Thursday, November 22, 2007

OS X 10.5 Leopard: Fixing Thai

In Leopard Apple decided to switch the default Thai font from Lucida Grande to Thonburi, making the Thai characters in the former inaccessible. This causes problems because a) the Thonburi Bold font is non-functioning for some reason and b) Thonburi's spacing is botched for mixed Thai/Latin text.

Pending Apple's fixing these issues, one idea is to replace Thonburi in System/Library/Fonts with a different Thai font. I downloaded the Garuda set described at this site and used FontForge to rename them Thonburi. After making backup copies of Apple's Thonburi, I replaced it with the renamed Garuda, and this seems to work. A copy of the renamed set can be gotten from my iDisk (the folder Garudathonburi). Feedback on whether this solution is helpful would be welcome.

Another fix would be to replace the Lucida Grande in Leopard with the same font from Tiger. I have seen reports that this does not seem to cause any problems.


Paul D said...

The fact that Apple apparently does no QA testing for any language other than English astonishes me sometimes. Beta versions of their products (like the Safari 3 beta) are frequently broken even in Japanese, Apple's second-largest market.

Paz said...

Thanks! I downloaded the font from your idisk and it works perfectly now

Catheryne said...

Hi. I have a problems pertaining to reading Thai fonts on my computer. All I am able to see are question marks (i.e. ???????????????? ????????) where Thai writing should be. What can I do to fix this problem?

I've tried downloading the fonts you put up on your iDisk and replaced them in the font folder. However, I'm still having the same problem.

Any help would be much appreciated! :)

Tom Gewecke said...

Catheryne -- to help I need you to email me details about what you are talking about. Browser? Email? MS Word? Also the url if you are talking about a web site, and for a browser or email whether you have tried to change the encoding. tom at bluesky dot org.

Catheryne said...

That was a quick response! Thank you :)

The problem I am talking about is when I check my email using the Mail application as well as browser. I am currently using Firefox as my browser. However, all the Thai websites I enter I cannot read. All Thai symbols would be question marks instead of Thai words I'm suppose to be able to read.

Could this problem be due to the fact that when I installed Leopard I customized the language? Should I reinstall Leopard and not customize anything relating to the language installation?

With all this going on, I find MSN messenger to be working fine. I was able to read the Thai fonts my cousin messaged me, but for everything else... I literally get question marks instead of Thai words.

Tom Gewecke said...

Re Browser: Do you have the same problem with Safari? If not the issue is bugs in Firefox. Can you see the Thai characters on this page?

Re: Mail. Do View > Message > Long Header. What does it say after Content-Type?

No, you should not reinstall Leopard.

Catheryne said...

I don't have Safari installed on my MacBook so I'm not sure if this problem only persists with Firefox.

I clicked on the Browser Language Test and was not able to read the Thai characters on top. Like I said, they all show up as question marks.

Could this just be a bug with Leopard?

Tom Gewecke said...

How can you not have Safari? It is part of the OS. Firefox cannot be relied upon to work with all scripts.

Download Opera and try it.

Leopard has no problem with Thai.

Mango said...

I've got exactly the same problem as Catheryne. I suppose the issue is bugs in Firefox as I can see Thai webpage in Safari (but I prefer Firefox than Safari though). I also tried copying text in alien language and pasting in TextEditor then I could it in Thai.
Is there any better solution for this than swopping to Safari just to view some Thai pages?
Many thanks ^^

Tom Gewecke said...

The Firefox authors have to fix these problems. Try the beta version of Firefox 3 or Opera.

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem as Catheryne

Tom Gewecke said...

The answer is the same as before: The Firefox authors have to fix these problems. Try the beta version of Firefox 3 or Opera.

Jenny said...


I hope someone can help. I need to incorporate Thai text (supplied by client), into some graphics produced in InDesign CS2 (running on OS 10.4)

I have managed to copy/paste some correctly displayed text from the web into TextEdit which is imported into InDesign. (Straight copying into InDesign leaves lines of boxes).

Seems ok but actually the character spacing gets distorted. Accents are slightly off and in some instances take up about a character space all to themselves.

I downloaded a freebie Thai font to try but this left me with squares again.

People must be able to work with Thai copy in industries such as translation but i'm not sure where to go from here!


(from UK)

Tom Gewecke said...

For help in making Thai work in Adobe apps, you need to ask in the Adobe forums:

I doubt that Adobe apps for Mac have proper support for Thai, but someone in those forums may know how to make it work.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, I converted to be Apple user this month from PC. Downloaded naturally Firefox ( and using OS X 10.5.2. Noticed that won't show fonts. Was baffled. Tried all kinds of handselection of fonts. Bugger, no luck.

