How to add custom fonts to iOS app

⋅ 6 min read ⋅ Development Font

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In iOS, you can add and use a custom font to your app and use it like other assets. The process is not hard, but it might not be straightforward as adding an image. I will show you how to add and use a custom font and highlight tips, tricks, and pitfalls along the way.

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Preparing

To add a custom font, we need a font file. For this article, I will use Inter font. You can add any True Type Font (.ttf) and Open Type Font (.otf) files to an iOS app.

Fonts are generally very expensive, and a license is also complicated. There are usually different licenses for desktop, printing, and mobile. Make sure you read them carefully and pick the right one that suits your need.

My go-to resource is Google Fonts. You can find many beautiful free licensed font families there.

Here are all nine Inter font styles I downloaded.

Nine Inter font styles.
Nine Inter font styles.

Adding a custom font to your app

There are two steps to add a custom font to your iOS app.

  1. Add the Font File to Your Xcode Project.
  2. Register Your Font File with iOS.

Add the font file to your Xcode project

You add fonts into an Xcode the same way you did with other assets. Nothing complicated in this first step.

Select File menu > Add Files to "Your Project Name"... from the menu bar, select all the fonts you need to add, then click the Add button. Or drag the file from Finder and drop it into your Xcode project.

Drag the font files from Finder and drop it into your Xcode project.
Drag the font files from Finder and drop it into your Xcode project.

Make sure the font file is your app's target member by selecting the checkbox next to your app target name in the Add to targets section. The font file will not be distributed as part of your app if you fail to do so.

Register your font file with iOS

Adding a font to the project is not enough. You need to introduce them to iOS.

To do this, click on Info.plist and add the key "Fonts provided by application".

Add
Add "Fonts provided by application" key to let iOS know about the font.

After adding the "Fonts provided by application" key, Xcode will create an array value for the key. Add the name of the font file as an item of the array. Be sure to include the file extension as part of the name.

Put all font files with extension as the content of the
Put all font files with extension as the content of the "Fonts provided by application" key.

The system loads the specified fonts and makes them available for the app when that app is run. That means each font file you want to use needs to be on this list.

Using

That's all you need to do to add a custom font to your iOS app. You can start using them in your app. I will show you how to do it in Interface Builder, UIKit code, and SwiftUI code.

Use your custom font in Interface Builder

If you’re using Interface Builder, you can select your custom fonts right from the Attribute Inspector.

Set your custom font using the Attribute Inspector.
Set your custom font using the Attribute Inspector.

Use your custom font in UIKit

You can use your custom font by initializing it by name using UIFont.init(name:size:). Finding the font name to use here might be the trickiest part of this article. If you don't know how to get the name for your custom font, you can read it in the next section.

let label = UILabel()
// 1
label.font = UIFont(name: "Inter-Regular", size: 36)
label.text = "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet."

1 Set a label font to "Inter-Regular".

Here is an example of our custom font compared to a system font of the same size.

(Top) Inter font vs (Bottom) System font.
(Top) Inter font vs (Bottom) System font.

Use Your Custom Font in SwiftUI

Use the custom(_:size:) method to retrieve an instance of your font and apply it to a supported view with the font(_:) modifier. We are using the same name that we find from How to find the font name.

Text("Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.").font(.custom("Inter-Regular", size: 36))

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How to find the font name

As you can see, using custom fonts in UIKit/SwiftUI need to reference our custom font by name. And it doesn't always be the same name as your font file name.

In our case, font file name is prefixed by "Sw-", but we reference them without "Sw-", label.font = UIFont(name: "Inter-Regular", size: 36).

There are two ways to find the font name.

  1. UIFont.familyNames.
  2. Font Book app.

UIFont.familyNames

We can use the UIFont.familyNames method, which returns an array of font-family names available on the system.

You can put this code anywhere you want (viewDidLoad, SceneDelegate, or AppDelegate) since it means to run just one. Once you get the font name, you can remove this code.

for family in UIFont.familyNames.sorted() {
let names = UIFont.fontNames(forFamilyName: family)
print("Family: \(family) Font names: \(names)")
}

This is some part of the result I get.

...
Family: Hoefler Text Font names: ["HoeflerText-Regular", "HoeflerText-Italic", "HoeflerText-Black", "HoeflerText-BlackItalic"]
Family: Inter Font names: ["Inter-Regular", "Inter-ExtraLight", "Inter-Thin", "Inter-Light", "Inter-Medium", "Inter-SemiBold", "Inter-Bold", "Inter-ExtraBold", "Inter-Black"]
Family: Kailasa Font names: ["Kailasa", "Kailasa-Bold"]
Family: Kefa Font names: ["Kefa-Regular"]
Family: Khmer Sangam MN Font names: ["KhmerSangamMN"]
Family: Kohinoor Bangla Font names: ["KohinoorBangla-Regular", "KohinoorBangla-Light", "KohinoorBangla-Semibold"]
...

I added a total of nine styles, and the names are as follows.

Family: Inter Font names: ["Inter-Regular", "Inter-ExtraLight", "Inter-Thin", "Inter-Light", "Inter-Medium", "Inter-SemiBold", "Inter-Bold", "Inter-ExtraBold", "Inter-Black"]

This solution works to get font names and verify whether they get registered to the system, but it requires some setup and clean-up, which is quite overkilled. I prefer to use Font Book app, which is far simple, in my opinion

Font Book app

To find the name of a font using the Font Book app, you need to do the following.

  1. Install custom font in your machine by double-clicking on the font file, which should open an installation dialog like this. Then click Install Font.
  2. Open the Font Book app and click on your custom font family. In this case, it is Inter.
  3. Click the arrow to expand all styles under that font family.
  4. Click on any style you want to know the name. Font name that iOS use is the one in the PostScript name.

Tweet on how to find font name


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