Windows provides a handy tool called Magnifier which allows you to enlarge different parts of the screen. With it, you can see the whole screen or just the parts of it that you want, by using the different magnification levels and types of views available. In this article, we show you how to open the Magnifier tool, how to use it and configure it to fit your needs and, finally, how to set it to launch at your computer startup. We cover all the modern Windows operating systems: Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.
NOTE: Magnifier is available in all editions of Windows 7 except Windows 7 Starter. In Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, it is available in all editions.
How to open the Magnifier in Windows 10
Probably the fastest way to open the Magnifier is to search for it using Cortana’s search field on your taskbar. Enter the word magnifier and then click or tap the Magnifier shortcut.
Another, even quicker way to open Magnifier in Windows 10, is to ask Cortana to do it. Call for her by saying “Hey Cortana” or click/tap on the microphone icon found on her search field from your taskbar. Then, ask her to “launch Magnifier.”
In Windows 10, you can also use the Settings app to turn on the Magnifier. Open the Settings and head to Ease of Access. Select Magnifier in on the left side of the window and then turn the Magnifier switch On, on the right side of the window.
If you prefer the old ways of doing things, you can also use the Start Menu to open the Magnifier tool in Windows 10. You can find a shortcut for it in “Start Menu -> Windows Ease of Access.“
Using the Control Panel is a more cumbersome but still viable way of launching the Magnifier in Windows 10. Open Control Panel and go to “Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center.“ There, click or tap on Start Magnifier.
Finally, if you want to know the exact location of the Magnifier tool, you should be aware that it is an executable file named Magnify.exe, which you can find it in “C:WindowsSystem32”.
If you prefer to use your keyboard, you can also launch the Magnifier by pressing the Windows logo key + Plus sign (+) keys simultaneously.
How to open the Magnifier in Windows 7
In Windows 7, a quick way to launch the Magnifier is to search for it. Enter the word magnifier in the search field from the Start Menu and then click on the Magnifier search result.
You can also open the Magnifier by clicking on its shortcut from the Start Menu found in “All programs -> Accessories -> Ease of Access.“
If you prefer, you can also open the Magnifier from the Control Panel: you can find it in “Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center.“
The Magnifier tool is an executable file located in “C:WindowsSystem32”, so you can also open it by double-clicking on this file. If you prefer to use your keyboard, you can also launch the Magnifier by pressing the Windows logo key + Plus sign (+) keys simultaneously.
How to open the Magnifier in Windows 8.1
In Windows 8.1, go to the Start screen and type the word magnifier. Then, click or tap on Magnifier.
If you prefer, open the Apps list and go to the Windows Ease of Access group. Then click or tap on the Magnifier shortcut.
You can also use the Control Panel and go to “Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center.“ There, click or tap on Start Magnifier.
If you are interested in finding the location of its executable, look for the Magnify.exe file in the “C:WindowsSystem32” folder. If you prefer to use your keyboard, you can also launch the Magnifier by pressing the Windows logo key + Plus sign (+) keys simultaneously.
How to use the Magnifier
When the application opens, your screen is automatically zoomed in by 200%. In Windows 10, the Magnifier looks like this:
The Magnifier in Windows 7 looks similar to the screenshot below:
And this is what the Magnifier looks like in Windows 8.1:
All the buttons and options displayed are identical in Windows 10, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. As such, to keep things simple, from here on we will use screenshots taken only in Windows 10.
After you open the Magnifier, if you do not use it for 5 seconds, its interface changes to a magnifier, as you can see in the image below. Click or tap on its center to go back to the previous form.
There are two buttons available to adjust the level of magnification: “+” for zooming in and “-” for zooming out. Adjust the zoom to fit your needs. The level of magnification is shown in percents, right next to the plus and minus buttons.
Then, you can choose the type of view you want to use. Click or tap Views and select one of the three types: Full screen, Lens, and Docked.
In the Full screen view, your entire screen is magnified to the zoom level you have set. This is the default view type.
In the Lens view, the region around the mouse pointer is magnified. When you move the mouse pointer, the region of the screen that is magnified moves along with it. See the picture below to get a better understanding.
The Docked view enables you to magnify only a portion of the screen, leaving the rest in a normal state. You can control the region of the screen that is magnified with the mouse or with your finger (on touch devices).
