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Free software for bad eyesight

This weekend I made a sad conclusion. As I get older, my vision gets worse. Squinting my eyes in front of a computer screen ten hours a day probably has not helped any. Growing up, my vision was always 20/20, but now I can barely read my email. Oh, and I've already moved my two monitors to the edge of the desk.

I have heard of free software that will magnify the screen wherever my cursor is, but I have always thought it was for people of the more "experienced" generation. Today I downloaded the Virtual Magnifying Glass software, and I can "see" already that it and I will become good friends.

After installation, a small magnifying icon appears in my system tray (right next to the clock in the lower right of the Windows desktop). Whenever I need to magnify something on the screen, I just click once on the icon, and I have a magnifier that moves with my cursor. The magnifier can be resized, and the magnification level can even be modified to 1.5x, 2x, 3x, 4x, 8x, or 16x.


With software like this, maybe I can put off the appointment with the eye doctor for a little longer. Virtual Magnifying Glass can be downloaded by clicking here.


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Thank you for bringing this to our sure will come in handy.

Windows also comes with its own magnifier. I don't remember if it installs by default or if you have to manually select it.

It is normally located under:

I dragged a shortcut of this Windows magnifier into my Quick Launch toolbar for easy access.

My Microsoft Mouse comes with a magnifier built into the unit. All I have to do is click on a button on the thumb side of the mouse and I have an active magnifier on the screen.

There is no need to get special software. Press Ctrl and + and the words on the screen will enlarge over and over, the more times you press +. If you make the words too large, just press Ctrl and -. Easy.

Liz, aren't those controls only for use with Internet Explorer?

You don't have to hold down cntrl & + or -; just cntrl & use middle roller of mouse to go up or down in size. Of course this doesn't work on the Legacy screens.

Thank you for that information, Karen. I had no idea that I could do that!


The Ctrl +/- and wheel functions work with nearly all Windows programmes (including Word etc). The Magnifier used to be an option but installs as standard from xp onwards so it will be in the Accessories group in the Start Menu.

My eyes are bad too. How do I find this free software?

Geoff - No, I don't use IE, I use Mozilla Firefox.

Karen - Thanks for that tip. I found it works with the Legacy screen too. Must be my laptop, rather than anything to do with specific websites etc.

Thanks for all of the above info. Who knew except you of course. I have tried the various techniques, and found different ones helpful in different situations, the magnifier is great for scanning sections. The enlarging the screen for enlarges the whole text, that will be my new favorite setting, as it makes proof reading much easier. And I don't have to buy a larger monitor for that benefit! Thanks again.

Liz, I am not able to make the cntrl & mousewheel work on Legacy screens, except for notes & source text - in other words, what I have typed myself. Does it make the family screens larger for you?


One problem I've run into with the virtual magnifying glasses is when you click to enter data, the magnification goes away. Oops, can't see again! I don't believe you run into that problem with Windows magnification.

I've been battling decreasing vision for 5 years and have pretty much figured out most of the tricks! I use the ctrl-scroll all the time to resize fonts. On some web pages, you may need to go to Internet Options and click on the Accessibility button and select "Ignore font sizes on web pages" - that's for IE and I'm pretty sure FireFox has something similar. Unfortunately, many HTML coders don't take accessibility into consideration and some web pages are really hard to read because of low contrast, horrible backgrounds or bad formatting of their page in general.

I've not heard anyone mention the Windows Magnifier. I use to find this one difficult to use until I learned to resize the windows so I can layer them. This enables the magnification to show above or below the files you want to magnify & I find this especially useful when proofing or transcribing census files.
Simply hit Windows Key plus U together and it will pop up & you can magnify according to your needs.

Also for file images, I find the program IRFAN to open images and census files much larger and more readable than most.
This is a free program and a very useful one which I've used for many years. A search will lead you to the website for it.

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