Windows: Fonts Folder

Windows Explorer displays the contents of the Fonts folder (C:\Windows\Fonts) in a special way. You may need to be aware of this if you need the complete path of a particular font. For example, as input to a command-line program (say adding text to an image using Imagemagick) or in your application code.

  • Explorer does not display the filenames of the fonts. You cannot see the filename no matter what kind of View you switch Explorer to.
  • Also, Explorer displays the fonts grouped by Font Family. (Note that the Fonts directory is actually completely flat, there are no subdirectories in it. The Font Family grouping is GUI sugar by Explorer.) Only obscure fonts which are alone are displayed as individual fonts. The Font Family is like a folder in Explorer, open it to see the individual fonts.

fontext.dll seems to be the special DLL that Explorer uses for displaying the Fonts folder. (C:\Windows\System32\fontext.dll) It can be observed that Windows creates a temporary fontext.dll.mui whenever the Fonts folder is opened in Explorer, this indicates that this DLL is being used. (.mui or MUI is Multilingual User Interface, a Windows technology to enable user interfaces in multiple languages on the same computer.) There seems to be very little information available about this DLL.

Anyway, to see the font filename, right-click the individual font and open its Properties. (For example, Consolas Bold turns out to be consolab.ttf)

Or you could open up a command window and look at the contents of the C:\Windows\Fonts directory. You will also notice that all the fonts actually have only a 8.3 filename! Even the newer Vista and Windows 7 fonts!

PS: I also noted with a tinge of sadness that the old Add Fonts dialog box had finally been laid to rest in Windows 7. It cannot be found or invoked from anywhere. This decrepit looking dialog box had been in Windows since the days of Windows 3.1 for almost 20 years (upto Vista).

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