Nope, you don’t have to settle for itty-bitty text on your iPhone screen, nor must you deal with buttons that don’t look anything like buttons. Once you know which settings to change, you can boost the size of on-screen text on your iPhone or iPad, make words a bit more bold, zoom in with a virtual magnifying glass, warm up—or cool off—Night Shift, and more.
Change text size
You don’t have to squint if the text on your iPhone or iPad is a little too small. There are a couple of ways to boost the size of text on an iOS device.
First, you can use the Text Size setting to boost the font size of onscreen text—or, if you really want, you can make text on your iPhone or iPad look even tinier. Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Text Size, then drag the slider one way or the other.
If you want to make everything look a bit bigger—icons and buttons included—you can try the Display Zoom setting. Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Display Zoom, then flick on the switch. Keep in mind that you’ll see less stuff on the screen with the Display Zoom setting enabled, including one fewer row of icons on your home screen. Note that you’ll need to restart your iOS device each time you toggle the setting on and off.
Give text a bold boost
Size matters, sure, but maybe you’d like the text on your iPhone or iPad to look a tad thicker, too. If so, give this setting a try.
Tap Settings > Display & Brightness, then toggle on the Bold setting. Once your iPhone or iPad restarts, your iOS system text—everything from icon labels on the home screen to the words in plain-text mail messages—will look thicker and darker.
Zoom in with a virtual magnifying glass
Not to be confused with the Display Zoom setting, the iOS Zoom feature will zoom the entire display on your iPhone or iPad—and with the help of a “windowed” mode, you can drag a virtual magnifying glass around the screen.
Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom, then toggle on the Zoom setting to enabled iOS’s Zoom mode. Next, double-tap with three fingers to zoom, then double-tap with three fingers and drag up or down to zoom in and out. A simple three-finger double-tap will also zoom all the way out on a zoomed-in screen.
Next, try this: back on the Zoom settings screen, tap Zoom Region, then pick the Window Zoom option. Once you do, the three-finger double-tap will call up a zoomed-in window that looks like a rectangular magnifying glass. You can drag the handle at the bottom of the magnifying lens to move it around the screen, or double-tap the handle and tap Resize Lens to make it bigger or smaller.
Make buttons more obvious
When iOS got its big makeover with the arrival of iOS 6, one of the most confusing changes was the new look for the onscreen buttons, which stripped away everything that made buttons look like buttons. Since then, buttons on the iPhone and iPad are basically just words floating on the screen. If you don’t know intuitively that a word is a button, you could be in for a confounding experience.
Personally, I prefer to take out the guesswork and make buttons look like buttons again, and there’s an iOS setting that’ll let you do just that.
Tap Settings > General > Accessibility, then toggle on the Button Shapes setting. Once you do, buttons and other tappable elements on the screen will either be underlined or surrounded by a shaded rectangle.
Customize your Night Shift settings
If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, the bright glare of your iPhone’s screen may be to blame—hence Night Shift, the iOS 9.3 feature that shifts your display to warmer, more snooze-friendly colors.
Chances are that if you’re using Night Shift, you’ve got it set to turn on automatically at 10 p.m. and turn back off at 7 a.m. If that default time setting isn’t working for you or your tired eyes, just adjust this setting.
Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, then tap the times under the Scheduled setting to change when Night Shift turns itself on and off. Better still, you can set Night Shift to switch on automatically at sunset in your location, then go back off at sunrise.
Also on the main Night Shift settings screen you’ll find a color temperature slider. Nudge the slider to the right to warm up the hues of Night Shift, or to the right for a cooler look.
Make the screen stay on longer
Once you stop tapping on your iPhone or iPad, its display will shut off and lock itself after a brief period of time—generally, after a minute or so. That’s a security feature, since a locked device will require your passcode to unlock, which keeps your data safer if you happen to lose your device somewhere public.
But if it feels like your iOS display is locking itself a bit too quickly, there’s a way to make it stay on a little longer before switching off.
Tap Settings > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock, then pick a setting—anything from 30 seconds to five minutes. There’s also a “never” setting, but I’d recommend against using it unless your iPhone or iPad never leaves the house.
Keep in mind that if you enable Low Power Mode when your iPhone is running low, your display will dim slightly from its default setting, and lock more quickly than the setting you’ve selected here. (You’re prompted to enable Low Power Mode once at 20 percent battery life remaining, and again at 10 percent, or you can manually switch it on at Settings > Battery.)
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.