2010-08-03

"Menlo" - The new monospaced font in Mac OS X

For those programmers using "Snow Leopard" (Mac OS X 10.6), check out the new font bundled by Apple. Menlo is its name, and as a monospaced font it works well for programmers. I suggest changing the default monospaced font in various apps to Menlo, such as TextEdit, other text editors such as TextMate and JEdit, as well as your web browsers, email client, and Terminal programs such as Path Finder.

Menlo & DejaVu fonts overlay
Menlo is based on the monospaced member of the Bitstream Vera font family. While the Vera font had a limited set of glyphs, another open-source project based on Vera was launched to improve and expand that set. DejaVu is free of cost and under active development with volunteers around the world contributing glyphs for all sorts of languages. Linux distros are commonly including DejaVu and even making it their default system font. If your are using older versions of Mac OS X, or Windows, I suggest downloading DejaVu to use its monospaced member for your programming work. Read more about the overlay image above.


Pragmata font demo
While Menlo and DejaVu (and Consolas) are runner-ups, the all-time best programmer's font is Pragmata sold by its Italian creator as well as Fonts.com and FontShop. Whereas monospaced fonts typically go wide to increase readability, Pragmata goes tall. Costs money, but for those of us staring at source code for hours at a time, it is money well spent.

Tip: Take this with a grain of salt as I have not tried it, but Mac customers who also use Windows may be better off buying the Windows version of the Pragmata. I have heard that Mac OS X can read the Windows format of such fonts, but not vice-versa.

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