How to magnify the screen in Mac OS X

This page explains step-by-step how to use Zoom, the built-in magnification feature in Mac OS X.

Note: The following abbreviations for keys on the Mac are used: Ctrl is used for the Control key, Apple is used for the Command key, and Alt is used for the Option key. For keyboard access, make sure 'Full keyboard access' is turned on - you can turn it on or off by pressing Ctrl + F1 at any time.

Turn on and customise Zoom

Step 1: Open the 'Universal Access' window

Make sure you are in 'Finder'. If necessary, press Apple + Tab to cycle through the open applications until you return to 'Finder'.

Click on the 'Apple' icon on the menu bar or press Ctrl + F2.

Click on 'System Preferences', as shown in Fig 1, or press the down arrow key to highlight it and then press Enter.

Fig 1'Apple' drop-down menu

In the 'System Preferences' window (shown in Fig 2), click on the 'Universal Access' icon, or press Tab repeatedly (you might need to press Ctrl + F7 first) to cycle through the icons until the 'Universal Access' icon is highlighted and then press the Spacebar.

Fig 2'System Preferences' window

Step 2: Turn on and use Zoom

In the 'Universal Access' window (shown in Fig 3), make sure the 'Seeing' tab is selected. If it is not, click on it, or press Ctrl + F7 to highlight one of the tabs and then press the left or right arrow key to select it.

Fig 3'Universal Access' window showing the 'Seeing' tab

Under the 'Zoom' header, click the 'On' radio button, or press Tab until the 'Off' radio button is highlighted and then press the left arrow key to select 'On'. You can also turn Zoom on or off at any time by pressing Alt + Apple + 8.

To zoom in at any time, press Alt + Apple and '=' (equal sign). The 'preview rectangle' (the black-bordered box visible in Fig 4 & 5) shows the area of the screen that you will see at maximum zoom. To zoom back out, press Alt + Apple and '-' (minus).

Note: In older versions of Mac OS X, as shown in Fig 4, you need to click the 'Turn on Zoom' button, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press the Spacebar. You can also turn Zoom on or off at any time by pressing Alt + Apple + '*' (asterisk). Note also that the shortcut to zoom in is Alt + Apple and '+' (plus).

Fig 4'Universal Access' window showing the 'Seeing' tab

Step 3: Customise the settings for Zoom

Click the 'Zoom Options' button, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press the Spacebar, to open the 'Zoom Options' window shown in Fig 4.

Fig 5'Zoom Options' window

Click on the 'Maximum Zoom' slider to set the highest magnification level you want for Zoom, or press Tab (you might need to press Ctrl + F7 first) to highlight the slider and then use the left and right arrow keys to set the maximum magnification level.

In the same manner, set the 'Minimum Zoom' slider to the minimum magnification level you want for Zoom.

When you are happy with your settings, click on the 'Done' button, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to return to the 'Universal Access' window.

Click on the window's red close button or press Apple + W to finish.

Note: If this does not work it could be because your computer settings cannot be changed due to local IT policies - contact your local IT support for further help.

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