7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 10, 2012 3:18 AM by paulcretu

    Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?

    MacEachaidh Level 1

      Hi all,

      I wasn't sure how to title the thread in a way that caught what I was trying to get at, so please bear with me.  And I do realise that what I'm asking about is a Windows issue rather than an Adobe one, but I thought people here might have an insight into the problem, given that it affects those who focus on and use fonts specifically.  I haven't been able to find help or much engagement on any Windows forums, where the discussion is more about operating system capabilities and the issues of fonts are somewhat arcane to most posters.


      So please indulge me for a moment, and if you can help me, then thanks!


      I'm new to Windows 7.  What I've discovered is that Windows 7 has substantially changed the way it handles and displays fonts.  (Vista may have as well, but I never stepped into that pond.)  In both the Font Viewer and in any Font Manager that I've tried, Windows 7 fills in any missing glyphs in a font within the basic ASCII character set with an auto-generated generic set of glyphs, often making it very hard - or at least time- and effort-intensive - to determine which glyphs are from the font and which glyphs are auto-filled.  It was meant to be helpful, I imagine, but it's really not.


      In fact, I find it really, *really* frustrating, because it makes it so hard to glance at the display of the font and see quickly whether it's got the glyphs I'm looking for or not.  (Some fonts are incomplete, for various reasons.  Sometimes they use the basic 1252 encoding but not the standard glyphs, and they too get any missing glyphs autogenerated.)


      Am I the only one this bothers?


      More to the point:  Has anyone found a way to turn this "feature" off?  Or can anyone give me an insight on the issue that I may not have thought about, especially ways to use it productively?  I find it really counter-intuitive and enormously unhelpful and distracting.


      But enough whingeing.  Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

        • 1. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?
          Dov Isaacs Adobe Employee

          You are absolutely right that this is very annoying, but the code that handles this is not provided by Adobe. It is part of the operating system.

          I would recommend that you contact Microsoft directly and register your concerns with them.


                    - Dov

          • 2. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?
            John Hawkinson Level 5

            Seems like the thing to do is to find a third-party font viewing tool that doesn't have this problem? (No, I do not have a suggestion.)

            • 3. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?
              MiguelSousa Adobe Employee



              That "feature" is called "font fallback", and indeed it's meant to be helpful. As far as I know there is no user setting to turn it off or to specify which fonts to use as fallback.

              • 4. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?
                MacEachaidh Level 1


                Thanks for the information.


                Why was this done, do you know?  I can't think of a circumstance where this would actually be helpful, especially since, as you say, there is apparently no mechanism for the user to have control over the face that's used to fill empty glyphs.  For anyone purposely using fonts, it would seem to be more of an intrusion than assistance.  Nobody using fonts as part of purposeful design will want glyphs from a different face inserted out of their control;  you either use the font as is, or do something about the incomplete character set (if you have that capability), or you choose a different font.


                But maybe I'm missing something?  What am I not understanding?


                And why does it not happen with every font, just the overwhelming majority?  I haven't been able to spot a pattern to those where this "fallback" doesn't kick in, but in some instances it doesn't.  The Font Viewer fills any missing glyphs with the .notdef character;  in others, it inserts its own characters, and ignores the .notef character.  I can't figure out why.


                By the way, John, as I said every font manager I've tried just shows what Font Viewer does, which is why I was sure it was an OS issue.  And Dov, yes I realise the problem itself has to go back to Microsoft, as I tried to make clear, but already I've got more information on the issue from posting here than the questions I've asked in Microsoft and Windows forums, where most people know nothing about fonts or their use.

                • 5. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?
                  Piers Trebarvah

                  You could have a look at Popchar for Windows (Ergonis Software). It's an excellent, inexpensive font viewer and does not use 'fallback' characters. I bought it several years ago precisely to get around that problem in Vista. I'm now using Win 7 and it works just fine.


                  Hope this helps,



                  • 6. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?
                    MacEachaidh Level 1

                    Hi Piers,

                    Thanks indeed for the suggestion.  I'll check Popchar out.


                    Much appreciated!




                    Edited to add:

                    Oh I see, this is like a replacement for Windows' Character Map.  Could be very useful - I'll check it out further - but I was really looking for an actual font manager.

                    • 7. Re: Windows 7 fills in missing glyphs - suggestions?

                      Hi MacEachaidh,


                      I know this thread is about 1 year old, but I hope my contribution could bring some useful information into this.


                      I have the same problem - sometimes I need to find a font containing certain glyphs and most of the font managers apply this "font fallback" offered by windows.

                      But this is NOT a system-wide substitution. You can notice this by comparing wordpad and notepad.

                      Just type this text: A Ǽ E in notepad and in wordpad, then change the font in both to Agency FB (included with windows 7).

                      The character in the middle (Ǽ) is U+01FC in unicode (latin capital letter AE with accute) belonging to Latin Extended B range.

                      You will notice that only notepad applies "font fallback", while wordpad just replaces the missing characters with rectangles/boxes.


                      What I am trying to say is that, if wordpad is able to ignore "font fallback", would it be so hard for other programs to do the same?


                      Please let us know if you found a font manager that doesn't do it.