Computer Tips

Are your fonts too small to see?

... how to make text larger on your computer

by John Averell

When I was giving the latest computer class to our Stringers (click to see article), one question came up, "The text is too small to see properly. How can I make it bigger?" I put off answering, partly because I didn't know offhand. Then recently an email from Lloyd Hartman (a casual reader) came to us asking the same question. This pushed me to get the answer.

It turns out there are at least three layers of making text larger, each one affecting more parts of your computer. The first just applies to text in your internet browser. The other two actually modify your operating system.

These instructions were tested on an XP operating system, using both the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser and the Mozilla Firefox browser. On other systems I think you can find instructions in the Windows Help system, by double-clicking on My Computer and selecting Help. I searched on "Font size" to find help.

Browser Text

If you are primarily trying to make your browser text larger, click on the View button in the Menu Bar. Then click on Text Size. You will see several selections, different for some browsers.

If you are using the Microsoft Internet Explorer, a list from Smallest to Largest will appear. Just click on Largest.
If you are using Firefox, the dropdown will show Increase, Decrease, or Normal. You want to click Increase. Keep doing it till it looks OK.

Displayed Text

You need to use the Control Panel for this and the next option. Click on Start (lower left) and then click on Settings, then Control Panel. Double-click the icon labelled Display. There are several tabs displayed. To make text on the screen more readable, click on the Appearance tab. Click the drop-down window labelled Font size:.
You should see that there are selections Normal, Extra Large, and Large. Try Large and click OK. Follow instructions. If this is not enough, try Extra Large.

Resize Everything

Again starting in the Control Panel, double-click on Display. Click on the Settings tab, and click the Advanced button. You should be in the General tab in this Advanced window. This is now allowing you to change the DPI (Dots Per Inch) setting of your graphics. If you increase this, fonts will appear larger but pictures may be show visible pixels.

WARNING! If you set to a higher number DPI, then want to change back to lower, you will be asked to insert your Windows XP installation CD. If you don't have one, this might be a problem, and I wouldn't advise trying this.

The normal setting is 96 DPI. Large setting is 120 DPI, or you can custom select a number. However, I think most people will only want to use the Font Size Appearance option above.

It would be wise to set a Restore point on your PC before trying this, if you have doubts. Then you can return to the setting before the change if necessary.

Note added after publication
Email from Tom Mighill.

FYI, you can quickly increase or decrease the text size on a web page through 5 settings by holding down the Ctl key and using the scroll wheel on the mouse.  The scroll bars are adjusted accordingly, so you can always access the whole web page.  The browser remembers the current setting.

December 7, 2007

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