Before I start this review of a fantastic screen magnifier called Point N See, I want you to take a little trip. Go to your Mac’s System Preferences Panel. (If you aren’t using a Mac, you can probably stop reading right now, as this review, and the software discussed, are no good on your computer!) Once inside the System Preferences Panel, click on the Universal Access icon. On the first tab of the Universal Access icon, you’ll notice an option called Zoom. This is similar, but not identical, to what Point N See offers. The difference is that Zoom will zoom in, or out, of your screen – the entire screen – at your command. Point N See also zooms into your screen, but only a portion of the screen.
Okay, now that we’ve covered that (if you need to zoom the entire screen, you already have the capability, and Point N See is of no use to you for that purpose), let’s talk about Point N See for a second.
I already said it magnifies a portion of your screen. How is this useful?
Ever come across a website that had all kinds of differently sized text on it? Some it huge (headings and the like), other (the main body), is just fine, but footnotes or other portions are too darn small to read? Or maybe you’re looking at a picture and the subject of that picture is wearing a t-shirt and you can almost – but not quite – read what the shirt says. Or, finally, maybe you’re just getting older and sometimes, whether it’s the focus or the glare or the contrast, you just need the text a little bigger.
In any case, all those circumstances are perfect for Point N See.
When your first open up Point N See, you’ll see two additional windows on your screen. The first, which should read simply PNS, is the control panel. This allows you to set the magnification level (you can choose between 2x, 3x, 4x and 5x), as well as whether or not you want to see a crosshairs displayed on the Display Window. The Display Window is the second window, and is where you’ll see the enlarged text.
To use Point N See, all you need to do move your mouse around the screen. Watching the Display Window, you’ll see the area your mouse is in, enlarged to the magnification you specified. This is the default mode, and is called Normal Mode. To use this mode, simply start up the program and you’re good to go.
Point N See also has what is called Fixed Mode. To enter fixed mode, move your mouse to a point on the screen where you wish to concentrate, and press Command-Option. You’ll see the little white dot on the Control Panel turn red, and from then on, the area immediately surrounding the area your mouse was positioned when you clicked Command-Option will be the only area of the screen to be enlarged. You can move items into this area for magnification, but no matter where you move your mouse, only that initial area will be enlarged. To exit Fixed Mode, hit the Command-Control keys simultaneously, and you will return to Normal Mode.
The Display window can be resized no matter which mode you’re in, if you want a larger window in which to view enlarged portions of your screen. Regardless of which mode you’re in, Point N See remembers your window positions and settings when you close, so you can jump right back into whatever you were doing the next time you start it up.
As I said at the beginning, Mac OS X already includes full-screen zoom, but not a targeted application such as what Point N See offers. If this is something you’d like to take a look at, I highly recommend it. Point N See is simple, easy to use, and worked well in my testing. It does what it claims and does it well, and for free, which in my book is a hard combination to beat.