How to make the text larger in Mac OS X

This page explains step-by-step how to increase the size of text and other elements in Mac OS X by either increasing the font size or decreasing the screen resolution. These instructions and images are for Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard), but there are only minor differences from earlier versions of Mac OS X.

Areas in this guide:

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.

Video how to guide

Text version

Making the text larger in Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard)

Change the screen resolution

Step 1: Open the 'Displays' 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 'Displays' icon, or press Tab repeatedly (you might need to press Ctrl + F7 first) to cycle through the icons until the 'Displays' icon is highlighted and then press the Spacebar.

Fig 2'System Preferences' window

Step 2: Change the display settings

Make sure the 'Display' tab is selected, as shown in Fig 3. 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'Display' window

To make text appear bigger on the screen, you can change your display to a lower resolution. Click on the setting you want in the box below the 'Resolutions' header, as shown in Fig 3, or press Tab until one of the 'Resolutions' settings is selected and then use the up and down arrow keys to choose the resolution you want. Repeat this process until you find the best screen resolution for you.

When you are happy with how your screen appears, click on the window's red close button or press Apple + W.

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.

Change the font size for files and folders

You can change both the text and icon size for all files and folders, including those on your desktop.

Step 1: Change the text size of files and folders on your desktop

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

Click on 'View' on the menu bar and select 'Show View Options', as shown in Fig 1, or press Apple + J. This opens the 'Desktop' window shown in Fig 2.

Fig 1'View' drop-down menu

Click on the drop-down button next to 'Text size' and choose a font size up to 16pt (there's no keyboard shortcut). You can also make the icon smaller or larger by clicking and dragging the 'Icon size' slider (again, no keyboard shortcut), as shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2'Desktop' window

When you are finished, click on the window's red close button or press Apple + W.

Step 2: Change the text size for files in a specific folder or in all folders

Select a folder by double-clicking on it, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Apple + O to open it. In this example, a folder called 'Pictures' has been used.

Click on 'View' on the menu bar and select 'Show View Options', as shown in Fig 1, or press Apple + J. This opens a window with the name of the folder (in this case, 'Pictures'), as shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3'Pictures' window

Click on the drop-down button next to 'Text size' and choose a font size up to 16pt (there's no keyboard shortcut). You can also make the icon smaller or larger by clicking the radio buttons next to the 'Icon size' header (again, no keyboard shortcut), as shown in Fig 2.

If you would like these settings to apply to all of your folders, click the 'Use as Defaults' button. (In Mac OS 10.4 and earlier, you can apply your settings to all folders by clicking the 'All windows' radio button.)

When you are finished, click on the window's red close button or press Apple + W.

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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More ways to: Make your text larger

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