Is there an application to simply preview a font from a TTF file without installing it?

7 Answers 7


I use character maps heavily and decides to make one which you access from anywhere using a web interface and requires no installation. Works best on Chrome.


  • Select your own font file
  • Provides font and character information
  • Character copy-able
  • Supports TTF/OTF
  • Supports Icon fonts
  • Simple interface
  • No installation necessary
  • No server upload necessary


enter image description here

  • 2
    Very nice. But I can't see how to navigate through the characters. It shows ranges of 200 chars, but clicking on those ranges doesn't do anything, so only the first 200 chars are ever visible.
    – Mr Lister
    May 5, 2015 at 11:33
  • It seems the version on that link has a bug. Running the version from github.com/bluejamesbond/CharacterMap locally works (needs node and npm)
    – textshell
    Feb 6, 2016 at 21:54
  • 2
    – Calamar
    Nov 13, 2016 at 10:29
  • 1
    I get an error "TypeError: glyph is undefined" when trying to upload "Noto Color Emoji" font (google.com/get/noto/#emoji-zsye-color) Mar 13, 2018 at 20:01
  • 2
    Look like this heroku project is now dead (?) Apr 15, 2023 at 20:23

gnome-font-viewer (part of GNOME of course) can do this (this is the default association for fonts under GNOME); indeed, it comes with a button to install the font, which obviously wouldn't make sense if the font needed to be installed already.

fontmatrix lets you organize groups of fonts to be installed or uninstalled, and you can preview them and see their features, whether installed or not.

Most font editors, like fontforge, certainly don't require the fonts to be installed to open them up and look at them...

There are others, I'm sure.

  • not installed by default in all ubuntu variations. thanks.
    – phil294
    Oct 1, 2017 at 15:22
display OpenSans-CondBold.ttf

what <code>display</code> displays when opening a font file

display is part of imagemagick, so you will need it to be installed.

Answer possible thanks to this forum post.

This problem has been bugging me for years, because it is only every few months that I want to preview a font and I never remembered which software solved it last time, so I made a video version of this answer to make it easier to find in the future.


Font Manager is very handy for previewing and comparing fonts. It allows you to install TTF files, even if zipped, and will preview them pretty quickly. It does install them in your ~/.fonts directory, but it's pretty easy to remove them.

Font Manager


GNOME Characters

Characters is a simple utility application to find and insert unusual characters.

Requires font installation but displays emojis for me where gnome-font-viewer fails. Install through snap or compile.

sudo snap install gnome-characters

enter image description here


Glyphr Studio Online is an online, free, web based font designer. As character maps, you can view the font, but also edit.

Glyphr Studio Online


fontpreview with command line interface:

fp /tmp/noto.ttf

This command also other functionality, like color, size and position:

fp /tmp/noto.ttf -b 'green' -f 'blue' -p 'lcenter' -z 50

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