I have a 17-inche Macbook-pro, the resolution is at the moment 1920x1200, the font size of the system looks very small. Is there a way to increase the font size without changing the resolution? It seems that we can't parameter it via System Preferences...

PS: the OS is Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 (11C2002)

4 Answers 4


See this answer - https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/45719/11118

Basically you enable a higher-resolution mode where everything uses twice as many pixels, so things appear bigger.

  • 1
    Thanks for your comment... I followed the steps and installed the utility, I did find some more resolutions, but the highest is 960x600(HiDPI)which makes the font size too big...
    – SoftTimur
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:08
  • Hmm, not sure what else you could do then.
    – penguinrob
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:26

Higher resolution is not a good choice for a permanent default because you lose the benefit of the larger screen.

Instead, go to Settings > Accessibility > Zoom

If you are using a trackpad, choose "Use scroll gesture with modifier keys …" This enables you to use the two finger swipe to enlarge the entire screen, including menus. Make sure to adjust how you want the window to move so you can see what is off-screen using "More Options" - I prefer "only when the pointer reaches an edge" to ensure a smooth, slow scroll sideways or up/down, but there are other choices.

If you don't have a trackpad, you can also set accessibility options for mouse gestures or keyboard control.

When you need, zoom the entire screen - which will include menus. Once you have finished with whatever system level task you are doing, simply zoom back down.

Remember that you can set the "view options" for system level windows, which currently allows you to increase the font to 16 and increase the size of the icons. If you are brave enough, there are also ways to modify the preferences through terminal to change this default size, but so far I have found none that will change the main menus.

For non-system windows, i.e., application windows such as browser pages or documents, you can zoom with a pinch (if you have a trackpad) or set the accessibility options you prefer.

If this is an issue for you, I highly recommend getting a trackpad, as I did for my father, because many gestures for zoom can be completed on the fly with little disruption to your usability.


Another alternative (which is not system nor app wide) is to customize your tool bar. Under the menu view, right click or two finger tap on the tool bar, select customize tool bar, add the little A and Big A to your tool bar this will allow one to enlarge or decrease the element inside the running program. Press big A to enlarge and little A to decrease.

The keystroke is command (apple) + or _ when zoom is enabled.


Set up an alias:

alias bigxter='xterm -font lucidasanstypewriter-bold-24'

Then put that alias in your .bashrc, so that after you log in, you can type bigxter and your easily visible font xterm window will pop up! Maybe put one or two of those windows as default to logging in as well so you have enough windows to work in.

  • .bashrc is not sourced by default in OS X?
    – grg
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 20:04

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