Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

ZoomIt Makes Presentations Easier to See

ZoomIt is a free utility that allows you to capture an image of your computer screen (via customizable hotkeys). Then, in real time, you can draw, type or zoom directly in on the captured screen image. The really handy part is that the capture process is seamless, as no external program is opened. By pressing the Esc key (escape) on your keyboard, you can "unfreeze" the screen and all the mark-ups you made will disappear. This is extremely handy for doing presentations, especially if you use a tablet PC. ZoomIt also offers a timer function where you can assign a countdown to your computer. That would be useful if you wanted to do a presentation with interactive user exercises. Either way, this is an extremely handy utility that doesn't even need to be installed to run. Just double click it and go! ZoomIt works on all versions of Windows and you can even use pen input for ZoomIt when drawing on tablet PCs.

The screen magnifier is one of the best out there, but it's the annotation tool that I think would be handy when giving presentations or even showing someone your computer screen, one on one. The countdown timer is off-topic and rather silly, but you're not forced to use it. ZoomIt is just a typical Sysinternals program in that it is tiny, functional, handy, unobtrusive and free.

For those of us with limited vision, this program will simply amaze you! It has the draggable quality of Google Maps, combined with a magnificent zoom function. It shows a much bigger area of your screen than most magnifiers. It is also a presentation aid with a draw feature that allows the presenter to circle or highlight part of the screen display. Then, with a simple push of the E key, the drawings are erased again. There is a screen break feature too, but it seems to be the opposite of what I would use it for. For example, I want to use the PC for, say, 45 minutes and have the screen change to tell me to take a break. This feature works more like a countdown timer in that the screen is replaced by a large digital display that counts your time down.

The first time you run ZoomIt, it presents a configuration dialogue box that describes ZoomIt's behavior. It also allows you to specify alternate hotkeys for zooming and for entering the drawing mode, without zooming. Plus, it lets you customize the drawing pen color and size. ZoomIt also includes a break timer feature that remains active even when you tab away from the timer window. It then allows you to return to the timer window by simply clicking on the ZoomIt tray icon.

This is definitely a program you have to see to believe, so check it out today! To download Zoomit for yourself, just visit this Website.

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