Change the Mac System Font to the OS X El Capitan Font in OS X Yosemite
When the San Francisco type face first debuted it was made for the Apple Watch, but some enterprising Mac users modified the San Francisco font to run in OS X Yosemite anyway. Fast forward to now, and the San Francisco font has been revised by Apple to be a bit more readable for the Mac desktop and iOS devices, as it will soon replace Helvetica Neue as the default system font in iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. That font has been released for specific use by Apple (available here), but if you’re currently running OS X Yosemite, you can use a copy of the modified version of the El Capitan system font right now.
To be perfectly clear, the OS X El Capitan San Francisco system font is different from the Apple Watch variant of San Francisco, which has since been renamed to San Francisco Compact, intended for watchOS. In other words, if you installed the Apple Watch font onto your Mac, it’s not quite the same as the one mentioned here.
Do understand this is an unofficial port of the El Capitan system font made by a user on this MacRumors forum page, and some text may render strange or out of line with odd kerning. Obviously the font won’t look that way in OS X El Capitan, but this particular patched version may look a little strange sometimes throughout OS X Yosemite.
Installing the El Capitan system font as the system font of OS X Yosemite is just a matter of dropping it into the appropriate fonts directory and then rebooting the Mac:
- Download the modified SF font family directly from this link and unzip the archive
- From the Finder, hit Command+Shift+G and enter the path: /Library/Fonts/
- Drop the font files into /Library/Fonts/ (if you have a different set of modified system fonts in this folder remove them first)
- Reboot the Mac to have the change take effect
Uninstalling the El Capitan system font from OS X Yosemite is just a matter of moving those font files back out of /Library/Fonts/ and into a different directory.
Here are a few screenshots showing what this patched El Capitan system font looks like in OS X Yosemite:
System fonts are largely a matter of personal preference, and some users may prefer the Yosemite default of Helvetica Neue, Comic Sans, or, my personal favorite, the Lucida Grande font, which was the default system font in OS X up until Apple changed it with Yosemite.
Even after changing the font, users who are not particularly thrilled with the system text appearance in OS X Yosemite may find that adjusting the font smoothing settings in Yosemite and using the increased contrast feature can help to improve general text legibility in OS X as well.
What do you think, do you like the El Capitan system font? Let us know in the comments.