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There are already so many tools in OS X for helping visually impaired users that we initially scratched our collective head at Zoom It, an application that lets you magnify parts of your screen with a customizable loupe. But although it’s no substitute for OS X’s built-in visual accessibility features, it’s a handy way to access some of them quickly.
When small text comes along, you must Zoom It.
Like the device it represents, Zoom It is nothing if not easy to use. Clicking its menu bar icon displays a brief menu that lets you show and hide the loupe, which looks right at home in OS X thanks to a 3D border and a slightly shaded view under its virtual glass. You can also change its size and zoom level, and switch from a round to a rectangular loupe. That’s useful when moving from images to text, but you can’t resize the loupe with a pinch the way you can Preview’s Magnifier tool. Each feature can be controlled with customizable keyboard commands, including shortcuts to temporarily show the loupe, and another that takes a screenshot of just the magnified area. True to its name, using Zoom It was speedy, and it didn’t affect keyboard commands, trackpad gestures, and other controls in our applications.
However, Zoom It doesn’t compare to the assistive viewing features in the Universal Access preference pane. It can’t, for instance, invert colors or follow your cursor as you enter text in a document. But thanks to its simple menu bar controls, it’s a much easier way to magnify details in a presentation, or just for quick close-ups.
The bottom line. Your Mac may already let you zoom in on your screen, but not quite so simply or stylishly as Zoom It.
Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Stylish-looking onscreen loupe. Multiple sizes, shapes, magnification levels. Customizable keyboard shortcuts.
Duplicates existing OS X functions. Can’t follow text input as you type.