How to Change the Size of Text, Icons, and More in Android

Let’s face it: no matter how good the screens are on our phones and tablets, the text can sometimes be too tiny if you have poor eyesight. The good news is that there are a variety of methods to help you alleviate squinting just to make text (or anything else) more legible.

Depending on what version of Android you’re using (and what type of phone), it’s possible that you may be able to change just the text size, or even make everything on the screen larger. We’re going to talk about all of those options here—as well as a few other things you can do to make your phone easier to see.

Let’s start with the simplest solutions first.

How to Change the Font Size on Android

Changing the font couldn’t be easier on most Android phones. I’m using a Pixel XL running Android 7.1.1 Nougat here, but the process should be identical for all devices. Things may look a little bit different depending on your Android build and phone manufacturer, but otherwise should be similar. For example, Android 7.x includes a preview of what the text will look like, where older versions of the OS simply display the choices with no preview.

Still, you should be able to follow along fairly easily.

First, head into the Settings menu. You can do this by pulling the notification shade down (twice on some devices), then selecting the cog icon.

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From here, scroll down to the “Display” entry and tap it. In this menu, look for the “Font size” option.

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The left screenshot shows what this looks like on 7.x, where the right one is Android 6.x. The same options are available, just with and without the preview.

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Again, it’s worth noting that this may look even more different depending on your device. For completeness, here’s a look at this menu on Samsung (left) and LG (right) devices.

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Once you’ve chosen your font, simply back out of this menu and the changes will stick. Nothing to it.

How to Change the Size of Icons and Other Elements in Android Nougat

With Android Nougat, Google incorporated a new feature: the ability to not only change font size, but also other display elements.

Essentially, this means everything from the navigation bar to app icons and menus can be made bigger or smaller—think of it like changing the zoom level in Microsoft Windows. For those who want to see more information on the screen, everything can be made smaller. For those who may have limited vision, every element can be made larger, with the largest setting offering a very dramatic change from the stock size.

To access this new feature, the first thing you’ll need to do is get into Android’s settings menu. Pull down the notification shade, then tap the cog icon in the upper right corner.

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From here, scroll down and find the “Display” section. Tap it.

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Just below the “Font size” setting, there’s an option called “Display size.” This is what you’re looking for.

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After tapping it, there may be a slight delay while the phone loads the Display Size menu, which is broken down into two parts: the Preview window and actually Display Size slider. There are three different views in the Preview Pane: a text message, app icons, and settings menu. These are all dummy windows, of course, and are just there so you can get a better idea of what on-screen elements will look like once the change is activated. Swipe through these previews to cycle through them.

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You can adjust the display size by using the plus and minus buttons on either side of the slider—there’s only one option smaller than the default setting, but three larger options. Mess with them all, see which one works best for you. The changes happen in real time, so you’ll instantly know how it’s going to look.

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Once you’ve settled on a size, just hit the back button in the upper-left corner. The new sizing will go into effect immediately without the need for a reboot, and you’re done. If you ever want to change it back, simply jump back into the Display Size menu and tweak away.

Alternatively: Use Android’s Magnification Gesture

If you’re not keen on changing the overall look of fonts and whatnot, there’s another option: Android’s magnifier. This essentially enables zooming almost anywhere in the OS, save for the notification shade and keyboard.

First, navigate to Settings and select “Accessibility.” Scroll down until you see the System section, then tap on “Magnification Gesture.”

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This allows you to triple-tap the screen and then pan around with two or more fingers. If you want, you can even pinch-zoom anywhere.

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Here’s what a portion of the zoomed screen looks like. The orange border indicates that the device is in zoom mode.

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To exit, you triple-tap again. It might take a little practice to get the hang of it. Just remember it’s a triple-tap in quick succession. If you double-tap pause and then tap again or space your taps too far apart, it won’t work.

Bonus Features: Large Text and High Contrast Text

On devices running Android 6.x (Marshmallow) or older, there’s also a feature called “Large Text.” This is in addition to the font size options we discussed earlier—it’s sort of a redundant feature, which is probably why it was removed in Nougat.

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Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two—normal on the left, large on the right.

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Turning on large text will pretty much enlarge all the text on the device—home screens, menus, applications—and it doesn’t create undesired or unwanted visual results.

The last feature worth talking about is called “High Contrast Text.” Currently, this option is labeled as “experimental,” so while it’s likely not going to make your system unstable or unusable, you may experience varying and inconsistent results.

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High contrast text basically makes things a little bit darker in system menus, on the keyboard, and in certain other situations—like when using a colored background in Google Keep, for example.

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On the left, we see how things look with normal contrast, and on the right is with high contrast text enabled. It’s an obvious difference and does make things easier to read generally speaking, though it will vary from person to person.

Within the Accessibility settings, there are other options you can play with, such as inverting the screen or using TalkBack (for spoken feedback). However, these features we’ve pointed out—magnification and enlarged text, as well as the experimental High Contrast option—are really the least intrusive ways to maintain a clean Android experience.

Cameron Summerson is a die-hard Android fan, Chicago Bulls fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys on the 'net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching the Bulls while yelling at the TV.