Nearly twenty years ago I was involved in the development of the “HI” font standard while working at Hale Kuamo‘o, the Hawaiian Language Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. These fonts addressed the lack of support for the ‘okina (glottal) and kahakō (macron) in fonts of that time. For many years we offered HI fonts for both Macintosh and Windows. These fonts are still available on the Kualono website, but are no longer supported. Some commercial vendors, such as Guava Graphics, also adapted this system, so you can switch between their fonts and “HI” fonts easily.

Since that time, both Apple and Microsoft have embraced the Unicode technology that enhances support for different languages and character sets without the use of customized fonts. Starting in 2002, Apple included a Hawaiian keyboard with every installation of OS X that they shipped (learn how to activate and use the built in Hawaiian keyboard layout here). For Windows users, there is a Unicode keyboard for Windows available for download from Kualono. Be sure to download and read the instructions! While not all fonts on Macintosh OS X and Windows have the kahakō and ‘okina characters, some fonts do. I’ve created lists of those fonts that I’ve found that do have the kahakō and ‘okina. They are available as .pdf documents below:

  1. Macintosh OS X (10.6) Fonts with ‘Okina and Kakahō
  2. Windows Vista (10.6) Fonts with ‘Okina and Kakahō
  3. Windows 7 Fonts with ‘Okina and Kakahō

These lists were generated from computers that I have access to, and I offer no assurance that every Macintosh and Windows install will contain all of these fonts or that they will have the characters. Your mileage may vary. More detailed information on the use of Hawaiian on Mac OS X and Windows may be found under the menu items for those platforms under the ‘Ōlelo-Tech menu item.

10 comments on “Hawaiian Fonts Overview

mark says:

Aloha Keola,

I am wondering about Hawaiian Hifonts for Windows 7.
Does the hifonts at the Olelo site work for Windows 7?

For any information you provide,


Aloha Mark. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so. We’re encouraging people to move away from the custom HI fonts and go with the Unicode support in Win 7. There are more fonts (even if not all have all the characters). We had issues with the installer with Vista (security issues), and folks that have tried manually installing the fonts have not been able to get them to work.

If you have old docs in the HI format I do have some macros that will convert them to Unicode. Let me know and I can send them to you.

mark says:

Aloha Keola,
Mahalo for swift reply.
Yes sending macros would be awesome.
Mahalo and Aloha,

Jay V says:

Hi Keola. I’m running Windows 7 & Office 2010 and I can’t seem to get the Kakaho to work. I did install the Unicode files but I get two dots rather than the Kakaho symbol.

Jay, you installed the wrong keyboard. Do not use the one marked “HI”, that is for the old Hawaiian fonts and we no longer support them. You want the Hawaiian Unicode keyboard.

Jay V says:

Thanks Keola. It worked perfectly. Have a greet week!

mark nagai says:

Hi Keola,
Today downloaded onto windows xp both hi fonts and unicode.
Tested both on msword. hi fonts did not load into word-no choice for hi fonts.Any font results in umlauts ofcourse and unicode keyboard does not display okina, font keep changing to MS mincho when trying to display okina though the kohako letters displays correctly with unicode.

Mahalo and Aloha

Hi Mark,

More fonts have the kahakō than ‘okina, both on Mac and Windows. I forget which fonts in XP have both but very few. Think I restricted my use to MS Sans Unicode (I think was the name). Yes, in the absence of the right ‘okina it will use whatever font it can find that has it. XP doesn’t handle it very elegantly.

The old HI fonts do work under XP, I installed them on a few dozen and you need the Hawaiian (HI) keyboard. You may need to restart after installing. If they no longer work, I don’t know why. If they are in the fonts folder, they should work after a restart. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

Audrey Parks says:

Aloha Keola,
I’m hoping this address is still valid. I’m trying to download the Windows 7 Hawaiian fonts onto my laptop. I followed all the instructions and when I get to the part where I’m supposed to double click on the desktop icon to run “setup”, it reopens the “unzip” window. I can’t get past this to load the new keyboard. What am I doing wrong?

Aloha Audrey. I’m not a big user of Windows personally and not sure what the problem is with the unzipping. I’d have to see it to figure it out. Sorry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top