Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

By Kate Knibbs on at

Apple recently debuted one of its first in-house fonts in nearly 20 years. The tech company's most frequently used typefaces now are Myriad, Lucida Grande, Avenir, and Helvetica Neu, all brought in from third parties. But in its early days, graphic designers like Susan Kare helped Apple stand apart from competitors by designing original fonts.

Many of these fonts remain iconic. Others make Comic Sans look respectable, which, to my knowledge, is the most devastating diss you can give a font. Here, they are ranked:


18.) Last Resort

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

You can only see this if you can't see what you're supposed to see, so last place goes to a font that works when something's broken.
 

 

 

 


17. )Fancy

Designed for the Apple Newton, Fancy is a Times New Roman ripoff that no one cares about. I couldn't even find images of it.
 

 


16.) Los Angeles

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

Even Susan Kare can't save fonts styled to look like handwriting.

 

 


15.) San Francisco (2014)

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

I'm glad Apple went for legibility for the Watch's custom font. But they couldn't get much more boring than this. They didn't even bother coming up with an original name.

 

 

 

 


14.) San Francisco (1993)

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

This kooky ransom-style note font would be unbearably annoying if people actually used it with regularity.

 

 


13.) London

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

No one really wants a faux-old-timey font except really corny history teachers and Medieval LARPing newsletter publishers.

 

 

 


12. Toronto

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

It's a shame that this was one of the first fonts Apple ditched, because the rounded serif typeface, with its big O's and curvy little t's, is pleasantly quirky.

 

 


11.) Geneva

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

Serviceable but unexciting. Geneva is like the Chris Hemsworth of fonts. Attractive, sure, but in a generic, bland way.

 

 


10.) Venice

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

See London, although this calligraphic font has a little more originality.

 

 


9.) Athens

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

I honestly can't sum up any feelings on Athens one way or the other and it's hard to find it in its original form—what you see above is a recreation—so it will go smack in the middle.


8.) New York

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

A pretty serif font, New York is easy on the eyes, but also too similar to Times New Roman to get worked up about.

 

 


7.) Monaco

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

Monaco is clean, easy-to-read, and each character is distinct. I like how the parentheses are so rounded. I don't like the mono spacing but we can't all be perfect. You're doing OK, Monaco.

 

 

 

 

 

 


6.) Menlo

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

A Vera Sans knockoff, but a pretty Vera Sans knockoff. This font somehow conveys intelligence, which I know is an insane thing to say, but I feel like this font has at the least a graduate degree and has seriously considered pursuing a life in academia.

 


5.) Espy Sans

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

This bitmapped 1993 font will always remind me of the iPod Mini...because it was last frequently seen on the device. The iPod Mini was superior to the Nano and the FOOLISH Shuffle, and like the iPod Mini, Apple has not been as kind to Espy Sans at it should have been. 

 


4.) eWorld Tight

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

This is the best name for a font ever. The typeface itself was only used for titles in Apple's eWorld but I don't care.

 

Image: Grant Hutchinson/CC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


3.) Cairo

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

Susan Kare named most of her Apple fonts after world class cities, and she chose Cairo as the name for her set of glyphs, probably as a reference to the hieroglyphics used in ancient Egypt. Clever name, excellent font. A more sophisticated set of Wing Dings. Unfortunately, Apple ditched it way back in 1987, so many people only got to experience this set of quirky symbols if they used Kid Pix, the Mac's old drawing program.


2.) Apple Garamond

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

Apple used Apple Garamond so aggressively in marketing campaigns that it became associated with the brand, even though the original version of Garamond is well over 400 years old. Android fans will be glad to know there's evidence of Apple hogging recognition for something someone else did first in the world of typography. Apple fans will be glad to know Apple's take on the classic font is possibly its most elegant mutation.


1.) Chicago

​Apple's Homemade Fonts, Ranked

The Chicago font is a most excellent font, as my coworker Alissa Walker has previously pointed out. The squat, proportionate typeface is friendly looking and great for reading at low resolutions. Like Harrison Ford, it is old and a little jagged but possesses some inexorably reassuring quality. I love you Chicago. Especially now that it's fashionably retro, Chicago is one of Apple's most recognisable, legible typefaces.