I want to use my PC from the couch, but from there, I cannot see what I'm clicking. I enabled Enhanced Zoom Desktop in CCSM and it looked like it does what I want. But when "Sync mouse" is enabled, the whole desktop pans around with the tiniest mouse twitch, making me seasick. When I disable it, the mouse pointer is mapped to the non-zoomed desktop, which means that when I click on a button I am seeing on the desktop, the click registers somewhere else, and I practically cannot do anything while under zoom. Is there a better solution (does not have to involve CCSM)?

Clarification: I am looking for something which zooms the entire desktop, not for a detached magnifier window.


You can use:

  1. In Gnome Shell, the magnifier is available under the Accessibility icon in the top bar.
  2. In Unity, you'll need to go into CompizConfig (compizconfig-settings-manager if you don't have it installed) and enable the Enhanced Zoom Desktop plugin, which can be set to zoom in when you, say, hold Super key(the one with the windows icon) and scroll up or down.
  3. By default (In GNOME2 at least) all you have to do is hold down the Super and scroll up/down to zoom in/out.
  4. A little script that allows you to do a compiz like zoom using the left-alt key and the scrollwheel for Gnome 3. Not yet a Gnome extension.
  5. eZoom

try xrandr (it stands for x resize and rotate)

here is the output on my ibm thinkpad x40 which has an intel i855 graphic chip

$ xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1024 x 768, maximum 2048 x 2048
VGA1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
LVDS1 connected 1024x768+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 0mm x 0mm panning 1024x768+0+0
   1024x768       50.0*+   85.0     75.0     70.1     60.0  
   832x624        74.6  
   800x600        85.1     72.2     75.0     60.3     56.2  
   640x480        85.0     72.8     75.0     59.9  
   720x400        85.0  
   640x400        85.1  
   640x350        85.1  

you see that my monitor is connected to LVDS1 and what the available resolutions are

you can zoom using following command

$ xrandr --output LVDS1 --panning 1024x768 --mode 640x480

that will set your monitor resolution to 640x480 showing a 640x480 area out of your 1024x768 desktop.

to restore your normal resolution use following command

$ xrandr --output LVDS1 --panning 1024x768 --mode 1024x768

the difference to just changing resolution is that all other programms think the the resolution is still 1024x768. they have no idea that only a part of those 1024x768 is actually projected to the monitor.

let's compare this to the compiz zoom

  • compiz zoom centers on the mouse and moves the visible area with every pixel the mouse moves. xrandr only moves the visible area when the mouse cursor reaches the edge of the visible area.
  • compiz keeps the monitor resolution. xrandr changes the monitor resolution.
  • compiz blurs the pixels. xrandr does not blur the pixels. though the monitor might show them a bit blurred because it is not in it's native resolution.
  • compiz has arbitrary zoom levels. xrandr only has as many zoom levels as supported by the graphic card and monitor.
  • compiz can zoom instantly. xrandr zoom time depends on the monitor switching resolution.

of all the arguments, i find the first point to be dominating. i can't understand why the compiz developers made the zoom follow every pixel movement of the mouse. i think they never really used it other than showing off.


You might want to look at xzoom.

Like xmag, xzoom magnifies a section of the X display. Xzoom is different because it will continuously update the magnified area as the display changes. It is fast enough to enlarge small animations, for example.

It can also mirror or rotate a part of the screen.

  • 1
    I tried it out. xzoom is only a small magnifying window, it doesn't zoom the complete desktop. Also, it is very laggy - it only updates the zoomed portion very slowly, making it hard to use. – rumtscho Aug 14 '10 at 16:45

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