Seems that indeed the problem is not the one described in the original blog entry. And the problem is indeed Firefox! :-O

Is this something that the Firefox for OS X developpers have only recently broken down? Does anyone know when they have managed to screw up Thai. :)

Actually, other fonts broken on that test page
are Hindi, Tamil and Tibetan. Hmm, odd as indeed as suggested, tried the page with Safari and it runs AOK. Oh dear. :-( Really I dont want to switch to Firefox Beta 3..but maybe I could test run the newest RC alongside the Firefox 2 and maybe report back here have they fixed it...Could someone report this bug to Firefox dev team? I think I have tried once to report some bug but if memory serves me correct, it requires creating an account to their pages, something I am really not into doing.

-Mr. K aka Anonymous Coward :)

Anonymous said...

Worked like a charm, thanks Tom.

Mac said...

Jenny and Tom,

As far as I can tell, inDesign CS2 is seriously crippled in Thai. Using Tiger (OS x 10.4.9) I can type or paste Thai text into inDesign CS2, but only as long as I use Apple fonts, i.e. Lucida Grande, Thonburi, Silom, etc.

Even then, inDesign frequently places line breaks in the middle of Thai words, so I assume it is not communicating with the same dictionary as TextEdit, Pages, Word, etc. Also, inDesign CS2 has problems with "floating" tone markers, even though Pages and TextEdit on the same machine do not.

CS3 might be better but I'm not there yet. I do know there is a software solution to improve Thai script performance in Illustrator and inDesign CS3. I don't know much about it other than that it's called Freelock and is mentioned in, and linked from, Graham Rogers' blog here:

Tom Gewecke said...

Neither Adobe nor MS apps have any Thai dictionary or their own (and they don't use Apple's), so correct Thai line breaking is definitely not supported.

Anonymous said...

Thanks you. It works perfectly for me. Solved

Jenny said...

Thank you for the responses. Mac, you described my problem better that I could, thanks! I'm a little stuck now and am left with a silly question - how do Thai speaking designers work in Adobe programs?

BTW Tom, unfortunately the Adobe forums are not yielding the enthusiastic response that I had hoped. Reply count so far at 0...

Tom Gewecke said...

People who need to do totally correct Thai in either MS or Adobe programs probably use Windows versions (though I don't have any info on how good the support is in those).

Mac said...

<... how do Thai speaking designers work in Adobe programs?>

Pre-OS X there were ADB or USB "dongles" that remedied Adobe's problems on Macs. Most of the Thai designers I know have now switched to PCs, for cost reasons, but give me a few days. I will ask around and get back to you with a better answer.

DJ said...

Try downloading the Thai Adobe Support Plug-ins from this Mac Shop in Bangkok. I downloaded their Windows-compatible fonts as well (Angsana,etc.) which I needed for a project.

Hope TSP's help.

Mac said...

I have asked a few Mac friends in Thailand, and from what I understand the cost-free Thai Support Plug-in (TSP 6.1) which DJ recommended will enable you to use Thai with inDesign CS2 and Illustrator CS2 -- but only if you also install a USB "dongle" called Hardlock. USB Hardlocks can be purchased in Thailand for around 5000 Thai baht (currently US$154), and you might be able to order one from one of the resellers listed at

The better solution, at least for those with a budget for CS3, is a software-only plug-in called Freelock Justifly. Freelock does not require a USB dongle, and it can be purchased (as a CD) from Apple resellers in Thailand for prices ranging between 900 and 1200 Thai baht.

From what I've heard and read (see and, Freelock Justifly works brilliantly. It even enables you to import PageMaker files, and convert the Thai text into Unicode, from within inDesign CS3 without using any additional encoding converter such as Cyclone.

I hope this helps and will be grateful for any feedback from anyone using either TSP with CS2, or Freelock Justifly with CS3.

A final note would be that any version of Pages will handle Thai script perfectly, and without any additional plug-ins or dongles. Pages is sold as part of iWork and the current version, iWork 8, is only US$79.

Pages is not as richly featured as inDesign, but it is a far better page-layout application than Word and may be all you need. Pages documents are not interchangeable with inDesign, but Pages can read MS Word files, and documents composed in Pages can be exported to MS Word. (Bear in mind that once the exported Pages document is opened in Word you will have to proofread the Thai text, and add spaces as appropriate, to prevent Word from placing line breaks in the middle of Thai syllables).

Anonymous said...

I am having trouble with reading Thai in Mac Mail (Leopard). I have tried to change the text encoding - I assume unicode is the right choice, since there is no encoding specifically for Thai.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Tom Gewecke said...

