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The features of OpenType are supported to different extents in applications.

OpenType support in systems and applications

In this article we list the current and future applications which support OpenType, and mention some limitations.

OpenType fonts offer multilingual features and advanced typographic features. However, not all operating systems and applications provide access to these features. Three different levels of support for OpenType fonts can be named.

Basic Roman support. Application can display texts written using Roman script (English and other Western languages), but there is no support for oher languages or advanced typography.

Multilingual support. Application supports Unicode or its subsets and can display texts written using Roman script as well as other scripts (Cyrillic, Greek, Japanese etc.). In some cases, the multilingual support is limited and there is only partial support for right-to-left scripts or complex scripts such as Arabic, Hebrew or Devanagari.

Advanced features support. Application supports Unicode and allows the user to access advanced typographic features such as ligatures, small caps or alternates.

System support

Adobe, Microsoft and Apple have invested substantial effort in getting OpenType fonts working in older versions of Windows and the Mac OS. Adobe Type Manager (ATM) has been available from Adobe for many years, allowing their old PostScript Type 1 fonts to work on Windows and the Mac. The latest version of ATM, which works on Windows 95 and later, and Apple OS 8.6 and later, adds basic support for OpenType PS fonts. Important as these steps for older computers are, it is essential to be aware that many features in the font, including Unicode and advanced typography, simply cannot be available since the applications were not written to handle them.

OpenType TT

Since OpenType TT fonts are backwards-compatible with Windows TrueType fonts, basic Roman support is given anywhere where Windows TrueType fonts are supported: Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP and MacOS X. OpenType TT fonts are not supported in MacOS Classic environments (8.x-9.x).

OpenType PS

In Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT 4.0, and for MacOS Classic (8.x-9.x), you need to install Adobe Type Manager (ATM) to get basic Roman support for OpenType PS fonts. On MacOS, you need ATM 4.6.2 or newer, on Windows, you need ATM 4.1.2 or newer. ATM can be downloaded free of charge.

Microsoft Windows 2000/XP and MacOS X offer basic Roman support of OpenType PS fonts natively and ATM is not required.

Application support

Higher-level support of OpenType fonts depends on the application you use.

OpenType support in applications


Adobe is very keen for its products to support OpenType fonts, supporting it as fully as possible in its current applications. To this end, Adobe developed its own font handling system, which means that its applications work identically, whether running on Windows or on the Mac. As of this writing, Adobe InDesign 2.0 is the application that offers the most complete OpenType support, including advanced typography support. Photoshop 7.0 also offers advanced typography support, while Illustrator 10 offers multilingual support for OpenType TT fonts and basic Roman support for OpenType PS fonts. Other applications such as FrameMaker, PageMaker or GoLive offer basic Roman support for both OpenType flavors.

Since Adobe uses its own font handling engine, OpenType fonts are equally well supported in newer Adobe applications running on both Windows and MacOS.


Microsoft makes similar statements of OpenType compatibility aspirations to Adobe. However, Microsoft does not offer the user access to advanced typographic features, although Microsoft applications use some of the built-in layout features automatically when displaying complex scripts such as Arabic or Devanagari. On Windows, OpenType TT offer excellent multilingual support in most of Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, as well as WordPad or Notepadetc.). OpenType PS fonts only offer basic Roman support in Microsoft Office 2000/XP 2002 for Windows, but the upcoming Office 2003 will offer multilingual support for both OpenType flavors.


MacOS X and MacOS Classic offer basic Roman support for OpenType PS fonts. MacOS X also offers basic Roman support for OpenType TT fonts. Newest Apple applications for MacOS X use an Apple technology called ATSUI that offers multilingual support for both flavors of fonts.

In addition, Apple uses its own system of advanced typographic features called AAT. AAT fonts are Mac TrueType fonts with certain extensions and are not compatible with the advanced features of OpenType.

Other companies

Other software vendors such as Quark, Macromedia, Corel and others, do not offer any advanced features support. Some of them offer multilingual support while others – most prominently Quark – only offers basic Roman support for OpenType fonts.

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