MacMost Now 252: Using the Mac Zoom Feature

The Zoom feature allows you to zoom in and look closer at a portion of your screen. It is a handy tool for anyone that works on a Mac.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode I want to show you one of the great hidden secrets of Leopard, its zoom feature. So the zoom feature is a part of universal access. It helps people with visual disabilities be able to go and focus on a part of the screen, basically enlarge it so they can see it easier. But, it's actually useful for just about anybody that needs to focus on part of the screen, or maybe rest their eyes for a little bit. Especially if you have a very high density screen, and you want to be able to just zoom in on a particular section of it. Let me show you how it works.
Okay, so in system preferences, go for universal access. Now, once in there, the item that you're looking for is called Zoom. You turn it on or off, and you can see here the keyboard shortcuts that activate it. It's option command 8 to turn it on or off, and then option command equals, or minus, which is also the plus or minus keys on your keyboard, to be able to zoom in or zoom out.
In addition you've got an options button which brings up even more things. You can look at the maximum amount of zoom, minimum zoom, you can show various options here about how the zoom follows the cursor, things like that. But, before you go and play with those, let's just take a look at how it works.
Okay, so here's my cluttered Mac desktop. See, there's a lot of different things going on here. I've got my browser, I've got ICal open, I've got the preferences window open. What I'm going to do is, I'm just going to go ahead and I'm going to zoom in. Now, one of the many ways to zoom in is to use the tracking ball on the Mighty Mouse, so I'm going to hold the control key down, and zoom in with that. You can see I'm zooming in to a closer look at the area. Makes it a lot easier to read things, and as I move my cursor around, cursor remains in the middle of the screen until I get to the edges of the actual screen. And I can use my cursor as normal. So it becomes a lot easier to see things.
Now, here's one potential use for this, if you're an artist and you like to draw on a screen pixel by pixel, it can be hard sometimes to draw on a screen and see the individual box. But, if you zoom in, you can zoom in very closely, and get a good look at exactly what you're drawing. I found what works even better with this, is if you go into the preferences, and you turn in the options, turn off the smooth images. Now look what I get, when I zoom in doing pixel art.
The real strength behind the zoom feature is how easy it is to zoom in and out, turning it on and off. Once you get used to the keyboard shortcuts, and using your control with the Mighty Mouse trackball, or using control with two finger drag on your trackpad on your MacBook. It becomes so easy to do it, becomes like second nature to zoom in, look at things, and zoom back out again.
Another huge use for this is when you have somebody that has to look at your screen over your shoulder. You want to show them something like a specific video or something like that, you can quickly zoom in on the area that you're looking at, and they can easily see even though they're further away than you.
So give it a try, play around with the different options and learn how to use it. I find it to be a very valuable tool from time to time, even though I don't use it everyday.
Till the next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig, with MacMost Now.

Comments: 5 Responses to “MacMost Now 252: Using the Mac Zoom Feature”

    Tony
    5/3/11 @ 6:21 pm

    Is there a way to create a picture-in-picture video where the smaller picture is exactly the same as the larger one but it is a close up?

    For example, I would like to record a guitar video. I would like the smaller screen to be a close up of my left hand so viewers can get a closer look at what I’m playing. The larger picture would be a body shot view of myself playing the guitar while the smaller picture would be a close up of my left hand.

    Is this possible to with my iSight camera with iMovie, Quicktime, etc? Obviously, the two pictures would have to be synced because it’s the same musical performance.

    Thanks!

      5/3/11 @ 6:52 pm

      Sure. Just use the same video for the picture-in-picture. Take one video, put it in iMovie. Then take that same video and drop it on top as a picture-in-picture.

        Tony
        5/3/11 @ 6:59 pm

        Cool. But the smaller picture. Is there a way to create a close up of the smaller picture?

          5/3/11 @ 7:02 pm

          Yes. Just crop the inner picture tighter.

    Tony
    5/3/11 @ 7:03 pm

    Thanks Gary!

Comments Closed.