Atechability Number 2: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! With Magnifiers

Just like there are screen readers that are built into devices, you can also have built-in magnifiers on many mainstream devices! Want to know how to activate these features? Read on to find out!

Main Introduction

Welcome to another installment of Atechability! This time, we’re changing things up a bit and presenting you, a contributed post! This post is brought to you by a teacher who works with the blind and visually impaired students in a public school system. Please NOTE: The views expressed on this, or any future contributor post, are those of the contributor, and do NOT represent Screenless Allies as a whole.

Pre-post Background

If you recall, on the Previous Installment, I covered screen readers for the blind. Now, we are moving to the visually impaired spectrum. That is, a person who has some functional vision, compared to a person with full 20/20 vision. These individuals require the use of larger text or images on screen in order to see them correctly. For example, if a visually impaired person receives a letter with standard print, that letter has to be increased about double or more of a font size in order for them to see it clearly. This can depend on how much vision the person has. Just like screen readers, most devices come with features built in to allow visually impaired people to use them easily and efficiently. This post will tell you all about turning these features on. Without any further ado, let’s read what our contributor shared on this matter!


In my years of working with individuals with visual impairments, I have seen a drastic change in the accessibility features that are built into most operating systems. There was a time when there was almost nothing available, unless you spent hundreds of dollars on specialized software programs. Today, most devices come with built in features that enable a person with a visual impairment to access information.


Let’s start with the most common operating system, Windows. You have two ways of turning on magnification. The first is to press the “Windows logo” key and the “Plus (+) sign,” which is done by pressing the “Shift” and “Equals (=)” keys at the same time. You can also press the “start” icon, select “settings,” then “Ease of Access” and locate “Magnifier.” There is a toggle under “Turn on Magnifier” that allows you to use the above keyboard shortcut to operate it. To turn off the magnifier, press “Windows” with “Escape.” To increase magnification, press “Windows” Key and the “+ (Plus sign, which again is “Shift and Equals (=)” key).” To decrease magnification, Press “Windows” and the “-” (“Hyphen”) keys at the same time.


Next, let’s talk about the popular iOS devices. Go to “settings,” then “Accessibility,” (“General” then “Accessibility” for iOS 12 and below), then select magnifier. turn the toggle to on, then you can triple click the home button to activate the magnifier. This allows you to magnify something you are looking at through the lens of the camera. The feature that allows you to magnify your screen is called “Zoom.” You also access this through the “Accessibility” settings in iOS. Once enabled, you must “double tap” (tap twice) the screen with 3 fingers to activate the Zoom window. “Double tap” the screen with 3 fingers again to deactivate the Zoom window. To move the window around, use 3 fingers and drag the window around the screen. In the “Zoom” settings category under “Accessibility,” you can also change from a zoom window to a zoom screen. I prefer the screen to the window, because it allows me to move a little easier.


Android also has a zoom feature, and it works similarly to iOS. In my personal opinion, it is more user friendly. You find this in the device’s “Settings” app, under “Accessibility” (found under “Device” then “Accessibility” for some devices) and locate “Vision Enhancements,” then “magnification.” Once you have turned on the “Magnification” feature, you “Triple tap” (Tap three times) the screen with one finger to turn magnification on. Triple tap with one finger again to turn magnification off. To move around the screen, hold two fingers on the screen.


One last device to talk about is the Chromebook, because it has become popular with many school districts. It is very similar to the commands in windows. Use “Control” and the “+” (“Shift and Equals)” key to increase magnification and Control and the “-” (“Hyphen)” key to decrease magnification. To reset your Zoom to normal you press “Control and the “0” key.

Macintosh Computers

The Mac computer also has zoom capabilities. To activate this, go to the “Apple” menu, locate “System Preferences,” and find “Accessibility.” From there, locate “Zoom,” and turn it on. The same commands for Windows and Chrome are used to increase or decrease the Zoom parameter, except you add the “Option” key, and substitute “Control” for the “Command” key in this combination. If you are using a trackpad on the Mac, you can hold down “Control,” then drag two fingers on the trackpad up to zoom in, or down, to zoom out.


You can use a screen reader and these features at the same time. The gestures will NOT get in the way of the screen reader’s gestures or keyboard commands. On iOS, when you “Tripple press” the “Home” or “Side” button, depending on the iOS device you are using, and have VoiceOver running as well as the magnifier, VoiceOver will present you with a “Select Shortcut” option. Here, navigate to “Magnifier” if you wish to turn that on or off. Many modern TV’s such as the Apple TV, Android TV, and the Amazon Firestick also have this feature. Again, thank you to the contributor for allowing me to use this post for the low vision side of things! Look out for more contributions from this teacher in the future! If you have any questions about technology in general, or the topic of screen magnification, please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to assist you with these features! Happy zooming and magnification!