As a designer, I have thousands of fonts floating around on my computers. It’s hard to keep track of them, let alone remember how each one looks. There are times when you see something and you KNOW you have the font, but you can’t place the name of the typeface.

I had one of these situations yesterday. A client gave me a text “logo” that we needed for a print piece, but as tends to happen sometimes, the client didn’t have the logo in any format that could be used for a print design. I know I had seen the fonts on the logo, but I didn’t know which ones they were. I looked through my standard set of fonts an couldn’t find them anywhere.

In comes a handy little iPhone app called WhatTheFont, from typeface foundry Bitstream. WhatTheFont is designed so you can see a font on something, in this case, it was from a low resolution JPEG file that was used on the client’s website, and have the app use Bitstream’s extensive font database to identify fonts that are similar to the text you are looking at. After doing a bit of clean-up work in Photoshop, I took a picture of the text I wanted identified with my iPhone’s camera. From there, you draw a box around the text you want the app to identify and the app will upload the image to Bitstream’s site and then spit back a set of possible fonts. It’s a pretty straight forward process. I had two unidentifiable fonts in this logo and WhatTheFont identified them both perfectly. If it’s an obscure font, it can be difficult to identify, but overall, it does a really good job making a match.

Right now, I’ve only been able to find an iPhone app for WhatTheFont. If you don’t have an iPhone, Bitstream does have a web-enabled version of the service on their MyFonts site. Of the two, I love the iPhone app since I find it to be much easier to use and it’s portable. With the ability to just take a photo with your phone’s camera wherever I am and process on the fly, it’s much simpler than having to save an image onto your hard drive of the font you want to identify. The web version does have the ability to identify an image on the Internet as well by just plugging in an image URL into the form and it can match off that as well. Either way, this can be a valuable tool in any designer’s toolbox.

The app is available for free on the iTunes App Store and can be accessed on the web for free as well.


More info about the iPhone app:

MyFont’s WhatTheFont for iPhone page:

MyFont’s WhatTheFont web page: