Font Management Solution: Bitstream Font Navigator

Just yesterday, out of sheer desperation, I called out for a font management solution for Windows. One that was fast, easy, and supported OpenType. Today, I found the solution, and to my surprise it’s the program I’ve been using all along!

Bitstream Font Navigator 5

I have used Bitstream Font Navigator 4.0 for ages. It’s worked flawlessly. The left pane shows all your fonts, or allows you to browse, the right pane shows installed fonts. You can drag and drop between the two panes. Bottom left holds font groups, and bottom right holds a preview. Fantastic. So much the more pain that Font Navigator 4 didn’t support OpenType.

I looked on Bitstreams website for updates, but the product had been discontinued. I thought that meant the end of using Font Navigator, so I started looking at other solutions. I tried Font Expert 2004 and Typograf, the latter which was the best of the choices. Neither was nowhere near Font Navigator.

While searching, however, I found that Corel had purchased Font Navigator from Bitstream, and to my joy had continued developing it! Only, it was part of their CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, and had been so since Bitstream sold it to them.

Download

It is ironic, that the best font management solution on the Windows platform, ever, can only be obtained as a secondary sub-product of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. Such a product deserves a packshot and a price tag.

Fortunately, a trial download of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is available, and Font Navigator 5.0 build 118 is included. Even better, the version of Font Navigator 5 that comes along with this trial seems to have no limitations whatsoever. Once downloaded, Bitstream Font Navigator 5 resides in the “Utilities” section of the installer. On the downside, you have to open a free account at Corel, and download a whopping 186 mb trial version of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, only to get 700 K worth of font management. But it is worth it. So go. Go now!

Features of Font Navigator 5

Just to add further incentive to going through this hassle, Bitstream Font Navigator 5 sports the following features.

  • Postscript Type 1 & 3, OpenType and TrueType support
  • The ability to cycle through fonts for quick preview
  • Drag & drop installation / uninstallation of fonts
  • Ability to create font groups
  • “Find-as-you-type” font list search
  • No “Time-Out”—Software will work forever

So is this shebang free? Well, for all I can tell, it certainly seems so. For one, it is officially available in a trial download. Secondly, while the main applications of the trial are definately limited, Font Navigator seems to have no restrictions at all. Too good to be true? Let’s hope not.

Responses to “Font Management Solution: Bitstream Font Navigator”

  1. Kathy says:

    Hi, I can see I’m a long way behind the other posters here but thanks for your information on Bitstream Font Navigator. I tried the instructions a long way into the comments to extract just the Font Navigator bit but I’m afraid it hasn’t worked. I wondered if you’d be able to do as you had for others who posted here, and send the file to my email please?

    PS, I see you’re fractal lover too. I’ve tinkered with fractal art programs for years.

  2. Kenzie says:

    Thank you so very much for this discussion about Bitstream Font Navigator.

    I’m setting up my new Win 7 machine and Bitstream Font Navigator ver. 2 (which shipped with Word Perfect) would not allow me to install fonts. I couldn’t find version 3, which I have somewhere on another machine.

    I downloaded Corel Draw trial version from the link you provided in this thread and the auto-installer allowed me to choose what I wanted to install ( Bitstream Font Navigator only) AND it’s Verson 6.0!

    It’s slick and it works fine with my WIN 7 machine. It allows me to install and un-install fonts.

    I’d looked all day for an answer to the problem I was having and finally asked Google the right question and came up with your page. Thanks so very much.

    I just wanted to let you know that you made a difference!!

  3. Fabrice says:

    Problem with Bitstream Font Navigator.

    Hi. I’ve been using Bitstream Font Navigator for years and never had problems with it.

    Today, I just can’t get it to work properly. There is a mismatch between the font catalog and the font sample. For example, WetPaint shows Geometr706 BlkCn BT in the font sample panel (lower right window). This starts hapening at the middle of the “Contents catalog list”. What could be the reason. Is my font catalog list too big (~14000 fonts). Is my font source corrupted? Anyone have an opinion on this matter?

    Note: I am using Windows7. I had the same problem with Vista.

    Thanks in advance for your input on this one…

    Fabrice

  4. HoaiPhai says:

    Sorry to say but I downloaded the CorelDraw trial and after the thirty days, when I tried to use FontNav I got a “your 30 days are up” message.

    If only Corel would offer FontNav as a stand-alone utility, I’d buy it. I used to have the free version but I could not find a back-up when my hard drive crashed.

  5. Tim says:

    I can not see the contents of my font catalog in Bitstream Font Navigator 2006. This came with the Corel Draw program I purchased and worked fine for a couple years and now I can not add or delete, or even see what is stored in there. any ideas?

  6. Deborah Taylor-Pearce says:

    Holgi asked:

    > Any solution known to this?

    No. You just have to re-build the font group from scratch, without the OT font(s)….

    However, having just spent the past month or so in font management hell, I am happy to report that Font Navigator 6.0.0 (Build 108) no longer has this bug. It handles OT fonts just fine.

    I upgraded to CorelDRAW X5, though, in order to get this version of Font Navigator, because I knew it would work with Windows 7. I’ve had nothing but problems (as far as fonts are concerned) since I upgraded to Windows 7 from XP (which I think handles fonts, in general, much better).

    For those who are thinking of switching from XP to Windows 7, be aware that Windows 7 is NOT compatible with Adobe Type Manager (I’ve long used ATM Lite 4.1 with XP), making any Multiple Master fonts you may have completely useless (Bitstream Font Manager will catalog, install and uninstall MM “instances”, but you need ATM in order to dynamically generate the instances in the first place).

