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.

Video too small? Watch full screen by clicking the YouTube Full Screen button button here

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!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Isolde May 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Awesome. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Patti May 12, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Steve, Mom here. This zooming in and out will come in handy. Some websites have such tiny print I “DO” find myself hunching over the computer to read the print. Thank you.


bob bacon May 15, 2011 at 10:16 am

This zooming was very helpful, but is there a way to permanently set the size of the print so you don’t have to constantly zoom?


Gary September 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

Good post. A lot of people can use this information. Since so many people don’t know it, I want to add buttons to my websites that let people magnify their view by pressing the button. Essentially – a button that triggers the magnification command. You wouldn’t know where to find a tutorial on that would you?


Steve September 27, 2011 at 11:52 am

Hi Gary, although what you describe sounds like it should be simple, it’s actually quite challenging, made even more complex by the variety of web browsers and also variety of devices like smartphones and iPads.

Here are a couple ways to do something like this. You can find more by Googling for things like “web page zoom button”, “web page magnification”, etc.


Dawn December 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

THANK YOU!!!! I was wasting so much time online trying to figure this out!!!


Chub Chub December 10, 2012 at 5:11 am

Thanks, much needed help.


S. Adams October 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

This was a save for me. I spend a day or so trying to find how to zoom with Mac and this website was very informative and simple. Thank you for the information.


Mike February 28, 2015 at 10:44 am

Thank ya sir, much appreciated! 🙂


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