How to Make Fonts and Objects Larger and More Readable on Mac (OS X Mavericks)

Mac ReadabilityFor modern Mac users, there are several scenarios in which having a font larger in size on their Macs can be a great advantage. For example:

  • Having a Retina Display Macbook: These Macs boast high density displays that, while allowing for more screen real estate, can also suffer from readability issues due to smaller fonts.
  • Using a large-screen iMac or a Macbook on a stand: In both of these scenarios, the screen of the Mac usually sits a few inches further, making the default text size also harder to read.
  • Eyesight problems: I know this one sounds funny, but the truth is that as we age, our eyesight deteriorates and having smaller fonts to read on a screen becomes more of an issue.

The problem here is that even with an OS as modern as Mavericks, Apple hasn’t provided a way to change the font size that applies system-wide, so it is left to us Mac users to take care of this issue.

Here’s how you can increase (and customize) the font size on your Mac to make things more readable.

Operating System

While there is no way to increase the font size across the entire system, it is possible to find the appropriate options scattered across it. To achieve the most effective font change on Mavericks though, we’ll have to focus on two different areas: Finder windows and desktop elements.

Finder Windows

The Finder windows are composed of two main elements: The window’s contents and the sidebar.

To customize the fonts (and icons) contained within a Finder window, you have to open one and then look for the Action icon at the top right side of the toolbar. Click on it and select Show View Options.

Finder window Show View Options

A new panel will show up. There you can use the options at the top to change not just the font size, but also the size of the icons within the windows.

Finder Window View Options 1  Finder Window View Options 2

The screenshots below are from the same areas of a Finder window. As you can notice, changing these options can make a dramatic difference in how the window’s contents look and read.

Finder Window Before

Finder Window After

Now, to make the sidebar on any window in the Finder more readable, you have to first open your Mac’s System Preferences. There, click on General.

Preferences General

On the next panel, you will see a segment named ‘Sidebar icon size’. Select among the options available there (Small, Medium and Large) to change the size of the icons on all Finder windows.

Finder Sidebar Size

Of course, as shown below, the larger the icons the larger (and more readable) the fonts will become as well.

Sidebar Small  Sidebar Medium  Sidebar Large

Desktop Elements

When it comes to the desktop, things are a bit easier to handle. To start, you have to right-click on your desktop and select Show View Options.

Desktop Show View Options

Then you will be shown a panel where you will be able to customize the desktop elements font and icon size, which can make them far larger and more readable as you can see in the pics below.

Desktop Settings Before  Desktop Settings After

Desktop Before  Desktop After

Additionally, you can also enlarge the icons on the Dock by selecting it on your Mac’s Preferences and using the Magnification slider.

Dock Settings

Dock Size

Applications

Now that the elements of the OS are already larger and more readable, it is time to take care of the apps on your Mac. Unfortunately, the operating system doesn’t have control over this aspect of you Mac, so you will have to do this on a per-app basis.

Now, while not all the apps work the same, in most cases you will be able to customize/resize their fonts using one of these two methods:

Open the app you want to customize and open its Preferences (usually accessible via the Command + , keyboard shortcut).

On some apps (Mail for example), you will find an option there to set a custom font size and even to change the entire font to a different one, including its color.

Mail Settings

On other apps (like Safari, Numbers or Pages for example) you will be able to set a larger zoom level, so everything will look larger when you open those apps.

Numbers Zoom

There you go. Now you’ll never have to strain your eyes when reading on your Mac. Enjoy!