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.

  • There's more to custom fonts than meets the eye - for instance, you need to identify whether the font is licensed before the user installs it. This little gem could land your organisation in all sorts of problems, especially if the user distributes, say, a Microsoft Word document in which the font is embedded. Fonts are a minefield.
    – Paul
    Jul 10, 2021 at 11:04
  • Wow! I didn't realise this question was soooo old!
    – Paul
    Jul 10, 2021 at 11:06

8 Answers 8


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. :)

You could give the users write access to their \Windows\Fonts folder, and that will let them install fonts.

  • 6
    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. Mar 9, 2010 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. Mar 9, 2010 at 21:01
  • There are programmatic ways to add fonts for the current user's session (see blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2006/06/25/646701.aspx) 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, 2010 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. ;) Mar 10, 2010 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, 2013 at 17:43

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

To use custom fonts:

  1. Download and extract the PortableApps.com platform

    setup 1

    setup 2

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


  3. Close and restart the PortableApps.com platform.



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

  • 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, 2015 at 12:39
  • 6
    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, 2016 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. Jul 4, 2016 at 15:13
  • Version 15.0.2 works on Window 10. After restarting both PortableApps.com and PowerPoint 2016 I can use all styles of Roboto there. This answer should rise further up. Dec 4, 2018 at 8:02
  • 1
    @Melroy It's not only about the software license. It's also about security. You may inadvertently download compromised applications if they are not vetted by IT. If something happens it becomes a question of liability. Most likely you will be liable if an application not vetted by IT causes trouble.
    – exhuma
    Feb 19, 2019 at 14:29

From Windows 10 17704 onward you'll have the ability to install fonts without admin rights

Font installation for non-admin users

Have you ever wanted to use your own fonts from your account on a shared school or work PC, but couldn’t because you didn’t have the administrator privileges required to install the fonts? Well, we’ve heard your frustration about this and have made some changes.

In the past, fonts in Windows have always been installed for all users. Because that is a system-wide change, it always required admin privilege. The need for an admin was reflected in the user interface. For example, if you browse in File Explorer to a folder containing a font file and right-clicked on the file to bring up the context menu, then the “Install” option would appear with the security badge, which means that it requires an admin.

Font install

  • 1
    Doesn't work at University of Vienna. There is only the option "Install" prefixed with the Admin shield. Dec 4, 2018 at 8:04
  • 2
    @Stefan_Fairphone are you sure that the version >= 17704?
    – phuclv
    Dec 4, 2018 at 10:06
  • 2
    We are still on Windows 10 Build 16299... 😬 Sorry, I hadn't checked. Dec 4, 2018 at 13:08
  • Behind the scene, the font files (like *.ttf) are copied to %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Fonts. So if you can write scripts to automate the steps if you want to install many fonts.
    – Lex Li
    Jan 25 at 13:57

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.

  • 3
    Sweet hack! I'm going to have to keep that in mind for the future. :) Mar 10, 2010 at 15:31
  • 5
    Doesn't seem to work in 7. :(
    – Kazark
    Jan 23, 2012 at 20:52

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.

  • I've had success with this program, but note that it doesn't allow adding bitmap fonts (extension .fon) May 15, 2018 at 1:22

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: https://ygg.li/winfonts

  • Doesn't work at all (tested on Window 7)
    – Michael
    Feb 19, 2018 at 8:23
  • 1
    from the in-action video it looks like this would work on Windows 10, which isn't necessary anymore
    – phuclv
    Sep 10, 2018 at 9:48
  • That is indeed awesome @phuclv! I wasn't aware that Win10 has it already built-in (at least from a specific patch-level onwards)! :)
    – Walialu
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:13

Yes, you can load font without admin privileges. Take a look at the AddFontResource function.

You can also use Font Xplorer (freeware) to load fonts from a local folder. I tested it on Win7 (probably works in Win8 too).


Just uncheck the 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

  • 8
    In what context? In what version of Windows?
    – Kazark
    Jan 23, 2012 at 20:50

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