How to Zoom Out on a Mac

There is a way to zoom out on a Mac and it can be quite a useful feature, especially when writing or editing text or when you come across a website with a default font that’s too small. Here’s how you do it:

If you’re using a Mac (whether it’s an iMac, Mac Pro, or whatever) with a normal keyboard and mouse with a mousewheel, all you have to do is hold down the [control] key and then scroll the mousewheel up and down, depending on whether you want to zoom in or zoom out. In other words, you should:

Press the [Ctrl] key and scroll up with your mouse in order to Zoom In, or Press the [Ctrl] key and scroll down in order to Zoom Out.

Zoom In and Out on a MacBook

There’s also a way to zoom in and zoom out on a MacBook Pro (or MacBook). Once again, you’ll have to hold down the [control] key, only this time take two fingers and swipe upwards on the trackpad area to zoom in, or use the same two fingers to swipe downward to zoom out.

Of course, if you’re in something like Firefox, you can always make the text larger using the [command]+, or make it smaller with [command]-, but sometimes you might find the method described above more preferable. At least it’s good to always have options.

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zoom out on a mac

Also, you’ll notice that this feature isn’t implemented quite as well on the older Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”). It still works OK, but you’ll probably get the best response if you’re running Mac 10.6 (“Snow Leopard“) operating system.

Zoom In and Out on a Mac OS X with a Magic Mouse

If you have an Apple Magic Mouse with your iMac, you can use it to zoom in and out just as you would with a mouse with a scroll wheel. Again, hold down the [control] key, and then slide your finger to the top or bottom of the mouse – this will zoom in and out in just the same way it would with a mouse scroll wheel.

None of this is working? Look in Preferences

If you’ve tried all of this and it doesn’t work right away, take a quick look at the setting in your System Preferences.

The easiest way to do it is probably by searching for the word “zoom” in the System Preferences dialog, then going to the Accessibilities option, which in turn lets you click the checkbox you need to, well, check.

In the image below, the “1” shows you the first step in the process is to search for “zoom”, followed by the second step (“2), which shows the checkbox that has to be clicked.

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After you click the “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom”, the issue should be resolved, and the zoom in and zoom out feature will work as described above.

Preferences on older Macs

On Mac OS X 10.6.x, you’ll need to follow these steps to set this preference:

1. Click the Apple icon in the menu bar
2. Click System Preferences
3. Click the Mouse icon

In the panel that opens there will be a setting which says, “Zoom using scroll wheel while holding…”, at which point you will be able to select what key to use. In the following image, it shows the “^ Control” key.

This screen, by the way, may be a bit different on newer Mac OS X systems, so keep this in mind when troubleshooting.