7:10 am

MacMost Now 51: Making Text Easier to Read

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at three ways to make text on your screen easier to read. This could be used by people with visual impairments, but also could be used by anyone wishing to reduce eye-strain or be slightly more productive. Techniques include enlarging font size in Safari, using screen zoom, and using text-to-speech.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig. Do you ever find it hard to read some small text on a web site? Or perhaps at the end of the day your eyes get a little fatigued, and you want to look at some text without straining? Well here's three easy ways to view text easier on this episode of MacMost Now.
The first method is built into the Safari browser. You simply choose View, and then you can choose "Make Text Bigger" or "Make Text Smaller". Or you can do Command + Plus or Command + Minus. You can see how it works here, it just enlarges all the text on the screen. It may break some sites that don't have good CSS, so be careful when using it. And going back, you can just reduce the size again, or hit Command + 0 to just bring it to the default size for that web site.
The second method involves using something built into Mac OS X. If you go to the System Preferences, and choose the Keyboard and Mouse Preferences, under Keyboard Shortcuts you'll find Universal Access settings. Go to the "Turn zoom on or off". The shortcut key is Option + Command + 8. Then you can use Option + Command + Minus or Option + Command + Plus to enlarge or shrink the area you see on the screen. You can also hold the Control key and use the scrolling wheel on your mouse or two fingers on your trackpad to do it very smoothly as you can see here. The great thing about it is that the screen follows your cursor around. So if you decide to move your cursor around, it stays in the middle and you can view any part of the screen you want. It's actually very natural once you get used to it, and it's very easy to forget that you even have it turned on, and just see your screen very clearly and zoom in on things. Even if you're not having eye strain issues, this is a really good way to take a quick look at something you need to zoom in on, like maybe some artwork or a piece of text you're editing at the moment.
Another method doesn't use anything visual at all, it uses audio. You can select a piece of text that you're interested in, but maybe you're having a hard time reading. Then you can go over to the Safari menu and look for Services. Under that, you can look for Speech and Start Speaking Text. Then it will read it for you:
[Mac voice] "iTunes seems set to exceed music sales of Wal-Mart this year. Apple is currently the second largest US music retailer after Wal-Mart, but seems set to overtake the competing retailer for the top spot this year."
This is actually available in most standard OS X programs.
You don't need to have a visual disability to use any of these. I know people, myself included, that sometimes just find it easier to sit back, maybe have a news story read to you, or maybe be able to focus on a certain part of the screen really easily. They're all very useful tools, so check them out.
Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.