Tips for making Windows easier to use

Do you ever get frustrated trying to read the tiny text on your computer screen? Do you ever find yourself wishing you could just tell your computer what you want it to do, instead of trying to get your keyboard or mouse to cooperate? If so, check out these tips for making Windows just a little bit easier to use.

Take it easy

The Ease of Access Center is a central location for settings that can help make Windows easier to use. There, you’ll find settings for things such as controlling how your keyboard works, making the mouse pointer larger and easier to see, and adjusting how items are displayed on the screen. There’s also a questionnaire that you can use to identify specific settings for making your computer easier to use.

To use the Ease of Access questionnaire

  1. Open Ease of Access Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking Ease of Access Center.

  2. Click Get recommendations to make your computer easier to use.

    You'll be asked a series of questions that can help Windows determine settings that might be useful to you. When you're done, you'll see a list of settings to choose from.

Make the screen easier to read

If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, chances are your eyes get a little tired. Here are some ways to make your screen easier to see.

To increase the size of text and icons

One way to make the text and icons on your screen appear larger and crisper without changing the overall screen resolution is to increase the dots per inch (DPI) scale.

  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop, and then click Screen resolution.

  2. Click Make text and other items larger or smaller.

  3. Choose one of the following:

    • Smaller - 100% (default). This keeps text and other items at normal size.

    • Medium - 125%. This sets text and other items to 125 percent of normal size.

    • Larger - 150%. This sets text and other items to 150 percent of normal size. This option appears only if your monitor supports a resolution of at least 1200 × 900 pixels.

  4. Click Apply.

    To see the change, close all of your programs (save any work first), log off of Windows, and then log on again.

To set ClearType

ClearType font technology makes the text on your screen appear almost as sharp and clear as text that's printed on paper. It's turned on by default in this version of Windows, but you can use the Text Tuner to ensure the best setting for your eyes.

  1. Open the ClearType Text Tuner by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type cleartype, and then click Adjust ClearType text.

  2. On the first page of the tuner, select the check box next to Turn on ClearType (if it's not already selected), and then click Next.

  3. Follow the steps on each page, and then click Finish to turn on ClearType and save your settings. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Notes

  • For ClearType to be effective, you need a video card and monitor that support a color setting of at least 256 colors. You'll get the best results with High color (24-bit) or Highest color (32-bit).

  • To get the full benefit of ClearType, you need a high-quality, flat-panel monitor, such as LCD or plasma. Even on a CRT monitor, you might get some improvement in readability with ClearType.

To change the screen resolution

Another way to make items on your screen appear larger is to lower the screen resolution—for example, from 1024 × 768 to 800 × 600. The downside of doing this is that fewer items will fit on the screen and sometimes items might be less clear. To get the best balance between size and clarity, be sure to use the right resolution for your monitor. In general, CRT monitors can accommodate a wider range of resolutions. Flat-panel LCD monitors have a specific resolution (called a native resolution) at which they look best. You can experiment with different resolutions to see which one works best for you.

  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop, and then click Screen resolution.

  2. In the Resolution box, move the slider to the resolution you want, and then click Apply.

  3. Click Keep changes to use the new resolution, or Revert to go back to the previous resolution.

Check out the programs that come with Windows

Windows comes with several programs that can help make your computer easier to use.

Magnify the desktop

If you need to focus on a specific area of your computer without making the entire screen bigger, you can use Magnifier. Magnifier is a program that displays an enlarged copy of the area of the screen where you’re working so you can see it more clearly.

For more information about using Magnifier, see Make items on the screen appear bigger (Magnifier).

Type on the screen

You can use On-Screen Keyboard in place of a regular keyboard. With On-Screen Keyboard, you can use a mouse to click the keyboard keys on-screen. You can also have On-Screen Keyboard click keys that you point to. If you’re using a switch input device or other device that simulates a mouse click, you can have On-Screen Keyboard scan through the keys automatically.

For more information about using On-Screen Keyboard, see Type without using the keyboard (On-Screen Keyboard).

Have your computer read to you

You can even use your computer without a display at all. Narrator is a basic screen reader that you can use to hear text on the screen read aloud and hear descriptions of some events (such as an error message appearing) that happen while you're using the computer.

For more information about using Narrator, see Hear text read aloud with Narrator.

Talk to your computer

If you’ve ever wanted to be able to tell your computer what to do, you’re in luck. Set your keyboard and mouse aside and check out Windows Speech Recognition. You can use Speech Recognition to tell programs to open or close, browse the web, click items on your desktop, or even dictate an e‑mail message. With a good microphone and a little bit of work setting up a speech profile, you might be surprised by how easy it is to make your computer respond to spoken commands. For more information, see Set up Speech Recognition .