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I'm trying to get an Ubuntu laptop functional for a visually impaired friend. Her impairment is such that a screen magnifier would solve the issue. I've tried out Kmag (as its the only hit when searching the software center for "magnifier"), but it seems odd the Ubuntu lacks a default. So I'm assuming I'm missing something obvious.

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I am visually impaired myself. I need a full screen magnifier all the time in order to work with any distribution (or windows / mac). A very good magnifying experience can be achieved with Compiz Manager like Mitch said. A pitty that the newer desktop enviroments seem to forget that when they completely disposed of compiz. That's way I'm never returning to linux again! Unless a better alternative comes up... but still no luck. I understand your problem, no suggested magnifier is good enough in comparison to windows 7 or 8's build in magnifier... –  user141122 Mar 17 '13 at 17:16
    
I can't speak to the quality of Window's built in magnifier, but compiz is still being used in the default Unity desktop as of Ubuntu 12.10. –  Doomy Mar 20 '13 at 14:58
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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

To use magnifier in Ubuntu, you can do so by using CompizConfig Settings Manager. If you don't have it installed, you can do so from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Or, just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command below.

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Once you invoke the program, look under Accessibility for magnifier, and click on it to configure it.

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O you can try Virtual Magnifying Glass 3.5

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I'm visually impaired (I have Cone Dystrophy and thus my central vision is gone and I absolutely have to use full screen zooming to use a computer). This was my solution:

First of all, get rid of Unity and install the Cinnamon desktop; it's a much better interface anyway IMNSHO:

http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/

Once you have that installed, you can install Tobias Quinn's excellent gnome-shell-mousewheel-zoom:

https://launchpad.net/~tobias-quinn/+archive/gsmz

This will provide Compiz-style mousewheel zooming functionality with Cinnamon.

Another alternative is to use Linux Mint which is an Ubuntu-based distro with Cinnamon built in by default.

If you choose this option, you simply have to add the Tobias Quinn PPA and install the gnome-shell-mousewheel-zoom package.

Canonical has abandoned visually impaired users and their actions are, to say the least, reprehensible and shameful. Every other OS creator provides quality full-screen zooming support for visually impaired users but since the advent of Unity, the actions of the devs of Ubuntu indicate that they no longer care about those users. I'll continue to use Ubuntu-based distros but Unity is now permanently on my "no-fly" list.

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I am not aware of any default screen magnifier in Ubuntu.

In many applications you can hold Ctrl then scroll the middle mouse button to zoom the screen.

I have upvoted your question because I would also like to know of a better alternative to Kmag and I'm sure many other users would too, especially those in similar situations to your friend.

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This might not be the answer you want but so you know there is also the gnome-shell magnifier which would require you to install gnome-shell and remove unity in Ubuntu.

I wrote a how-to on installing gnome 3.10 on ubuntu on my blog which might be useful if you are interested in trying this out. GNOME Shell 3.10 magnifier has focus and caret tracking as well as mousetracking which I think is not offered by many.

However, the caret and focus tracking settings are still controlled via gsettings in case you want to turn either of them off and cannot find out where to do that. Additionally the magnified view cannot provide a scaled level of magnification at the moment so expect larger magnification levels to lead to a lower quality graphic until that is improved.

More information about that is in another post about GNOME Shell's magnifier scaling which may be of use to you. It also explains how to scale the desktop view via gsettings without any magnifier at all.

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