How to change fonts on Android

April 1, 2013
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    In almost all cases, the default font on your Android phone or tablet suffices. It looks pleasant and is usually of the right size for comfort. But, there will always be Android users who’d prefer some other typeface, who’d want to stand out from the crowd. And, there will always be that small crowd of people who tinker with their Android device’s fonts just for the sheer pleasure of being able to.

    If you belong to either or both groups, you’re on the right page. The great thing about Android is that it is an extremely customizable mobile operating system; it even allows you to change the fonts used by its user interface. Font changing, however, doesn’t necessarily mean easy. In many cases, customizing fonts requires some technical know-how.

    In this guide, learn how to change fonts on Android. Two types of methods are discussed: one not needing root, and the other requiring root. (For a visual guide and summary, check our video at the end of this post.)

    Non-root methods

    Through custom OEM skins

    Stock Google Android doesn’t have native functionality for changing system fonts. You certainly can’t easily change the fonts on Nexus phones and tablets — at least not with some bit of hackery. On none of the Nexuses, for example, can you just go to the Settings page and tap an option there to change the system fonts. Not even certain AOSP-based custom ROMs such as CyanogenMod or AOKP has a built-in function for changing system fonts on the fly.

    But, when OEMs like Samsung and LG get their hands on AOSP code, they add extra bells and whistles– such as font changing — into their custom skins.

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    For instance, some Samsung Android devices such as the Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy Note 10.1, and even the Galaxy Camera, let you change the font style. Samsung has preinstalled a few extra fonts besides the default, but you can get more online through the Google Play Store.

    There’s similar functionality on certain LG phones, too, and to fetch more fonts, you’ll be redirected to the LG Smart World instead of to the Google Play Store.

    Putting on a new font requires only a quick trip to Settings > Display > Font Style. Just tap the name of the font that you want, and confirm that you want to set it as system font. Font replacement is instantaneous. No need for rebooting. The selected font will be displayed throughout your device’s interface such as the time on the status bar, system menus, and even on your text messages.

    Through custom launchers

    One non-root way to change fonts on Android is through custom launcher apps. Some custom launchers integrate the font-changing function, while most others will need you to install themes.

    One very popular custom launcher that provides a way to change fonts is GO Launcher EX.

     

    A downside to font customization in GO Launcher EX is that it doesn’t change the font in your apps and Android system menus. The font changes are applied only to selected parts of the custom launcher UI but not to the entire system. To change font styles in GO Launcher EX, do the following:

    1. Copy your TTF font files to the /sdcard/GOLauncherEX/fonts directory.
    2. Open GO Launcher EX.
    3. On the main home screen, tap the Menu button (represented by 3 dots) or swipe the screen upwards.
    4. Tap on the Preferences button to bring up the GO Launcher Settings page.
    5. Tap on Visual Settings.
    6. Swipe to the Font tab on the left.
    7. Tap on Scan Font to let the app scan your directories for font files. If everything goes well, the app should also be able to find the fonts that you copied to the /sdcard/GOLauncherEX/fonts directory.
    8. Tap Select Font and tap on the font that you want to use.

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    Changes will apply immediately. No need for rebooting. If you want more fonts for use with GO Launcher EX, download and install GO Launcher Fonts.

    iFont (for Samsung devices)

    The popular iFont app can also be used for changing fonts. Although primarily for Samsung devices (both rooted and non-rooted), the app can also work on certain rooted, non-Samsung devices.

     

    On non-rooted Samsung devices, use iFont’s Online tab to browse for available fonts. To use a font on the list, do the following:

    1. Enable installation of apps from “Unknown Sources.” This option can usually be found in Settings > Security.
    2. Launch iFont. Go to the Online tab.
    3. Tap on a font name that you want to install.
    4. Tap the Download button.
    5. Tap the Set button. Or go to Settings > Display > Font Style. Your newly installed font should appear on the list.
    6. Tap on the new font to use it as system font.
    7. Font is applied immediately. No reboot needed.

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    You can also copy TrueType (TTF) fonts from your PC to the /sdcard/ifont/custom directory; the said fonts will appear on the Custom tab. But, to be able to install and use the fonts, you will need a rooted device. (For a guide on using this app on rooted devices, see the iFont subsection under “Methods requiring root.”)

    iFont is free and shows no ads. It worked quite well on several devices (including non-Samsung phones) that I tested it on.

    Methods requiring root

    Important note

    If you have root privileges on your phone or tablet, you will be able to alter system files and, in the course of doing so, you could render your device useless. So, be careful.

