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109. Making print bigger

By Andrew D. Wright

One of our very cool limited supply Chebucto Mousepads is winging its way to Joe MacDonald, a retired Cape Bretoner now living in Ontario for his question about making print bigger.

For Windows XP, right click on your empty desktop and select Properties then click on the Appearance tab. Click on the Font size box. You can select two levels larger than the regular size print. Hit Apply and your system fonts are now bigger.

In Windows Vista, right click on the empty desktop and hit Personalize. In the left hand column under Tasks click on Adjust font size (DPI). You'll need to approve the action to open it. You can select a larger font size clicking on the other radio button choice. For a larger font size still click on the Custom DPI button then select a percentage up to 200% from the drop down box. Vista will need a restart for changes to be put into effect.

These two methods enlarge all system printing. It works but when you make print bigger like that it distorts the way everything looks. Windows look cartoonishly large, graphics are out of place and buttons on un-resizable windows can be out of mouse reach. If your vision is not that bad it's a shotgun approach to a tweezers problem.

While not yet available for Windows Vista, the Microsoft Powertoys for Windows XP Taskbar Magnifier is very useful. I put it on every Windows XP machine I run. It adds a magnifying window to the Windows taskbar running across the bottom of your screen.

Once installed you can add it by right clicking on the taskbar and under Toolbars you'll see Taskbar Magnifier. You can position it anywhere on the Windows taskbar and stretch it to fit. I generally pull my taskbar up to twice the size and have the Taskbar Magnifier occupy about 40% of it. It follows the mouse cursor and can be adjusted from 2x to 8x display. Pinpoint enlargement right where you can see it easily.

If fuzziness of the type is an issue, try the Clear Type tuner. Two thirds of users have reported an improvement in the clarity of print with some reporting triple the legibility. Available for Windows XP and Vista.

If you use Mozilla Firefox as your web browser as we recommend, you can add the Web Developer extension.

It's a large collection of website tools in a convenient browser toolbar that can be neatly tucked out of the way and replaced with a button. One very handy tool is a browser window magnifier feature.

With the Web Developer extension in place you can hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys then tap on the letter z key to enlarge everything in the browser window one step at a time. To make things smaller, hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys and tap the letter x key. Surfing the web and magnifying details in online photos or graphics is as easy as snapping your fingers.


Mozilla Firefox (free):


Web Developer extension for Firefox (free):


Taskbar magnifier Powertoy for Windows XP (free):


Microsoft Clear Type (free):


The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email or click here. If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 27 May 2007


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