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I know you can put custom fonts in say C:\Windows\Fonts and applications will be able to find and use them. However this is only possible when you have administrator access to the machine, which is rarely the case in shared environments.

Is there a general way to use custom fonts from some other location suitable for non-admin users? If not, is there any manner specific for Adobe Fireworks (CS3) and Office 2007?

I'm interested mainly in XP and Vista, but a solution that works for other Windows versions would be great.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Adding and removing system fonts is an Administrator task, and will be denied to users who don't have the admin permissions (Power User is actually probably enough), as they could really mess up Windows by deleting or replacing standard system fonts. :)

From what I read here you should be able to give the users write access to their \Windows\Fonts folder, and that will let them install fonts.

I also found this which describes, and provides, a user-level utility that will allow installation and removal of fonts (at least in XP) without the extra rights to the folder (haven't tried it myself).


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Well I don't need (or want really) for them to be "system fonts" that effect the entire computer or replace anything already there, just there so they can be used in my word documents, images I'm working on in fireworks, etc. – Fire Lancer Mar 9 '10 at 20:51
I don't think you can use any fonts (especially in Word) that arn't registered with Windows' font subsystem, regardless of where they're located. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 9 '10 at 21:01
There are programmatic ways to add fonts for the current user's session (see so that's probably what the second utility is doing. This explains why the utility needs to be run each time the system starts. – dsolimano Mar 9 '10 at 22:10
@Fire Lancer: Then that utility should be right up your alley. :) @dsolimano: When you use AddFontResource (or AddFontResourceEx) you are registering it with the system. This action doesn't require admin rights, and isn't permanent. To make the font permanent requires the rights because you need them to a) add the font to the list in the registry, and b) (optionally) move it to he fonts folder. Just using AddfontResource is a big enough PITA that it's often better to plan to use a 2D framework with a bitmapped font provider. ;) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 10 '10 at 1:48
That RegisterFont.exe program does just the thing I was looking to do - just add a couple custom fonts to my work XP laptop. The blog walks even the minimally-technically-literate user through installation and setup. The utility could probably use a GUI to make things easier, but even as-is it's perfect. Thanks! – MattDMo Nov 12 '13 at 17:43

There is a workaround I've used on XP; I can't say if it works on other Windows versions.

If you double click on any font file, wherever it's saved, you'll get a preview window. Until you close this window, the font will be available for use in other apps, although a few may need restarting.

I believe this works because the preview automatically and temporarily installs the font in order to render it, and this temporary installation doesn't involve adding the font to the Fonts folder, therefore doesn't require admin rights.

Edit: Just tested copying a font file's shortcut into the Fonts folder, and that seems to work for me as well, but I'm sure I've tried it without success previously.

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Sweet hack! I'm going to have to keep that in mind for the future. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 10 '10 at 15:31
Doesn't seem to work in 7. :( – Kazark Jan 23 '12 at 20:52

Using custom fonts without administrator privileges is possible with the platform (introduced in version 10.0).

To use custom fonts:

  1. Download and extract the platform

    setup 1

    setup 2

  2. Copy the font files to the <PortableApps>\PortableApps\\Data\Fonts directory. Create this folder if it does not already exist.


  3. Close and restart the platform.



The fonts should now be usable in other applications while the platform is running.

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Works as advertised with PortableApps 12.0.5. Can be installed in the user's home directory (e.g., on a server). – krlmlr Jun 22 '15 at 12:39
Interesting solution but... if you are working in an organisation where you are not allowed admin rights, you are probably breaking all sorts of IS rules if you download and run software from the internet. – Lqueryvg Feb 7 at 7:56
All the applications are open-source and free to use. If you use Gimp for editing some picture or use Inkscape I don't see any problem with that. – Melroy Jul 4 at 15:13

NexusFont is a freeware font manager which can be used to manage installed fonts (with admin priviliges), or make certain fonts available at runtime (without admin privs). For this latter feature just run NexusFont and add font group(s) you like. The font files can reside in any folder. As long as NF is running, applications can use the fonts. NF can be used portably.

On windows 7 there are some quirks which take a bit of experimenting to get the hang of. The biggest one being that if you install using symbolic links don't disable by deleting the files as it deletes the files and not just the symlinks. In this case disable (uninstall) the fonts but use the "leave the files where they are" option.

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Just uncheck "copy fonts to Fonts Folder" check box and install the font. The installed fonts will be available only for that session.Every time you login you have to repeat this task

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In what context? In what version of Windows? – Kazark Jan 23 '12 at 20:50

Yes, you can load font without admin privileges. Take a look at AddFontResource function. You can use Font Xplorer (freeware) to load fonts from a local folder. I tested it on Win7 (probably works in win8 too).

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WinFonts4All also works on a user-level (Tested: Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10).

It monitors all fonts in %userprofile%\Fonts and registers them for the current user-session. It even has a GUI :)

See it in action:

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