Beginning with OS X 10.0 Cheetah, and assuming they are the same through the current release 10.8 Mountain Lion, what are the default fonts rendered for the following font-families?

  • font-family: serif;
  • font-family: sans-serif;
  • font-family: monospace;
  • 1
    I would have thought it would be... "What are the default fonts for [insert browser here]", rather than the OS per se?
    – MrWhite
    Aug 24, 2012 at 12:06
  • 1
    Nope, the OS is responsible for supplying the default fonts. In one case that I've tested, Firefox > 10 will render Courier New in place of Courier on Windows Systems -- probably because Courier is an old bitmap font which refuses to anti-alias.
    – Jeff
    Aug 24, 2012 at 12:32
  • 1
    I should clarify my reply above. The browser most definitely has an option to choose which font it uses as a default, depending upon the OS it's installed on.
    – Jeff
    Aug 24, 2012 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


The default fonts for WebKit/Safari under Mac OS X are as follows:

  • Monospace -> Courier
  • Sans-serif -> Helvetica
  • Serif -> Times
  • Standard (default) -> Times

This is gleaned directly from the WebKit source, specifically the XML/plist file at Source/WebCore/Resources/DefaultFont.plist.in that's available online here. It includes the following lines:


The same file also includes the default monospace, sans-serif, and serif fonts for Korean, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese, if those are of any interest to you.

  • 3
    The sans-serif font, Helvetica, is usually San Francisco now. You can also just use -apple-system which may be changed to system soon (source) Jul 16, 2016 at 21:01

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