Screen Magnification Software

A large magnifying glass lying atop sheaves of multicolored paper.
Photo by Pixabay

Screen magnifiers do just that, magnify everything on the computer screen, including toolbars, menus, and graphics that often can’t have their font size easily increased by other means. Some also offer related tools that make the computer easier to see, like screen tinting or color inversion to reduce eyestrain, and mouse and text cursor changes to make the cursor easier to track across the screen.

Who can benefit?

  • People who are blind or have low vision
  • People who get eyestrain from looking at unfiltered computer screens

Below is an example screen magnifier used at the University of Illinois, as well as some free alternatives available to anyone. The free alternatives listed are by no means exhaustive, and many won’t have all the features available from paid programs. However, they do give a good example of the basic functionalities available, and may help determine whether it’s worth pursuing more feature-rich alternatives.

Disclaimer: DRES and the University of Illinois do not formally endorse or recommend any specific software programs. The programs listed below serve as examples of different categories of AT, with a focus on the software available to University of Illinois students registered with DRES with assistive technology as part of their accommodations. For vendors interested in having their AT programs featured on the DRES website, please contact us at dres-accessible-media@illinois.edu.


ZoomText

Platforms: Mac, Windows.

In addition to screen magnification, the ZoomText Magnifier/Reader offers a suite of features tailored for low-vision users that make the computer easier to see, hear, and use. The reader tools also offer support for people with learning disabilities, low literacy, and other print disabilities.

Feature Highlights

  • Flexible magnification: Zoom in up to 3600%, and quickly switch between your favorite zoom levels
  • Screen enhancements: Adjust contrast and brightness, make the screen black and white, invert colors, or replace one color with another
  • Cursor & pointer enhancements: Change the size and color of the mouse pointer and text cursor, and add locators to make them easier to find on the screen
  • Focus highlighting: Add colored frames around text boxes, menus, and toolbars to show what part of the screen currently has control focus
  • Camera magnifier: Use a webcam to magnify print pages, product labels, craft items, etc.
  • Reader: Reads documents and web pages aloud, and announces essential program activity
  • Typing echo: Reads back words as you type them to help prevent typos
  • Voice assistant: Control ZoomText using natural language commands rather than hunting through menus for the option you need

See it in action

ZoomText has a YouTube playlist demonstrating its various features. Start with the ZoomText Toolbar video for an overview, then browse the rest of the playlist to focus in on features of interest.


Free Screen Magnifier Alternatives

Windows Magnifier

Platform: Windows.
How to get it: Magnifier comes built into Windows.

Apple Zoom

Platforms: Mac, iOS.
How to get it: Zoom comes built into Mac and iOS.

Android Magnification

Platform: Android.
How to get it: Magnification comes built into Android.


For More Information

If any of these programs sounded useful to you, contact your Access Specialist or begin the accommodation process today to get an assistive technology program added to your accommodations. For questions or to request personalized AT training, email AMS at dres-accessible-media@illinois.edu and include “[AT]” in the subject line.