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How to make a Mac screen easier to read

If you’re having trouble viewing certain aspects of your Mac screen ranging from the size of text when browsing the web or the size of your mouse pointer, Apple has incorporated numerous options you can use to improve your general viewing experience. Our guide will show you how to make a Mac screen easier to read.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • A Mac or MacBook

Increasing the size of text

One of the most convenient ways to make a Mac screen easier to read is making the size of the onscreen text larger. The specific settings to do so depend on the application you’re using.

Step 1: For the majority of apps, you’re able to increase the text size by simply pressing both the Command button and the Plus (+) button. Similarly, use the Command-Minus keyboard combination to decrease text size to your liking. These adjustments can be made on some of the most popular programs on your Mac such as Google Chrome and other web browsers.

If these keyboard combinations don’t work for a specific app, a general rule of thumb is to navigate to that individual app’s preferences to make changes where possible. For example, on Notepad, click the View tab and select Zoom In.

Step 2: Messages are used by many who have their iPhones synchronized to a Mac. To increase the text size for this app, click Messages on the top left side of your screen, select Preferences and click General. Here, you can make the necessary adjustments by moving the Text size slider to the right.

how to make a mac screen easier read increasingtextsizemacmessages
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Another popular app in which increasing the text size can go a long way in improving readability is the Mail program. Once you’ve opened this app, select the Mail button on the top left side of your screen, select Preferences and then Fonts & Colors, choose Select that’s situated next to Message font, and finally select your desired font size within the Fonts window.

Step 4: Finder is one of the most frequented apps on a Mac. To change the text size settings here, open Finder itself and click the View tab located at the top of your screen alongside the other menus. Now select Show View Options, after which a window showing various options will be displayed. Select the text size of your liking. You’ll now notice the text for both folders and individual files will become larger. Furthermore, another way to make your Mac screen easier to read is by selecting the larger option within Icon size.

how to make a mac screen easier read macfinderviewoptions
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Increase the size of icons

Another effective way in making a Mac screen easier to read is by increasing the size of icons.

Step 1: The first step is related to one of the common viewing areas of the Mac, the desktop. Go to your desktop, press the Control (ctrl) button, and select Show View Options. Within this window, you can increase an icon’s size by moving the Icon size slider to the right. Similarly, you can choose a larger text size by clicking the Text size menu.

how to make a mac screen easier read macdesktopviewoptions
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: As we touched on before, you can also increase the size of icons in Finder -- this includes areas like Desktop, Recents, Applications, etc. Once you’re in Finder, go to View and then Show View Options. There are different settings associated with the way you view your folders and files:

If you use the Icon view, use the Icon size slider. Adjust it to a level of your liking by moving it to the right.

If List view is enabled, there are two options to choose from when adjusting the icon size: The smaller option that is enabled by default and the larger icon size choice. Click the latter.

For Column view, although you can adjust the text size, you won’t be able to select an icon size.

As for Gallery view, you can click the largest thumbnail size to make the corresponding icons larger. Text size changes cannot be applied for obvious reasons.

how to make a mac screen easier read viewoptionsmacfinder
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Increasing the size of icons located within sidebars can be changed by going to System Preferences and then selecting General. Now click the Sidebar icon size field and select Large. You’ll now notice how sidebar icons located in, for example, Finder will have increased in size.

how to make a mac screen easier read iconsizeoptionsonmac
Image used with permission by copyright holder
how to make a mac screen easier read displaysettingsaccessibilitymac
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Changing general display preferences for a Mac

There is a whole range of settings that can be configured to make a Mac screen easier to read through the Accessibility options. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display. The window that pops up will present you with three menus: Display, Cursor, and Color Filters. Display should be selected by default. From here, these are the settings that can be selected and adjusted as required:

Invert colors: An example of inverting colors on your display would be showcasing white text on a black background. In order to invert colors in photos and images, select Classic Invert.

Reduce motion: Depending on the level of onscreen motion, a Mac user can potentially be affected by motion sickness. This option therefore either stops or reduces the movement of certain elements shown on the screen. You’ll subsequently notice how, for example, motion is reduced when you’re opening applications, or switching between different desktops.

Increase contrast: This option won’t affect the contrast of the screen, but rather increase the contrast of certain items on the screen, including borders around buttons or boxes.

Reduce transparency: In order to improve general contrast and readability for certain backgrounds displayed on the Mac, this option, when enabled, will replace the transparent effect with a darker background.

Differentiate without color: Shapes will be displayed, in addition to or instead of color, when it comes to viewing statuses or information.

Menu bar size: Text seen within the menu bar can be made larger by selecting Large. You will be required to log out of your account and log in again to enable this specific change. Please note that MacOS Catalina and below will not have this box as an option within Accessibility.

