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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....

Making Your Mac Desktop Look Bigger
April 5th, 2000



Thanks to reader Shirley Hershey I found out about a free utility offered by Apple that is built in to System 7, 8, and 9 Mac software. I feel like I should have known about it, but I didn't and my guilt was slightly assuaged when none of the other Observer staff knew about it either. The application is called CloseView and it is designed to assist people with visual or dexterity limitations to more easily use their Mac. CloseView is a screen enlarger that magnifies all screen images (including text, graphics, menu bar, and the mouse cursor) up to 16 times the normal size. It can also inverse the display so that text appears white on a black background instead of the more common black on a white background. When Shirley first told me about it I immediately tried to find it on my machine which operates System 9 software. It was nowhere to be found. However, when I went to the Apple education site there it was, big as life. There are actually four options available, and if you or someone you know need help with something other than visual aids, you can go to the Apple education site and check out StickyKeys, MouseKeys, and SlowKeys. These are all free downloads. If you have System 9 on your machine there are easy to follow directions for adding the extensions from your System 9 installation CD. If you don't want to go that route then just download the ones you want from the Apple Education site.


Before you can try to use CloseView you have to activate it from your operating system, or download and activate it. To see if you already have it on your machine use your Find component which is located in your File Pull-Down Menu. You can type in CloseView and know quickly if you already have it. If you do, go to where it is and drag the icon for it into the closed System Folder located on your hard drive. It will be automatically placed into the Control Panel where you can easily access it. If you download it do the same thing once you have it on your desktop. Either way you will have to restart your machine to activate the utility.

To actually get to CloseView once it is installed, go to the Apple menu in the top left hand corner of your screen. Click on it once and hold down the mouse button. The menu will open and, without releasing the mouse button, drag the cursor down to Control Panel. A second box will open and still holding down the mouse button, drag the cursor to the words CloseView and release. This box with appear on your screen.

CloseView Execution Screen

The following instructions are verbatim from the Apple Educational site.

1. Turn CloseView on by clicking on the "on" button. You'll immediately notice a black rectangle on the screen. The area inside the rectangle will be magnified once the magnification is turned on.
2. Click on the White-on-Black button. The screen will immediately reverse to white letters on a black background. Sometimes it's easier for a person with a visual impairment to see white-on-black rather than black-on-white.
3. Select the degree of magnification by pressing the arrows in the Magnification box. You'll notice the black rectangle growing and shrinking as you decide which magnification you want.
4. When you're ready for the magnification, press the "on" button in the Magnification box. The Macintosh screen will now be magnified. Again, you can use the arrows to change the degree of magnification.
5. To turn the magnification off, either click on the "off" button in the Magnification window, or press Command-option-X simultaneously. To turn CloseView Off, completely removing the magnification rectangle, click on the main "off" button or press Command-Option-O simultaneously.

Using It - And Do I Want To?

I have spent the past week trying out the CloseView options and there are good and bad aspects of them.

The thing that bothered me most is that for someone who is brand new to a computer, this could be a hindrance rather than a help. I say this because even with the magnification set at the smallest level of +2 it is impossible to see the whole screen. I was able to easily go to whatever part I wanted to (spell check, bold, center) but only because I already knew right where they were. The second thing that bothered me is the fact that while using CloseView the screen and the cursor constantly move in a jerky manner, particularly when trying to move around using the cursor.

On the other hand (isn't that a Country-Western song?) CloseView is absolutely wonderful for reading. Especially when you choose a clean font like Chicago or Arial. If I needed CloseView to use my computer you better bet I would get used to it. I would keep working with it until I had it in the most user effective status possible. I would learn to use the keyboard for commands like turning it on and off because that would cut down on the erratic movement of the mouse. Apple has included keyboard commands for every aspect of CloseView. I also think I would do a combination of things to make it more useful for me. For instance, I would keep the type font set for my desktop at a large size so that I could still open things without using CloseView. That would allow me to see everything on my desktop without hunting for it. Then, when I wanted to read something, such as an e-mail message or something on the internet, or a text document, I would open CloseView to help me. Conversely, if I wanted to create a document I would open the appropriate platform and then open CloseView to assist me with my typing. Everyone has somewhat different needs when it comes to effectively using their computer, and I would certainly suggest that users at least try this.

Everybody Who....

Everybody who is really busy hold up your hand. OK, everybody who is really busy and has used their Mac more than 6 months hold up your hand. OK, now, everybody who is really busy, has used their Mac more than 6 months, and is really lazy hold up your hands. That about covers me, how about you? I found another of those short cuts that has been here all the time, only I didn't know it. I don't recommend this for brand new users simply because there are so many more important things that you can spend time learning. Of course, if you can get someone else to install and set it up for you then go for it! This will work on most Macs but depending on whether your Mac is an iMac or better or came out earlier than the iMac there are two different ways to get to it. Depending on your operating system you may have to go through several steps to set it up, so before you decide perhaps it will help if I tell you what it does.

At the top of most computer keyboards are keys numbered F1 through F12. Frankly I have pretty much ignored them when using my Mac because I think of them as some of those "extra steps" that are always required to do anything on a PC. On your Mac you can turn that around and use them to accomplish things with the push of one button. You do this by programming the keys to open whatever you want them to open.

This shortcut is called Function Key Mapping. If you have an iMac or other USB PowerMac (and are running OS9) you can map the keys by opening your Apple menu and first selecting Control Panels and then Keyboard. Release the mouse button and a box like this will appear on your desktop.


Keyboard Layouts in OS9

Click on the tab at the bottom that says Function Keys and you will get a second box that looks like this, except of course that it will not be filled in yet:

Example of Function Key Mapping


Decide which applications or games or whatever you use frequently and want to be able to open with each Function Key. Find the icon for it and drag the icon to one of the boxes. When you are finished save it and you are done. Well, unless of course you have a memory like a sieve like me. In that case take a picture of the box by holding down the Apple Key plus the Shift Key plus the number 4. Hold down the mouse button and drag a box around what you want to save and release the mouse button. When you hear the shutter click your picture is finished and you will find it located on your hard drive. Then you can open it and print it and post it somewhere close to your screen.

For those who don't find this shortcut already loaded in your system software you can download it here or here


Some people have very strong opinions when it comes to left-handed computer users and they have been writing to share their opinions with me in response to last week's column. Some of the comments will be shared in next week's column.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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