Tech Tip - Zooming for Presenters

Posted by Aaron Leininger on 12/17/2019

Sorry for not having a tip last week. This week's tip will be on some useful ways to zoom in on a part of your screen for better viewing for your classes or other presentations. It will be in two separate parts as it is different on Macs vs Windows. Scroll to the section of this post appropriate to the type of laptop you have. 

Macintosh (Both macbook air and pro!)

To start, you will need to open System Preferences and from there, Accessibility. Next click on Zoom and check the box labeled: "Use keyboard shortcuts to zoom". The 3 shortcuts you will need are listed on that screen but I will also list them here and describe them for you. You can test them immediately with the current screen still open. 

opt+cmd+8 : Toggle zoom mode. This will turn on and off zoom mode. While in zoom mode, you can move your mouse cursor around to change the focus of the zoomed area. 

opt+cmd+= : This is used only while zoomed in. It will increase the zoom level. 

opt+cmd+- : This is used only while zoomed in. It will decrease the zoom level. 

Use the above to bring important material front and center during your presentation. 


I recommend a free microsoft tool called zoomit. You can download it here:

This will download a zip file to your computer. Open it and drag the file named "zoomit" to your desktop and run it. It will place an icon in your system tray (that's the area where your clock is, usually on the lower right-hand side of the screen). Once it's running then see how to use it below

On first run, you will be asked to approve some legaleze. After doing that you'll see the zoomit control panel showing you a variety of features available. Close it for now and continue below. Note: Use that control panel if you wish to customize the short-cut keys available. The program will not activate if the control panel is open! 

Now that you have zoomit running, press CTRL+1 to activate zoom mode. Press ESC to return to normal. You can move your mouse around the screen to change the focus of the zoomed area but in this mode, the screen is paused. Go back to normal mode to go live again. 

Press CTRL+2 to activate annotation mode. This will turn your cursor into a red drawing tool. Default action is freehand drawing on the screen. You can hold modifier keys to draw circles, rectangles, elipses and arrows. The control panel has the full list of shortcuts for that. You can also enter annotation mode from zoom mode. Click your left mouse button while in zoom mode to activate annotation mode from there. If you'd like to save copies of your doodles+screen, press CTRL+S (same as MS Word!) to bring up a save dialog. You can then pick a folder and filename and a screenshot will be saved. Want to type text in annotation mode? Press 't' to enter typing mode. As always, pressing ESC will leave annotation mode and go back live. Please note that if you did not save a screen shot, all your annotations will be lost. 

You can activate a timer by pressing CTRL+3. The amount on the timer can be set in the app's control panel under the tab 'break'. Default is 10 minutes. Advanced options exist to move the timer on the screen, apply a background image for it and even set an alarm sound when it hits 0. 

The final mode is livezoom. This is toggled with CTRL+4. This is like regular zoom but programs continue to run live. Sometimes this behavior is preferred over the regular zoom mode that pauses content. 

I hope this tip has proved helpful. As always, I am available to help in the setup, installation and/or use of these zoom tools. Enjoy!