Safari: Zoom In on Text Only

| TMO Quick Tip

There are quite a few ways to make text larger in Safari if you're having trouble seeing it. As I've discussed before, you can even use some special Universal Access features if you're really having problems.

There still are tons of other simple methods you can use, though. For example, if you've got a touch-enabled trackpad (or mouse), you can double-tap with two fingers to quickly zoom in, and then double-tap again with two fingers to zoom back out.

Similarly, you can pinch out with two fingers on a trackpad to more precisely control the level of zoom you get. (If these aren't working for you, make sure the features are turned on under System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom.)

You can also hold down the Control key and scroll up on your trackpad with two fingers. This is one of my favorite methods, as it'll zoom the whole screen! To zoom back out again, hold down Control and scroll down on your trackpad.

Still another way you can enlarge small text is to add a Text Size button to your Safari toolbar. Do this by right- or Control-clicking on Safari's toolbar and choosing Customize Toolbar (or by selecting View > Customize Toolbar).

When you get the Customize Toolbar window open, drag the Text Size button to where you want it to go.

Obviously, you'll click the right side of the button to enlarge the text on a page and the left side to make it teenier.

Finally, you can use keyboard shortcuts to zoom, too—Command-Plus and Command-Minus. These work in a lot of places around your Mac, and in some cases (such as when you've selected text in Mail's composing window), the shortcuts will actually increase or decrease the size of your font instead. Handy!

To be clear, almost everything I've mentioned here should work system-wide; I just find myself squinting in Safari more often than I do in Pages, for example. And now that we've gone over all of that, there's a setting in Safari that I'd like to draw your attention to. It is, after all, why I started writing this tip. Where am I again? Who am I, other than someone who goes into entirely too much detail? (I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to my editor.)

Yeah. OK, so the setting I'm talking about is under the View menu, labeled Zoom Text Only.

If you turn that on, Safari will change only the size of your text when you zoom using either the aforementioned keyboard shortcut or the Text Size button in your toolbar. Images on the page will remain the same. So here's a segment of one of my articles with an image:

Here's that same section magnified using the Zoom Text Only setting:

You can see that the text got quite large, but the image stayed the same. Love that!

I find this useful for enlarging text on pages that are graphics-heavy, especially those that have a bunch of ads. Just remember that this setting stays on until you turn it off, so if you need to zoom in on an image in Safari instead, either turn Zoom Text Only off temporarily or use one of the other methods mentioned above. The trackpad zoom choices will always enlarge everything on the page and aren't affected by that setting.

So what say you, TMO readers? Have I forgotten your favorite method for zooming in or enlarging text? Could this article have been any longer? Have any of you even read this far? 

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Lee Dronick

Have any of you even read this far?

A million candles have burned themselves out, still I read on.

Anyway, the zoom text only is very handy.

Melissa Holt

I can always depend on you, Lee. :D

Lee Dronick

Aye, tis true.


“You can also hold down the Control key and scroll up on your trackpad with two fingers. This is one of my favorite methods, as it’ll zoom the whole screen! To zoom back out again, hold down Control and scroll down on your trackpad.”

I sure can’t get this to work in Safari or elsewhere, Mel, and I’ve tried over and over. All that happens is everything moves upwards or downwards.

The “Zoom Text Only” doesn’t seem to work for me ether.
. . .
But I have reluctantly come to accept the little quirks that become my Mac mini.

Melissa Holt

Hey mhikl,

What version of the operating system are you running? And if you look within System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom, are those features turned on?



Thanks for getting back on this, Melissa. It’s another of life’s (mine) little conundrums to remind me of mortal nature. I’m up to date on all things version: 10.8.3 and I have all of Scroll Zoom thingies clicked. I tried clicking on Point & Click/Tap to click but seems a bother to figure out what it does this time of night.

I did a restart and then tried control double tap TMO’s home page and had a scare seeing Jeff in large with what looked like an ear ring which turned out to be my pointer. Then remembered it was control two finger up on trackpad (not in the air) but just got my page moving up instead, as usual. Then went to Preferences/Advanced and deselected Accessibility but that didn’t help either.

It sounds like a neat feature as I do have trouble seeing the screen at many a time. But this Mac mini seems to be a cursed with a vendetta. It’s like our robotic vacuum that does what it wants at all hours inconvenient and unexpected. The cat’s gone missing but I am not going anywhere near that electronic beast until worse case scenario is verified by some odd smell. Then my heroic better part will take care of it, I am sure. Meanwhile, the little tyke is locked in his crib three feet in the air. His little limbs are very short so he should be safe.

Time to hit what my granddad calls the medicine cabinet to mollify all this confusion. Have a good night, little miss. I do learn a lot from your efforts on these pages.

Melissa Holt

Hey mhikl,

Your writing is fun to read! Are you sure you shouldn’t be writing here instead of me?

I’d verify that “Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom” is turned on under System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom. And make sure it’s set to the Control key if that’s what you wanna do. Hopefully that’ll help.

And thanks for the compliment! I’m glad you’re learning stuff. I consider every day that I learn something a very good one. smile



Thank you for the excellent tip. I didn’t know I could do that.

I use the command-plus and command-minus all the time, so it’s handy to know that command-0 (command-zero) returns you to the default zoom (aka “Actual Size” in the “View” menu. I find this especially handy when I’m surfing the web with my wife and her fingers are lounging on the trackpad absentmindedly doing the zoom gesture. I quickly reach over and type command-0 and all is sane again.

Melissa Holt

That is awesome, ctopher! I did not know about the Command-0 shortcut! Thanks very much for that.


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