The advent of super-high-resolution screens for PCs and laptops has meant extraordinary levels of detail and quality is possible, but sometimes it can also mean text is tiny and difficult to read.
In general, Windows 10 handles so-called ‘high-DPI’ well and automatically adjusts elements and text so they’re a normal size. This means that even if you have a 15in laptop with a 4K screen – 3840x2160 pixels, Windows should appear the same as on a screen with one quarter of the resolution – or less.
But if you find that text is too small or too large on your screen, regardless of its resolution, here’s how to find the setting to change it.
Right-click on the desktop – a free area of the screen which isn’t covered by an app or the taskbar at the bottom – and choose Display settings.
You should see the heading ‘Scale and layout’ but if not, scroll down. Under Change the size of text, apps, and other items is a drop-down menu where you can pick the scaling factor. If this is set to 100%, try selecting 150%. This is recommended for 4K displays.
Everything should resize immediately, but you’ll also see a message saying that some apps won’t change until you sign out and sign back in.
To do that, click the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen, then click the icon of a person (or your photo if that’s displayed instead) and then click Sign out.
Sign back in and all apps should adhere to the new scaling factor.
Obviously, if text is too big then set the scaling factor to a value less than 100% for the opposite effect.
If you're reading this because you have eyesight problems beyond wearing glasses, you'll find more options for making things easier to see in the Ease of Access section within the Settings app.
Here you can change text size as well as making everything brighter and changing the size and colour of the mouse pointer, which is easy to lose sight of.
How to adjust text size in specific apps
Unfortunately some older apps will ignore this setting, such as older versions of Adobe Photoshop. The good news is that Windows 10 – or, more specifically, the Creators Update onwards – lets you correct this easily.
Find the app’s shortcut icon on the desktop, or create one if there isn’t one, and right-click on it. Choose Properties and click on the Compatbility tab.
Now click on Change high DPI settings, then tick Overrride high DPI scaling behaviour and choose System from the drop-down menu.
Click OK, then OK again and when you next launch that app you should see that its interface is much larger. The image below shows what Photoshop Elements 11 looks like on a 4K screen before and after making this change. Previously it was almost unusable due to the tiny text.
To temporarily increase or decrease text size in a web browser, hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard and roll your mouse wheel up (to increase) or down (to decrease). Alternatively, press Ctrl and either - or + on the keyboard to change the zoom by one level.
To reset the zoom level to 100%, press Ctrl-0 on your keyboard.
These shortcuts also work in other apps, so try it out.
However, if you just want to temporarily enlarge part of your screen, you're better off using the Magnifier tool. Open the start menu and type Magnifier in the search box.
It will open and magnify your whole screen by 200%, but you can use the overlay to change the zoom level. For parts of the screen that are now out of view, just move your cursor across the screen to get a specific section and the desktop will scroll with the cursor.
Click the cog icon and you can change Magnifier's settings such as the default zoom level.
Change text size in Windows 7
If you’re still running Windows 7, then to change the size of text do the following:
- From the Start menu open the Control Panel
- Click on Appearance and Personalisation
- Click Make text and other items bigger or smaller
- Choose Medium (125 percent) or Larger and decide which you prefer