How to easily install fonts in Linux on a per-user basis

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I am a font collector. One reason is that I design book covers and marketing materials to promote these books. Because of this, I tend to lean heavily on artistic fonts to make the material stand out.

When I first started using Linux, adding new fonts to the system could be a bit problematic. This was particularly the case with TTF fonts. However, in the last five years, installing fonts on Linux has become incredibly easy.

In fact, it doesn’t matter what desktop environment you use, as the developers have done a remarkable job to make this task as easy as possible. Don’t believe me…then read on.

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I’ll walk you through installing fonts in the GNOME, KDE Plasma, and Cinnamon desktop environments. Yes, you can do this from the command line as well, but my goal is to show you how simple the process can be, and the command line defeats that purpose.

One thing to keep in mind is that the methods I describe only install the fonts on a per-user basis. So if you have multiple users on your system and they all need access to these fonts, they will need to follow the same steps from their account.

How to install fonts in Linux on a per-user basis

So without further ado, let’s get down to installation.


Before we get to the font installation process, I’m going to give you some advice from a longtime font collector who has installed hundreds of things.

Create a directory for all downloaded font files. Better yet, create this directory on an external hard drive so if you ever reinstall your operating system, these fonts will still be available.

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Open your default file manager and navigate to the parent directory (e.g. the external drive) where the folder is located.

Right-click an empty space in the file manager and select New (or Create New > Folder – depending on your desktop). Give the new folder a name and press Enter.

The right-click menu in the GNOME file manager.

Creating a new folder in the GNOME file manager.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once this folder is created, make sure you save all your downloaded fonts in it (so you can use them again if you need to).

How to install fonts on GNOME desktop

First, let’s take a look at how fonts are installed in the GNOME desktop environment. After you’ve downloaded the fonts you want to install, you’ll probably need to extract them (since they usually download as a ZIP file). To do this, right-click the file and select Extract Here. This will create a new folder. Double click on this new folder to open it and you should see the TTF file or files. Double click on one of the TTF files to open the font viewer.

You should see an Install button in the top right corner. Click that button and the font will be automatically installed and accessible to the desktop apps.

The installer for GNOME fonts.

Installing a font in GNOME is very simple.

Image: Jack Wallen

How to install fonts on KDE Plasma desktop

The process of installing fonts on the KDE Plasma desktop is very similar. All you have to do is download the file, extract it, double-click the TTF file and click Install (in the Font Viewer window).

The installer for KDE Plasma fonts.

Installing fonts in KDE Plasma is just as easy as in GNOME.

Image: Jack Wallen

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How to install fonts in the Cinnamon desktop

Next is the Cinnamon desktop. As you’d expect, the process is pretty much the same: download the font, extract it, double-click the TTF file, and click Install.

It is really that easy.

The Cinnamon desktop font installer.

Installing fonts on the Cinnamon desktop is just as easy.

Image: Jack Wallen

Note, however, that each of these methods only installs the fonts to be accessible to that user. If you have applications like GIMP or LibreOffice open, you’ll probably need to save your work, exit, and reopen the application for it to recognize the newly installed fonts.

Dead easy.

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