Use the iPhone Magnifier to Read the Fine Print

Let’s see a show of hands. How many of you have a magnifying glass that you occasionally use in order to read some fine print or view some detail on an object? I have one and my one observation about my magnifying glass is that it is never where it is needed, for instance when working out in the yard or in the garage. 

The iPhone has an easy to access Magnifier that will use your iPhone’s camera as a Magnifier.  You are not taking a picture with the camera but using its functions to to read fine print or detail.

This recipe will identify how to access the Magnifier, verify the Settings needed to make it available and a couple of essential options for lighting and focus.


As older adults, many of us recognized our changing eyesight decades ago. As our eyesight changes, we admit that we occasionally have to work a little harder to read the fine print. I use readers but I also happen to have a couple of magnifying glasses in my office for this purpose.


There are countless situations where access to my magnifying glass allows me to read a label or pick out a detail that is unavailable to the naked eye. The iPhone provides a magnifier function that allows my to use my iPhone as a substitute magnifying glass.

It’s easy. You pull you iPhone out of your pocket and access the Magnifier in one of three easy ways.  Yes, it is that accessible.

Access the Magnifier

There are three ways that you can access the Magnifier:

  1. Magnifier app
  2. Accessibility Shortcut – Tap Side/Home button three times
  3. Control Center icon


1. Magnifier app

Since IOS 14, your iPhone has a Magnifier app.  Whereas previously, the Magnifier function did not have a Home Screen presence, now you can find the Magnifier app.  Simply tap the Magnifier icon to launch it.

If you can’t find the Magnifier app on the Home Screen,  use the Search function on the Today View or Spotlight search or go to the App Library to find it.

2. Accessibility Shortcut – Tap the Side or Home Button 3 Times

One method is to associate the Magnifier with the accessibility shortcut on your iPhone.  The accessibility shortcut is intended to provide quick and easy access to one of a dozen accessibility functions on your iPhone.

Using the accessibility shortcut would allow you to simply press the Side button (or the Home button if your iPhone has a Home button)  three times in order to access the Magnifier.

If the Magnifier does not start with pressing the Side/Home button three times, it may be that the accessibility shortcut is assigned to another function. This can be change by accessing Settings  > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and tapping Magnifier to change the shortcut.

3. Control Center Icon

You can also add a Magnifier icon to your Control Center.  This would allow you quick access to the Magnifier by swiping to access the Control Center.  And then tapping the Magnifier icon.  

To set up this custom icon in the Control Center, launch the Settings app and tap Control Center.  Tap (Green +) next to the Magnifier icon to  add it to the Included Controls of the Control Center.  



Getting Started with the Magnifier Controls


With the Magnifier launched, you will use a combination of manual phone movements and onscreen controls to capture the detail you wish to magnify. Here are the three most useful controls:


  1.  Adjust the magnification level. Drag the Zoom Level slider. If you prefer, you can also use the pinch in and pinch out zoom gestures to control the magnification.
  2. Freeze the Frame. Tap the “shutter” button the Freeze Frame button to lock the image. It is hard to hold the iPhone steady.  The Freeze Frame will allow you to examine the magnified image and adjust the magnification and drag the image around for better viewing. Unfreeze the frame, tap the “shutter” the Freeze Frame button again.
  3. Flashlight.  Tap the Flashlight in order to add more light to the image you are magnifying.  



Smart Tip: Freeze the Frame

Once you have the focus you want, freeze the frame on your image. This allows you to still change the magnification and shift the image without needing to hold the camera.




The primary objective of this Nugget is to introduce you to the core function of the Magnifier.  There is more that it can do including adding filters, saving an image as a photo or magnifying multiple images at the same time.  See the Apple guides and videos found under Additional Information below.  


Set Up the Magnifier

The Magnifier is part of the iPhone’s Accessibility function.  Although it does have an app, it can happen that the Magifier has been turned off in Settings.  This means you will not find an icon for the Magnifier.

If you cannot find the Magnifier function on your iPhone, check your Accessibility settings.  


To set up the Magnifier, Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier, then turn on Magnifier.


Additional Information

The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:

iPhone User Guide – Magnify objects around you with iPhone

Apple Support – Use Magnifier with your iPhone or iPad

Apple Support on YouTube – Get started with Magnifier on your iPhone  Recommended to learn more about the Magnifier Controls.