Do you wish you had Lucida Grande as the system font in macOS High Sierra? Wish no more, it’s possible to easily change the system font away from San Francisco and to the fan favorite Lucida Grande again in macOS 10.13.
Some of you are probably confused so let’s cover some quick background; Some Mac users may prefer the older Lucida Grande system font that existed on Mac OS for many years prior to the introduction of Yosemite, where it was changed to Helvetica Neue, and then again in El Capitan and onward where the system font changed again to San Francisco. The difference between the system fonts is subtle but noticeable in overall spacing and thickness, and some users may prefer one to the other. If you’re one of us who enjoys the easy-on-the-eyes Lucida Grande font and you’re running macOS High Sierra, you can use a nice little tool to easily switch between those two system fonts on your Mac. System font readability is one of those topics that some users care greatly about, and others could not care any less about and won’t even notice. Obviously if you don’t miss the older Lucida Grande system font then you’re probably not the target audience for this particular tool. But if you do, it’s super easy to change in macOS High Sierra and this utility is a great little add-on.
How to Switch the macOS High Sierra System Font to Lucida Grande
You should backup your Mac before using this utility. It’s very unlikely something will go wrong, but if something does you’ll be glad you have made a fresh backup beforehand. Also, it’s good practice to routinely back up your Mac anyway :-)
- Get macOSLucidaGrande from Luming Yin’s Github page here
- Launch macOSLucidaGrande, then click on the “Lucida Grande” tab and then click on the green check button to install the font on the Mac
- Restart the Mac for the system font change to take full effect
Once you reboot you will find that Lucida Grande is the default system font everywhere, in menus, title bars, window bars, all system text will be switched over.
For the most part the effects are flawless, but you may notice some curious font issues with groups of browser tabs and various apps, whether or not that is acceptable to you is your choice. If you decide it’s not tolerable, you can remove Lucida Grande and restore the default system font just as easily as setting Lucida.
How to Restore Default System Font in MacOS High Sierra
If you decide you’re not into Lucida Grande on the Mac, you can easily change back to the High Sierra default system font of San Francisco again.
The steps are basically the same as installing Lucida Grande, but choose “San Francisco” from the app instead.
- Relaunch the macOSLucidaGrande app and click the “San Fransisco” tab
- Click the green check button to re-set the original San Francisco font as the system font
- Reboot the Mac
The change between Lucida Grande and San Francisco is fairly subtle. Lucida Grande has larger spacing and is a bit thicker, making it easier on the eyes for some users, whereas San Francisco has tighter spacing and is thinner overall. Many users might not even notice the change.
The animated GIF below shows San Francisco versus Lucida Grande in the Finder:
For those who care about this sort of thing because they find Lucida Grande easier to read, you may appreciate some other tips to improve the readability of text and fonts on a Mac include disabling transparency effects in Mac OS, increasing interface contrast, and increasing all text and font sizes by changing the Mac resolution. The latter option is less than ideal for many users because it reduces the screen resolution and available screen space on a Mac, but it does make things appear larger as a trade-off. The Mac does not have a bold fonts option (yet anyway), which is unfortunate, but such a feature does exist in the iOS world.
This tool is a revamped version with High Sierra support of something we have covered in the past for Sierra, and has been a topic covered for El Capitan and Yosemite as well. So if you have an older MacOS version as well you can change the font there too if you’d like, though it’s worth pointing out that the macOSLucidaGrande tool works with all modern versions of macOS that used San Francisco, including High Sierra, Sierra, and El Capitan.