    I’ve tried everything, but even FontLab’s TransType font conversion program — which I bought specifically for this purpose — won’t work properly with Windows 7. And buying OpenType versions of my Multiple Master typefaces isn’t an option, either, since key characters I was using for 2 online branding projects are not available in the OpenType version.

    So, I have just spent the past week converting all of the artwork for 2 websites currently in development to an entirely different typeface, because Windows 7 can’t handle MM fonts. :(

    Nor does the Windows 7 font controller produce decent specimens for PostScript fonts, which lack ALL header information.

    Unfortunately, my new Font Navigator 6.0.0 won’t print specimens of any fonts (PostScript, OpenType, or TrueType) at all, right now. (I keep getting the message: “A printer error has occurred. Cannot print.”)

    But since printing type specimens is not a high priority for me at the moment, I’m putting off dealing with it for a while, so that I can attend to other more pressing problems.

  7. heather says:

    I keep having problems with BS Font Navigator. It crashes when it starts up on my XP machine and the system fonts on my Windows 7 laptop disappear. I’m afraid I’ll need to reinstall the OS. Uggghhh…

    Is anyone else running into these problems?

    I’m thinking about shelling out the money for Suitcase Fusion 3. I hear it’s solid on Windows and they have a free trial.

  8. Barry says:

    After searching around for a Windows 7 compatible font manager I found the freeware “California Font Manager 2.2″. I just downloaded it so can’t comment on how good it is. But the information on it said that you can activate and inactivate all fonts.Please read below the link for the info that describes it:
    http://www.techrepublic.com/software/california-font-manager-22-windows/2574115/post?tag=mantle_skin;content
    I don’t know if links are allowed here. If not then simply go to Tech Republic’s website. You do need to sign-up (free) to download the freeware. Here is the description:
    California Fonts Manager is the latest and fastest growing free font manager. This easy to use tool has an explorer-like interface that quickly shows you fonts currently installed on your computer (and ones that aren’t). If you’re looking to install a new font, you can easily do with the California Fonts Manager. Download our custom font bundles from within the program to quickly and easily grow your font collection. California Font manager supports all major font types; TrueType, OpenType, Type 1 fonts, and many more. With version 2.0 we now support in-application font browsing of many free sites, and download and installation directly from within California Fonts. No need to download and unzip each font anymore, just select a bunch of fonts, and install them all in one go with California Fonts. This feature is unique, and make font managing easier than ever.

    The version I downloaded is Ver. 2.2 not 2.0
    Good luck with your “fonting” around :-)

    • Peteo says:

      Don’t know whether the post above mentioning “California Font Manager” is astroturfing or not, but that program is not a good choice.

      Has a 2/5 star rating on Softpedia.com, along with the warning that: “Users are advised to pay attention while installing this ad-supported application…”. And on the great review site techsupportalert.com, its also not recommended. In the post called “Best Free Font Manager”, one of the commenters writes:
      . You must agree to install it on only one computer, which, to me, is a ridiculous limitation for a piece of freeware.
      . Installer will install an unrelated piece of software if you don’t read it carefully and tell it not to.
      . Created a shortcut on my desktop without asking.
      . Phones home at startup.
      . Help menu contains the link to an ad.

      and so on. Looks pretty much like less of a program than spyware (with a couple of features thrown in) to earn the authors money.

      In terms of actual good free font managers, take a look at the entire post on that site, there are a few decent recommended

      • Peteo says:

        Oh, a second followup here too in case you don’t want to hit that review site mentioned :).

        The “top rated” free font manager on the site (last updated June 4/2012) was Nexus Font (8/10 stars), with AMP Font Manager, Font Runner & CFontPro all tied for second place with 6/10 stars.

        Among those rated on that site, my personal favorite is AMP Font Manager. It can deal with and display bitmap (including Windows ones you can’t see in the Fonts folder) & Type 1 fonts, along with TrueType & OpenType easily. One of the only free programs I’ve tried that can handle all font types those without issue. It also allows you to automatically backup fonts to a folder of your choice when you uninstall them out of the Fonts folder.

        CFontPro “sort of” handles all those types, but for some reason it only displays a small fraction of bitmap fonts you have either manually installed or come with Windows. For example, when I tell it to list “raster” fonts (another name for bitmap ones), it fails to list the Terminus, BorlandTE, Raize, Sheldon & BSU_Kermit bitmap fonts I installed that show up properly in the Fonts folder. And its backup capability I never got to work properly. So I don’t like it as much as AMP.

        If you don’t have to/want to deal with bitmap (or Type 1) fonts, there are other good choices recommended there as well.

  9. Peteo says:

    Just a follow up in 2012 for those people still thinking about this option to obtain Bitstream Font Navigator out of CorelDraw (nice informative post, by the way). Its no longer possible.

    The current CorelDraw trial version available as of this date is “X6″. The Bitstream Font Navigator version included with it is “16.0.0.707″. Installed with only Font Navigator selected, the trial X6 download also installs a Windows service called “Protexis”. The apparent purpose of that service is to make sure you only use the trial for 30 days.

    The good news is that you can disable that service easily through the Control Panel. The bad news: after disabling the service, Font Navigator no longer starts up. At all. Click it (FontNav.exe) as often as you want, it will never start unless you re-enable the Protexis service and are still within the 30-day trial period.

    I tried a number of different tricky things (am an advanced user). But in no circumstance could Font Navigator be started unless that service was active and/or you pay for CorelDraw X6.

    Oh well. The older trial versions (including 12 as described in this blog post) do not appear to be available from Corel’s home site any longer, even off their FTP server. One option may be to check Corel’s UK site, however.

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