How to reset Windows font settings and restore default fonts

Microsoft has improved the boot time of Windows 8 significantly in comparison to previous versions of the operating system.

While that is great, it does not mean that the startup time won't increase. If you install autostart programs for instance, or too many fonts, then you may notice that system start will slow down regardless of the improvements that Microsoft made.

We mentioned back in 2007 that fonts can slow down the start of the operating system, and things do not seem to have changed much in this regard.

Older versions of Windows don't ship with options to remove non-system fonts from the system. That's why third-party programs such as Font Frenzy were created which provided that functionality.

There is no clear distinction between system and third-party fonts in Windows. If you happen to remove fonts, by loading the fonts control panel applet and simply hitting delete on the keyboard after selecting fonts, you may remove system fonts that are still used by programs running on Windows.

So what can you do if you have accidentally deleted fonts that you still require? And how can you remove non-system fonts from the operating system without running the risk of removing system fonts?

Resetting font settings

restore default font settings

Windows font settings

It is easy to reset all font settings in Windows 7 or Windows. This can be necessary after font settings have been modified either by a user or by programs on the system.

Font settings determine among other things which font is used to display window titles or text in notification boxes.

  1. Press the Start button to open the Start Menu if you are running Windows 7, or the Start screen if you run Windows 8.
  2. Type change font settings and select that result from the list.
  3. Here you need to click on restore default font settings to remove all font customizations on the operating system.

Restore default fonts

This is actually not as easy as it sounds as you cannot list all system fonts on Windows to find out which are missing. There are two ways to restore default fonts.

Copy fonts from a Windows installation directory

windows iso extract

If you have access to a Windows installation directory, either extracted on the hard drive or in form of an ISO image, then you can copy the fonts from it to the fonts directory on your system to add them again in case they have been deleted previously.

It is essential that you use the same version of Windows if possible. If you are running Windows 7, use a Windows 7 ISO, and if you run Windows 8.1 use the ISO for it and not Windows 8.If you have an ISO image, you can mount it directly if you are running Windows 8. To do so, right-click the image and select mount from the context menu. It becomes available as a drive letter afterwards.If you run Windows 7, use a program like WinCDEmu instead which can do the same.Alternatively, burn it to disc or extract the contents of the ISO using a program like 7-zip.

  1. Mount or extract the Windows iso image first.
  2. Download GImageX from this website.
  3. Run the program and switch to the mount tab in it.
  4. Select an empty existing folder on the system as the mount point, for instance on that you create. The program will move the files into it so make sure enough space is available on the drive.
  5. Select sources\install.wim in the source directory and click on mount afterwards.
  6. It takes a while to mount the files.
  7. What's left now is open Windows\Fonts on the selected folder and copy the fonts from it to the fonts folder of Windows c:\Windows\Fonts.

Copy fonts from another Windows PC

windows fonts directory

If you run the same version of Windows on another device, you may want to consider moving the fonts from that device over to the system missing fonts.

You find all installed fonts in the C:\Windows\Fonts\ folder on the system. Use Windows Explorer of File Explorer on Windows 8 to browse to the location and copy them all to a flash drive, on a blank DVD, or via direct transfer options to the device missing fonts.

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How to reset Windows font settings and restore default fonts
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How to restore Windows font settings or restore Windows system fonts.
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Responses to How to reset Windows font settings and restore default fonts

  1. Bobby Phoenix May 29, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    Doesn't running sfc /scannow replace/restore the default fonts?

    • Martin Brinkmann May 29, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

      I tried that and it did not do so. I'm not sure though if the font I deleted was a Windows font or not.

  2. David May 30, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    All the graphics programs I use have their own font directories in addition to the Windows one. I like to use these for fonts that I add so that they don't get mixed up, lost or overwritten. One day I might even symlink them together.

    Nice to know this improves the system speed as well :-)

  3. Steve Williams August 25, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Hi Martin ... there is also the possibility to reset/restore your fonts manually.
    http://www.withsteps.com/404/how-i-restored-my-windows-7-default-fonts.html

    All the best!

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