Go to system prefs/international/languages and add Thai (written in Thai script) to the list. Then you will find Windows Thai encoding added to the list in Mail. But this should not be needed unless the sender is using a junk mail program that doesn't put the required encoding headers into outgoing mail.

Anonymous said...


I can see the Thai when I open the message now. But the headings in the list of email headings still look like gobbledygook. Anyway to solve this?


Tom Gewecke said...

I don't think so. The junk mail program being used by the sender probably also fails to put the required encoding signals on those headers so Mail can adjust its display appropriately.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again.

Is there a website you'd recommend for Thai fonts for macs?


Tom Gewecke said...

wetlqd said...


I recently purchased a MacBook for my wife. She is switching from a PC to a Mac. I have been searching for a keyboard skin that she can lay over top the english keyboard to show the Thai Keyboard layout. I have found nothing but English, FCP or Adobe key layouts.

Do you know where I can find such a thing? I have even found it hard to locate stickers to put on the keyboard (my 2nd and least preferred option).

Any assistance would be appreciated. The new laptop shows up Monday and Im eager to get her moved over to the mac.

I am also assuming that I can add thai in the international area of the system prefs. I tried this on my mac and she was able to type the thai characters. If there are other things to consider or a page that has a listing of things to set for being able to type in two diff languages, I would be interested in checking it out. Her new mac will be leopard, while mine is still on Tiger. I saw that there a few things to tweak to get this working on Leopard.

She wants to be able to type and read in thai on the laptop as well as english. Some of her family and friends back in thailand dont read/write english so she needs a bi-lingual solution. This solution would mainly be for Email/Web & MS Word. On occasion she will do graphic design and might need to type Thai fonts in apps like Adobe CS3 or similar.

thanks in advance for your help,


Tom Gewecke said...

For skins and stickers, try Aramedia, CustomKeys, DataCal or Hooleon or SpeedSkin. See the last line in this section of my site:

MS and Adobe apps for Mac cannot do correct Thai linebreaking, so you may want to use Apple alternatives, which can.

Feel free to email me if any problems (tom at bluesky dot org).

Mac said...

> she needs a bi-lingual solution. This solution would mainly be for Email/Web & MS Word.

Safari and Apple Mail both work fine in Thai, as does G-Mail. You can even set the Date and Time preferences in your wife's account to display in Thai, which willl give her Apple Mail mailboxes a native look.

MS Word, like Adobe's inDesign, has serious linebreak issues in Thai. There are third-party solutions for Adobe (see my last post above) but for word processing it's best to use Mellel, or Pages which is part of iWork 8.

wetlqd said...

thanks for the prompt reply.

Checked out the keyboard layouts/stickers...

dont see too many "mac" looking solutions, but I was able to find some stickers that should get me by. Will dig deeper into the setup of the mac once it arrives.

thanks again


wetlqd said...

Stumbled across this site...

thought it might be of interest to others.

Anonymous said...


I recently switched from Mail to Entourage for Mac (because Mail has a bug that does not allow search by entire message). The problem is that I cannot read Thai in Entourage (2008 version). I am using Leopard. Any tips?


Tom Gewecke said...

Have you tried switching the encoding in Entourage to Thai Windows/DOS or Win 874? Otherwise best to search and ask here:

Anonymous said...

I will try. But how does one get the Thai encodings to show? They do not show in my character settings.


Tom Gewecke said...

Try going to System Preferences/International/Languages and putting Thai on the list, by using the Edit button. Then restart Entourage.

But it may also be that Entourage is defective and can't handle non-Unicode Thai. I saw some posts indicating that was the case in the 2004 version.

Mac said...

I'm using Tiger, not Leopard, and I generally use Apple Mail for Thai and Eudora for English. I rarely use Entourage for anything and have never tried it for incoming Thai mail (which occasionally has DOS encodings) but I just tested and found that Entourage 2004 does work fine for *sending* Unicode Thai.

In fact, it handles Thai line breaks as well as Pages -- which is a pleasant surprise since Word 2004 most definitely does not.

The following example was mailed from Entourage 2004 to my browser-based G-Mail and then pasted here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the shortcut of Thai fonts in your iDisk. Truly helpful! I had move those 4 font files into the "Font Folder" and able to type Thai in MS Word...with the exception of the font type "Thonburi.ttf" I tried many times to delete & download & move it to the "Font Folder", but I'm still not able to select the "Thonburi" font type in MS Word. Can you give me suggestion in fixing this problem? Truly appreciated!

Tom Gewecke said...

