Recently, one of my friends texted me asking for tips on using Windows Magnifier with low vision, and asked how to customize settings for Window Magnifier. While this friend doesn’t normally have low vision, they had recently had their eyes dilated and were unable to read small lines of text on the computer. I was happy to help them and find the appropriate magnification settings for their needs. Here are my tips for using Windows Magnifier with low vision.
How to open Windows Magnifier
There are a few different options for opening Windows Magnifier that all lead to the same program:
- Using a keyboard shortcut- press the Windows logo key and the plus key at the same time to open Magnifier, and the Windows logo key and the escape key to close Magnifier
- Ask Cortana to open Magnifier
- Type Magnifier into the search bar of the Start menu
- Open Magnifier in Windows Ease of Access folder
- Pin Magnifier to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen
Users can also have Magnifier automatically start at sign-in, more on that later.
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Types of views available
Windows Magnifier offers three different types of views for screen magnification. Users can change which view they want to use by clicking the “Views” button or by using keyboard shortcuts. Users can type Ctrl + alt + M to cycle through different views and find their favorite.
Options for Windows Magnifier views include:
Keyboard shortcut Ctrl + alt + D
In docked view, 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 can be adjusted by dragging the magnified window to another part of the screen. The window can be resized by clicking on the edges of the window and dragging inwards or outwards.
The docked lens will follow the mouse cursor, keyboard focus, text insertion point, and narrator cursor unless otherwise modified in settings. So if I am typing, Magnifier will detect where my cursor is and magnify the text I am writing. This can be changed by clicking on the settings button in Magnifier or by opening the Ease of Access center.
Keyboard shortcut Ctrl + alt + F, also can use Ctrl + alt + spacebar for a temporary screen magnification
In full screen, all of the contents on screen are magnified to the percentage set by the user. Just like in docked view, Magnifier will follow the mouse cursor, keyboard focus, text insertion point, and narrator cursor unless otherwise modified in settings so that users can move around the screen.
Keyboard shortcut Ctrl + alt + L
With the Lens view, a magnification window follows the mouse pointer around the screen, like a magnifying glass. Users can change the Lens size by clicking the settings button in Magnifier and scrolling to the bottom to resize their lens, or by using one of two keyboard shortcuts:
- Ctrl + alt + R for adjusting the lens with the mouse
- Shift + alt + arrow keys for using the arrow keys to adjust the size
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Adjusting the magnification power
Users can adjust the magnification power within Magnifier by clicking an option in the zoom level section of the Magnifier app, or by using one of two keyboard shortcuts:
- Windows logo key and the + or – keys to zoom in and out
- Hold down ctrl + alt and use the scroll wheel on the mouse to adjust zoom levels
Adjusting increments for Magnifier
By default, Magnifier is set at 100% zoom increments, but this can be changed by clicking the settings button and choosing from an option in “change zoom increments.” I have mine set for 25% increments, with the lowest option being for 5% increments.
For users that want to have an inverted display for their Magnifier view, they can either click the checkbox within Magnifier settings for invert colors (which is above the option to change magnifier view), or use the keyboard shortcut ctrl + alt + I. Personally, I prefer to use the High Contrast mode in Windows so that my entire screen is inverted.
Other Magnifier settings
Additional options for configuring Magnifier include:
- Start Magnifier after signing in to the computer
- Start Magnifier before sign-in for everyone. If they do not use Magnifier on their account, Magnifier will close after they sign in to the computer
- Change Magnifier window when minimized to a floating transparent magnifying glass. To edit Magnifier settings, just click the magnifying glass.
- Smooth edges of images and text- I have this turned on to help make images and text seem less jagged
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What I use it for
Some examples of how I use Magnifier include:
- Enlarging programs for my data science classes
- Reading dialog boxes
- Navigating websites with small display elements
- Taking tests for my online classes
- As an approved accommodation for my Microsoft certification exam
- Reading information for math problems
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Having access to Windows Magnifier means that I can read anything that shows up on my computer, even if it is in a smaller than normal font. I am glad that Windows Magnifier has improved over the years and that I am able to use it without getting vertigo or becoming overwhelmed with all of the options available. I hope this post is helpful for learning how to use Windows Magnifier with low vision!