Setting Up Windows for Low Vision

Windows 10 contains many more features for people with low vision than previous versions of Windows! Int his post, we’ll outline the features that could be helpful to students with low vision and link to helpful resources. Since these are all built-in to Windows, they can be set up on any computer with no additional cost or software.

Learn more about all the features outlined in this blog post at Microsoft’s  Make Windows Easier to See page.

Windows Magnifier

The built-in Windows magnifier has seen huge improvements in functionality in recent years. The magnifier offers full-screen magnification as well as lens and split-screen views, offers colour enhancements such as reverse contrast, and even font-smoothing features have greatly improved in the latest release of Windows.

To access the Windows Magnifier, use these keyboard commands:

  • Windows Logo Key + Plus (+) activates the magnifier or zooms in if already activated.
  • Windows Logo Key + Minus (-) zooms out.
  • Windows Logo Key + Escape turns off all magnification features.
  • Control + Alt + F changes magnification view to full screen.
  • Control + Alt + changes magnification view to lens.
  • Control + Alt + D changes magnification view to docked (half screen).
  • Control + Alt + I inverts colours.
  • Control + Alt + Arrows (Up, Down, Left, Right) scrolls magnification view without moving the mouse or text cursor.
  • Control + Alt + Space temporarily shows an unmagnified screen.

You can find a full list of features and keyboard commands at Microsoft’s Setting Up and Using Magnifier page.

Pointer and Text Cursor Enhancements

Windows 10 has several features that can make the mouse pointer and text cursor easier to see for people with low vision. These settings can be adjusted in Cursor & Pointer settings.

  • The size of the pointer can be adjusted from 1 (regular size) to 15 (very large).
  • The colour of the pointer can be adjusted between black, white, inverted, or any number of custom colours.
  • The thickness of the text cursor can be adjusted from 1 (regular) to 20 (thickness spans several letters).
  • The final two settings are used to create visual feedback when touch is received by a touchscreen and to make the visual feedback larger and bolder.

By going to Devices – Mouse and clicking on Additional Mouse Settings (in the right-hand corner), some additional settings can be adjusted:

  • Under the Buttons tab, the speed that a double-click needs to be performed (i.e., the length of time that can pass between the two clicks) can be adjusted from slow to fast (“slow” means that the two clicks can be performed with a pause between them, “fast” means that the two clicks have to be performed very quickly).
  • Under the Pointer Options tab, the motion of the mouse pointer (speed at which it moves across the screen) can be adjusted from slow to fast.
  • A visible tail that trails behind the pointer as it moves across the screen can be added by checking the Display pointer tails checkbox (some students may love this feature, others may find it confusing or distracting).
  • The Show location of the when I press the CTRL key checkbox will show circles around the pointer whenever the Control key is pressed.

You can find out more about these various mouse pointer settings and how to use them on Microsoft’s Change Mouse Settings, and

Colour Filters

The Windows Magnifier offers a built-in “invert colors” feature. But Windows also offers colour options for those not using the Magnifier. These can be found under Color Filters and High Contrast settings.

Under Color Filters you can adjust the way colours are displayed: invert colours, use greyscale, use greyscale and inverted, or select from preset schemes for different types of colour deficiency. The colour filters can also be set so that they can be turned on and off with the keyboard command Windows Logo +  Control + C.

Under High Contrast, the operating system can be set to use high-contrast colours for elements and controls. These can either be selected from a preset theme (such as High Contrast Black) or can be completely customized.

Note: If using high-contrast themes, web content will not be affected unless settings are modified for each browser. If using colour filters, these will affect all content on the screen, including browsers (and images).

We hope this post helps you get an overview of some of the low-vision options available in Windows.

About the author

Jen Jesso

I have worked in various roles in the field of visual impairment since 2007. In addition to working as a teacher of students with visual impairments, I recently completed coursework to become an orientation and mobility specialist. I have been fortunate to work with the fantastic team at PRCVI since 2014.

I enjoy many aspects of my role at PRCVI, but highlights include working with teachers of students with visual impairments and their students on outreach visits and working on PRCVI initiatives and projects.

Outside of work, my interests include reading, computer programming, swimming, and spending time with friends and family.

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