tech, simplified.

How to Install Your Own Fonts on iOS

There’s one tiny thing that’s always bugged me: not being able to install my own fonts in iOS. I wouldn’t want to change the main system fonts, but simply would like to bring, oh, Maven Pro or Courier Prime or Pitch to the iPad and use it as a writing font in text editors and word processors. The built in typefaces are great, far better than the terribly limited selection included on other mobile OSes, but there’s a world of beautiful typography that’s off limits to the iPad unless a developer adds them directly to that app.

Letting you install your own typefaces doesn’t seem like too crazy of a request; after all, if the iPad’s the computer of the future, the designers of the future will want to work with more than just Helvetica Neue and Zapfino. Plus, iOS doesn’t support every language out-of-the-box, and many languages only have one supported font in iOS, so for those languages installing extra fonts is actually even more important.

Several months ago, I discovered that you can install OS X dictionaries in iOS 7. That was pretty awesome to find, since I often consult a Thai-to-English dictionary and now that’s just a tap away from any word on my iPhone.

That discovery led me to find that you could also install your own fonts on iOS—though at the time it was required a rather convoluted process. Abelardo Gonzalez, the design of the OpenDyslexic typeface, first cued me in that you could do so, as him and others had pieced together how to get it to work thanks to iOS 7’s Configuration Profiles. Since then, support’s shown up in a number of places, and now it’s terribly easy to get your own fonts installed on your iPhone or iPad. Here’s the best ways:

Now, all you’ll have to do is open an app that lets you choose your editing font (yup, Pages works fine) and select your newly installed font from the font list. It’ll work for normal editing, and even should print out perfectly in completed documents. And if you’ve installed a font that supports a non-supported language in iOS, you’ll suddenly be able to read text in that language in every app on your device.

iOS is slowly but surely growing into a full computing platform that’s increasingly close to letting you do anything you’d do on a Mac or PC. The past month has brought us both Microsoft Office and Adobe Lightroom for the iPad, filling out the ranks of professional apps that already were on the iPad, from Apple’s iWork and iLife apps to great productivity apps from Panic, the Omni Group, and so many more 3rd party developers. Throw in Mac-like features like being able to install your own dictionaries and fonts, and some hardware like an external keyboard and wireless printer, and there’s little that the iPad can’t do these days.

It’s indisputable today that the iPad’s as much a work device as anything. It’s a real computer—one that even lets you bring along your own typefaces. Now, if we just had Xcode for iPad and could code iPad apps on the iPad, it’d be a 100% complete standalone computing platform.

The Colors of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office's branding today is more centered on colors and typography than the icons themselves. If you find yourself wanting to use their icons in your own work, say perhaps in a preview image when writing about them (the reason I needed them), it's easiest to have a palette of the colors used for Office's branding. And thanks to the CSS on, here's the official colors for each of the major Office apps:

And, of course, each of the app names are set in Microsoft's Segoe UI Light typeface.


The icons themselves are a tad trickier. You can grab the original icons from an Office 2013 install, or otherwise there's a combined PNG of the Office icons in’s code. Or, on deviantART there’s a perfect set of the flat white Office icons, complete with correct background colors for each app. And if you actually want the colored individual icons without a colored background, Wikipedia has a full SVG of every icon in the Office lineup.

PDFs can be rather annoying to edit if you want to more than mockup and move pages around (something you can do rather easily in OS X' Preview app and a number of alternate PDF readers). If you have a copy of Adobe Acrobat, it's easy enough to edit them, but that requires Creative Cloud ($50/month) or a $400 investment.

So here, in my latest Tuts+ tutorial, is how to use Word 2013 to edit PDFs—and how to use Nitro Cloud to get PDFs ready for editing in any other version of Word. It's not something you'll need to use every day—if you do, just get a copy of Acrobat already—but might be a nice tip to bookmark for the times you do need to edit a PDF.

On Facebook and Twitter Ads

TL;DR: Social networks are great for spreading the word about almost anything. Ads on them, not so much.

I had a Doxie One to giveaway, and picked to give it away on April 1st as a inverse joke of sorts. This one’s the joke that’s actually real, everyone! Not exactly the best idea ever, since everyone seemed to ignore the giveaway the first day it was online, assuming it was just another April Fools’ joke, only one a lot less funny than the rest.

