PopChar X 9.0, Ergonis Software’s fonts and characters utility is fully compatible with macOS Big Sur and supports Dark Mode. It’s a €29.99 buy / €14.99 upgrade from the previous versions.
PopChar X is a utility that allows you to view all the characters of any font in any of the font folders on your system, paste them in a document, view information about them, and more. In Dark Mode, you even have the choice to see PopChar’s character table in a traditional black-on-white view as on paper or a light-on-dark view that blends perfectly with the dark appearance. The preferred style can be changed in PopChar’s preferences.
By right-clicking on any character in Popchar’s main window, you can activate a Character info window where you will find details about the character’s encoding in various representations according to the Unicode standard and a preview field showing the character with its typographic properties.
The preview field is a real boon for designers and students of font design alike. In addition, the Fonts tab of the Character Info window shows a list of all fonts that contain the selected character, which is extremely useful as not all fonts will contain all of the same characters — some will only have a small subset of them. Instead of guessing and losing valuable time looking for a reason that a specific character doesn’t appear in a particular font, Popchar X 9.0 shows you in an instant.
A great new feature is that, in addition to the Unicode standard name, Popchar lets you assign one or several alternate names to characters. For example, I added a couple of additions to an Arabic character and could find it instantly. The Rename field is big enough to add anything that makes sense to you, including comments. For example, instead of just renaming a character, you could add a customer’s name if the character is part of their logo.
Many people nowadays use emojis, and Popchar X supports them — has been, for some time — and if you like them, PopChar really is the perfect tool for finding and inserting all sorts of colourful symbols. Select the Apple Color Emoji font, and PopChar displays symbols for smileys, persons, roles, gestures, sports, families, hearts, clothing, animals, etc.
An advantage of using Popchar X for this purpose is that emojis — at least, in my opinion — sometimes have an unclear meaning. For instance, the praying hands symbol stands for praying as well as thanks and please. It’s the context that makes the meaning, in this and other cases.
Some of these symbols are represented by single Unicode characters, but PopChar does not stop there. It also displays symbols that would otherwise be difficult to create, as they actually consist of multiple characters. For example, a “base character” that is modified by a symbol for a profession, a male/female symbol, and optionally a skin tone, are all simply clickable and selectable.
I often find myself reaching for Popchar X when I want to insert a character of which I can’t remember the keyboard key combination quickly. This will only be easier and faster now that I can give those characters a meaningful name. My use is pretty basic; if you’re a graphic or layout designer, your use may be far more sophisticated. One thing is certain, though, we both will enjoy the features as many have before us, as Popchar goes way back on the Mac.