Note that in Windows 7, you can use the Full screen and Lens views only if Aero is enabled and Windows 7 is configured to use a theme that supports Aero. Otherwise only the Docked view works. This limitation does not apply to Windows 10 or Windows 8.1.
How to customize the Magnifier
To customize the Magnifier, click or tap the Options button.
Then, choose what you want to modify:
- “Turn on color inversion” – increases the contrast between the items on the screen, which can help make your screen easier to see. This setting is disabled by default.
- “Follow the mouse pointer” – displays the region around the mouse pointer in the Magnifier window.
- “Follow the keyboard focus” – displays the area around the pointer when you press the tab or arrow keys.
- “Have Magnifier follow the text insertion point” – displays the area around the text that you are typing.
The slider allows you to set how much the view changes while zooming in or out. The minimum is 25%, and the maximum is 400%.
When you use the Lens view, the Options window allows you to move the slider to adjust the size of the Magnifier Lens, as shown below.
After you have configured all the settings you want, click or tap OK, so that they get applied.
In addition to every setting that can be configured directly from the Magnifier app, in Windows 10 you can do the same changes from the Settings app too. If you have Windows 10, open Settings and enter the “Ease of Access“ category. On the left of the window select Magnifier.
On the right side of the app, you can open the Magnifier tool, and you can also configure a few settings related to it:
- “Invert colors“ – Is the same as the Turn on color inversion, which is to increase the contrast between the items on the screen, which can help make your screen easier to see.
- “Start Magnifier automatically“ – Sets Magnifier to launch automatically at Windows startup, which is something useful if you are visually impaired.
- “Follow the mouse cursor“ – Is a duplicate of the setting with the same name available in the Magnifier app. It displays the region around the mouse pointer in the Magnifier window.
- “Follow the keyboard cursor“ – Is a duplicate of the setting with the same name available in the Magnifier app. It displays the area around the pointer when you press the tab or arrow keys.
- “Have Magnifier follow the text insertion point“ – Is a duplicate of the setting with the same name available in the Magnifier app. It displays the area around the text that you are typing.
How to set the Magnifier to launch at Windows startup
If you need to use the Magnifier on a regular basis, it is best to set it to run on each Windows log on. If you use Windows 10, the easiest way to configure that is to use the Settings app. Open Settings and then “Ease of Access“. On the left, choose Magnifier. Then, on the right side of the app, make sure you enable the “Start Magnifier automatically” setting.
If you want to disable the Magnifier from launching on Windows 10 startup, follow the same steps and disable the “Start Magnifier automatically” switch.
If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, or if you just don’t like the Settings app in Windows 10, you can configure the Magnifier to launch at Windows startup in the Control Panel.
To do it, open the Control Panel and go to “Ease of Access -> Ease of Access Center“.
In the “=– all settings” section, click or tap on the “Make the computer easier to see” link.
In the next window, scroll down until you find a section that says “Make things on the screen larger.” There, check the box next to “Turn on Magnifier” and click or tap OK.
When you restart the computer, the Magnifier starts automatically. To disable it from starting up automatically, follow the same procedure and uncheck the box for “Turn on Magnifier.”
Useful keyboard shortcuts
If you are a fan of keyboard shortcuts, here is a list of useful shortcuts for the Magnifier:
- Windows logo key + Plus sign (+) – opens the Magnifier (if it is not already opened);
- Windows logo key + Plus Sign (+) or Minus Sign (-) – zooms in or out;
- Ctrl + Alt + Spacebar – shows the mouse pointer;
- Ctrl + Alt + F – switches to full-screen view;
- Ctrl + Alt + L – switches to lens view;
- Ctrl + Alt + D – switches to docked view;
- Ctrl + Alt + I – inverts colors;
- Ctrl + Alt + arrow keys– pans in the direction of the arrow keys;
- Ctrl + Alt + R – resizes the lens;
- Windows logo key + Esc – exits the Magnifier.
As you can see from this article, the Magnifier is a friendly and easy to use application. It is handy for PC and tablet users with sight deficiencies or the elderly. If you have other tips to share about using this Windows application, do not hesitate to use the comments section below.