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A utility to change the Traditional Chinese font fallback for Snow Leopard

Copyright © 2009 Weizhong Yang (a.k.a zonble, All Rights Reserved.



You can download the latest release of TCFail from the download page provided by GitHub.


If you are a Mac user who need to read and write Traditional Chinese, the first thing you may want to do after installing Apple's latest operating system, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, may be to disable the default Traditional Chinese Font, Heiti TC (黑體.繁).

It is true. You can find that many people are keen to find a way to make the font out of their sight, try to use the system font of 10.5 Leopard, and discuss about it on Taiwanese Mac user forums such as OIKOS and Mobile01. (Links are in Chinese)

The new Chinese system font looks really bad and it is almost a shame of Apple's design. It was created by SinoType, a Mainland China based software company who also create the Simplified Chinese font for Mac OS X and seems lacking the knowledge to satisfy the needs of the Traditional Chinese users in HongKong and Taiwan.

The strokes are too thin and make it hard to read the characters on the monitors, and the forms of the glyphs do not follow the standard of Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan, and the convention of the publications. Some glyphs seem coming from the Japanese Kanjis, or some ancient alternative forms no longer popular today. And if there are some characters should be a series or have a identical radical, they may be also not created in a consistent principle. For example, the right part of "清", "晴" and "請" is identical, but "清" has a "月" (moon) while "晴" and "請" have "円"(the currency symbol of Japanese yen). However, most users have a simple conclusion - it is ugly, and sometimes I think it could be a shame of Apple's history of design.

The following picture compares the characters of Heiti TC and the standard of MOE-

A smart design of Snow Leopard makes the situation even worse. The text engine of Mac OS X now sets font back not only by the current locale setting, but also detects what kind of Input Method the users are currently using. For example, if you launch the TextEdit application and use the locale other than Traditional Chinese, then try to type some characters with a Traditional Chinese Input Method such as Zhuyin, you can suddenly find that the font of the text becomes Heiti TC. That means, you cannot just disable the font by changing your system locale!

What TCFail does is to help the users to easily change the default Traditional Chinese font to another ones and get rid of Heiti TC, they may want to restore the system font to 10.5 Leopard's, LiHei Pro, which they fell familiar to for years.

By the way, the Traditional Chinese font of iPhoneOS 3.0 is also terrible, and you have no way to change it. Gee!

System Requirement

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is required.

How to use it?

Screen shot

Select the font that you want to use from the main table, and then click on the "Change!" button. Done.

The new font will take effect after re-login.

Download source code

You can download this project in either zip or tar formats.

You can also clone the project with Git by running:

$ git clone git://


The application is released under New BSD License.

What I ask for Apple

Well, Snow Leopard is really advanced, but the bad font totally ruins the Traditional Chinese Mac Users' experience.

No matter how great the kernel is, how fast the applications run, how many new technologies are introduced, there are countless users whose mother tongue is not English, if you do not pay more attentions to know about the language specific needs, or not to make right decisions, your products fail.

Guys in Cupertino, please do not think that you are smarter than the native speakers over the language-specific issues, or try to ask the users to accept what you consider smart. If you do not speak the language, you can never see what the problem is.

And you may consider that people in Mainland China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan all speak Chinese, however, there is still a distance between these places, and I really doubt that your staff in Beijing can meet any Traditional Chinese user in their daily life, and do some research or survey among the users to know what they really want.

Please keep it in your mind: the information you hear from Beijing or Singapore, is absolutely not enough.

What I ask for the Traditional Chinese users

When you blame about the default Traditional Chinese font shipped with Snow Leopard, I would like to ask you to think about it, what causes the result? I guess there are two reasons, the first reason is that the Snow Leopard team do not understand the need in Taiwan and Hong Kong, while another one is that they do not care.

How can we prevent such a thing happen tomorrow? The way to make them understand is communication and let them hear our voice. Just file a bug on Apple bug report web site, or write them a letter, but not complain merely on some local bulletin board system or forums where the people can solve your problem never visit. If there are more people to tell them about it, they will know it is important.

The way to make them care about us is to show them the chance of the market of our countries. You may feel proud that you know to install OSx86, crack iPhoneOS or obtains copies of pirate softwares, you may feel great that you can happily use Apple products without any extra cost. However, if you were Apple, will you care about an area where you cannot see benefits? So, if you do not pay, why do you deserve the services?

Think about it.


Please mail to service {at} zonble {dot} net

Made on a Mac