109. Making print bigger
By Andrew D. Wright
One of our very cool limited supply Chebucto Mousepads is winging its way
to Joe MacDonald, a retired Cape Bretoner now living in Ontario for his
question about making print bigger.
For Windows XP, right click on your empty desktop and select Properties
then click on the Appearance tab. Click on the Font size box. You can
select two levels larger than the regular size print. Hit Apply and your
system fonts are now bigger.
In Windows Vista, right click on the empty desktop and hit Personalize. In
the left hand column under Tasks click on Adjust font size (DPI). You'll
need to approve the action to open it. You can select a larger font size
clicking on the other radio button choice. For a larger font size still
click on the Custom DPI button then select a percentage up to 200% from
the drop down box. Vista will
need a restart for changes to be put into effect.
These two methods enlarge all system printing. It works but when you make
print bigger like that it distorts the way everything looks. Windows look
cartoonishly large, graphics are out of place and buttons on un-resizable
windows can be out of mouse reach. If your vision is not that bad it's a
shotgun approach to a tweezers problem.
While not yet available for Windows Vista, the Microsoft Powertoys for
Windows XP Taskbar Magnifier is very useful. I put it on every Windows XP
machine I run. It adds a magnifying window to the Windows taskbar running
across the bottom of your screen.
Once installed you can add it by right clicking on the taskbar and under
Toolbars you'll see Taskbar Magnifier. You can position it anywhere on the
Windows taskbar and stretch it to fit. I generally pull my taskbar up to
twice the size and have the Taskbar Magnifier occupy about 40% of it. It
follows the mouse cursor and can be adjusted from 2x to 8x display.
Pinpoint enlargement right where you can see it easily.
If fuzziness of the type is an issue, try the Clear Type tuner. Two thirds
of users have reported an improvement in the clarity of print with some
reporting triple the legibility. Available for Windows XP and Vista.
If you use Mozilla Firefox as your web browser as we recommend, you can
add the Web Developer extension.
It's a large collection of website tools in a convenient browser toolbar
that can be neatly tucked out of the way and replaced with a button. One
very handy tool is a browser window magnifier feature.
With the Web Developer extension in place you can hold down the Ctrl and
Shift keys then tap on the letter z key to enlarge everything in the
browser window one step at a time. To make things smaller, hold down the
Ctrl and Shift keys and tap the letter x key. Surfing the web and
magnifying details in online photos or graphics is as easy as snapping
Mozilla Firefox (free):
Web Developer extension for Firefox (free):
Taskbar magnifier Powertoy for Windows XP (free):
Microsoft Clear Type (free):
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Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about
computing, email email@example.com or
click here. If we use your question
in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.
Originally published 27 May 2007