Cross-platform screen magnifier Virtual Magnifying Glass

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 1, 2008
Updated • May 25, 2015

It is sometimes quite handy to have a screen magnifier at hand to magnify part of the computer screen. This can be useful for reading small text on websites or for viewing images in greater detail.

While some programs may provide you with access to zooming or magnifying functionality, using a magnifier works across programs that you run the system.

Obviously, Windows ships with its own magnifier that is part of the operating system's accessibility tools collection. It may need to be turned on first though before it becomes available. The easiest way to do that is to tap on the Windows-key, type magnifier and hit enter. This opens the accessibility control panel that lists an option to turn it on.

You might say that it is enough and that you don't need a third-party tool for that. The main issue you may have with Windows' magnifier is that it is always on.

A third-party magnifier like Virtual Magnifying Glass can be turned on and off as you see fit or require. It supports a global hotkey that you use to invoke its functionality, but can also be enabled using its system tray icon.

Once it is enabled it magnifies a certain part of the screen around the mouse cursor automatically. You may use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out, and move the mouse around to magnify a different part of the desktop instead.

The magnified area dimensions are set in the options and range from a minimum of 64 pixels in width and height to a maximum of 1600 pixels. While you may like a squared magnifier, you may set height and width individually to display as a rectangle instead.

The magnification can be set to a default value between 1x and 16x as well which is used when you invoke the program's functionality.


Virtual Magnifying Glass is a free program for all versions of Windows, Linux and Mac devices that is easy to use and does not get in the way if you don't need it. Since it supports shortcuts, it takes only the tap of a button to display the magnifier on the system.

The only downside that you may encounter is that you cannot scroll using the mouse when the magnifier is used as the wheel is used to change the zoom level.

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Virtual Magnifying Glass
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  1. jojo said on February 2, 2008 at 12:51 am

    I like this one. I find it useful for reading captcha’s.

  2. Martin said on February 1, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    The main difference between the two is that Zoomit always zooms into the full screen while Virtual Magnifying Glass can do that as well for a resolution of up to 1600 pixels in width.

    They tend to use the same amount of memory. My guess is that Zoomit is probably a good choice for presentations while the tool mentioned in this article is better for casual uses, a quick zoom into a part of the screen.

  3. gokudomatic said on February 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    and compared to zoomit, what’s better?

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