The iPhone has had a real-world magnifying glass called “Magnifier” since iOS 10, but it remained relatively obscure until iOS 14, when it received major upgrades such as a new interface, hidden controls, a customizable toolbar, improved filter management, multi – image recording and human detection. But one of the best things about the update is that it is simply easier to open.
The accessibility feature is useful for people with vision problems who need to zoom in on everyday objects to see them better. Even if you don’t have vision problems, Magnifier is useful for seeing things from afar. For example, you can check business hours from the parking lot without ever leaving your car or checking the fine print on a small paper document or menu.
In the past, you could only open the Magnifier tool with the accessibility shortcut, where you would triple-click the home or side button to open it, or by using the optional toggle button in the Control Center. Those ways still exist and are certainly useful, but since iOS 1
Turn on Magnifier before you start
Before you can use most of the options below, you must first enable the Magnifier feature. To do this, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Magnifier and turn on the switch.
I say most because half of the options below do not require Magnifier to be activated first. The switch is mainly to make it work with the accessibility shortcut (option 1) and to unlock the app icon (option 3), the latter of which is also needed to get Siri support (option 5). Control Center (option 2), tap back (option 4), shortcuts (option 6) and voice control (option 7) do not require the switch to be turned on first.
Option 1: Click the Home button or Side button three times
The traditional way to open Magnifier is to triple-click the Home or Side button on your iPhone. If you haven’t turned on other accessibility features, Magnifier will open automatically by triple-clicking Home or Side, as long as it’s turned on.
If not, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut and choose “Magnifier”. Note that Magnifier must be turned on first, as seen above, for this option to work.
Option 2: Use the control center switch
Another way to quickly access Magnifier, which has been around since iOS 11, is to use the optional controls in the Control Center. This method does not require Magnifier to be turned on beforehand.
Go to Settings -> Control Center to add the control. Then scroll down and tap the green Plus (+) button next to Magnifier to take it to your list with Supplied controls. To move the location of the magnifying glass in the Control Center, press and drag it to the new location.
Now swipe down from the top right corner of your iPhone (on Face ID models) or swipe up from the bottom of the screen (on Touch ID models) to open the Control Center. Then tap the Magnifier control, which has a magnifying glass icon.
Option 3: Use the hidden app icon
If you’re using iOS 14 or later, a hidden Magnifier app icon will appear on your home screen after enabling the feature in Settings, so make sure the accessibility tool is turned on. To open Magnifier, just tap the app icon.
If you don’t see the Magnifier app icon anywhere on your home screen, you can find it in your app library. Then if you want faster access to it, you can add it to your home screen. On your home screen, swipe left until you reach the App library, find Magnifier in the library, press it and drag it to your home screen.
Option 4: Tap the back of your iPhone
Back Tap, which allows you to perform multiple actions by tapping the back of your iPhone, can be used to open and use Magnifier. The magnifying glass does not need to be turned on beforehand.
To use Back Tap, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Touch -> Back Tap. Then choose one of the tap options (for two or three taps) and select ‘Magnifier’, which is shown under Accessibility.
Anytime you double or triple tap the Apple logo on the back of your iPhone, the shortcut will run and Magnifier will launch. If the feature is turned off in the accessibility settings, Back Tap will stop working with Magnifier until you turn it back on.
Option 5: Ask Siri
As long as Magnifier is on, you can easily ask Siri to launch the accessibility feature. This is because Siri will only recognize the tool as an app if it’s available on the home screen or in the app library, as weird as that sounds. That’s also why you can’t get Siri to work with Magnifier in iOS 13 and earlier.
When it is activated, all you have to do is say “Open Magnifier” and Siri will open Magnifier; Again, if the Magnifier feature is not enabled, Siri will state that it cannot open it. If it’s on and you’re running iOS 14 or later, but Siri still can’t open Magnifier (it’s a little buggy), then you can try Option 6 below as a backup.
Option 6: Run a shortcut
Finally, you can create a shortcut that will open the Magnifier tool with many of the above options, but it will also give you more ways to open the app. As with Control Center and Back Tap, this option does not require Magnifier to be turned on in Settings first.
To build the shortcut, open Shortcuts, tap “My Shortcuts” if it is not already there and press the plus (+) button to start a draft. Tap “Add action” or the search bar at the bottom, then find and tap the “Open app” action. In your workflow, tap “Choose” in it Scripting box, find and select “Magnifier”. That’s the only action we need, believe it or not.
Hit “Next” and name it whatever you want. If you’re having trouble with Siri, you could call it “Magnifier” so that Siri tries to open it instead of the app directly. You can of course call it something else. Tap “Done” to save it.
If you don’t want to build the shortcut yourself, you can install it from the link below. After opening the shortcut link, you will be directed to the shortcuts, or you must tap “Get Shortcut” to open shortcuts. In the Shortcuts app, tap “Add Untrusted Shortcut” in the example. (If it doesn’t work, go to Settings -> Shortcuts and make sure “Allow untrusted shortcuts” is turned on.)
You can then run the shortcut in several ways, some of which have been mentioned earlier, without Magnifier enabled; you can run it directly from Shortcuts, from your home screen, with Back Tap, with Siri, etc. Below I run the shortcut from a widget on my home screen.
To run it from a widget, you need to open the Magnifier shortcut to a list of shortcuts, add the list to a widget, and then add the widget to your home screen or the Today view. Check out our guide on how to recreate the favorites widget in iOS 14 and later to get an idea of how to do it.
Then tap on the Open Magnifier widget and the function will run.
Option 7: Use voice control
I wouldn’t recommend using voice control unless you’re already using it in your workflow, but it’s certainly a viable option anyway. Magnifier also doesn’t need to be turned on first. To enable voice control:
- Go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Voice Control and turn on the “Voice Control” switch.
- Ask Siri to “turn on voice control”.
- Set up an accessibility shortcut. Go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut and check “Voice Control”. Every time you click the side or home button three times, voice control is turned on or off. If you have assigned more than just voice control to the shortcut, you must select it from the menu by clicking three times.
When voice control is on, all you have to do is say “Open Magnifier.” You won’t run into any issues here like you would occasionally with Siri, which is a bonus.
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