Four Ways to Make your iPhone Easier to Read Without your Glasses

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If you have 20/20 vision or are still wondering why your parents have reading glasses, consider yourself lucky. But if you’re like many people—estimated to be over 60 percent of the population, including most people over the age 45—reading the tiny text on your iPhone or iPad screen might be near impossible if you don’t happen to have the right pair of glasses handy.

What you really want is a screen that corrects automatically for each individual's vision problems—research into such technology has taken place at UC Berkeley and the MIT Media Lab, but real-world products are still years off. Until then, those of us who need a little extra help seeing our screens will have to rely on features Apple has built into iOS. Try these options:

Increase Text Size


Although not every app supports it, Apple has a technology called Dynamic Type that lets you set your preferred text size. In Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size, you’ll find a text size slider, and you can see how it affects text in the iOS interface by moving around in the Settings app or looking at Mail.

If you want a size even larger than is available from the Text Sizes screen, you can get that in Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text. Turn on Larger Accessibility Sizes, and the size slider adds more options.

Bold Text


Sometimes, the problem isn’t so much the size of the text, but how light it can be. In Settings > Display & Brightness, there’s a switch for Bold Text. Turn this on, and all the text on the iPhone will become darker. Enabling Bold Text does require restarting your device, but there’s no harm in doing that.


Display Zoom


If you have difficulty with aspects of the screen other than text, you can use iOS’s Display Zoom feature to expand everything by a bit. The trade-off is that you’ll see less content on the screen at once, of course, but that’s a small price to pay if it means your iPhone easier to use.

To enable Display Zoom, go to Settings > Display & Brightness > View. Once there, you can compare the difference between the standard and zoomed views in three sample screens by tapping the Standard and Zoomed buttons at the top—notably, you’ll lose a row of icons on the Home screen. If you think zoomed view might be better, tap Zoomed and then tap Set. Your iPhone will have to restart, but it’s quick. Unfortunately, if you decide to switch back to standard view, you’ll need to rearrange your Home screen icons again.


Zoom


The iPhone’s full Zoom feature is particularly useful in two situations. First, it’s easy to invoke and dismiss if you need a quick glance while wearing the wrong pair of glasses. Second, if Display Zoom doesn’t magnify the screen as much as you need, the full zoom may be just the ticket.

Turn it on in Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom and zoom in by double-tapping the screen with three fingers. By default, the Zoom Region is set to Window Zoom, which gives you a magnifying lens that you can move around the screen by dragging its handle on the bottom.

Tap the handle (small button at the bottom of the zoom window) to bring up a menu that lets you zoom out, switch to full-screen zoom (which can be harder to navigate), resize the lens, filter what you see in the lens (such as grayscale), display a controller for moving the lens, and change the zoom level. To get back to normal view, just double-tap with three fingers again.

So, if you want to be able to use your iPhone more easily when your reading glasses aren’t handy, try the features described above and find the right mix for your eyes.

 

 

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