There are multiple solutions for increasing the clarity and size of text on a screen.  Many of these are free and already built into computer and tablet systems.  For more powerful magnification 3rd party software will often need to be purchased.

Screen size

Phone, tablet and monitor screens

For a PC or Mac sometimes the simplest solution can be to use a physically larger monitor screen, possibly in combination with resolution change (see below).  Monitors are generally 22 or 24 inches (measured on the diagonal) but 27 or 29 inch monitors are available for a reasonable cost.  Even larger monitors are available, but a balance must be struck between size and ability to view all the information on the screen (imagine sitting in the front row of a cinema).

Just because someone has a visual impairment does not mean bigger is always better. For some people a smaller monitor may be an advantage as it requires less eye movement to see around the screen.

Before purchasing a larger (or smaller) monitor it is advisable to try one out and test the usability for your requirements.  In colleges take a trip to your design or photography and film making departments to find the largest monitors!

For iPads the choice is more limited.  Standard iPads are 9.7 inches. iPad Pros are available in 10.5 and 12.9 inches. iPad minis are 7.9 inches.

Android devices have a much wider range dependent on manufacturer. For example Samsung produces 7, 8, 9.7 and 10.5 inch tablets. Other manufacturers produce 22 and 24 inch tablets.

As with monitors, for tablets a balance must be struck between size and usability. The preferences of the user must be paramount.

 

Make text larger

text of various font sizes

On all operating systems the text size can be increased or decreased so that it shows this way across all applications.  Ensure that individuals who use this feature know how to change the size themselves so that they are able to alter the settings to meet their own requirements – which may be altered by fatigue.

Step-by-Step guides for changing the text size are available on the My Computer My Way website.  Find the system you are using to be guided through the settings.  My Computer My Way is updated when new versions of software are released.

If PC users have their own logins talk to your IT support about implementing roaming profiles so that users’ setting follow them when they log onto different PCs.  All computer users should have access to the accessibility settings on whatever device they are using.  If this is not the case talk to your IT support.

Magnification

In Windows 8 and 10 :

  • Hold down the Windows key and press +.
  • To increase magnification press Windows and again.
  • To decrease magnification press Windows and

For more detailed instructions see the magnification section on My Computer My Way

On a Mac:

  • To turn the ‘Zoom’ magnification feature on or off at any time, press ‘Alt’ + ‘Cmd’ + ‘8’
  • To zoom in: Press ‘Alt’ + ‘Cmd’ + ‘=‘ (equals)
  • To zoom out: Press ‘Alt’ + ‘Cmd’ + ‘­-‘ (hyphen).

For more detailed instructions see the magnification section on My Computer My Way

On an iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone:

In many apps you can zoom in and out by using a pinch gesture on the screen.  If you can’t physically do a pinch gesture then see the physical access resource.

If the pinch gesture doesn’t work then you can turn on Zoom:

  • Go to Settings> General> Accessibility> Zoom
  • Turn on Zoom
  • Choose Full Screen or Window Zoom
  • Once Zoom is turned on Double-tap (tap twice) on the screen with 3 fingers
  • Double-tap with 3 fingers and hold. Move fingers up and down to zoom in and out
  • Drag 3 fingers to scroll around the screen

On an Android Tablet or Phone:

These instructions are for Android 7.0 (Nougat) and up.  Older version may differ or not have all features.

  • Go to Settings> Accessibility
  • Choose Magnification Gesture and turn on
  • Triple tap the screen with one finger (tap three times quickly) to zoom
  • Use the pinch gesture to zoom in and out
  • Drag 2 fingers to scroll around the screen

Note:  this does take some getting used to as the shortcut of triple tap is easy to activate accidentally.

Zooming Software

If the in-built settings are not suitable then third-party software is available to magnify or zoom in on the screen content and to read out sections of text.  This software is more sophisticated especially in the way they use “text smoothing” to remove the blocky look when zoomed in to high levels. Whilst the cost for this software can be quite high, limited time demos are normally available to download.

It is important to note that if extreme zooming is required then the user may benefit from moving to using Screen Reading software.  Once zoomed in to very high levels,  efficiency is likely to drop off when compared to other solutions.  However, the decision must ultimately be taken by the user as learning an entirely new way of interacting with a computer takes considerable time and commitment.

For users who need zooming technology to access education the solutions below are superior to free options and should be seriously considered:

ZoomText

Zoom Text logo

ZoomText Magnifier/Reader is a fully integrated magnification and reading program tailored for low-vision users. Magnifier/Reader enlarges and enhances everything on your computer screen, echoes your typing and essential program activity, and automatically reads documents, web pages, email.

Dolphin SuperNova

SuperNova Logo

SuperNova Magnifier can magnify and enlarge text and images up to 64 times. The text is clear even at the highest levels of magnification. Zoom in to see the detail, or zoom out for an overview.  There is also a huge choice of high contrast mouse pointers and text cursors.

SuperNova Magnifier and Speech is also available which enables you to have text read out and to listen to letters and words as you type.

Magic

Magic software box

MAGic has 75 magnification levels from 1x to 60x including multiple magnification levels between 1x and 4x.  MAGic has high-definition mouse and cursor enhancement and options to eliminate glare and increase contrast with built-in colour enhancements. Speech options add human-sounding voices to speak text and echo user actions.

This article also relates to:

I want to provide accessible resources

Questions?

If you have questions about this or other assistive technology related topics please get in touch with TechAbility.