Apple iPhone Magnify Example

It’s a common problem: Some things are just too hard to see. Usually, they’re too far away, too dark, or too small. With a feature called Magnifier, your iPhone can function as a magnifying glass and sight aid. Here’s how to use it.

What Is Magnifier?

Magnifier is an accessibility feature built into iOS 10 and up that allows you to use your iPhone’s camera as a makeshift magnifying glass or telescope. Some people with sight issues use the Camera app for a similar function, but Magnifier includes extra features designed specifically to help with sight impairments. For example, you might need help reading small text on a menu or a distant sign with confusing colors or low-contrast lettering. In those cases, Magnifier is an ideal tool.

How to Enable Magnifier on Your iPhone

To use Magnifier, you must first enable it in Settings. Launch Settings by tapping on its icon, which looks like a gear. (It’s usually on the first page of your Home screen or in the Dock.)

Open Settings on iPhone

In Settings, swipe down the list until you find Accessibility and tap on it.

Tap Accessibility in iPhone Settings

In the Accessibility menu, tap “Magnifier.” In the Magnifier settings, tap on the Magnifier toggle switch to turn it on.

Tap Magnifier switch in iPhone Settings

After that, exit Settings by returning to the Home screen.

How to Quickly Launch Magnifier on Your iPhone

Once Magnifier has been enabled in Settings, there are two ways to launch it: a special button combination and a Control Center shortcut.

For the button combination, how you launch it depends on the type of iPhone you have.

  • iPhones with a Home button: Push the Home button three times.
  • iPhones without a Home button: Push the side button three times.

Once you tap the proper button three times, Magnifier will appear on the screen.

How to Launch Magnifier Using Control Center

You can also launch Magnifier from Control Center if you enable its shortcut in Settings. To do so, navigate to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. In the “More Controls” list, locate “Magnifier” and tap on it. It will then be added to your “Include” list at the top of the page.

Add Magnifier Shortcut to Control Center on iPhone

Once enabled, launch “Control Center” on iPhones with a Home button by swiping upward from the bottom of the screen. On iPhones without a Home button, swipe downward from the top right corner of the screen. Tap on the magnifying glass icon to launch Magnifier.

How to Use Magnifier

Once you launch Magnifier, you will see a screen that looks very similar to Apple’s Camera app. Magnifier uses your iPhone’s built-in camera hardware to display whatever you’re pointing at on the screen. It can be used in vertical or horizontal orientation.

Apple iPhone Magnifier Example

Just below the live image area, you will find a small control area. The slider at the top functions as a zoom feature, changing the size of the image. From left to right below that, you see the following controls:

  • Light button (lightning icon): This turns on your iPhone’s LED for illumination in a dark setting.
  • Lock focus button (padlock icon): This locks the focus on an object you have tapped on even if you move the image around.
  • Freeze frame button (circle): This freezes the live image so you can get a steady look at it, adjust its zoom size, and more.
  • Filters button (three interlocking circles): This opens a menu that lets you adjust brightness and contrast, inverse the colors on the image, or apply color filters that can potentially aid people with color blindness or other sight impairments.

Apple iPhone Magnifier Controls

While viewing a live image, you can zoom in and out using either the pinch-to-zoom gesture or the slider bar.

Using zoom slider in Magnifier on iPhone

And if you freeze the image using the circle button, you can zoom in and out and move the frozen image around with your fingers to get a better look at something, even if you didn’t center it perfectly the first time.

You can also save or share the image you have frozen by holding your finger down on the image until a tiny bubble pops up with “Save Image” and “Share” options. Tap on the option you’d like to use.

Tap and hold in Magnifier on iPhone to save the image

If you have trouble making out some details in the live scene or an image you’ve frozen, tap on the three circles in the lower-right corner of the screen, and you’ll find an impressive array of color filter options.

The two sliders control the brightness and contrast of the image, while the color filters change the color tone of the image. They include white/blue, yellow/blue, grayscale, yellow/black, and red/black options.

Apple iPhone Magnifier color filter options

You can also invert the colors of the image (making it a negative image) with any of the color-filter options by tapping on the button in the lower-left corner that looks like two squares with curved arrows between them.

Apple Magnifier inverted colors options

If you want to exit the color filters options, tap on the three circles in the lower-right corner of the screen, and you will return to the original control options.

When you’re completely done with Magnifier, you can exit the utility on an iPhone with a Home button by pushing the Home button once. On iPhones without a Home button, slide your finger upward from the bottom of the screen until the Home screen appears.

Best of all, you can return to Magnifier quickly any time you need (as long as it’s enabled), by either using the button combination or invoking Control Center. Magnifier even works in the lock screen. It’s just one more iPhone accessibility feature that can make life easier for everyone.

RELATED: Make Your iPhone Easier to Use With These Hidden Accessibility Features

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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