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.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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To install a TTF font file that you’ve saved to your device:
To install a new font from Font Installer’s online font collection:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
You can use the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) to change fonts on Android. For this method, you’ll need the following:
In the steps, the font file called Times_New_Roman.ttf is used to replace the system font file named Roboto-Regular.ttf.
mount -o remount,rw /system
mv Roboto-Regular.ttf Roboto-Regular.ttf.bak
cp /sdcard/Roboto-Regular.ttf /system/fonts
chmod 644 Roboto-Regular.ttf
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:
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.
For a visual guide and summary on changing fonts on Android, check out this companion video:
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.