Fix Your Font Hassles, Save Music From YouTube

By  |  Friday, April 3, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Steve Bass's TechBiteYou have problems, I have answers, and that’s what I’m tackling in this week’s story: Two of your gnarly issues.

I can see you now, quickly composing a message with your long-repressed computing crisis. Don’t start hyperventilating. I gave up answering e-mailed PC troubleshooting questions years ago. However, some computing hassles, aka kvetches, are broad enough to benefit everyone seeing the solution. BTW, if you do write, I’ll definitely read the missive. Worst case, you’ll get my best personalized boilerplate response (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one).

Enough sidetracking — on to the problems.

Too Many Fonts

The Hassle: I have more fonts than I know what to do with. I don’t know where they came from and want to erase some. Also, won’t too many fonts slow down my computer?

The Fix: You’re been downloading those all-you-can-eat font programs, haven’t you? Or maybe you installed Print Artist and were gullible enough to think you’d one day need a couple of thousand extra fonts.

The best way not to install extra fonts on your system is to pay attention whenever you install an app that offers you extra fonts. For instance, as Microsoft Publisher’s installation offers to dole out its extra fonts, take a judicious attitude and install as few extras as you can stand. Unfortunately, as Kim, my copy editors says, “my test laptop also gets loaded with fonts because many free and shareware photo editors and graphics programs install fonts as well–without asking. Yet I haven’t noticed any performance issues.”

Now the skinny on fonts: Win 98 and ME users suffer from an agonizingly slow boot with systems having lots of fonts (the limit for those operating systems is 500 fonts).

However, there’s controversy about XP and Vista systems choking on excessive fonts when booting. I can find plenty articles saying too many fonts bog down booting. OTOH, just as many experts say XP/Vista font handling is improved, and with adequate RAM–like 2GB — you can have any number of fonts. And both XP and Vista have no font limitation, so you could install millions of them. (Please stick with just one font when sending me e-mail. Thanks.)

You say you still want to delete fonts? I say don’t do it. But if you’re stubborn (and I know you are), be very careful what you dump. And don’t come running to me if the next time you start your PC there’s gibberish on your screen or the fonts in your browser look weird. That’s because there are some fonts you absolutely must have (such as those Windows needs–Arial, Courier, MS Sans, and others), fonts that are necessary for specific programs (Intuit products, Outlook, and art programs, for instance), and a bunch of fonts for viewing Web pages. Deciding which are keepers is a tough job.

Still gung ho, even after all my admonitions? You can delete fonts from Control Panel, Fonts. Right-click each font, and click Delete. But an easier and safer way to experiment with removing fonts is with FontFrenzy. The freebie gives you a way to delete extra fonts, keep what it thinks are essential ones, and restore them if you’re not happy with the results. It’s a nice enough tool, and if you’re an experienced user, go for it. Otherwise, my advice is to suffer the indignities of having too many fonts (just don’t tell anyone, okay?).

Ripping Music from YouTube

The Hassle: I watched a YouTube video and heard some music I’d like to keep. How can I turn it into an MP3?

The Fix: There are a few ways to do it; your decision will depend on how much you want to fiddle with the sound files.

There’s also a squirrelly issue: You’ll have to make a moral decision about how the copyright laws may apply. My attorney, Bernie, from Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe, says that re-recording a broadcast for later listening may be okay; at the same time, he contends that downloading any copyrighted content, even for personal use, may land you in a tub of hot water. You decide.

Each step takes just a few seconds. [Thanks to GG for this terrific tutorial.]

1. Go to YouTube and find the music video. For instance, here’s a lovely Billy Taylor and Ramsey Lewis duet. Or an Eliane Elias Trio concert.
2. Copy and paste the YouTube link to Video2mp3, a handy site that rips the audio and converts it to an MP3.

If the Video2mp3 site ever disappears, here’s another method for you to tuck away for later.

1. Copy the YouTube URL to KeepVid, a site that will save the video to your drive. Right-click the “high quality/MP4” link and save the file to your PC. Be aware that some videos are big; the “duet” example above is 25MB.
2. Download and install M4a to MP3 Converter, drag and drop the video file to this sweet freebie, and in a flash you’ll have an MP3. If you’re more ambitious, try the Quick Media Converter. It’s also free and does even more conversions, including SWF, MKV, DivX, and iPod video formats.

M4a to MP3 Converter in action

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave Mackey Says:

    You can also record your computer’s stereo mix using Audacity or a similar program, that’s the method I use, though it’s not optimal, it works for me.

  2. JDoors Says:

    Re: Fonts

    Definitely obtain a font utility. It will show you what each font looks like and many times you can make a decision to uninstall or not based on what the font looks like (note: You can “uninstall” a font rather than delete it, uninstalled fonts have no effect on Windows performance).

    Some schmaltzy over-decorated font you’ve never seen used before? Uninstall! Looks like a system font? Leave it alone.

    Some programs install and use their own fonts and if you uninstall that font Windows will ‘substitute’ what it thinks is a similar font. It won’t be similar. In fact, it may be unreadable. So don’t get crazy your first time out, it took some time to accumulate so many fonts and you should plan on taking your time uninstalling the unnecessary ones. Uninstall a few at a time and work as usual for a while. If everything looks good, go back and uninstall a few more.

  3. gordon Says:

    I have the opposite problem.
    Occasionally I will read an email that has three control
    characters. I can usually figure out that it was intended
    to be a ” or something.
    I have never deleted a font.
    How can I add the appropriate font?