I have written before about a software magnifier for the computer screen (you can read the piece here, if you so wish).
I thought at the time that the open source magnifier I had found was the bee’s knees, and, in fact, it was a very useful tool. As I continued to use it, however, I began to notice a few annoying quirks. Sometimes, for example, the movement of the’lens’ around the screen would become very jerky, which was very distracting. Also, the image quality degraded somewhat as the magnification increased (not hugely surprising, but not exactly desirable either).
So I more or less stopped using it.
Recently, I had occasion to buy a new mouse, as my old one kept acting like it was possessed by the devil, jumping around the screen on its own and so on.
I duly dispatched the Other Half to the local mouse emporium and he came back with a Microsoft mouse – a Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 – to be precise.
Reading though the quick-start guide that came with it, I noticed that you could configure the scroll wheel so that if you clicked it, it invoked a magnifier. Sounded good, but I was never impressed with the magnifier that comes with Windows because it just gives you a fixed window which does not move around the screen with the mouse, which was the thing I wanted. I thought I'd try it out anyway, just in case.
The magnifier (presumably a doctored version of the actual Windows one, but which moves around the screen with the mouse) is brilliant.
The image quality is excellent, and the movement so far has been flawlessly silky-smooth every time. You can toggle the magnifier off and on just by clicking the scroll wheel. With the open source one, you have to press CTRL-ALT-G on the keyboard to achieve the same effect.
You can also vary the size of the ‘lens’ by holding down the scroll wheel for a short time, whereupon you can drag the window border to the size you desire. A larger 'lens' appears to give a larger magnification too (or it could just be my imagination).
This handy functionality is actually provided by the Microsoft Intellipoint mouse driver and I imagine anyone using this driver, regardless of the type of mouse, could configure their mouse to make use of it. I did try to see if I could achieve the same effect with a non-iltellipoint driver, but it did not work.
OK, I appreciate that screen magnification is probably of only tangential interest to most people but, if you’re getting on a bit and find reading the screen more of a struggle than you used to, this represents a fairly low-cost (my mouse was less than £30) visual aid.