Converting Mac Type 1 fonts to OpenType or TrueType

For a particular iOS project we received some old school Type 1 fonts. These Type 1 fonts do not seem to be supported by iOS, so they need to be converted to either OpenType or TrueType. Doing this for the first time took us quite a while to figure out, so decided to share it here.

The font files itself are a bit mysterious because they appear to be empty at first sight. Back in the days, people were using a legacy Mac OS feature called “resource forks”. This is a file system feature that has been around since one of the first Macs and has since been supported, even up until the latest Mac OS X.

Inside the resource fork of the Type 1 fonts, there is “printer font binary” data, wrapped with some other data. To convert the font, first we need to extract that “printer font binary”. There is a command line tool called “t1unmac” which is available through the MacPorts project.

Install the Type 1 command line tools and its dependencies:

sudo port install t1utils

Then use t1unmac to extract the “printer font binary” and save it into a file. Note that RawNor is the Type 1 font file here, and  /..namedfork/rsrc is added to the file name to access the resource fork.

t1unmac --raw RawNor/..namedfork/rsrc -o RawNor.pfb

Once you have the printer font binary (.pfb file), you can take a shortcut and use an online font converter like this one

Or you can take the long way home and install FontForge and use the example script they provided to convert from .pdf to .ttf or .otf.