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FontBegone: replace fonts by outlines in PDF files


Here is a small Mac OS X Application built with Apple's Automator and Python. I use it to incorporate all or part of a PDF file into Adobe Illustrator. It's function is to replace all fonts in the PDF file with outlined paths, to prevent Illustrator from issuing warnings about missing fonts and garbling the original text in the process. If the image on the right looks familiar to you, then this page may be what you need.

Icon of my FontBegone Application The original version of this Application dates back to a discussion on the OS X TeX mailing list in 2005. There is some more discussion of these font-related issues on the Illustrator page linked here.

What does FontBegone do?

FontBegone is a utility that can be run either by dragging files onto its icon, or by simply tapping its icon while a PDF is on the Pasteboard of your computer.

Whatever document you feed into FontBegone will then be processed by invoking ghostscript. All text will be replaced by outlined paths (i.e., graphics objects) so that the shapes of the original characters stay exactly the same, instead of being replaced by substitute fonts.

The advantage of this is that you can then edit the outlined paths using all of Illustrator's drawing tools. The downside is that Illustrator's Text tools don't apply to the outlined paths: you no longer have text, but graphics to edit.


You need to have ghostscript, in particular the gs command, installed on your computer.

Also, the latest version is written using Automator, so it will only work in OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later.



There are two ways of using FontBegone:

More information (not required reading)

Jens Nöckel
Last modified: Sun Nov 1 15:30:23 PST 2015