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When are you going to fix the huge Helvetica issue?

  • 22 replies
  • 314 have this problem
  • Last reply by Neutron

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I am having issues with headers and other text on many sites, including popular sites such as Tumblr and Twitter. It has been noted that this is an issue with the Helvetica font and you must delete the font for Firefox to work properly.

This problem does not occur with ANY other browser except Firefox, and browsers are supposed to know to substitute fonts. This is an ongoing problem I have simply dealt with for a year at least until it started causing more and more problems with new sites I use. I'm a graphic designer. If I am forced to choose between a very popular font for my work or a malfunctioning browser with support that would rather duct tape the problem than give any real customer support, then I will definitely choose my font and a different browser more willing to fix its shortcomings.

Please let me know if there is any progress being made on this matter.

All Replies (20)

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Sorry, not familiar with that Bug. Here's a search of Bugzilla for Bugs regarding "Helvetica". If you can id the Bug you are talking about you'll see if there has been any progress made in fixing it.

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There is at least one other post on here and the only response was saying the only solution is deleting Helvetica.

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Such fonts are old Mac bitmap versions of the Helvetica font and are not working in Firefox 3 and probably won't work in future Firefox versions either.

You will have to use modern vector type fonts (Open Type, True Type).

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My Helvetica IS True Type. I'm on a PC and using a PC True Type font. Can't something be done so Firefox properly substitutes the font for something it CAN use?

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Could your problem be related to what is mentioned in this comment?

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My problem is indeed related to that post as I myself posted a link to it above.

There is another "solved" version of the problem on bugzilla linked to in the page both you and I linked to and the solution was "Uninstalling Helvetica from the Fonts folder will solve all of these problems."

I am simply unwilling to choose between such a commonly used font I need for work when other browsers work just fine.

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There is this pref: browser.display.auto_quality_min_font_size (20)

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What should I do with that? Went to about:config and checked it. It's set to 20.

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The number of people with this problem is rising while assistance has stopped. The setting recommendation is already set to that as a default and hasn't fixed anything. No further assistance has been made in regard to that solution. As for the other suggestion to find the bug, I have done so. It is always the same. Someone responds at first and then disappears to leave the problem unsolved. I've listed the bug only to have it relinked to and then my problem ignored.

It has now been 10 days since the last attempt at helping with this issue. I will not remove my Helvetica font especially as my version is not a bitmap font and is a truetype font. If Firefox will not fix this issue, it needs to make sure the browser at least replaces the font. With how popular a font Helvetica is and with the fact that no other browser has this issue, I simply don't understand why this problem goes on without remedy.

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Did you check that you really only have one font that identifies itself as Helvetica and not others that may cause this problem?

True Type versions shouldn't cause problems.
You can try to temporarily remove that font to see if you still have that issue.

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I asked you about a particular comment (#3) in that Bug report - specifically this part of that comment.

- if the CSS definition defines the font family using font: instead of font-family:, this bug does not occur.

Yes, J C Johnson also said this:
- when setting the font-family by way of font-family: (instead of by font:), the error only occurs once you're showing fonts over 20pixels in size. It doesn't matter if the font size is set by way of em or px, but once the actual display size is over 20px, it gets garbled.

But that might be only on his system or it may have changed in the last two years since he posted that, probably about a Firefox 3.0 version.

You may not realize this, but all the help provided here is by other users who volunteer their time to try to help other users, and your attitude isn't especially conducive to getting help, IMO.

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See for yourself.

Modified by courtneyrose

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Thank you for the reply and the information, but unfortunately I do not think this fixes the problem. I am unable to go into a site and change their coding.

I believe you may have misinterpreted my frustration. I have been posting to several forums and finally to Mozilla's own support forum in hopes of getting official assistance that will fix my problem. I was not aware this site is for volunteer support and wish I could direct my question to an official Mozilla representative. Either way, my statements stand. I have an issue, I'm frustrated with Firefox (not with the volunteers attempting to help me), and I have yet to receive a working solution that doesn't involve me removing a font every time I need to use the internet.