    • The information in this guide is provided for instructional and educational purposes only. There is no guarantee that these instructions will work under your specific and unique circumstances.
    • Use these instructions at your own risk. We shall not hold any responsibility or liability for whatever happens to you or your device arising from your use of the info in this guide.
    • Read and understand the whole guide first before actually performing the instructions.

    Font changer apps for rooted devices

    An easy way to change fonts on rooted Android devices is to use font changer apps that support use on rooted devices. There are several of such apps on the Google Play Store. Most of them also offer a preview function that lets you see how a font looks like.

    In this subsection, know more about two font changer apps that are worth checking out: Font Installer and iFont.

    Font Installer

    For rooted phones, Font Installer is a great free app for changing system fonts. It has a built-in font preview feature, so while scrolling up and down the list of built-in fonts, you know exactly how they look like once activated on the device.

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    This is an ad-supported app. Ads appear at the bottom. Remove the ads by purchasing a license.

     

    To install a TTF font file that you’ve saved to your device:

    1. Copy to your device the TTF font file that you want to use, preferably into the /sdcard directory.
    2. Launch Font Installer.
    3. Before tampering with your system fonts, backup your existing default fonts first. Tap on the Menu (three dots) button and select Backup/Restore. Select Backup. If Superuser or SuperSU asks for permission, grant it.
    4. Tap on the Local tab to open the directory explorer. Locate your TTF file.
    5. Tap on the TTF file that you want to use. From the popup dialog, tap Install to set it as the default system font. (If you want to preview the font first, tap on Preview.)
    6. If Superuser or SuperSU asks for permission, grant it.
    7. Font Installer will prompt you to reboot your device. Tap on Yes.

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    To install a new font from Font Installer’s online font collection:

    1. Open the Server tab in the Font Installer app to see the catalog of fonts.
    2. Tap on the name of a font that you like.
    3. From the popup dialog, tap on Preview if you want to see sample text rendered in the chosen font; or, tap on Install if you want to download the font and set it as your system font.
    4. If a backup warning/notice appears, make sure you let the app backup your font files. This shouldn’t take a long time.
    5. Allow the app to reboot your device.

    iFont

    Unlike Font Installer, the iFont app can work on most Samsung devices even if they are not rooted. But, to be able to use it on a non-Samsung device, you will need root access. (Yes, you can also use it on a rooted Samsung device.)

    To download, install, and use a custom font using the Online tab:

    1. Tap on the font you want to install.
    2. Tap the Download button.
    3. Tap the Set button.
    4. If you get a prompt about setting the mode to System Mode, just tap the OK button.
    5. Your device will reboot to apply the new font.

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    If you want to use a local TrueType (TTF) file, just copy the TTF file to the /sdcard/ifont/custom directory on your device. Then, do the following:

    1. On the iFont main screen, tap on the Menu button (three-dots at upper-right corner).
    2. Tap on Settings > Change Font Mode. If you’re using a rooted non-Samsung device, choose System Mode. If using a rooted Samsung device, choose Samsung Mode.
    3. Go to the Custom tab in the iFont app.
    4. Tap on the font that you’d like to use.
    5. Tap the Set button.
    6. If prompted whether to change the font, tap on OK.
    7. If you get a prompt about setting the mode to System Mode, just tap the OK button.
    8. Your device will either apply the new font immediately or reboot to apply the new font.

    The geeky way

    So far, I’ve told you about the painless, sweat-free, and easy ways to change fonts on your Android. But, if you have the heart of a geek, or you just love the thrill of doing stuff manually, then you’ll find much fun in manually changing the fonts on your Android device.

    These manual methods require root because you’ll be tampering with a protected system directory, specifically the /system/fonts directory, where font files used by your device reside. There are two manual methods for changing fonts — through the Android Debug Bridge and through a root-level file manager app. Before I talk about those two, let’s talk about system fonts first.

    System fonts

    If you are brave enough to manually change fonts on your Android, the font files that will be of great interest to you will be the following:

    • Roboto-Regular.ttf — This font file is the most used system-wide. I see it almost everywhere — from app labels to menu text.
    • Roboto-Bold.ttf — This is the boldface variant of Roboto. Unlike the regular typeface, this one’s not as frequently seen. There’s bold text in several areas of your device, and this font face is most likely the one used.
    • Roboto-Italic.ttf — This is the italic variant of Roboto.
    • Roboto-BoldItalic.ttf — This is the boldface and italic variant of Roboto.

