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How to easily install fonts in Linux on a per-user basis

Jack Wallen shows you just how simple it is to install fonts in the Linux desktop operating system.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Creative woman holding a coffee cup in hand while working at the wooden table in a bright room.
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I'm a font collector. Part of the reason for that is I design book covers and marketing material to help promote those books. Because of that, I tend to lean heavily into artistic fonts to help make the material stand out.

When I first started using Linux, adding new fonts to the system could be a bit problematic. This was especially so when dealing with TTF fonts. However, over the past five or so years, installing fonts in Linux has become incredibly easy. 

In fact, it doesn't matter what desktop environment you're using, as the developers have done a remarkable job of making this task as simple as possible. Don't believe me… then read on.

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I'm going to walk you through installing fonts in the GNOME, KDE Plasma, and Cinnamon desktop environments. Yes, you can also do this from the command line, but my goal is to show you how easy the process can be, and the command line kind of defeats that purpose.

One thing to keep in mind is the methods I will describe only install the fonts on a per-user basis. So if you have multiple users on your system and they all need access to those fonts, they'll have to walk through the same steps from their account.

How to easily install fonts in Linux on a per-user basis

And so, without further ado, let's get to the installation.


Before we get to the process of installing fonts I'm going to give you a bit of advice from a longtime collector of fonts who has hundreds of the things installed.

Create a directory to house all those font files you download. Even better, create that directory on an external hard drive, so if you ever reinstall your OS, those fonts will still be available.

Also: How to add fonts to Photoshop

1. Open your file manager

Open your default file manager and navigate to the parent directory (such as the external drive) that will house the folder.

2. Create the folder

Right-click an empty spot in the file manager and select New (or Create New > Folder -- depending on your desktop). Give the new folder a name and hit Enter.

The right click menu in the GNOME file manager.

Creating a new folder in the GNOME file manager.

Image: Jack Wallen

With that folder created, make sure to save all of your downloaded fonts into it (so you can use them again if needed).

How to install fonts in the GNOME desktop

First, let's take a look at how to install fonts in the GNOME desktop environment. After you've downloaded the fonts you want to install, you'll probably have to extract them (as they tend to be downloaded as a ZIP file). To do that, right-click the file and select Extract Here. This will create a new folder. Double-click on that new folder to open it and you should see the TTF file or files. Double-click one of the TTF files to open the font viewer.

You should see an Install button in the top right corner. Click that button, and the font will automatically install and will be accessible to the desktop apps.

The GNOME font installer.

Installing a font in GNOME is very simple.

Image: Jack Wallen

How to install fonts in the KDE Plasma desktop

The process for installing fonts on the KDE Plasma desktop is very similar. All you have to do is download the file, extract it, double-click the TTF file, and (from the font viewer window), click Install.

The KDE Plasma font installer.

Installing fonts in KDE Plasma is just as simple as it is in GNOME.

Image: Jack Wallen

Also: These two Linux desktops are the simplest picks for new users

How to install fonts in the Cinnamon desktop

Next up is the Cinnamon desktop. As you might expect, the process is almost the same: Download the font, extract it, double-click the TTF file, and click Install.  

It really is that easy.

The Cinnamon desktop font installer.

Installing fonts on the Cinnamon desktop is equally as simple.

Image: Jack Wallen

Keep in mind, however, that each of these methods only installs the fonts in such a way that they are accessible to that user. Also, if you have applications like GIMP or LibreOffice open, you'll probably need to save your work, quit, and reopen the application so it recognizes the newly installed fonts.


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