It is inhibiting my work more and more as this problem goes on. I am not meaning to give you attitude, I am simply stating that while responses have stopped, I have still not been given a solution, and I am sincerely perplexed as to why this is an issue at all. I don't have a professional understanding of browsers, and that is why I reach out for help. I do not understand why this is only an issue with Firefox, and I'm genuinely asking. I'm sorry you feel my attitude isn't conducive to getting help, but would my question have received any more notice if I hadn't stated I still did not have any answer?

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It would be nice if one could globally substitute Arial for Helvetica for Firefox, but the only thing I've found was a site by site modification using Greasemonkey. I need Helvetica on a daily basis for other programs like InDesign and it is a major hassle to delete and reinstall those fonts just because Firefox can't handle Helvetica. And - as with the many printing problems with Firefox - no one is owning up to the problem much less expressing any interest in fixing it. I have three screen prints of the same page: IE 8, Chrome, and FF (didn't bother with Opera). Firefox is the only browser that renders Helvetica so poorly that it is almost illegible.

Personally, I think that FF's days are numbered. Just waiting for a secure password manager in Chrome to complete jump ship.

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Zwayne, I agree. My question is receiving sporadic responses when I complain and is then remaining unsolved. Most Helvetica text in FF isn't just hard to is IMPOSSIBLE. It shows as an array of characters like capital letter with accent marks that don't correspond at all to what is written.

I've been trying to get a fix for this for months. Mozilla's goal is to improve user's Internet browsing experience, but I feel left out and completed neglected as a graphic designer. Fonts are so important to what I do, but no one can help me with an issue with a very common font. Only Firefox has this issue, and I can't imagine why they won't fix it. For a browser made to be better for users than all the rest, it sure has made things harder. I loved Firefox, I recommended it, and I use it at home and work and everywhere else I go. I'm going to wait and see if anyone can help me by October as I wish I didn't have to jump ship.

You seem to have thought this over and have the exact same issue. If you're saying Chrome is the way to go, I'm going to do that. I just hope the issue gets fixed or problems like this are going to be the end of what had potential to be the best browser option out there.

Modified by courtneyrose

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Thank you to everyone who has tried to offer help. Helvetica is indeed the problem and I only have .ttf files identified as Helvetica. I see a wide array of possible solutions from offering the font file in an update to substituting the font. Obviously this isn't an unsolvable problem if I'm on a Mac with no trouble and can use other browsers without this issue.

I appreciate the volunteer help and think it's a fantastic idea for a help forum but wish Firefox had actual programmer customer support who could answer my questions. My frustration is directed at the business hiding at the heart of Mozilla hiding behind a volunteer community. I always loved that Firefox is a community run browser, but I'm seeing not that it definitely has it's downsides as I can only direct my questions and problems to forums of volunteer users and no official representatives, programmers, or employees. Someone has to be running Mozilla. Someone runs marketing and programming, and regulates concepts. By having no real customer service, only a volunteer forum, no one really has to be held accountable for fixing issues.

I really hope for a solution, but I guess I should stop holding my breath...

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Here is someone else's picture of the exact same problem I have:

A solution was found "uninstall Helvetica." Any other ideas?

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Still no working solution and no new attempts at assistance. Any progress on the problem or am I just out of luck and have to give up on Firefox?

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I don't know if it will solve the garbling problem as in you case, but if legibility is the issue you could try using one of the third-party freetype rendering applications like gdi++, ezgdi or gdipp (which is what I'm using now) to make fonts render like that in safari:

...which however doesn't solve the other font rendering problem FF4 beta has still:


Modified by kimatg

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I'm having the same issue. I've just tried using CSS to replace Helvetica Neue with Arial and it works for me. To run it on all sites automatically - overriding all instances of helvetica neue - you can install the Firefox addon Stylish and add the rule here:

I think there's also a way to do it without the Stylish addon (by using Firefox's user stylesheet) but I'll have to find details later.

The rule is basically:

@font-face { font-family: 'helvetica neue'; src: local('Arial'); }

If you try it, please let me know if it fixes it for you.

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