    All of these fonts are inside the /system/fonts directory. For starters, you might want to play around with the Roboto-Regular.ttf file, as it’s the one that appears to be most used system-wide.

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    The overall general idea is to replace system font files with new font files having exactly the same file names as the originals but containing the new typefaces that you want to use.

    For example, if you want to use a TTF font file named Times_New_Roman.ttf in place of Roboto-Regular.ttf, you’ll need to rename the Times_New_Roman.ttf file into Roboto-Regular.ttf and copy the renamed (faux) file into the /system/fonts directory.

    VERY IMPORTANT: Always make a backup copy of the font files that you will be replacing so that if something goes wrong, you will have copies to restore. I usually rename the original file into something with a *.bak extension, or with “bak” within the file name (i.e., Roboto-Regular.ttf becomes Roboto-Regular.ttf.bak or Roboto-Regular-bak.ttf). This way, the original file remains in the same directory but under a different file name.

    It is also a wise idea to make backup copies on your PC hard drive and in a different directory on your Android device.

    Manual method using ADB

    You can use the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to change fonts on Android. For this method, you’ll need the following:

    • A rooted Android device — Root access is needed so that you can tamper with system files that reside in restricted directories.
    • A computer with the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) properly installed and setup
    • If using Windows, your device’s USB drivers must have been installed.
    • ADB must be able to detect your device.
    • Your device’s USB cable
    • The TrueType font file that you want to use

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    In the steps, the font file called Times_New_Roman.ttf is used to replace the system font file named Roboto-Regular.ttf.

    1. On your PC, rename Times_New_Roman.ttf to Roboto-Regular.ttf.
    2. Using whatever convenient method you know of, copy the impostor Roboto-Regular.ttf to your device’s /sdcard directory.
    3. Open a terminal or command prompt on your PC.
    4. Run the remote shell interactively on your device with the following command at the terminal or prompt:
      • adb shell
    5. Execute the following commands:
      • su
      • mount -o remount,rw /system
    6. Backup the original font file (Roboto-Regular.ttf, in this case) into something else by renaming it:
      • cd /system/fonts
      • mv Roboto-Regular.ttf Roboto-Regular.ttf.bak
    7. Copy the impostor font file from the /sdcard directory into the fonts directory:
      • cp /sdcard/Roboto-Regular.ttf /system/fonts
    8. Ensure that the copied file is readable (either 644 or 666). This is very important. If the system cannot read the file, your system will bootloop:
      • chmod 644 Roboto-Regular.ttf
    9. Exit the interactive shell:
      • exit
    10. Reboot your device and check whether the new font has been applied.

    Manual method using file manager app

    This alternate method accomplishes exactly the same thing as the ADB method, but this one’s easier because it doesn’t require typing commands at the terminal or command prompt.

    For this method, you’ll need:

    • A rooted Android device — Root access is needed so that you can tamper with system files that reside in restricted directories.
    • A file manager/explorer app capable of navigating up to the root directory (e.g., ES File Explorer)
    • Read and write permissions for the /system directory (if this is mounted as read-only, the procedure may not work or you could foul up your device)
    • TrueType font files (with *.ttf extension) copied to the /sdcard directory or another convenient location of your choice

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    The following steps illustrate the process of manually changing fonts on Android with the help of a file manager app. These steps use ES File Explorer; if you use a different file manager app, the steps may vary a bit. Just like in the ADB method, this method uses Times_New_Roman.ttf as the example replacement file.

    1. Using your most convenient method, copy/save/download the Times_New_Roman.ttf file to a convenient directory on your Android device (preferably the /sdcard directory).
    2. Launch ES File Explorer on your device.
    3. Tap on the Menu button, then tap Settings > Root Settings. Turn on “Root Explorer” and “Up to Root”. If Superuser or SuperSU prompts you asking for permission, grant it. Also enable the “Mount File System” option.
    4. Navigate to the /system/fonts directory. Look for Roboto-Regular.ttf, long-tap on it, tap Rename on the menu, type a new name for the file, and then tap the OK button. The renamed file serves as your backup copy of the original Roboto-Regular.ttf, just in case you want to revert to it later.
    5. Navigate to where you saved the font file that you want to apply as default system font (i.e., Times_New_Roman.ttf in this example).
    6. Rename Times_New_Roman.ttf to Roboto-Regular.ttf by long-tapping the file, selecting Rename, typing a new file name, and tapping the OK button.
    7. Long-tap the newly renamed file. Select Copy To from the popup menu. Select /system/fonts from the popup directory browser. Tap the OK button to copy the file into the chosen directory.
    8. Navigate to the /system/fonts directory.
    9. Long-tap on the newly copied Roboto-Regular.ttf file. Select Properties from the menu.
    10. On the Properties dialog window, tap the Change button. Make sure that there are check marks for the “Read” permission for User, Group, and Other. Then, make sure that there’s a check mark for the “Write” permission for User. Tap the OK button to save the new permissions.
    11. Reboot your device to apply the new font.

