If you accidentally deleted or replaced one or more system default fonts in Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 you can try to restore them. The issue of missing fonts can appear as follows: in system dialog boxes (and some other windows) instead of normal characters you can see something strange or unreadable symbols are displayed. In our example, these are hieroglyphs and squares. This problem can occur after a third-party app is uninstalled, which also deleted several system default fonts (up to complete cleaning fonts files in C:\Windows\Fonts). Also the problem with fonts can occurs when a certain program replaces one of the standard fonts with its own one during installation.
In this article we’ll discuss ways to restore corrupted system fonts in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 to their clean state.
How to Reset Default System Font Settings in Windows 10 / 8.1?
Firstly you should try to restore the default fonts in Windows 10 / 8.1 using the built-in feature. To do it:
- Go to the Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Fonts;
- In the left pane, select Font settings;
- In the next window click the Restore default font settings button.
This option allows you to remove all third-party fonts, leaving only the standard fonts that are available in the Windows 10 / 8.1 distribution. However, if the desired font file (*.fon or *.ttf) was deleted or replaced, the reset feature won’t help. To return the needed font, you can copy the specific font file from the Windows distribution (or from another computer), or download and install the font file manually (note that Windows 10 has a function to block installation of third-party fonts, which may prevent the installation of a new font files).
Extracting Default Fonts from Windows 10 / 8.1 Image
The font files in Windows are stored in the C:\Windows\Fonts directory. Try to open this folder in File Explorer. If you see only a few font files with the *.FON and *.TTF extensions in this directory, then the default font files have been deleted and reset by the built-in tools (as described above) won’t help.
The missing font files can be copied from any computer running the same OS version or extracted from the installation disk or an ISO/WIM image of Windows 10 (8.1). Let’s consider the latter case.
To do this, we need an installation disk with Windows 10 (physical or mounted ISO file). Suppose letter H: is assigned to it.
Open the PowerShell command prompt as an administrator and copy the H:\sources\install.wim or H:\sources\install.esd file into the C:\Distr\ directory:
Copy-Item H:\sources\install.wim C:\Distr\
dism /export-image /SourceImageFile:c:\distr\install.esd /SourceIndex:4 /DestinationImageFile: c:\distr\install.wim /Compress:max /CheckIntegrity
Mount the Windows 10 installation image file (install.wim) to the C:\Distr\wim directory:
dism /mount-wim /wimfile:c:\Distr\install.wim /index:1 /mountdir:C:\Distr\wim
Copy the original fonts files from the C:\Distr\wim\Windows\Fonts to the C:\Windows\Fonts directory with the replacement of files on the target directory:
Copy-Item -path C:\Distr\wim\Windows\Fonts -Destination C:\Windows -recurse –container -force
The font files will be replaced with the original ones. Some system fonts that are currently used won’t be replaced; a number of errors in the console window will indicate this.
Now you can unmount the source Windows image:
dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:C:\Distr\wim /discard
Restart your computer and check if the font problem persists.
In some cases, it is additionally necessary to reset the font cache (stored in the %WinDir%\ServiceProfiles\LocalService\AppData\Local\FontCache folder). For this you need:
- Launch the service management console (services.msc);
- Stop the Windows Font Cache Service;
- Clean up the directory %WinDir%\ServiceProfiles\LocalService\AppData\Local\FontCache;
- Delete the file C:\Windows\System32\FNTCACHE.DAT;
- Run the FontCache service and reboot your device.
Windows 10/8.1 Default Font Archives
If you don’t have a Windows 10 (Windows 8.1) installation image, you can copy the directory with the original fonts from another computer running the same OS version or use ready font archives that can be downloaded from the links below:
- Default fonts for Windows 8 – DefaultFontsWin8.zip (197 MB);
- Default fonts for Windows 8.1 – DefaultFontsWin8-1.zip (258 MB);
- Original fonts for Windows 10 1803 (suitable for other Windows 10 builds) — DefaultFonts-Win10-1803.zip (197 MB).
Download and unzip the archive for your Windows version and copy its contents to the C:\Windows\Fonts folder with the replacement of the files.
Also download and apply (double click) the following reg files from the archive win10-default-fonts-reg.zip.
The first file (win_10_fonts.reg) contains a list of standard fonts registered in the registry (HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts).
The second file (win_10_FontSubstitutes.reg) contains font association settings (HKLM \SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes).
Restart your computer, the problem with the fonts should be gone!