Extensis – Suitcase 9 review

advanced font manager for PC and Mac
Photo of Extensis – Suitcase 9
£55 + VAT

Some computer users, particularly those involved in design and publishing work, can have hundreds or even thousands of different fonts installed on their PCs. Fonts can place a significant drain on resources, because each one is loaded when the system boots up, taking up memory and slowing down applications. How do you get around this? Simple – only load the fonts you need for a particular job.

Only it’s not that simple, because Windows – and even the Mac – doesn’t let you do that without a struggle. Enter Suitcase 9, which activates and deactivates fonts (TrueType, PostScript and OpenType) on the fly. It does so in a logical way, allowing you to group fonts together into any number of different ‘sets’, then assign particular attributes to each set.

For example, one set could be configured to load each time the PC boots up, while another could be activated only temporarily, perhaps just for a day. Even more useful is the option to assign font sets to specific applications. This means that you can carefully tailor a set of fonts to each program, leaving as many system resources as possible free for other processes. All very sensible, as is the option to link to a server version of the product, for workgroups.

We did find one niggling problem, though: you can’t manage any fonts that were already present on your system prior to Suitcase 9′s installation, at least not without manually moving them from the appropriate system folder into another directory first. This didn’t all go according to plan in our tests, and it would have been nice to see an automatic option to handle this operation. After all, most potential users of this software are going to have plenty of fonts installed already.

This irritation aside, Suitcase 9 does what it should, and does it pretty well. It reduces the amount of system resources assigned to fonts that aren’t currently needed, and makes it easy to activate those fonts when you do need them. It’s not cheap, but it could actually save money, since IT departments may be able to use it in place of more costly memory upgrades.

Company: Extensis

Contact: 01604 636300


Verdict
There are plenty of utilities around that could be defined as 'the tool that Windows forgot', and this is one of them. Font management utilities such as this are not exactly world-changing, pant-wettingly exciting products, but they do fulfil a much-needed demand by arty types. Suitcase 9 does its job well in this respect.