When my friend first got an iPad, their first question to me was about how to use Apple’s Zoom screen magnification tool so that they could use their iPad with low vision. Since they use screen magnification software on their computer already, it was fairly easy to teach them how to open Zoom and configure different magnification settings, though I was surprised to learn that even though we both have low vision, we each had different preferred settings for screen magnification. Here are my tips for using the Zoom Magnifier on iOS and iPadOS with low vision.
How to open Zoom magnifier
There are a few different options for opening Zoom on iOS that all lead to the same program, though Zoom must be turned on in accessibility settings before using any of these shortcuts:
- Triple tap with three fingers on the screen
- Turn on Zoom in accessibility settings
- Turn on the Zoom Controller so that there is always a floating icon onscreen that can activate Zoom when pressed.
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Types of views available
Zoom offers three different types of views for screen magnification, called zoom regions. Users can change which view they want to use by triple-tapping to open Zoom setting and selecting “choose region” or by changing the Zoom region in settings.
Options for Zoom views include:
In Pinned Zoom, the zoomed image is shown in a fixed area on the screen. By default, the docked lens is placed at the top of the screen, but this can be changed in settings to be on the bottom, left, or right sides as well. When enabled, the Pinned Zoom takes up half of the screen size and can be adjusted by tapping and dragging on the edge of the magnifier window.
The docked lens will follow the user’s gestures and touch input, though does not magnify the keyboard when Smart Typing is available.
Full Screen Zoom
In full screen, all of the contents on screen are magnified to the percentage set by the user. Just like in docked view, Zoom will follow touch input, and users can drag with two or three fingers to explore the screen.
With the Window Zoom, a magnification window will show up on the screen, and the user can drag it to their desired region on the screen, just like a magnifying glass. By clicking the “resize lens” option, users can adjust the size of their magnification window to be as large or as small as needed. Users do not need to set their magnification window size every time they open the Window Zoom.
Adjusting the magnification power
Users can adjust the magnification power within Zoom by doing the following
- Using the slider at the bottom of the Zoom menu to increase/decrease image size
- When enabled, double tap and slide on the Zoom Controller to adjust the zoom level
Adjusting increments for Zoom
Users can change the maximum Zoom level by opening accessibility settings and scrolling to the bottom to adjust the Zoom level using the slider. The maximum Zoom level available is 15x, though I set my maximum Zoom level to 5x.
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The Zoom magnifier can be changed to have different color filters, including:
- Grayscale inverted
- Low light (which features black text on a gray background)
Users can also adjust display settings in the accessibility menu to invert the entire screen or apply other color filters.
Other Zoom magnifier settings
Additional options for configuring Zoom include:
- Follow Focus- Magnifier will follow gestures/touch input
- Smart Typing- Smart Typing will switch to a Window Zoom when a keyboard appears so that the text is zoomed but the keyboard is not
- Zoom Controller- can be set to always be on the screen and have custom controller actions for Zoom, such as show menu, zoom in/out, and speak on touch.
What I use it for
Some examples of how I use Zoom include:
- Reading dialog boxes and pop-up notifications
- Enlarging small text in applications where Dynamic Text is not available
- Looking at images in a textbook
- Navigating a website when I can’t use the pinch gesture to zoom in
- Checking code for my data science classes
- Reading magazines
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Zoom magnification has helped me tremendously with being able to use my iPad for various apps and with following along with my reading and classwork in college. Knowing how to use Zoom magnifier is essential for people with low vision, and I hope that these tips will help users to learn their magnification preferences and use their iPad for displaying information in an accessible format.