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Stupid Geek Tricks: Using the Quick Zoom Feature in Outlook

The other day my boss showed off a new Outlook trick that he learned: You can increase or decrease the text size in Outlook on the fly using the same technique that works in your browser. Since everybody else seemed interested, I figured this qualifies as a stupid geek trick that I’ll share with you today.

If you are unfamiliar with how the browser trick works: you can use Ctrl and the mouse wheel in your browser to quickly zoom in, which increases the size of the text and images on the screen. This same technique works in the Outlook email view.

Using the Quick Zoom

Just hold down the Ctrl key while scrolling your mouse wheel over top of the preview pane… and the text will magically increase in size!

image

This also works for messages in a new message window, although you might note that HTML emails don’t scale quite as nicely, like this one in the before picture:

image

And in the after picture, you’ll notice that you’d have to scroll quite a bit to actually read it…

image

But, this can be very useful if you maximize an HTML email message… here’s a thumbnail screenshot which poorly shows how that might work:

image

I find that this technique works out well for reading the tiny fonts in some emails, but it’s mostly just a fun trick to show off to your friends or co-workers.

Note: Using the Ctrl and + or – keys works in the browser, but doesn’t work in Outlook, sadly.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/8/08

Comments (11)

  1. Richard

    I’ve used Outlook since the early 1990s. It may seem stupid to you but who knew? Thanks for this wonderful tip.

  2. carlz

    The same Ctrl+Scroll Wheel zooming technique applies to all the other MS-Office Suite products’ text magnification function.

  3. Rose

    Does it only work in certain versions of Outlook? I got it to work on the internet and the rest of the Microsoft Office 2003 suite but not Outlook.

  4. Phao Loo

    The trick is already out there, just men didn’t know it before. I try to hold Ctrl and scroll my mouse wheel in Thunderbird (I prefer it to Outlook) and nothing happened. But Ctrl and + or – works more me.

  5. unnikrishnan

    Good

  6. Paul
  7. Slick

    This is a bit of a help on making permanent changes to incoming message text size. It’s not perfect though:

    For Plain Text you can modify the display font in Tools-> Options-> tab Mail Format-> Stationery and Fonts (or just Fonts… in previous versions of Outlook)
    Another way to go for HTML formatted emails would be to set the option to read all mail in Plain Text so that your modified Plain Text font settings will always apply. Via the Infobar, which will display on top of a converted message, you can easily change it back to HTML format when needed (like for some special layout or newsletters).
    For Outlook 2007;
    Tools-> Trust Center…-> E-mail Security-> Read all standard mail in plain text
    For Outlook 2003
    Tools-> Options…-> button Email Options…-> Read all standard mail in plain text

  8. Steve C

    I finally found out how to trick Outlook (2007) into zooming into an existing message. It’s kinda awkward but it works.

    Once you have the message in the preview pane, click “forward” (I’m assuming “Reply” would work, too, but “forward” is a little safer because the “To” box is empty). When the screen comes up, click the “format text” tab. The zoom dialog box appears. There is an option for “200%”. Clicking on that will double the size of the text.

  9. Steve C

    Oops. I forgot to add one step. Select part of the message before you click on “Format Text” to enable the zoom button. All of the text will be magnified, even though it is not all selected.

  10. Venus

    Actually in Outlook 2007, you can click on the “other actions” button then zoom, but what the heck happened to the Ctrl+scroll on the mouse in 2007? It works occasionally, but really, hardly ever.

  11. Ann Stephenson

    Thanks Slick, exactly what I was looking for.

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