Yet, it was no joke. I had a real, $149 scanner courtesy of the Doxie team to giveaway, and I wanted to spread the word far and wide. What better place to spread the word about anything than social networks? The entries were trickling in from my existing follower base and their friends as the message shared, but I wanted more.

And so, I decided to do a little experiment. Every time you post something on a Facebook Fan Page these days, it prompts you to promote the post for money. I decided to take them up on it, for once. I’d promote the post to an audience of people who should be interested in a Doxie One (people who liked Evernote, Microsoft Office, and a few other things) in English speaking countries (since my post was in English), and limit the budget to the minimum possible ($15). The post told people that I was giving away a Doxie One, and to like the page and comment on that post to enter the giveaway. That’s not too much work to have a shot at a $149 scanner, and I figured I’d at least grow my page’s fan count, regardless of how unimportant that is with the new Facebook feed.

I did almost the same thing on Twitter, targeting people who were interested in Technology and liked Evernote, Doxie, and OneNote. You have to set a bid cost for clicks on Twitter as well; I’m cheap, so I went for half of the $1.15 they’d suggested. And I gave the campaign the same budget as Facebook’s, this time telling people to follow my page and share the post to enter.

You’d figure you’d get at least something for $30 of ads on the two hottest properties online today.

Not so fast.

Twitter says I got 5 new followers and Facebook claims 10 new likes on my page thanks to ads. And yet, my Facebook page likes actually only went up by 7, and my new Twitter followers are all people who already followed my personal Twitter account. Twitter says I got a total of 319 clicks to my site link thanks to the ad, and Facebook got 159 people to like my post and 6 people to click through to my site.


And yet, of all those, not one actually did what I said to enter the giveaway. No one commented on the Facebook posts, and the only people who shared the Twitter post were ones who would have seen it through my other account already. I got a ton of likes on the Facebook post itself, but that’s worth zero—page likes were what I was after, along with spreading the word about the giveaway, but apparently people clicked like on a picture post without even reading what it said.

Perhaps my targeting was too broad; I just saw a post today talking about how well Facebook mobile ads had worked for marketing an app with very specific targeting. I was trying to get a broad spectrum of viewers, and yet, perhaps that broad spectrum was less specifically interested in what I was offering.

Ads are a tough thing to actually get to work out well. If you’re Coke, you’re just trying to keep your brand’s name in people’s minds. With that, almost every possible ad buy is justifiable. But if you’ve got a specific goal in mind with your ad—getting people to share your content or directly purchase your product—Facebook and Twitter’s “targeting” isn’t going to magically bring the right people to your doorstep.

You might get a lot of likes on a post. But that’s not worth anything. You’re far better off focusing on your existing followers, and growing them naturally through quality products and posts. Even if you’re giving something away, the vast majority of people simply won’t notice if you’re telling them in an ad.

Convert Your Office 2011 Install to Office 365

If you already owned Office 2011 for Mac or individual copies of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint for Mac, and also have an Office 365 subscription (perhaps so you could use Office for iPad), you can actually go ahead and switch your currently installed copy of Office for Mac to Office 365 if you want. That way, you can get all of the Office apps and features—Outlook, say, if you had the Home edition, or all the other apps if you only owned one of them—on your Mac. Plus, you could free up that original license to perhaps install on an older Mac you've handed down.

Here's what you need to do. Just make sure you've installed the latest updates, then open any of the Office apps you have installed, click their app name in the menu, and select Upgrade Office...


Then, in the Getting Started dialog that'll open, select Sign in to an existing Office 365 subscription. Sign in with your Microsoft account, and seconds later your license will be switched to an Office 365 account. Interestingly enough, the Product ID will be "11111-111-1111111-11111" after you switch to an Office 365 license, instead of the typically random number you'll see after activating with a traditional license.

You'll now have access to every app included with Office 2011. There's no extra features right now, and the online sharing still says that you'll share documents to SkyDrive instead of the newer OneDrive, but at least you'll have everything on one license. And, of course, if you're making documents on your iPad, you'll want to have OneDrive for Mac installed to keep everything in sync.

Now, Microsoft will surely ship a new version of Office for Mac this year, hopefully with an overhauled UI like we've seen in OneNote for Mac, and with some of Office 2013's features like the new Flash Fill in Excel. It's hard to say how Office 2014 will ship for the Mac, but it's certain to be tied to Office 365 subscriptions and having yours on your Mac now can only make the transition easier.