[OS X TeX] The Font Cache Problem

Erik Neumann erikn at myphysicslab.com
Thu Jul 17 21:11:37 EDT 2008

Back in April, Dick Koch put out a request for experiences with this problem:

Many of you are aware of the following bug: you'll be running one or
more TeX front ends and/or utilities and suddenly the mathematical
symbols will disappear in the preview output. Further inspection shows
that a different font without these symbols has been substituted for
the correct font. Once one application has the problem, other TeX apps
also have font problems, even if closed and restarted. To fix the
problem, it is necessary to reboot the machine or use a utility to
clear the font cache.

I believe I can reproduce this problem.  My experience was this:  I
recently rebuilt my MacBook Pro (2 GHz Intel Core Duo) with a clean
version of Leopard (Mac OSX 10.5.4).  I installed the current
MacTeX-2007 distribution, and the latest LaTeXiT 1.15.0 and latest
Equation Service (version 1.0 from 2003).

I found that if I run Equation Service, then the bug appears both in
Equation Service and in LatexIt.  After a reboot, the problem
disappears for LatexIt.  However, the problem reappears if I run
Equation Service again.

Equation Service (which is a nice program) hasn't been updated in a
long time, 5 years now.  It has some other problems (like the
Templates drawer is empty, some menu items for "show/hide" of windows
don't work).  Chances are good that it is doing something that breaks
the newer MacOSX versions.

BTW, there is a youtube video that demonstrates the problem:
Added: November 30, 2007
On Mac OS X 10.5, math fonts used by LaTeX do some weird things. Here
is the incompressible Navier-Stokes equation typeset with LaTeX. The
fonts are often displayed incorrectly by Preview, but sometimes they
are right. As I focus on and away from Preview the way the fonts are
displayed changes.

This was a very disturbing problem to encounter, after a clean install
of all these things (the OS, MacTex, etc.).  It was difficult to find
a solution for, as it was hard to know what terms to search on.  I was
searching things like: Mac OSX Leopard Latex math font problem, but it
was hard to find anything relevant.  The thread on The Font Cache
Problem from Dick Koch was the best info I found.  It would be helpful
if the MacTeX FAQ at http://tug.org/mactex/faq/  had some info on this

--Erik Neumann

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