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, February 01, 2010

The Windows 7 Magnifier

The Windows 7 Magnifier has been seriously updated with tons of new features that should have been included in previous versions of Windows. As larger monitors get more and more popular, a tool like this becomes a must-have for many savvy users. It also makes presentations much more enjoyable for both the presenters and the audients. For people with low vision, it is an indispensable feature! Microsoft finally covered that piece and it's FREE, built right into the operating system.

Simply use the keyboard shortcuts to launch and close the program, to magnify your entire desktop, internet browser, whatever you need.

  • Windows key + Plus to zoom in
  • Windows key + Minus to zoom out
  • Windows key + ESC to exit

You can also use the Lens option to only magnify an area around the pointer which works just like a real magnifier moving on your desktop, or select the dock mode to show the magnified section at the top of the dock area. You can switch them back and forth using the keyboard shortcuts while you are still in the magnifier view.

  • Ctrl + Alt + F, Full screen mode
  • Ctrl + Alt + L, Lens mode
  • Ctrl + Alt + D, Dock mode

The following video will demonstrate some of the basic features of the Windows 7 Magnifier.

We received the following comment from Karen via email.

For someone with a visual disability who needs high contrast or a theme other than an Aero theme, they will only be able to use the Windows Magnifier on split screen mode. I haven't tried creating an Aero theme using high contrast colours so don't know if it can be done. Would be worth a try.

See for more information on using Aero and full screen or lens views.

Also note that if you are trying to use full screen or lens mode with other adaptive technology such as TTS or screen reading you may only get split screen view since Aero uses a new method to access the video display to support full screen or lens view while existing adaptive technology is using MSAA.

Once you turn off adaptive technology the Aero theme should return and you can use Magnifier in full screen or lens view again. Sometimes this takes a few minutes. These views do work with Narrator.

Magnifier in Windows 7 is a great tool if you don't need other adaptive technology or can use it with Narrator or other on-board tools and more usable now that it has full screen and lens views.

Cheers, Karen


Allen said...

I am a fully sighted user with Windows 7 and I was excited about sharing information about this feature with patrons at my library. However, I am not happy with my initial results at home. After increasing the resolution with my magnifier only 25%, my screen text looks blurry and pixelated compared to what I watched in the Youtube video shared on this site. I wonder if it's my laptop video card? Hmmmm... The Youtube video mentions adjusting the text with Cleartype, but I have already adjusted my text with the Cleartype tool. I hope you have better luck than I had with the new magnifier tool. Despite its slight blurriness, I think it has a lot of nice features that will help people with visual impairments.

Shawn said...

I think ultimately this is going to hurt the LV community....MS is only going to go part of the way. Innovation and quality will suffer without market opportunity.

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