Further to my post on installing fonts on iOS devices, I came across a slight problem when attempting to include the ever popular Century Gothic font in my font payload. When I located the font it was in a Font Suitcase file which the Apple Configurator didn’t want to know about. I spent some time trying to work out a way around this and eventually hit on a simple method using only an OS X command and a simple piece of free software.

I first discovered that Font Suitcases generally contain regular TrueType fonts (.ttf files) and it is ‘just a matter of extracting those.’ Except every method I came across didn’t work for me. If you search this out for yourself, you’ll likely come across a utility called Fondu which would seem to be the perfect answer – but I could not get it to compile on my Mavericks system. Perhaps if I had more developer-fu I might have succeeded, but I stumbled across a simple, two-step process which works.

Unpacking a Font Suitcase

Open Terminal

First up we need to launch a Terminal window to do the first part of the extraction.

At the command line type cd followed by a space.

Finding your Fonts in Finder

As per the process for installing your fonts to iOS, locate the font you require. The Kind will be Font Suitcase and the filename will have no extension. Make sure the Finder window is showing only the directory containing your fonts (i.e. don’t just expand disclosure triangles if you navigate here manually). The icon at the top of the window is a proxy icon for the folder and we’re going to use that to our advantage.

Drag the proxy

Drag the proxy icon from the Finder window to the Terminal window. In my experience with a trackpad, this drag did not always work first time for me. It seems a deliberate pause is needed after clicking (or tapping) to start the drag. It will at least be obvious when the drag has begun. It doesn’t matter where in the Terminal window you drop it.

Path set

Having dropped the proxy icon, the full path to the folder has been entered on the command line for us. Press Enter to execute the change directory command.

Fonts folder

You will notice the prompt change to reflect we are now in the Fonts folder.

Building the next command

Now we need to enter a reasonably complex command and we’re going to let Terminal help us.

Type cat “ and the beginning of the font name. We need just enough of the name to be unique. In my case, there is also Century Schoolbook so I have to get as far as the G of Gothic to be unique.

Then press the Tab key.


If what you’ve typed is unique, Terminal will complete the name for you and add a closing ” followed by a space as well. Using this feature not only may save some time but we know for fact the filename is exactly right.

Edit the command

This bit you just have to do manually but the important part as far as accuracy goes is taken care of.

Use the Delete key (below the Eject key) or Backspace key (whatever key deletes characters to the left!) to remove the extra space and then the ” character. Then type in

 /..namedfork/rsrc" > ~/"

and follow that with the path and filename we are extracting to. This file will be created new or replaced. In my case, I’ve targeted my Downloads folder in my user directory. The actual filename can be anything you want. Make it shorter if you want to save some typing, just remember what it came from. Finally, add a  on the end and press Enter.

The whole command should look something like this

cat "Century Gothic/..namedfork/rsrc" > ~/"Downloads/Century Gothic.dfont"

First bit done

If all is well you’ll see no errors. We’re finished with the Terminal now unless you wish to extract more fonts, in which case head back to the “Building the next command” step and repeat.

Downloads folder

If you open a Finder window and go to your Downloads folder you’ll see the file you created is a Datafork TrueType font.

DfontSplitter « Peter Upfold

Now you need a utility to do the second step. Head on over to Peter Upfold’s site athttp://peter.upfold.org.uk/projects/dfontsplitter and download the Mac version of DfontSplitter. Note – it does work on Mavericks.

Unpack and run

Once downloaded, unpack the Zip file and you’ll get a folder containing DfontSplitter.app and a license file. Right click the app and select Open. You may get a pop-up asking you whether you really want to open an unsigned application. You do!


Return to your Finder window where your dfont file was and drag it to the DfontSplitter window.

Set an output directory

Click the Choose button and select the directory where you want the resulting TrueType (.ttf) files placed. Here I’ve once again specified my Downloads directory.

Once that’s done, click Convert.

We’re done!

DfontSplitter will switch you to the Finder (though not necessarily the right window!) and you should be able to see your TrueType fonts (I’ve selected mine below to highlight them). You can now add these to your font payload in your iOS profile.

Banner image © A. Jenks.

Categories: How To


Lorenzo Colen · June 21, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Nice one man… thumbs up!

min · June 29, 2016 at 9:44 am

thank you for the tutorial! 🙂 was wondering why the font files didn’t show up on my site until i realised it was in a font suitcase.. LOL

min · June 29, 2016 at 9:46 am

hey, don’t mean to spam, but i just realised that my DFONT file got converted to BDF instead of TTF. 🙁 what do i do from here

    Allister Jenks · June 30, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Hi. My knowledge of fonts isn’t great. All I figured out here was pieced together from much research on other people’s sites. However I did manage to find a likely definition for your BDF file. It’s probably a "Glyph Bitmap Distribution Format" file, as described at the link below (second definition), which also includes some software recommendations.


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