Mac OS X Tiger now has a nifty zoom utilitiy that works right from the keyboard. The whole screen zooms in. It’s impressive and handy.
Except when you don’t want to zoom the whole screen. Then what? Then think different.
Let me back up a few steps. Not long ago Apple added a nifty keyboard utility to zoom the screen.
For example, if you’re using a recent Mac and Mac OS X Tiger and have a mouse with a scroll wheel, you’re set.
As you read this article, scroll the mouse wheel up and down. The browser page moves appropriately, right?
All is well and good with your mouse and your Mac.
Now, click and hold the Control key and scroll the mouse wheel (I forget whether it’s in or out—try both).
Zoooooom. If your screen zooooooms in via the scroll wheel, congratulations.
The zoom is effortless and smooth on my Apple Cinema Display (your mileage may vary depending on Mac, mouse, and display).
Moving the mouse around after you’ve zoomed in also moves the Mac’s screen around.
The motion is fluid and the clarity crisp, especially with smoothing on.
OK, so what if you like the idea of zooming in on your Mac but don’t really want the whole screen to zoom in?
Enter the iPiece, a simple magnifier window that stays right next to your Mac’s mouse pointer/cursor.
iPiece sits in Mac OS X’s menu bar. Double click and iPiece shows up as a box next to the pointer/cursor.
That way you can still zoom in and magnify a specific area of the Mac’s screen without having to zoom in on everything.
If you’re viewing graphics or photos or images, iPiece is very handy for close-up viewing.
You may add a hot key for toggling the magnification automatically, then zoom in or out, and grow the sample area.
Screen Loupe performs a similar function and displays a magnified view of whatever is under the Mac’s mouse/cursor.
It also adds a few other options, such as “move awar from mouse” to get out of your way, “freeze location” and some color grabbing options.
RealZoom Quartz and RealZoom also provide similar zoom in capability on various image formats.
Mac OS X’s Universal Access System Preference has other settings for zooming in on your screen.
The handiest and most useful I’ve used to date are OS X’s Control-Scroll, iPiece and Screen Loupe.
Artis, the developer of Screen Loupe has a few other utilities which provide a ruler on screen, screen size guides, and more.
As a long time Mac user, one of the most difficult issues I try to overcome with my Mac is the bounty of functional, beneficial utilities which make the whole experience more pleasant.
What’s on your Mac? What utilities have you added that let you do your job better, or make your Mac experience more enjoyable? Share with other readers via the Comments section below.