MacOS zoom: How to zoom in and zoom out a Mac screen

MacOS screen zooming FAQ: Is there a way I can zoom in and zoom out my Mac screen (iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini)?

Yes, you can zoom in and zoom out your Mac screen. The solutions are shown in the sections that follow. Note that this solution has been tested on macOS (formerly Mac OS X) systems from OS X 10.6 through macOS 10.14.

Mac Pro and iMac zoom in/out commands

If you’re using a Mac desktop system (iMac or Mac Pro) with a keyboard and a mouse with a mousewheel, just press and hold the [control] key, then scroll the mousewheel up and down, and you’ll see what I mean. The entire Mac screen zooms in and out, just like the “software zoom” on a digital camera.

Note: If this doesn’t work on your system, scroll down to the “Not working?” section below, where I describe how to fix this problem.

To summarize, here are the Mac/iMac screen zoom commands:

Zoom In: Press the [Ctrl] key and scroll up with the mouse.

Zoom Out: Press the [Ctrl] key and scroll down with the mouse.

Zoom in and out using a MacBook trackpad

You can also zoom in and zoom out your screen on a MacBook Pro trackpad. Again, hold down the [ctrl] key, but this time take two fingers and swipe upwards on the trackpad area to zoom in, then use your two fingers to swipe downwards to zoom out.

This is very cool. A lot of times I’ll find myself making text larger in Firefox by changing the font size ([command]+ to make the font larger, [command]- to make it smaller), but I prefer this Mac zoom-in/zoom-out approach.

Zoom in and out with a Magic Mouse

I just bought an Apple Magic Mouse for use with my iMac, and you can use it to zoom in/out just like you can use a mouse with a scrollwheel. Just hold down the [control] key, then slide your finger to the top or bottom of the mouse, and you’ll zoom in and out just like you would with a mouse scrollwheel.

Not working? Look in Preferences

If this tip doesn't work for you by default, take a look at your System Preferences settings. On Mac OS X 10.9 (and possibly 10.7 and 10.8), I find it easiest to search for the word “zoom” inside of the System Preferences dialog, then go to the Accessibilities option that lets you click the checkbox that needs to be clicked.

In the following image, the “1” indicates that the first step in the process is to search for “zoom,” and then the “2” shows the checkbox that needs to be clicked:

Once you click the “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom,” you should find that the zoom-in, zoom-out feature works as I’ve described here.

Preferences on older Macs

On Mac OS X 10.6.x, 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 that panel there will be a setting that says, “Zoom using scroll wheel while holding ...”, and then you can select which key to use. Mine shows the “^ Control” key. This preferences panel is shown in the following image:

Mac OS X screen zoom mouse settings

This screen may be a little different on newer Mac OS X systems, but I’ve loaned my new MacBook Pro to a friend, and can’t look at it at the moment.