    Video

    For a visual guide and summary on changing fonts on Android, check out this companion video:

    Conclusion

    Changing fonts on Android is not an everyday task that majority of people perform on their phones or tablets. But, among those that do need to change the typefaces on their devices, it is heartwarming to know that (1) it is possible to do so and (2) there are several ways to do so.

    What font is splattered all over your Android device’s UI today? Have you ever changed it to something else? If so, did you use any of the methods discussed in this guide? If not, how did you change your system fonts? Tell us your story.

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    Comments

    • http://amazeline.com/ Alexis Hubert

      Nice. Didn’t know I could do this with my Android phone. Now, off to the Android Market!

    • Roberto

      font changer works but type fresh didn’t change the font. galaxy s

      • androiduser

        How to root the phone? Plzz

        • Glen

          Depends on which phone you are talking about obtaining root for.

    • Maria

      Font installer is another app which also downloads a lot of fonts automatically for you – http://goo.gl/L8sdk

      • moby

        how to change the color of the font???????????????

    • Alli(:

      I’ve always wanted this feature on my phone! Android market, here I come!

    • Nicksterwolf

      is there any way i can root my phone without using a PC, like samsung phones? my Phone is LG Optimus L3 e450

    • Cristeena

      How do i root my phone? I have a HTC Sensation Z710e. Please help me!

    • KARAN

      im using HTC ONEX and i want change my font style so how i can do any one can plz help me

    • http://athenatria.com/ Athena Jeunnesse Mae Tria

      wow thanks for this!

    • yalequ

      tinyurl.com/cnaff79.

    • http://twitter.com/GlassKeys Stephen Glasskeys

      Funny — I wrote an article about this two years ago.. At least site your bleeding sources.

      http://glasskeys.com/2011/09/17/how-to-use-custom-system-fonts-on-android-cyanogenmod-phones-and-tablets/

    • sha

      I have a question .. after I download a font and after I install .. I was off and on Their telephone me but I just came out Their telephone samsung logo only and do not function as normal .. what should I do?

    • nyichitlaybaba

      HELLO i have a big problem with my phone. i was buy from china my phone is THL W8. but onething is problem i dont have in the display font style how do i get or install font style? i have font size. i have a big problem. i can not install another font. please i how to i copy to dvd or cd my THL W8 recorver. how do i possible to install android 4.2.2 or something like that? could you answer here

    • Nurrein Nushinsky Mazera

      can’t change tha fonts on my xperia s!
      plz hlp

    • Karri

      Just switched up my fonts to DIN Pro. Unfortunately the change looks incomplete as I don’t have italic sets, but its noticeable if not subtly different from the stock Sony/Roboto fontsets.
      I usee iFont at first but it only replaces the base fonts, leaving an annoying patchwork of bold Roboto on most webpages, so I resorted to a file manager method.

    • kitu34

      How would i know which font my system is using,only then i can replace it with other.Any ideas?

    • gayan

      my Samsung galaxy tab 8.9, i can’t see Sinhalese letters.showing box…
      but my phone Samsung S3 i can reed sinhala letters.
      pls help to me change font my tab.

    • Shane

      I am disappointed that Google et al have never considered the needs of dyslexics. My wife is dyslexic and has a great deal of difficulty in reading “regular” fonts. We have found a font that helps keep the words from jumbling up on her, but with the lock down on fonts she can’t use it on her Nook.

    • http://sanketdave.tk/ Sanket RJ Dave

      Best Best Best ! Thanks :) All info are very useful for us. THANKS #WRITER ♥

    • Aaron Mendoza

      I cant open my phone anymore. I just see the logo of my phone but i cant open it anymore. Please help me. I try to change the font of my phone using es file explorer. I followed all the procedures, but after i reboot my phone i cant open it anymore. Please give me some advice or tips on how to fix this. Thanks :)

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