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Recently I came across this little or well known (depending who you talk to) bug in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop CS4 (although it would appear that it has existed since CS2 too) on my iMac running OS X Leopard (10.5.8).

The symptoms are immediate and sudden crashes when launching the application. You don’t even make it past the loading splash screen but instead you’re greeted by the Adobe crash report asking if you want to send it to the guys at Adobe (not sure if that every really works!).

Taking a look at the crash report you’ll notice the following keywords in the error report under exceptions:

After spending over three hours on the Internet looking for a solution and granted you don’t have much to go on beyond the fact that the application just suddenly crashes it can be easy to give up.

Instead of giving up, why not try the following solution.

Check to see whether the font file: zebra_01-49-58.ttf exists anywhere in your font folder in /Library/Fonts/. If not, take a look here for alternative font locations. The font itself is a free font and you can find out more here.

If you can’t find any font named Zebra in any of your font folders you’re going to have to do it the hard/long way and remove all non-essential fonts and trying the following while returning a batch of fonts at a time back to the fonts folder and subsequently testing for crashes. Narrowing down the exact font causing the problem will take time and patience, refer to the Apple support article for further information on alternative font locations and there signifiance.

If it does exist, try removing the file and renaming it. Then you’ll need to flush your Font cache using the atsutil command-line program.

The atsutil command allows you to easily clear the font cache for one (or all) users on the system, and stop and restart the Apple Type Services server, which (should) do the same thing as logging out and logging in after deleting a cache file in pre-10.5 systems [source]. You can get more information at the Mac OS X Reference Library here.

To clear the current user’s font cache, first quit all running applications especially any Adobe applications like Dreamweaver, Fireworks, InDesign or Bridge (etc.) and fire up Terminal. Note that if you intend to remove the font cache for all users you’ll have to login as root or use sudo.

First command for a single user:

atsutil databases -removeUser

Or, for all users:

sudo atsutil databases -remove

Once you’ve cleared the cache you’ll need to stop and restart the (Apple Type Services) ATS server with these commands:

atsutil server -shutdown
atsutil server -ping

The final command may take or second or two to process to get the server back up and running. Just as a precaution it’s worth logging out and logging back in again, especially if you notice any oddities.

If the above does not solve the problem, you could try the above again and delete your preferences file for the Adobe application that is crashing which can either be found here: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/ or in here /Library/Preferences/. Ensure you delete or remove only the files that correspond to the application you are troubleshooting. Note that you do this and any of the above without any warranty from me as YMMV.

Let me know if you found this helpful.