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Stop squinting at your iPhone: Use the new iOS 15 feature that makes it easier to see your screen

Zoom magnification on iPhone and iPad is the end of squinting to read the small print on your device.

iPhone 13 Pro, Sierra blue

The Zoom magnification tool in iOS is like a digital magnifying glass.

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We spend a lot of time looking at screens -- especially the past year's spike in remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while we're navigating screens' headache-inducing blue light and tiny print on websites, we should remember that technology must also be accessible for blind and visually impaired users.

Fortunately, Apple added a number of accessibility features in its latest iOS 15 software release that you can explore and customize on your device under Settings > Accessibility. Zoom is a new reworked accessibility feature under iOS 15 (and no, we don't mean more virtual meetings). Here's what you need to know about Apple's Zoom feature:

What is the Apple's Zoom tool and where do I find it? 

The Zoom feature lets you magnify specific parts of your screen. You can customize the feature to magnify the whole screen or a draggable windowed view. Zoom also allows you to turn on gestures like double-tapping three fingers to activate Zoom, move around your screen, and change the magnification. 

To find Zoom, open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, tap Accessibility and choose Zoom.

How does Zoom work?

Here's what you'll turn on or off to make the magnification feature work best for you.

  • Follow Focus lets you track your selections, like your text insertion point, as well as your typing.
  • Smart Typing becomes available if you turn on Follow Focus. This lets you switch to Window Zoom when the keyboard pops up. Window Zoom magnifies a section of screen in a window that you can drag around to expand what you need to see, like a digital magnifying glass. Also, once the keyboard pops up, you can double tap to magnify where you're typing, but the keyboard stays put. 
  • Keyboard shortcuts only apply if you've connected an external keyboard to your iPad. If you have, simply toggle the option on to find and customize keyboard shortcuts like toggling Zoom, moving your Window, resizing your Window and more. If you open Zoom on your Mac, you can turn on Zoom keyboard shortcuts, scroll gestures, enable hover text and zoom on the touchbar. For example, toggle zoom is Option + Command + 8. Pressing that combination lets you zoom in and back out. You can also choose whether you want to magnify full screen, split screen, or picture-in-picture mode. 
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In iOS 15, you can find the Zoom feature under the Accessibility tab in Settings. 

Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Zoom controller gives you quick access to controls like what activates for single, double and triple taps on the screen. You can also choose to Show Controller on the screen. This puts a little icon on the screen that I found helpful when moving the Window around the screen. Think of it as a little map to keep you oriented when you've magnified a section of screen. You can choose between five different colors to make the icon more visible, as well as change the opacity. 
  • Zoom Region lets you choose between a Window Zoom, Full Screen Zoom or Pinned Zoom. Window Zoom will magnify a section of your screen, but you'll still be able to see some of the unmagnified screen and pan over that area. Full Screen Zoom eliminates the window and works like double tapping to magnify and pan around on a photo. Pinned Zoom lets you choose a specific section of the screen -- top, left, right or bottom -- and keeps the unpinned section in regular size. 
  • Zoom filter lets you customize the magnified section's coloring -- inverted, grayscale, grayscale inverted or low light. 
  • Maximum Zoom Level is a simple slider that lets you customize the magnification anywhere between 1.2x all the way to 15x. 

For more information, check out everything you need to know before upgrading to iOS 15 and these 6 hidden iOS 15 tricks we found.

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