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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

5 Answers 5

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

C:\Windows\WinSxS\amd64_microsoft-windows-f..truetype-arialblack_31bf3856ad364e35_6.2.8250.0_none_cd833951c51cc8e6

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. Apr 3, 2012 at 1:13
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    @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... Apr 3, 2012 at 6:48
  • > In fact, hard links don't reside anywhere.... @Tom I think you're thinking of the file referenced by the hard link. Which, since all files have at least 1 hard link, technically, no files "reside anywhere" [on a directory], but we tend to think of them that way more when there's only 1 hard link to a file. But the hard link is attached to each directory you find the file in and references the actual file itself, which resides anywhere it wants on the disk. We just don't tend to call them hard links when there's only 1 of them. Mar 9, 2017 at 23:04
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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
dir

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

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Explorer will aggregate font files in C:/Windows/Fonts, making the directory sometimes unintuitive to navigate.

To see the Font hardlinks as files, paste the host address into the Explorer address bar:

\\{ComputerName}\c$\Windows\Fonts

The computer name can be seen by right-clicking This PC on Desktop, and then viewing Properties.

See also: How do I browse fonts as files in Windows Explorer

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I know that this post is old but here's a trick that could help you retrieve your installed fonts files:

First, you need to have 7-zip installed. (It could work with WinRar, though).

Go to your fonts folder (C:\Windows\Fonts) and select the fonts you want to retrieve from the folder. As you have noticed, you cannot drag and drop or copy these files from there as you would from any other folder.

To circumvent this issue, select the fonts, right click them and create a 7z compressed file. Save the file anywhere but there (Downloads folder, perhaps?). Then go to your compressed file, extract your font files and tah dah! :)

EDIT It seems you can drag & drop from the folder to get the files. At least in Windows 10 it is possible. I haven't tried in any other Windows version. ;)

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  • I had this experience too (Windows 7 for me), where at first, I could not drag & drop files to the folder. Finally, I worked out that I could right click on the source file outside of the Fonts folder and select Install. When the install seemed to finish, but I didn't immediately see the font in the Fonts folder, I tried to drag & drop it again, and this time it displayed the Copy+ tag and was told it was already installed. Maybe it's a matter of not being able to drag & drop while the folder is still populating (which seemed to take several minutes!)? Mar 9, 2017 at 22:42
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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. Apr 18, 2015 at 1:07
  • I'd think this may actually be correct depending on the OS version.
    – Pacerier
    Apr 18, 2015 at 11:49
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    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. May 18, 2015 at 1:47

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