In the past 48 hours, I’ve had two very weird issues pop up on my MacBook Pro, issues that are so weird as to make me wonder what gremlin has made its way into the innards of my laptop.

want a bold font, lose a few letters!

First, two days ago, I noticed that anytime a string was displayed in a bold font, letters were dropped out of the string. Initially, I saw it happening on web pages in Firefox, and figured it was a bug in the app, but opening up Safari I saw the same exact issue. Then, I checked to see if was doing the same thing, and sure enough, there were dropped letters aplenty in the bold strings of HTML emails. Same thing in every other app I tested, and there was nothing running that could explain the weirdness. Rebooting the machine solved the issue.

Then, tonight, I noticed that I wasn’t hearing the “whoosh” of sent email in, nor was I hearing the new mail alert. Entourage was still making its noises, though, but Adium wasn’t; the Sound preference pane wasn’t playing samples of the sounds as I chose them as the default alert. Again, there was nothing running that would have caused the weirdness, and it persisted even when I quit all applications — and again, rebooting the machine solved the issue.

I thought that the era of rebooting your Mac every so often to keep things running right was long past, but might it be making a comeback?


I’ve run into this before, it was caused by a rogue font, I think it was Helvetica Oblique. Some people who have installed 3rd party Helveticas (like Adobe) have reported this problem. It should be removed as there really is no system-level Helvetica Oblique, the Mac OS tries to generate it as italic from Helvetica and the system’s attempts to render it via a font causes a conflict.
Removing the font from your Fonts folder and clearing your font caches should permanently cure the problem. Unless it’s some other problem, of course. Just don’t mess with the Apple-supplied Helveticas, the OS won’t run unless they are present (which should give you some idea of how deep a problem it can be when bad Helv fonts are present).

Now if I can just figure out why I’m not hearing all the system alert sounds, just like you’re reporting. I’ve been working on that for weeks.

• Posted by: Charles on May 16, 2007, 10:48 PM

Alas, no rogue Helv fonts here, but I’ll give you that it was inevitable some weird font issue. What do you use to clear your font cache? I’ve never heard of having to do that on OS X.

(And is ther *any* way I can convince you to not populate my database here with fake email addresses, Charles? I mean what I say down there below the comment box — I really, really do want to get real email addresses so that I can correspond with people who leave comments if I need to, and won’t ever display it here.)

• Posted by: Jason on May 16, 2007, 10:57 PM

Sorry, the fake email address is an old antispam habit. I thought leaving my real website address was sufficient.

You could try Font Cache Cleaner, find it at and check it out. I think I used Font Finagler the last time I had this problem. But if it’s not a rogue Helvetica, I’m not sure what it could be. Usually bad fonts cause this sort of rendering problem, and it could be ANY font.

• Posted by: Charles on May 16, 2007, 11:47 PM
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