If you’ve never needed reading glasses, count yourself lucky. But if you’re one of the over 30 million US adults who use reading glasses, your iPhone or iPad might be tricky to work with if you don’t happen to have the right pair of glasses handy. Also, some children do better with a larger view, particularly when learning to read.
The best solution would be a screen that corrects automatically for your vision—research into such technology has taken place at UC Berkeley and the MIT Media Lab, but real-world products are probably years off. Until then, Apple has added a few features that can make a big difference. Try these options:
Increase Text Size
Although not every app supports it, an Apple technology called Dynamic Type lets you specify your preferred text size. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size, and adjust the slider. You can see how it affects text right away on the Text Size screen.
Not all apps support Dynamic Type, but many do, including Mail and Messages. The Dynamic Type size also applies to text in your notifications and on your Lock screen.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t so much the text size, but its lightness. In Settings > Display & Brightness, turn on Bold Text and tap Continue to restart your device. Once the restart is completed, text on the device will be darker and thicker.
Dynamic Zoom is helpful if you have difficulty with aspects of the screen other than text—or if you need to see the text in apps that don’t support Dynamic Type. (Display Zoom isn’t available on all iPads or the iPhone X). You’ll see less content on the screen at once, but that’s a small price to pay if Display Zoom makes it far easier to see it.
Go to Settings > Display & Brightness > View. This screen shows three samples, which you switch among by sliding horizontally on them. For any sample, compare the standard and zoomed view by tapping those buttons at the top—notably, you’ll lose a row of icons on the Home screen in the zoomed view. If you like zoomed better, tap Zoomed and then tap Set. Your iPhone has to restart, but it’s quick.
The full Zoom feature is useful in two situations. First, it’s easy to invoke and dismiss if you need a quick glance while wearing the wrong pair of glasses. Second, if Display Zoom doesn’t magnify the screen as much as you need (or isn’t available), the full zoom may do the job.
Turn it on in Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom, and zoom in by double-tapping the screen with three fingers. By default, the Zoom Region is set to Window Zoom, which displays a magnifying lens that you can move around the screen by dragging its handle on the bottom.
Tap the handle to bring up a menu that lets you zoom out, switch your region to Full Screen Zoom (which can be harder to navigate), resize the lens, filter what you see in the lens (such as grayscale), display a controller for moving the lens, and change the zoom level. To return to normal view, double-tap with three fingers again.
If your eyes need a boost when it comes to seeing your iPhone or iPad screen, be sure to try the features described above, since they can make a huge difference.