How to Zoom In on Your Mac’s Screen

Update March 2013: Added instructions for OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion.

Update October 2014: Added OS X 10.9, Mavericks, to the instructions for Mountain Lion.

Did you know that Mac OS X has a built-in zoom feature? This feature lets you zoom in on your screen so everything on the screen is larger. Of course, when you zoom in you can only see part of the screen on your monitor. You’ll need to scroll around to see the other parts of the screen.

I use the zoom feature frequently when I’m giving presentations especially when I provide Mac training. I project my Mac laptop’s image onto a wall or screen using a projector. Then when I want to show audience members something on the screen, I zoom the screen so that everybody in the audience can see what I’m trying to highlight on one part of the screen.

Zoom is off by default. For Mac OS X 10.4-10.7, follow these instructions to turn it on:

  • Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  • Click on the Universal Access icon.
  • Click on the Seeing button.
  • In the Zoom section set the button to On.
  • Optionally, click the Options button and make sure in the section titled “When zoomed in, the screen image moves:” that it is set to “Only when the pointer reaches an edge”. Click Done. The other options lead to too much screen movement which I find distracting or even annoying.

For Mac OS X 10.8 and 10.9, follow these instructions:

  • Go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
  • Click on the Accessibility icon.
  • Click on Zooming in the left-hand column.
  • Check the box “Use keyboard shortcuts to zoom.”
  • Check the box next to “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom.”
  • Optionally, click the More Options button and make sure in the section titled “When zoomed in, the screen image moves:” that it is set to “Only when the pointer reaches an edge.” Click Done. The other options lead to too much screen movement, which I find distracting or even annoying.

Once the zoom feature is enabled then you can invoke it at any time to zoom in on your Mac’s screen by simultaneously pressing these 3 keys: Command, Option and the Plus Sign (which is typically the same as the Equal Sign key). Each time you press these three keys your Mac will zoom in a little bit more.

To zoom out simultaneously press these 3 keys: Command, Option and the Minus Sign key which is typically to the left of the Plus Sign key.

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