How to make the text larger in Windows XP

This page explains step-by-step how to increase the size of text and other elements in Windows XP by either increasing the font size or decreasing the screen resolution.

Areas in this guide:

Change the screen resolution

Step 1: Open the 'Display Properties' window

Open the 'Start' menu by clicking on the 'Start' button, or by pressing the Windows key or Ctrl + Esc.

Click on 'Control Panel', or press C until it is highlighted and then press Enter if necessary. (Note: in earlier versions of XP, you will need to click on 'Settings' or press S first.)

You need to be in Classic view. If you see the text 'Pick a category', as shown in Fig 1, click on 'Switch to Classic View' or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

Fig 1Detail from Control Panel window

Double-click on 'Display', or press D until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to open the 'Display Properties' window shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2'Display Properties' window showing the 'Settings' tab

Step 2: Change the display settings

If it is not already selected, click on the 'Settings' tab, or press Ctrl + Tab to cycle through the tabs until it is selected.

To make things appear larger on the screen, click and drag the slider beneath the 'Screen Resolution' header to a lower setting, or press Alt + S and then use the left and right arrow keys to change the setting.

Click the 'OK' button or press Enter. The screen resolution will change and a dialogue box will appear, giving you a short time to cancel your changes if you are not satisfied.

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 text size to larger scale

Step 1: Open the 'Display Properties' window

Open the 'Start' menu by clicking on the 'Start' button, or by pressing the Windows key or Ctrl + Esc.

Click on 'Control Panel', or press C until it is highlighted and then press Enter if necessary. (Note: in earlier versions of XP, you will need to click on 'Settings' or press S first.)

You need to be in Classic view. If you see the text 'Pick a category', as shown in Fig 1, click on 'Switch to Classic View' or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

Fig 1Detail from Control Panel window

Double-click on 'Display', or press D until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to open the 'Display Properties' window shown in Fig 2.

Step 2: Change the scale for all system fonts

If it is not already selected, click on the 'Appearance' tab, or press Ctrl + Tab to cycle through the tabs until it is selected.

Fig 2'Display Properties' window showing the 'Appearance' tab

To choose large or extra large fonts, click on the drop-down box below the 'Font size' header, or press Alt + F and use the up and down arrow keys to select a size, then press Enter.

If you want to customise the font size for specific elements, such as titles or menus, proceed to Step 3. Otherwise, click the 'OK' button or press Enter to finish.

Step 3: Change the font size for specific items

In order to change the fonts for individual items, you may need to have 'Windows Classic style' selected (as shown in Fig 2). If so, then click on the drop-down box below the 'Windows and buttons' header, and choose 'Windows Classic style'. Alternatively, press Alt + W to highlight the drop-down box, then press the up and down arrow keys to select 'Windows Classic style' and then press Enter.

Click the 'Advanced' button, or press Alt + D (Alt + A on some versions of Windows XP), to display the 'Advanced Appearance' window shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3'Advanced Appearance' window

Click on the drop-down box under the 'Item' header or press Alt + I, then use the mouse or arrow keys to scroll through the list of 'Items'. If it is possible to change the text size for a particular 'Item', the second row of buttons (below the 'Font' header) will become active. For example, if you select 'Menu', any font changes you now make will only apply to 'Menu' items throughout Windows.

If you would like to change the font as well as the size, click on the drop-down box under the 'Font' heading or press Alt + F, then use the mouse or arrow keys to scroll through the list of fonts. (For a more detailed guide, see Changing fonts in Windows XP.)

Click the 'Size' drop-down box to the right of the 'Font' drop-down box or press Alt + E. Use the mouse or arrow keys to scroll through to the font size you want, or just type the number you want in the box. You can see a preview of how your changes will appear in the pane in the top half of the 'Advanced Appearance' window.

Repeat this procedure for any other 'Items' for which you want to make the text larger.

Click the 'OK' button or press Enter to return to the 'Display Properties' window.

Click the 'OK' button, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter, 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.

Back to How to guides - I can't see very well

More ways to: Make your text larger

Make text larger in your browser

For example, Internet Explorer or Firefox

Make text larger in applications

For example, Microsoft Word or Adobe Reader

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