Sorry, I don't know why there would be a problem in MS Word with that font. I would recommend using a different app in any case, since Word cannot do correct linebreaking in Thai.

Anonymous said...

It's easier to just view webpages and read e-mail with Thai fonts in Safari. Thanks a bunch for the tips! Ally

Anonymous said...

Spoke with and when I asked for a Thai language keyboard cover, they seemed interested in producing one. I think the question is mainly of a potential market for the product once produced. If users are interested, please stop by and email them to show your interest.

I am using some of their other covers and this would be a nice solution to a Thai Keyboard Layout.

Anonymous said...

Replacing Thonburi as you suggested helps! ...Thanks a lot

Sumet said...

I cannot select Thai language from Text encoding in Mac Mail , for some mail message that encoded with some thing like

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=MS874

This can view properly in PC IE and I can select Thai Window/DOS in Thunderbird but for Mail there is no Thai Window/DOS shown in Message/Text encoding menu just CJK, Latin and unicode inside there.

I try to find some place to add more language encoding into Message/Text encoding menu but can't found.

How can I solve this?

Tom Gewecke said...

Go to system prefs/international/languages and add Thai to the list using the Edit button. Then you should find Thai (Windows) added to the encoding menu. If you have to choose that manually, it means the people sending you the message are using garbage mail software, so you could also ask them to switch to something that conforms to international standards.

panza said...

Just to add on the options for Indesign. Freelock for CS3 works by inserting invisible zero-width spaces between Thai words in the text. There is information in English on their website about how to obtain it:
The more expensive TSP does Thai line breaks for Indesign as well, but without changing the text in any way. It also adds support for most kinds of Thai fonts, including old non-unicode, and unicode that would not otherwise work correctly.
So if you're using CS3 and only Unicode opentype fonts then Freelock should do you.
The other thing is that TSP is now also available for Windows, which Freelock is not.

Anonymous said...

font work great, all i had to do was download, replace the font in "font folder" and restart firefox

thank you very much

Anonymous said...

want to thank you again. ppl like you really make me have hope in humanity.
*good natured grin*

Nirand said...

Thank you for the tip. It has been working so far.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I had been meaning to look into this for a long time thinking it would be pretty difficult to figure out. You made it as easy as pie! Thank you very much!

Amnuay Sae-Tang said...

Perfect advice !!!
Thank you very much for your advice.
It help me to solve my Thai language problem on my Mac Leopard.

theevo said...

Brilliant! I followed your directions, and Thai fonts now render correctly in Firefox! I had to use Terminal a little bit in order to rename Thonburi.ttf (sudo mv Thonburi.ttf Thonburi-backup.ttf). Thank you so much for sharing this information!

Kurosch Batani said...

Hi everyone,
i am glad i found this thread. I have the following problem. I bought an mp3 with thai music and it is written in thai but in iTunes they appear as random awkward letters that are mixed up. I got your fonts and have integrated those in my fontbook, i also enabled thai language. But still iTunes doesn't change anything and i also can't find any settings in iTunes related to language.
Can you help me out, thanks!!
Ah and i got some thai songs on my idisk, maybe you want to try youself and play around little to find the solution

Public Folder
The songs are under "Persische Musik" song 01, 02, 03 and 04


Tom Gewecke said...

Kurosch -- You need to change the ID3 tags to Unicode.

photo_journ said...

Hi. I'm having a similar problem to some others. I'm using Leopard ona MacBook Pro. I downloaded the fonts and p;aced them in the /system/library/fonts folder.

I have some Word docs sent by a client with Thai text in them. I can see the Thai text on the .doc files when I use preview mode but when the file open in Word (compatibility mode) all I see are square boxes or type like this: ╦┼╤í╩┘╡├└╥╔╥═╤ºí─╔α⌐╛╥╨╩╥ó╥═╥¬╒╛

I've selected Thai in the system pref's but still can't get it to display in MSWord.

Any clues please?

Tom Gewecke said...

Sorry, I know nothing about Word or the reasons it doesn't work right. Best ask the MS experts:

mbabc said...

mbabc again. I'm really sorry for the multiple comments. But now the with the garudathonburi replacing thonburi, same behavior as before: displays the text that was sent but won't let me type in Thai, just English characters show up.

Tom Gewecke said...

mbabc -- you need to tell us what application it is you are trying to type into. Also, do you have the Thai flag showing in the "flag"menu at the top right of the Finder, so you are using the Thai keyboard layout?

Anonymous said...

Even in 2011 it still works like a charm!


Paul Bennett said...

Since this thread is a few years old now, does anyone know if the issues with Thonburi font have been addressed or if they continue in 10.9 or in Mavericks?