Easily install Google Web fonts in Ubuntu with TypeCatcher

Jack Wallen explains how to install and use TypeCatcher, which is one of the easiest ways to get Google Web Fonts onto your Linux desktop.


One of my many business ventures is designing book covers. I use all open source software for this, so I work within the Linux platform (Ubuntu to be exact). A key component of digital graphics is fonts. Now, everyone who uses Linux knows that installing fonts is no longer the hassle that it once was (just dump all of your .ttf files into ~/.fonts, and you're good to go). But sometimes finding fonts is more challenging than installing the fonts.

Of course, with Linux, anything is possible. Even searching and installing from the long list of Google Web Fonts. The easiest means of doing this is by using TypeCatcher, which will get you access to the nearly 600 Google Fonts. TypeCatcher includes features like:

  • Search by font name
  • Choice of preview text
  • Quick download button
  • Uninstall button

So, if you're a designer, and you're looking for even more fonts to choose from, TypeCatcher might become one of your favorite tools. Let's install and use this application.


Although TypeCatcher isn't in the Ubuntu repository, installation is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Type the command: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:andrewsomething/typecatcher and hit Enter
  3. Type your sudo password and hit Enter
  4. Type the command: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install typecatcher and hit Enter
  5. Allow the installation to complete

With the application installed, you should find it in your menu; or, if you use Unity, you can open the Dash, type the word “type” (no quotes), and TypeCatcher will appear. Click it to launch, and you're ready to go.


When the TypeCatcher window opens (Figure A), you'll find an incredibly well thought-out interface. All you have to do is scroll through the font listing, find the font you want to use, and install it.

Figure A

Figure A
The TypeCatcher main window.

Here are the steps for installing fonts:

  1. Find a font using either the font listing or the search function
  2. Once you've located the font, click the download button to download and install the font
  3. To uninstall a font, click the uninstall button (trash can)

That's it. Once you've installed a font, it will be made available to all applications. Some of these applications, however, will need to be restarted. I've also noticed that, in some instances (like when using LibreOffice) the installing of fonts will alter the text of your document. To remedy this, simply close and re-open the document. Once you've done that, the text will return to its normal state and the new font will be made available.

You do need a network connection (obviously) to download and install the fonts. I've discovered that, even with a solid network connection, some of the fonts time out and are not available. The error states to check your network connection.

To change the text used in the sample display, do the following:

  1. Find a font and select it
  2. From the drop-down in the upper right corner (marked only with a downward pointing arrow), select the text to be used
  3. To enter your own text, select Custom Text
  4. In the Preview Window, type the text you want to to use for your font test (Figure B)

Figure B

Figure B
Type the text you want to use for your font test. 

TypeCatcher offers numerous fonts (from all font families) that are ready to install on your machine and free of charge. If you're one who collects fonts (fontophile?), then you owe it to yourself to install and use TypeCatcher. This easy-to-use app is the most user-friendly means of getting Google Web Fonts onto your Linux desktop. 

Have you used TypeCatcher? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.