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When we go Control Panel >> Appearance and Personalization >> Fonts, the window shows a list of fonts currently installed on the system. We can copy those font files out (Ctrl-C) to a new location,

But where are the original physical font files stored?

Based on this thread, I'd thought that the files are stored in C:\Windows\Font, but it seems to be a virtual folder, Specifically when I download TypeLight (runned the program as administrator) and tried to open the font files in C:\Windows\Font, none are listed:

enter image description here

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

They are stored in the Windows SxS cache, where hard links are created from. Here is an example (64b):


Searching C:\Windows\WinSxS for truetype- will give all these folders, searching for *.ttf or *.otf will give all the font files that are stored in that folder. The reason your application doesn't see these files is because it doesn't support the aggregating approach the Control Panel uses. At best you can attempt to type the file name and get around...

For an overview, use dir %SYSTEMROOT%\Fonts.

The Link Shell Extension allows you to enumerate the hard links in the Link Properties tab:

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WinSxS only contains font files included with the operating system. Other font files, such as those installed by MS Office, will only be found in %SYSTEMROOT%\Fonts. – Harry Johnston Apr 3 '12 at 1:13
@HarryJohnston: +1 Depends on how one interprets "original", but yeah, that would be true. In fact, hard links don't reside anywhere, they keep the file alive as long as there is a link to it. So, one could interpret the files being in %SYSTEMROOT%\Fonts too. But for system fonts, it makes more sense that they are first added to the WinSxS and then linked from there. In any case, enjoy the vote... – Tom Wijsman Apr 3 '12 at 6:48

C:\Windows\Fonts is indeed where the font files are stored (assuming that c:\windows is the operating system root, which is usually the case). You can double-check this by starting a command-line window (type cmd.exe in the Start Menu) and saying:

cd c:\windows\fonts

I suspect that TypeLight is misbehaving, perhaps because Fonts is considered a special folder by the Windows shell.

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go to this and search for .ttf file in search bar

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The actual font files (not hard links) are stored in C:\Windows\Fonts -- unless a user has changed that default location.

As one person suggested, I opened a command prompt and typed in: DIR c:\Windows\Fonts\ and hit enter

(the DIR means "show me a directory listing of all files that are stored in the following location").

Sure enough, there appeared a long list of files with the .ttf extension (stands for "true type font"). Those are in fact the actual files that contain all the font information. Some of these files as small as 63 kb... many more are 300 to 800 kb and some are even a megabyte or two in size. Files this size are not "hard links" -- they are real physical font files.

To confirm there was nothing mysterious going on, I physically moved some new font files into C:\Windows\Fonts\ and... guess what? When I opened up Word those new fonts appeared in the drop-down list, ready to use.

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I was going to edit this to be less condescending... but I think I'll just flag it as unhelpful or something. – Michael Frank Apr 18 '15 at 1:07
I'd think this may actually be correct depending on the OS version. – Pacerier Apr 18 '15 at 11:49
A hard link is indistinguishable from a "real physical" file. In fact, all files are hard links - that's how NTFS works. The only question is whether a file has only the one hard link, or more than one. – Harry Johnston May 18 '15 at 1:47

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