Take a closer look at OS X Yosemite's hot new font

OS X Yosemite font

OS X Yosemite is a pretty big visual departure from OS X Mavericks, including all new system wide fonts. Might not sound too exciting at first, but Apple has had basically the same font in OS X pretty much forever and changing it up has a much bigger visual effect than we might give it credit for – just look upon iOS 7 as an example. Now that Yosemite is out in the wild, Apple is giving us a much closer look at its new font, and it looks pretty hot.

For some, the choice of a font may not be a big deal. But to us, it's an integral part of the interface. In OS X Yosemite, fonts have been refined systemwide to be more legible and consistent across the Mac experience. You'll notice a fresh, new typeface in app windows, menu bars, and throughout the system. And it looks absolutely incredible on the Retina display.

It is pretty comparable to the change experienced from iOS 6 to iOS 7. The new font looks a little slimmer, sleeker than before and it looks like it goes beautifully with the added dose of translucency in Yosemite.

So what do you think to it? A welcome change or does it not do it for you? Sound off in the comments below!

Source: Apple

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

Take a closer look at OS X Yosemite's hot new font


will there be an option to change just the font back? its the only thing about yosemite that i dont love. i said the same thing about ios7 and i still havent updated. font snob

Font snob?!
I’m deeply puzzled, we are talking about Helvetica here... font snobs the world over are doing happy-dances ;¬)

I'm also not liking that font on a desktop machine (big iMac). I can't really explain very well but it's almost as if it's too strident.

Why can't Apple give us a font chooser at the system level after all these years is beyond me. Especially when Microsoft allowed it since the days of Windows 95?

Not hating on Apple here but I know that people love options even if they may never be used. I wonder how these changes look on a Non-retina display? I'm sure the changes will look great on my 27" Cinema Display and (maybe?) on the 13" display of my MacBook Pro.

I welcome a new more up to date look and feel as long as the changes are worthwhile and Core Animation and other GPU services are leveraged instead of the new eye candy eating up CPU resources.

Mavericks runs like a dream on my MBP, so I'm sure I'd have no trouble with Yosomite. Just as long as they don't dump support for Nvidia 320m based Core 2 Duo models.

They did that in OS 8.5-9.2 and the UI looks like warmed over bollocks with some fonts that people choose.

You know, like people setting titlebars to 96pt Comic Sans in Windows 98. Pointing to crap from the 90s and early 2000s is hardly the best point to make.

What a wonderful lack of of a counterpoint. Should I bring up that my Galaxy Tab has multiple font options over the iPhone? The fact is choice is an obvious advantage to not having one at all.

FYI... I used Tahoma or Arial which were far easier on the eyes with font smoothing on my Windows systems.

You seem a little bent out of shape over such an observation and yes I'm aware systemwide fonts were changeable all the way up to 9.2.2 that of which I liked Sand.

It is a PERSONAL computer after all. I'm surprised that anyone's other choices really get under your skin so easily. Who gives a damn if someone uses MS Comic Sans on their old rig. Is it affecting you in some way?

How much of your brain power did it take for you to come up with that one?

Face it, you failed to prove your point. Call the hurt feelings police.

So basically, you think that everyone as a shot at being a better UI font wizard than Apple’s design team?

Where did I say that? There's a huge difference between picking an existing system font that's easier to read for some than others than designing a new font entirely...

Lay off the Apple Juice, really. You have made one of the dumbest replies in history after selectively reading what I've written.

It's much like my small 7" tablet. A Galaxy Tab 3, nothing really outstanding. I had chosen Helvetica over the stock font that Samsung uses as it's default as it looks much better on a small display.

Did I need to "design" said font? Clearly not.

Looks pretty nice! The current font is fine on my rMBP but doesn't look great on a 1080p monitor. Hoping this font is a bit smoother.

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Appears similar to the iOS font to me, so another small detail that brings more similarity between the two platforms, I'm assuming.
Looks fine to my not-as-young-as-they-used to be eyes. :)

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It's Helvetica Neue, so it's very close. I think the big thing they did was take a do-over on OS X's anti-aliasing algorithm. It was fine in the days of CRTs, but IMO, it's a bit fuzzy.

It does add a nice light, airy effect to the UI. I agree it fits the translucency well, but it's weird that other elements don't, such as the menu bar in Safari's window and iTunes in general (but the icon hasn't even changed, so I'm sure they left its "refresh" out of this beta purposefully).

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honestly, I'm looking at the pic, and the menu bar on my mac as i type this, and i really can't tell the difference with the font.

I think the actual font name is "HelveticaNeueDesktop-Regular" or something like that. I seem to recall seeing that while watching the keynote live stream.

Been playing around with Yosemite for the last 24 hours or so - i must say I really love this OS X - Was a bit of a skeptic about the iOS7-nification of my beloved Mac OS X - something has been with me since the Tiger day.

But Yosemite is the future facing OS X - brilliant ... as for the FONT it looks super hot along with the translucency et al.

It's Helvetica or some variant of it. But it's one of the best and cleanest fonts out there.

It's not realy a new font, it's the same typeface, just a different version of it, neue has some very subtle tweaks to icrease legibility and more different weights.
The reason it looks different is because the size and width have changed, if they would have kept the same fontsize and weight, noone on this page would have noticed any difference!

From the screenshots I've seen the font looks fine. Don't care that much either way.

It's the stupid translucency I can't stand. It's a dumb thing to do to a user interface. Serves no purpose but to distract. Freaking awful. End rant.

I thought I was the only one that really didn't care for it either but it will eventually grow on me. Including the move back to the standard flat dock appearance that was changed long ago for useless eye candy in Leopard.

As long as the font remains legible with the gear I have (best display sporting 2650x1440) on the Cinema Display, I think it will be fine for Mac hardware without Retina Displays. IIRC, the latest release of GarageBand is already using this typeface. I'd have to fire up my MBP to really notice.

Overall though, the window transparencies I do agree, serve no real purpose. They may make the UI on my iPhone 5 look like something more "modern" but. The useful part of it was knowing I still had content behind the soft keyboard on the small display but in OS X, it lacks that problem with much larger displays and no soft keyboard obscuring the content being shown. Good mobile idea, not so much for the desktop

Since Helvetica Neue only really works well on high DPI displays, does this mean a Retina display Macbook Air is on the way?

Pretty, I guess, but how do I make the font bigger? My middle-aged eyes could read my screen fine before this "upgrade," but now I'm squinting and straining.

Can't imagine Steve Jobs would have approved of using Helvetica/Arial. Of course Helvetica a serviceable font. It's a no-brainer font for non-designers. Can't understand why Apple would use it. They could have designed or commissioned a unique font. Now my web browser text, email text, printed reports off my laser printer, user manuals, basic PDF's, and basic documents all have the SAME FONT as the menu bar and system. From an affordance and usability perspective, the system font should be distinctive. I sure hope someone develops a hack to change this boring system font! I would play real money for it.