How to Restore Default Windows Fonts?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Vlad M. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I'm using a laptop that I've had for several years, during which time I've accumulated a sizable number of fonts in the c:\windows\fonts directory. Some of the fonts I chose to install, some came pre-bundled with programs, and some came from previous versions of Windows when I upgraded (I am now using Windows 7 Ultimate). Question: how can I determine which fonts are necessary for Windows to run properly, and which I can uninstall to reduce load time and clutter? Thanks! "

My response:

There isn't a clear-cut way to do this in Windows, and having too many fonts on the system as you mentioned can result in significant lag especially when using word processing programs or photo editors. That's because fonts are cached (and so is the font directory), and if you have too many, this causes delays as the hard drive must search through and load all the fonts.

Fewer Windows Fonts Means Faster Load Times

You can speed things up by deleting fonts that are not in use in the font directory, and then restore the default system fonts. Unfortunately, restoring the default Windows system fonts isn't exactly easy. For example, in Windows 7 and 8, the fonts are hidden in a file called install.wim on the Windows DVD, which must be mounted and in order to extract the files. The steps involved are technical and not at all straight forward.

Luckily there's a simple workaround: you can download and install Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007 (free) from Microsoft, which also happens to contain default Windows fonts. Note that the steps below should work for any version of Windows from Windows 2000 and beyond.

How to Restore Default Windows Fonts

Here are the steps:

1. Download Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007 from Microsoft's website (25.8MB)

2. Click Start and type in 'cmd' (no quotes) to open a command prompt.

3. Move all fonts that are not in use to a temporary directory using a command prompt. To do so, type in the following:

mkdir \temp\fonts
move c:\windows\fonts\*.* \temp\fonts

You may receive "Access Denied" error messages. That's normal, because some fonts will be in use by the system.

4. Next, install Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer 2007.

5. Reboot the system.

That should do it. I tested the procedure using a Windows 7 Ultimate virtual machine and it worked flawlessly.

If you need to, you can reverse the steps above by cutting and pasting the fonts from c:\temp\fonts to c:\windows\fonts.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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JeffRL's picture

I was under the impression that starting with either XP or Vista, the number of fonts no longer mattered because of a change in how the registry keeps track of them and makes them available to both the OS and apps. Is that not true?

I'm a certified fontaholic and I have at least a gazillion of them, but I still try to keep the number that are actually installed down simply because it makes it easier to scroll through the fonts list in my word processor and other programmes. (If I add some for a specific project, I usually delete them later.) However, I'm pretty sure that there was a change to how fonts are handled by Windows and that it makes no difference to how long it takes for Windows to start or for apps to open like used to be the case with earlier versions of Windows.