The Typography Palette in MacOS Got Some Nice New Icons

Even for a Mac user who prides themselves on refined taste in typography, one would be excused for missing the rather buried Typography palette in MacOS. It is available in any application that supports the Fonts selector and allows you to enable all manner of features, depending on what the specific font file permits. You can set which ligatures are supported, toggle specific alternate characters, and enable old-style numbers which flow more nicely in body text.

For a long time, this palette was a dry list of checkboxes and disclosure triangles. A user would need to first know this palette exists, and then know what each option did. But, in a recent version of MacOS, the palette has been updated with icons that more clearly display what will change. Depending on the font file in question, there are many different options available, and the numerically differentiated “stylistic sets” have never been clear. This is much nicer.

I have not seen this documented anywhere and I do not remember it launching with MacOS Sonoma. I am running MacOS 14.3.1 as of writing. I have not seen anything relevant in Howard Oakley’s documentation. Regardless of when it was updated, it is a very nice change that helps everyone understand typography a little better. Now, if only Pages defaulted to old-style figures when writing paragraph-level text.