Taming the Google Chrome garbled font beast

Does this look familiar?

Google Chrome Garbled Text Screenshot

It seems that Google Chrome has a bit of an issue with Helvetica, Arial, and a few other fonts displaying as square-like glyphs instead of properly rendered text. The issue appears to be on Windows and Mac, and fortunately there are many many forum posts and articles discussing in length this very subject albeit a little difficult to find initially. Unfortunately many of the fixes out there didn’t fix the issue for me. My personal path to success goes as such: 

  • Many many searches trying to find related articles. Finally I had success with various combinations of the keywords: garbled, square font, chrome font bug, glyphs, rendering
  • Tried many solutions unsuccessfully including: clearing my font caches, adding custom CSS to Chrome, and changing the default font in Chrome’s preferences
  • Finally I found some folks talking about a relationship between “font managers” and Google Chrome fonts. This led me to try adding Chrome to the “Allowed” list in FontExplorerX’s preferences to no avail
  • This got me thinking though that the issue had something to do with the font manager handling the font and possibly creating a conflict for Chrome reading it. This hunch was confirmed by another handful of articles and in the end my solution was to launch FontExplorerX and look for system fonts specifically HELVETICA, HELVETICA NEUE, AND ARIAL. I noticed there were duplicate entries of these fonts, and I simply deleted the ones that weren’t system fonts as indicated with a little lock icon. I restarted my computer for good measure, and after relaunching Chrome, everything worked just fine.

I’m hoping this cured the issue for good, but I will keep an eye out on it. Now I realize this may not work for you, but I just wanted to post another option for anyone who has tried all the others. Good luck and happy browsing!


One Comment

  • Reply St. Graham |

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I’ve been agonizing over this for years! Even switched to Firefox because of it. So glad I ran across your site coz you can’t find sh!t about it. Wonder how many people have this issue?

    It never occurred to me it was a conflict with FontExplorer. Helvetica Neue seems to be the culprit.

    Well done! Now I can use Chrome again.

    St. Graham

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