How to magnify your iPad’s screen

iPadIconXEven though content on your iPad should be mostly legible, there are  instances where a magnifying glass would be useful to see some nuance of your screen. If you own an iPad and find yourself sometimes squinting at your screen to see some minute set of text, or the details of an image, then there are several built-in tricks you can use to get a better view of what you are looking at.

Pinch Zoom

The first of these is Apple’s classic pinch-zoom, where in most apps that display pictures and text, you can pinch in and out to change the zoom level of what you are seeing. In most cases, this adjusts an internal scaling of the application, so fonts and all content of the page you are viewing all get proportionally bigger, while the app’s controls remain the same size. This is perhaps the easiest way to increase what you are looking at, since unlike desktop systems, the apps on iPads are full-screen and will use as much of your screen’s real estate as the developers intend.

Smart Zoom

Pinch zooming is great for images, but not always for text where you might find yourself zooming in and then spending a few moments adjusting the text placement in order to read. Therefore, a slight augmentation to the pinch zoom is Smart Zoom, where as with OS X, you can double-tap on an image or body of text to zoom it to the extents of the window. In most cases, this can be used to make reading text a bit more pleasant.


The last option for zooming your iPad’s screen is to use the magnifier, where by double-tapping your screen with three fingers, you will bring up a small rectangle that acts like a magnifying glass, increasing the zoom level of whatever is underneath it. You can then drag the zoom box around by the small control underneath it, and swipe around in it to adjust the view of what you are looking at. This feature is similar to the screen zooming feature in OS X.

The settings for the zoom feature in iOS can be found in the General > Accessibility > Zoom section of the Settings app, however, if you use this regularly then there are a couple of tricks you can use for quickly adjusting some of its features:

  1. Drag using three fingers within the magnifier window to move your magnified view around while keeping the magnifier in place.
  2. Tap and drag with three fingers to the left or right to change the zoom level.
iPad magnifier in iOS

Double-tap the zoom control bar to bring up a menu of additional options for adjusting your view.

In addition to these, if you tap the control bar for the magnifier, then you will see a small menu appear with these and some additional options, including filters for changing the color of the zoomed area, changing the size of the zoom box, and showing the on-screen floating controller.

If you find after messing with these zoom levels that your iPad is stuck on a full-screen zoom, you can always pan over to the settings app, then go to the General > Accessibility > Zoom area where you can disable it or at least disable full screen view.

One thought on “How to magnify your iPad’s screen

  1. Strod

    Excellent! I love the zoom feature on OS X and I’m glad there is something along those lines in iOS.
    BTW, all this works on the iPhone, except point #2: You need to tap and drag with three fingers up and down (instead of left and right) to change the zoom level.

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