and will no longer be maintained.

  2. flipflopmedia says:

    You may want to update your “W0ng’s Google Font directory” link to https://github.com/google/fonts

  3. John Refior says:

    Thanks Ted! It’s great to have all these free fonts, and being familiar with git makes this a fairly easy option for me. Though cloning the repository means downloading a lot of fonts most users don’t need.

    For people who don’t need their fonts updated once installed, another easy option is to just to pick the fonts you want at fonts.google.com, look for the download icon, ignore the message about a manager like SkyFonts, and you’ll get a zip file. Extract that and install the fonts you want from the .ttf files.

  4. Heather R says:

    Skyfonts seems to be a really terrible tool. I picked a bunch of Google fonts out, and it recommended that I use Skyfonts to manage instead of just downloading. So I installed it, but when I clicked to try to send the picked out fonts to Skyfonts, it just sends me to the landing page. I installed it a 2nd time on my work computer and picked some out, and they downloaded to the work computer. When I got home, I tried to sync those same ones to my home computer, but APPARENTLY they don’t cross over. I got the same empty landing page again. What the heck does it actually do to help you manage a selection of fonts, HUH? Seems like nothing.

    Giving up on the whole frustrating mess and just downloading them from Google.

    • Ted Curran says:

      Hi Heather,
      Perhaps you noticed that my article is telling you NOT to use SkyFonts and to use GitHub instead. Did you try the GitHub method to download the fonts that way?

  5. Jen says:

    I tried SkyFonts myself after reading an article about it. Unfortunately, the installation somehow broke both my Adobe Distiller and Adobe Acrobat X installation. Imagine being bombarded with 100 or so never-ending prompts that Distiller isn’t operating as it should… After encountering this three times and dealing with it as I turned on my computer, I uninstalled it and used the same Github repo mentioned here. Muuuuuuch better!

  6. kanirasta says:

    @Matt Brinkerhoff Hi. I tried Skyfonts and thought it was a very neat idea, unfortunately it is not syncing on my system. Whenever I need to use some fonts I have to reinstall them. Even then sometimes they don’t appear on Illustrator at all.
    Maybe it is just me? I really wanted it to work.

  7. Excellent thanks. Works a treat. In 5 minutes I got all the fonts locally. It definitely saves downloading each time you want to mock up a webpage in Photoshop.

  8. Hey Matt, I like the idea of using SkyFonts as you suggest. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to sync ALL the available fonts. As far as I can tell, fonts have to be added one at a time, which is quite cumbersome for 1,122 fonts (622 font families) and counting. What’s worse is that SkyFonts requires you to add each variation of the font separately (once for italic, once for bold, etc). There is also no way apparently to automatically add new fonts.
    The solution I want here is to automatically mirror all available Google Fonts to my desktop. SkyFonts doesn’t appear to help with this. I’d use it if it did.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Thank you! The sync notifications on Skyfonts were driving me crazy. Plus this is so much easier.

  10. Ted Curran says:

    Thanks for the update, Matt. I’ve definitely been experiencing some slowness with various apps now that I have the whole directory installed, TBT.

  11. Hi,

    Matt from Fonts.com/SkyFonts here. SkyFonts is free to use, and no account signup is required. In addition, Google will push updates to the font data through SkyFonts, which automatically update the fonts on your machine. In addition, you can choose the fonts you want to install and sync rather than installing the entire library of 600+ fonts (which may issues with some applications).

    You can get the SkyFonts client here: http://www.fonts.com/web-fonts/google

  1. May 28, 2013

    […] folder. Now simply drop all your .OTF .TTF files into here. If you dig Google Web Fonts (GWF) here’s a great resource which will show you how to synchronize all your GWF whilst keeping you up to date […]

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