Help Seeing Things on a Mac


Mac OS X has a number of built-in features for improving how you see things on the screen. You can use the Universal Access pane in System Preferences to tap into some cool tools like zooming your screen, changing to black and white, or increasing contrast. There are also options within individual applications to adjust what you see, usually clustered under the View menu.

These tools are not only for people with vision issues. Zoom helps me draw attention to detailed areas of the screen when I'm teaching; the grayscale option lets me quickly see how a document or photo might print in black & white.

None of this helps much if you can't see the keyboard! Look into labels that have large, high contrast text or even Braille.
Finally, don't overlook the Displays pane in System Preferences, which allows you to adjust resolution and contrast. Some people prefer higher resolution which gives you more space on the screen while others prefer a lower resolution, which makes everything appear larger.


Zoom lets you use the keyboard (or in some cases, the mouse or trackpad) to zoom in on an area of the screen and then back out. The keyboard shortcuts are option+apple+plus to zoom in and option+apple+minus to zoom out. Hold down the option and command key (also called the apple key) and press plus as much as you need to zoom in. All your normal mouse and keyboard actions still work.

  1. Go to System Preferences and choose the "Universal Access" pane:
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  2. In Universal Access, choose "Seeing."
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  3. Here's a snapshot of the range of options, showing my personal preferred settings:
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top.pngEnlarge Text and Images in Firefox

Command+Plus lets you temporarily enlarge text and/or images on any web site you're browsing in Firefox. Command+Minus shrinks the text and/or images. Use the View menu to choose your options.
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top.pngZoom in and out in iWork Pages or MS Office

The lower left corner of many application windows, like iWork Pages or MS Word, has a way to zoom in and out on the page. "Fit Page" is especially helpful for doing layout work, but on most laptop screens is too small for text editing, so switching back and forth is helpful!

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top.pngSee the Keyboard

Numerous companies offer durable labels you can use to make the keyboard more visible or even add Braille overlays, for example:
High contrast keyboard labels
High contrast keyboard labels

Large print labels with Braille.
Large print labels with Braille.

top.pngYour input

Please add your input about podcasting by clicking the Discussion link above, for any page on this wiki.