Is it possible to use an iPhone as a magnifying glass?

If you want to read some of the small print lurking at the bottom of the latest Terms and Conditions you're presented with, or just want to unlock your latent Sherlock Holmes, then the iPhone's built-in magnifying glass could come in handy. In this article we show how to find the iPhone's Magnifier tool, and the various features it offers.

How to use iPhone as a magnifying glass: Where to find the Magnifier

Hidden away in the Accessibility section of iOS is a very useful little feature that turns your iPhone into a magnifying glass. It does this by using the camera and a software tweak that zooms in on everything you point it at. It's got a few tricks up its sleeves, too, such as the ability to adjust the colour of the display and how big everything will look on the screen.

To find it, simply navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier and then ensure that the Magnifier setting is switched on.

How to use iPhone as magnifying glass

There's also an Auto-Brightness settings below that you can enable so that the magnifier adjusts to how much light there is in the room.

How to use iPhone as a magnifying glass: Magnifier features

With the Magnifier setting switched on you'll now be able to investigate any diminutive print or items just by clicking the Home button three times. When you do so the camera will turn on and you'll see the magnified images displayed on the screen.

Beneath the main image you'll notice a slider, this controls the magnification strength of the image. So if you really want to get to microscopic levels just drag the cursor as far right as you can go. Remember, though, that this is a digital zoom, so the image quality will degrade as you use higher magnification rates.

How to use iPhone as magnifying glass

Under the zoom control there are a few more options available.

The lightning icon on the left turns the flashlight on and off, useful if you're trying to read in low light. Next to this is a padlock icon which switches the Focus Lock on and off. This comes in handy if the camera keeps refocusing, something that can happen when you're up close to an item. Wait for the image to focus properly then tap the Focus Lock button; now the camera will stay at that focal range.

How to use iPhone as magnifying glass

The large circle button is just what it looks like, a shutter button. If you want to take a picture of the magnified image then tap this as you would normally in the camera mode.

On the far right there's a icon of three overlapping circles. Tapping this opens up a new set of controls for adjusting the properties of the image on the screen.

How to use iPhone as magnifying glass

The main two slider controls are for brightness and contrast. These can improve the clarity of some images if you're still struggling to read them.

The most interesting setting, though, is the sliding menu above the brightness bar which moves through different colour modes. It starts off neutral but as you move through the options you'll see certain pairings of colours highlighted.

How to use iPhone as magnifying glass: Colour modes

Once again this can help with legibility, depending on the colour of the image or the material it's printed on. Plus this is an easy way to recreate your favourite 1970s sci-fi film effects.

So, there you go. A quick look at great tool that's already on your iPhone. Just another way that you can get on with the big stuff while the iPhone takes care of the little things.