Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Presentation Magnification

Here at VSLive! 2006 San Francisco, I've been sitting through a lot of presentations. Unfortunately, I've spent a disproportionate amount of that time staring at tiny, unreadable 12 and 10 point IDE text.

Presenters, please don't do this to your audiences. If you can't pre-scale the font appropriately in the application, make use of one of the many automatic magnification utilities out there.

Heck, you can even use Windows XP's built in magnifier utility: Start, Run, Magnify.


The options for magnify.exe are limited but entirely servicable:

  • It can automatically follow:
    • the mouse cursor
    • the keyboard focus
    • text editing
  • Click and drag the magnification surface to move it. It can float as a window or it can dock to any side of the screen like the taskbar.
  • Drag the corners to resize the surface.
  • The magnification is adjustable from 1x to 9x.

In the screenshot above, I have the magnification window docked to the top of the screen. The IDE is maximized normally under it. Since magnify follows all my mouse and keyboard actions automatically, everything I do is now perfectly visible -- even from the last row of the room.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: