how to install fonts on raspberry pi

How to Install Fonts on Raspberry Pi? (An illustrated guide)

If you use your Raspberry Pi as a desktop computer, installing new fonts on it can be pretty useful. Unlike on other systems, doing so is not straightforward, so let me explain the main steps.

It’s possible to download new fonts online (.ttf or .otf file), and copy these files to the “.fonts” folder in the home directory to make them available on the whole system. It’s also possible to use the package manager to install packs of common fonts.

In this tutorial, I’ll introduce different ways to install and manage fonts on Raspberry Pi OS. But let’s start with some basic theory before moving forward.

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What are fonts? Why would you need more?

A font is a graphic representation of a text, with different shapes, accentuation, or thicknesses of characters.

system fonts
Examples of fonts you can download and install

Fonts are used in our everyday tools. If you create a text document, PowerPoint presentation, website or infographic, you will use different fonts (common fonts are Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc.).

Fonts are distributed as a font file (.ttf for example), which includes all elements to make it look the same on any device.

It can be useful to install new fonts on Raspberry Pi:

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  • To see websites with their original fonts.
  • To create pictures with a beautiful font.
  • To participate in collaborative projects with people who are not under Linux without losing the fonts they have chosen.

You can’t use Microsoft Office on your Raspberry Pi (and you don’t need it most of the time), but you at least need to install the same fonts to make Windows users happy.

How to install new fonts on Raspberry Pi

Install one specific font

Download a font file

To download a new font for your Raspberry Pi, you can look for websites that offer a catalog of fonts.

For example, the following links provide this kind of service:

Once you’ve picked your favorite website, follow these steps to add a font to your Raspberry Pi:

  • Choose one font that interests you.
  • Download the corresponding file.
    I will install “Source Sans Pro” as an example.

Install a font

Once the file is downloaded, here are the steps to follow to install it on your Raspberry Pi:

  • Unzip the file.
    In general, files are compressed in a ZIP file format, so you need to extract them first.
    • Either with the graphical tool:
      • Once downloaded, go to your Downloads folder and click on the file to open it.
      • The archive tool shows up.
      • Click on Action > Extract (or CTRL+E, or the shortcut in the top bar).
        It looks like this:

        Choose a folder to extract the files temporarily. The “Downloads” folder is a good choice. Click on “Extract” to extract all the files.
    • You can also extract the files in the command line:
      cd ~/Downloads
      unzip source-sans-pro.zip
  • Then go to your home directory in the file explorer.
  • Create a new folder and name it “.fonts”.
    Right-click > Create new > Folder and type “.fonts”.

    Use CTRL+H to display it (Folders with names starting with “.” are hidden on Raspbian).
  • Then go back to the Downloads folder and copy all the “.otf” and “.ttf” files you have.
  • Paste the files into the “.fonts” folder you just created.
  • That’s it, your fonts are ready to use:

So it’s basically downloading files and putting them into the right location. The system will automatically detect them and make them available in all applications.

If you prefer the command line, you can also do this:

cd ~/Downloads/source-sans-pro/
cp *.otf ~/.fonts/
cp *.ttf ~/.fonts/
fc-cache -v -f

These commands will move and install all fonts immediately.

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Install font packages

If you’re looking for more compatibility with fonts from other systems (Microsoft, for example), you should know that there are several packages of fonts in the repositories.

The most popular allows you to install the default fonts from Windows, and are therefore often used in many documents or websites, but that won’t work natively on Raspberry Pi.

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For example, if you open a document that uses the familiar Times New Roman font, it is not available on Raspberry Pi, so it will look different than it would on a Windows computer.

To install them, you will have to follow these steps (to adapt according to the package you want to install):

  1. Update your APT cache:
    sudo apt update
  2. Install the package with:
    sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

    Press enter to accept installing the package.

After a few moments, the package will be installed, and the Windows fonts are now available on your Raspberry Pi.

If you are not comfortable with the command line, you can go to the main menu > Preferences > Add/Remove software, and look for the same package.

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How to use fonts once installed?

Now that you have installed your new fonts, how do you use them?

Well, it’s effortless, in most cases there is nothing else to do. You install the fonts, and they are available immediately in all software.

If the software was already open, you will need to restart it, or possibly reboot the Raspberry Pi.
But otherwise, it’s already functional.

As you can see below in my LibreOffice Writer, I already have all the new fonts available:

libreoffice fonts
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A tool to manage fonts on Raspberry Pi

If you need a graphical tool to manage your fonts, know that there is the Font Manager package. This tool allows you to see the fonts installed on the Raspberry Pi and to search for one corresponding to your needs using different criteria.

You can, for example, filter them by:

  • Family Kind
  • Spacing
  • Slant
  • Weight
  • Width
  • Filetype
  • License
  • Vendor

The interface looks like this:

To install it, look for the font-manager package, either with apt or in Preferences > Add/Remove Software, or in the command line:
sudo apt install font-manager

There are many other functions that I’ll let you try, such as disabling fonts, comparing fonts or customizing the display colors to understand better how it will look on your final support.

The good news is that once installed, you can install new fonts directly by opening the .otf or .ttf file (double-click on it, and click on “Install fonts”) or via the “+” symbol in the top menu with the manager open.

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12 Comments

    1. Hi,

      Try to create the .fonts folder manually: mkdir ~/.fonts
      And then paste the file into

  1. Absolutely doesn’t work the way you described it here. If I double click a .ttf file I see a pop up that asks me which application I want to use to open said file. Tested with a fresh install of rasbian 10. No option to click install.

    1. Hi Banjo,

      Ok, thanks for your feedback
      I have to check this on Buster and update the post

  2. Hello,

    I have just updated this post

    So on Raspbian Buster you have two choices:
    – either copy the font files manually to /home/pi/.fonts (and create the folder if needed)
    – or install font-manager to make it work the same way as on Stretch (open the ttf file and click “Install fonts”)

    Let me know if you still have a problem about this

Comments are closed.