Display contrast: Contrast determines the ratio between the minimum and maximum brightness settings of your Mac’s display. The display contrast is already set to Normal by default, but you can increase it by dragging the slider to the right.

Color filters and tint: Go to the Color Filters tab next to General and Cursor. You can now choose your desired color filter that will be displayed where applicable on your Mac screen from the following through the drop-down menu: Greyscale (default), Red/Green filter (Protanopia), Green/Red filter (Deuteranopia), Blue/Yellow filter (Tritanopia), and Color Tint.

Night Shift

Mac systems include a useful component where onscreen colors are adjusted to ones that are generally easier for your eyes to process. As its name suggests, it’s an especially convenient feature when utilizing your Mac during the evening. That said, it can also be equally helpful when the Mac is used in a low-light state, no matter the time of the day. Notably, prolonged exposure to a bright blue light-based screen can actually affect your ability to fall asleep, so Night Shift can definitely prove to be an effective solution for that problem.

Step 1: Go to System Preferences, click Displays, and finally choose the Night Shift field.

how to make a mac screen easier read night shift on
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Click Manual to switch on the Night Shift feature. It will subsequently be enabled until the following day or until the option is turned off.

Step 3: In addition to the default color changes the Mac implements when the Manual button is selected, Mac users are also given the ability to change the color temperature Night Shift applies by adjusting the slider.

For those who want to automatically schedule when Night Shift turns, click the Schedule button and configure a custom time via Custom or, alternatively, use the handy Sunset to Sunrise option.

Changing the size of the mouse pointer/cursor

You may feel your Mac’s cursor size is just too small for you to see at times. There’s an easy way to enhance the visibility of the pointer.

Step 1: Go to Accessibility, which is located within System Preferences, and click Display (any MacOS versions below Monterey will have the feature’s settings located within its own dedicated menu next to the Display tab).

how to make a mac screen easier read maccursoroptions
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Use the slider to increase the size of the cursor until it’s large enough for you.

Step 3: Select the Shake mouse pointer to locate button if you wish to temporarily enlarge the pointer. Once selected, quickly moving your finger on the trackpad or quickly moving the mouse if you’re using that instead will increase the size of the mouse pointer/cursor for a limited period of time.

Step 4: Another additional method for making the pointer even more visible is the color settings. Pointer outline color will change the color of the mouse pointer’s outline. Furthermore, the Pointer fill color can be used to change the look of the inside of the cursor. Use the Reset button to return it to its default state (a black fill color and a white outline).

Adjusting brightness settings

Step 1: Choose System Preferences > Displays.

Step 2: Adjust the brightness slider to your liking. This can also be set through the corresponding brightness keys at the top of your Mac’s keyboard.

Another useful feature the Mac allows you to use is the Automatically adjust brightness button, which will require your Mac system to have an ambient light sensor.

how to make a mac screen easier read brightnessoptionsonamac
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Zooming in on aspects such as web pages can be a quick and convenient way to make a Mac screen easier to read.

Step 1: Navigate to System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom.

how to make a mac screen easier read zoomoptionsonamac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: From here, there’s a whole host of options that can be used and adjusted for zooming purposes:

When the Use keyboard shortcuts to zoom button is selected, you can either zoom in (use the Option-Command-Equal sign keyboard combination), or zoom out (press the Option-Command-Minus signs together). Alternatively, switch between these two settings by pressing Option-Command-8.

With the next button, Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom, Mac users can zoom in on their screen by pressing and holding the Control key and then swiping up on the trackpad with two fingers.

For MacBook users, another practical and effective way to zoom in on your screen, which is particularly useful when browsing, is by simply double-tapping the trackpad. Double-tap it again to zoom out to the default view.

To zoom in on the area under the pointer such as a block of text on a webpage, click the Enable Hover Text button. After it’s enabled, hold the Command (cmd) button while moving your mouse to the desired area you’d like to see a closer view of.

The Zoom style menu can be configured in order to customize aspects of the zoom function. By default, Full screen is selected, but you can also choose a particular area of the screen or the area where the pointer is located to be zoomed in to. Other options related to the zoom style that can be further customized can be accessed via Advanced.

If you wish to zoom in on web pages on a given browser, click the View tab at the top of your screen and click Zoom In. The same can be achieved by the Command-Plus (+) keyboard combination.

Opening the Mac’s display settings with a keyboard shortcut

A quick way to access your Mac’s display settings is by holding the Option (or alt) key while clicking one of the brightness options. From here, you can adjust the brightness display, turn the Automatically adjust brightness button on or off, and configure Night Shift settings.

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Zak Islam
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Zak Islam was a freelance writer at Digital Trends covering the latest news in the technology world, particularly the…
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