Windows Magnifier

The Windows Magnifier – A Great Tool In Windows 8:

Windows 8 seems to have gotten a bad rep but I think people forget that it was designed to be an “all-encompassing OS”, i.e. it was supposed to work on desktops, laptops, and touch devices, and it was especially optimized for touch. That’s quite an undertaking.

Anyway, many folks don’t realize that Windows 8 is chock full o’ goodies when it comes to accessibility options.

I already talked about the Windows Narrator in a post a while back, see Microsoft Narrator: Have Your Surface Read To You. Today I’d like to talk to you about the Windows Magnifier – another fantastic Windows 8 tool that helps those with vision problems. And frankly, anyone that needs screen enlargement to see better will benefit from it too. I use the Magnifier myself – I’m far-sighted and I have glasses but I often forget them because I only need them for reading, that’s when the Magnifier really comes in handy.

But let’s start from the beginning…

Windows Magnifier: What is it?

The Magnifier is a tool built into Windows 8 that allows you to enlarge things on your screen – it can be either part or all of your screen. The purpose for this tool is to allow you to see text and images better. The magnifier comes with a few options and view settings, so you can set it up in a way that works best for you.

Windows Magnifier: Why do I need it on a Surface?

You may be wondering, why in the world you would need a Magnifier on the Surface – after all, the Surface allows you to zoom in and out on things. Well, the answer is pretty simple, It also allows you to enlarge only a selected part of the screen, instead of the entire screen – much like a magnifying glass.

Windows Magnifier: Use it with touch

Here is how to use the Magnifier in your Surface’s touch interface:

To Open:

  • In Ease of Access Settings (search from Charms Menu)
  • Select Magnifier
  • Turn Magnifier setting ON

To Close: Tap “X

To Use:

  • Tap corners to Zoom in and Zoom out.
  • Drag along the borders to move around the screen.
  • Tap with two fingers on opposite borders to see where you are on the screen.

Windows Magnifier: Use it with keyboard

I find the Magnifier most useful in Desktop with a keyboard. I mean, the Surface Desktop mode, is not every touch friendly anyway and everything looks tiny. So, here is how you can use it:

To open the Magnifier with a keyboard, simply press the Windows button and the “+” at the same time.

To close the magnifier, press Windows button and Esc key together.

To zoom in:

Windows key + “+” (plus sign)

To Zoom out:

Windows key + “-” (minus sign)

Windows Magnifier: Settings

  • With Magnifier open, go to Desktop
  • Tap or click the Magnifying glass in the Taskbar (bottom of screen)
  • Tap Options

Now you can change any of the following:

  • Set zoom increments by adjusting the slider
  • Select Turn on color inversion – reverses the colors under the Magnifier for easier viewing
  • Choose how Magnifier focuses – can follow your mouse, the keyboard, or the insertion point

Windows Magnifier: Views (with mouse only)

When you are using a mouse, you can change the views of the Windows Magnifier. Each view changes how the Magnifier behaves. Here are your options:

Full-screen – in this view your entire screen will be magnified. Because it is magnified, you will not be able to see the entire screen in one view, but as you move around the screen, you will see it all.

Lens – this view is just like putting a Magnifying lens to your screen, as you move around, it magnifies only what’s under the lens.

Docked – this view works only in Desktop mode; as you move around the screen, part of it magnifies in the docking area, the rest of it remains unchanged. You can adjust the size and place of the docked Magnifier.

Overall, the Windows Magnifier is a great tool. It takes a little bit to get used to it, but once you do, it can be a great help in viewing things on your screen. As I said, I use it any time I forget my reading glasses. My favorite view is Docked because it allows me to magnify only the things I want to see closer and the rest stays the same and I can adjust where the Magnifier appears on my screen.


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