Beware Sketch + fonts + autosave

9 years ago from , UI Director at Bletchley Park

Made a dismaying discovery this week that has caused many headaches at our shop. If a team member opens a Sketch file but doesn't have one or more fonts, stand-in fonts are used to render the text. All well and good, that's how it should work.

The problem arises when the file is autosaved. Sketch bakes-in the replacement font! So if all the text in a design is Meta Serif, for example, and one front-end dev opens that file but doesn't have Meta Serif, doesn't touch any art but simply switches from one page to another, that triggers an autosave. The stand-in font (usually Lucida Grande, it seems) is saved and later if someone who does have Meta Serif installed opens the file, it will be Lucida Grande throughout. Adobe products, by contrast, show a stand-in font but don't make any changes to the specified font on save.

This has caused a huge amount of work for me over the last week. At minimum I have to go into Dropbox and roll back versions. At worst, I didn't catch it at first and made changes to the damaged file, at which point it's too late to simply roll back, and I have to repair the file manually.

Still waiting on feedback from Bohemian (sent a bug request last week and tweeted to them today). I'm posting this here to warn everyone to watch out for this behavior, as it can be incredibly time-consuming to manually fix things if you don't catch it before changes are made.


  • Ale MuñozAle Muñoz, 9 years ago

    We hear you, and we're working on a fix for this.

    Thanks for your feedback : )

    41 points
  • Ben FrankforterBen Frankforter, 9 years ago

    We had the same problem here at BillGuard when our dev team opened our Sketch files. Quick (but not optimal) solution: disable the auto-save feature for the non-designer members. Go to System Preferences > General > Ask to keep changes when closing documents (checked)

    4 points
    • Toby Keller, 9 years ago

      Yep, that's our solution so far. Sucks though… autosave is handy for other apps.

      1 point
  • c kizerc kizer, 9 years ago

    report it to sketch on twitter. they will look into it.

    3 points
  • Gwen BrinsmeadGwen Brinsmead, 9 years ago

    Have had this issue when both another designer on the team and I have the same file open and changes are made on one end then the original (without the changes) autosaves over the changes.

    So the changes are then lost and synced over dropbox.

    Best fix, check the "Ask to keep changes when closing documents" box in your Mac's General system preferences.

    2 points
  • Rafael CondeRafael Conde, 9 years ago

    If Sketch doesn't find the used fonts in the system it triggers an alert, if you don't click on "Open anyways" the document is closed and no changes were saved.

    If you open it and later install the fonts, you can always go to File –> Revert To –> Browse All Versions and pick the version before you saved without the fonts.

    Another and definitely not optimal way to prevent this from happening is to convert the text to outlines, that way you can be sure that whatever happens it'll be the same in every machine.

    Hope this helps :)

    1 point
    • Toby Keller, 9 years ago

      Neither of those is feasible for a distributed team working on live, evolving client files. The only real workaround is to disable autosave system-wide AND instruct everyone not to save anything unless they're sure all fonts are installed.

      0 points
  • Tom Nassr, over 8 years ago

    Just had that issue again... x2 for the fix! :)

    0 points
  • Joseph BlalockJoseph Blalock, over 8 years ago

    I just ran into this issue today, for the first time. There was no prompt regarding missing fonts and "Open Anyway." My file was just opened with Lucida Grande everywhere. Now I have to spend hours replacing fonts in a large UI system.

    0 points
  • Jeff French, over 8 years ago

    Disappointed to see Bohemian Coding has acknowledged this but that there's still no fix 5 months later...

    0 points
  • Bady QbBady Qb, 9 years ago

    this issue also happen to me and cause me huge pain to update revert each font that changed.

    0 points
  • Jason CalleiroJason Calleiro, 9 years ago

    I was bit by this one as well. good to see you guys are working on it.

    0 points
  • Nathan HueningNathan Huening, 9 years ago

    Thanks for the tip! Miraculously, our team hasn't experienced this yet but we'll be extra careful.

    0 points
  • John LeschinskiJohn Leschinski, 9 years ago

    We copy the file to the local machine from Dropbox and work from it. At that point the design is client approved and we're not expecting any changes.

    0 points
  • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, 9 years ago

    It happened to me too, a while ago. It wasn't huge deal for me since it wasn't a large file.

    0 points
  • Søren ClausenSøren Clausen, 9 years ago

    I experienced this too, nice to see that the Sketch team is working on it :)

    0 points
  • florian fangohrflorian fangohr, 9 years ago (edited 9 years ago )

    Nvr mnd

    0 points