How do I magnify or zoom my screen?

May 10, 2011 in Mac OS X, Web Browsers

It could be advancing age, but more and more I’m feeling the need to zoom in to see things better on my Mac display. It’s not the display’s fault. They’re getting better and better, packing in more and more pixels for gorgeous, crisp photos, artwork, and text. But that often means that, either by design or accident, letters and images on the screen get smaller and smaller.

My eyes grow weary from more and more time in front of the computer and research that shows our backs are better off if we lean way back in our chairs, putting the display even further from my eyes.

Fortunately, the Mac offers a few ways to zoom, either your whole display or just a window. In this video I show you a few of those ways.

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Screen Zooming

You can zoom into any part of your screen (also known as “Screen Magnification”) using your trackpad, mouse scroll wheel, or keyboard:

  • While holding down the “control” key, swipe up (to zoom in) or down (to zoom out) with two fingers on your trackpad;
  • While holding down the “control” key, use our mouse scroll wheel;
  • While holding down the “option” and “control” keys, press “=” (⌥⌘=) to zoom in or “-” (⌥⌘-) to zoom out. [You may need to first enable keyboard zooming by holding down "option" and "control" and pressing "8" (⌥⌘8).]

That’s just the basics of screen zooming. You can find lots of settings to play around with in System Preferences. Choose its “Universal Access” option, then the “Seeing” tab. In the “Zoom” section you’ll see an “Options…” button. Click it and you’ll see all these options.

Zoom Options in System Preferences

Zoom Options in System Preferences / Universal Access / Seeing

As you can see, there are numerous options to let you fine-tune your zooming to just how you like it.

Window Zooming

Some applications, especially web browsers like Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc., offer a simple way to zoom in and out on whatever you are viewing in a window. What’s nice about this is that you can leave that window zoomed in for better reading without affecting the rest of your display.

These commands are usually found in the “View” menu and are called, not surprisingly, “Zoom In” and “Zoom Out”. I never bother to look for them in the menu because they have these easy-to-remember keyboard shortcuts:

  • To zoom IN, while holding down “command”, press “+” (⌘+)
  • To zoom OUT, while holding down “command”, press “-” (⌘-)

Even though it’s written and easy to think of as ⌘+, you don’t have to hold down a “shift” key as you would if you were typing a “+”. It’s just easier to think of zooming in with a plus sign than with an equals sign.

Finally, after zooming in and out to your heart’s content, if you want to reset the zooming back to normal, use the “Actual Size” command that is also found in the “View” menu. As with ⌘+ and ⌘- I just remember that the “Actual Size” keyboard shortcut is ⌘0 (as in, “command” “zero”).

Whether you choose to zoom your entire screen or just your window, you have control over the size of things on your Mac display so gives your eyes a break and just zoom!

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