Windows Magnifier

The Windows Magnifier – A Great Tool In Windows 8:

Windows Magnifier

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:

Windows Magnifier On

  • 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

Windows Magnifier 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:

magnifier views

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.



  • Always loved the magnifier – the only thing I find annoying is that the icon always stays on-screen, often getting in the way of what I’m looking at. Do you know if there’s any way to hide it?

    • Hi kvatne,
      Which view are you using and is it in Metro or Desktop? When you say icon, do you mean the magnifying glass? I don’t seem to have a problem with it staying on screen, just in the Taskbar in Desktop.


      • Exactly – the magnifying glass (using in full-screen mode on the desktop). If there was some way to make it dock to the taskbar that would be excellent! Now it often ends up obstructing what I’m zooming in on (say a video on a web page with no full-screen toggle) – and I have to manually move it out of the way all the time.

    • I don’t have a Surface device but I have a touchscreen laptop with 8.1 and use the Magnifier quite often zooming in and out due to the 15 inch HD screen. The high resolution makes the text in the address bar of my browsers and some other areas of Windows tiny to be readable at times.

      I have had the same annoyance with it too being in the way even though my screen size is larger. I usually Minimize the Magnifier to the Taskbar but sometimes I forget and move the Magnifier over on the lower-right side with my mouse or finger since text or buttons on applications are usually not in that area. Hopefully when Windows 10 is fully released (possibly by the end of this year) that they would implement a docking feature. Wishful thinking they would do that.

  • Does the Win 10 version of magnifier work with modern touch screens ? I tried it at Best Buy on some top level 2-1s and it did not work too well, lots of skating around and freeze action. I use a simple laptop with Win 10 and my mag works well from tax software to YouTube. what should I look for in a new machine to flawlwssly run magnifier ?
    I am visually impaired, and magnifier is my key to computers. Note, Mac has no quality equivalent to magnifier..

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