While most browsers offer zoom functions, it’s often easier to use the native zoom function onyour operating system that works with everything, no matter what you are doing. Mac machines have this ability, and we’ll show you how to zoom in on a Mac, customize it, and control it!
Keyboard zoom shortcuts
If zoom is already enabled on your computer and you’re ready to go, these are the quick keyboard shortcuts to learn (if keyboard shortcuts and zoom aren’t turned on, move down to the zoom panel section for more information). With a little bit of practice, you can snap zooms and un-zooms instantly as you work on your Mac.
Option-Command-8: This turns the zoom function on or off. Obviously you want it on, but it’s a handy way to check if you’re unsure.
Option-Command-Plus Sign (+): The equal sign version is the way to zoom in on your Mac. Use this input to embiggen.
Option-Command-Minus (-): Zoom out with this function when you are done, or when you want to navigate faster.
Option-Command-Slash Sign (\): This will toggle “smooth images” on or off. Smooth images is a feature on Mac that will automatically smooth out and clarify images when you zoom in a lot. It’s especially useful if you are trying to zoom in on a picture or PDF with words/faces/charts that you want to read.
Keyboard Focus Following: While this option doesn’t have a pre-designated keyboard command, you can assign one if you want. If you’ve never used keyboard focus following before, it basically shows which element is currently being highlighted by the keyboard (learn more about how this helps accessibility here).
Note: It’s important to find an updated version of keyboard zoom commands, because they have been known to occasionally change. This list works with Mac Sierra, currently the most recent OS, and we’ll work to keep it updated if another change occurs.
Open up the zoom panel for customization
It’s a good idea to visit the Zoom settings panel on your Mac to make sure all your settings are correct, even if you can get by on the keyboard shortcuts. You can tweak or add features and general improve functionality based on your needs with these controls – as well as troubleshoot anything that’s not working. Here’s how to access them.
Step 1: Open up System Preferences, which is typically a gear box icon that you can find in your dash apps. From there, choose Accessibility.
Step 2: In the accessibility window, you will see a list of settings panels on the left side that you can choose from. Look for the Zoom panel (it should be early on) and select it.
Step 3: The window will now show several Zoom features that you can enable or disable by checking them. Keyboard shortcuts and probably smoothed images should both be enabled. Scroll gesture and zoom follows the keyboard focus are up to you, based on how you like to use the computer.
Step 4: Pay close attention to the Zoom style dropdown menu at the bottom of the window. Here you can choose either Fullscreen zooming or picture-in-picture zooming. For large screens in particular, picture-in-picture may have more advantages for navigation, but you can switch between the two to see what you like best. The Options button to the right will give you some more options to click and try out. These are all good things to adjust as needed!
Zooming in on the Touch Bar
The newer Macs have the OLED Touch Bar with illuminated icons that change based on what software you’re using. It’s a hit or miss addition, but it does come in handy for accessibility options, as long as you can see the icons, as they are fairly . Here’s how to zoom in on the Touch Bar.
Step 1: Visit the Zoom settings panels as described in the above section. If your Mac machine has an enabled Touch Bar, you should see a new check box for Enable Touch Bar zooming. Make sure it is selected.
Step 2: Touch your Touch Bar with a finger and hold it there until the zoomed-in version of the Touch Bar appears on your screen for easier control. If the icons still aren’t big enough, then try to “pinch” and expand the Touch Bar on the screen with your thumb and finger, while pressed down on the Command key. This should make the Bar bigger.
Step 3: For easier navigation, you can hold your finger down on the screen and over an icon until that icon is selected instead of tapping.
Note that this feature, like some other accessibility features, will be disabled if VoiceOver is activated, so there’s some give and take here.