[Review] Magnifying Glass Pro

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

Magnifying Glass Pro by Workers Collection

Version reviewed:

v1.8

Software description as per the developer:

The Magnifying Glass Pro utility is a virtual magnifier (virtual lens, screen-zoomer) that enables you to enlarge (magnify) text and graphics as they are displayed on your computer monitor or attached television screen, or projected onto a larger media during a presentation (e.g., using an application such as PowerPoint). As you pass your mouse cursor over a section of the viewing area, the display is magnified making it instantly more readable and accessible. In addition, you can apply a variety of visual effects and enhancements to that display.

Supported OS:

Windows 95 and higher

Price:

$24.95 (USD) for a single license, with significant discount of multiple license purchases.

Ashraf’s note:

This review was originally write on September 1, 2009. It has been minorly tweaked and updated before being republished today.

P.S. I used an image of President Obama in this review to illustrate a feature of Magnifying Glass Pro. The image implies no political affiliation nor is it politically motivated in anyway; I am not for nor am I against President Obama. I used Obama’s picture because I figured that is the only image I could use with no chance of facing a lawsuit claiming misappropriation.

{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Users can setup the magnifier to work in many different ways for different scenarios.
  • Works with hotkeys.
  • Users can take screenshots of what you magnify.
  • Interesting “mouse shaking” feature.
  • Useful “auto profile switcher” that can automatically change the magnifier to a different profile when a certain program is running.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • No option to hide mouse cursor while using magnifier.
  • “Auto profile switcher” needs minor tweaking to be more consistent.
  • Turns off Windows Vista/Win7 Aero.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”9″}Because of how many features it has, a user may get overwhelmed when using all the program but overall very easy to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”9″}Responsive and not too heavy on computer resources – works extremely well. There are two aspects that could use improvement, though: The ability to hide the mouse cursor while using the magnifier and become compatible with Vista and Win7 Aero.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”6″}Although most everyone will not need a magnifying glass tool, the amount of features this program has, it may appeal to a little more than just the visually impaired.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”7″}Considering all the advantages Magnifying Glass Pro gives over other magnifying tools – such as Windows’ built in magnifiers – $24.95 is not a bad price to ask for this product. Still, I feel $19.95 would be more attractive.
{/for}
{for=”Final Score” value=”8″}
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tupr]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Magnifying Glass Pro is a software that allows you to zoom in and magnify content on your computer screen. Before I started to review this software, I thought “great another crapware software – a magnifying tool already comes with Windows”. However after I spent time using this software, I must admit I am impressed with the amount of features it has and how smooth the user experience is.

MGP (Magnifying Glass Pro) runs out of your system tray. When you run it, an icon is place there and whenever you want to activate/deactivate the magnifying glass you simply left click on the system tray icon (or you may press Ctrl + G if you want to use hotkey). By default the magnifiying glass is set to appear under your mouse cursor and act as a “float box”. In other words the magnifying glass box will move as you move your mouse towards the edges of the box instead of the mouse being frozen in the middle:

2009-08-31_233741

The magnified box sort of “floats” as you move your mouse around hence the name “float box”. This “float” ability is useful if you like to use the magnifier to help you read text (i.e. the mouse will not be smack dab in the middle of the text while you try to read). However if you find this to be annoying, do not worry; MGP gives you great customization abilities and you can change how your magnifying box and mouse behave easily.

If you right click on the system tray icon and select “Options main dialog…” you can start customizing MGP to your liking:

2009-08-31_234000

Just select “Glass Profiles” and make the desired changes you want:

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These are the “basic” options you have:

Transparency (Win2000/XP): This option applies to Windows XP and Windows 2000 only. It is used to increase or decrease the visibility of the Glass over the area of your screen being magnified.

Zoom factor: The Zoom factor setting enables you to control the amount of magnification provided by the Glass. Select a value from the drop-down list or select Enter any to type a value. The Zoom values 0.7 through 1 actually reduce (de-magnify) the view provided by the Glass. Zoom values great than 1 increase (magnify) the view provided by the Glass.

Update Glass Interval: This setting determines the frequency (in seconds) at which the area magnified by the Glass is updated (refresh rate) as the Glass follows the cursor. The more often the view is refreshed (e.g. 0.01), the clearer and more immediate the magnified image will be. However, frequent updating requires the use of additional system resources and must be used cautiously. At a slower update rate, the magnified image may actually “twitch” as the Glass lags behind the cursor. The goal is to find a setting that provides the best image you can get based on your system resources and other CPU-intensive settings.

Caret watch: When this setting is enabled, the Glass follows both the mouse cursor and the text cursor (caret). Otherwise, the Glass follows only the mouse cursor.

Anti Aliased (CPU max): When anti-aliasing is enabled (this check box is selected), the edges of objects in the magnified area under the Glass are slightly smoothed. This setting can be used to remove the jagged edges that result from some zoom modes.

Show magnified Cursor: When this setting is enabled, the mouse or text cursor is magnified the same as other objects/text in the area magnified by the Glass. A magnified cursor may, in fact, obstruct the view of other objects, however, in which case, you can disable this setting.

When the “Show magnified cursor” option is enabled, screen edges are more fully and conveniently displayed on the Glass, especially when the cursor is placed near those edges.

Size (pixels): The size of the Glass determines the area of the screen that is magnified at any one time. The size is specified in pixels.

Frame: A visible frame distinguishes the area of the screen that is magnified by the Glass. You can choose the color of that frame as well as the width of the lines that make up that frame. To limit the visibility of the frame (not recommended because it’s easy, then, to “lose” the Glass), set the color close to or same as your desktop or application background color.

Glass Preview: As you determine the best Glass settings for your system, it is useful to enable the Glass Preview to instantly view the effect of each change. You can easily toggle the preview on and off as needed. Otherwise, the Glass is not visible while working in the MG Pro options.

“Basic” options descriptions courtesy the developer.

2009-08-31_234311

“Advanced” options basically deal with how the magnifying glass is positioned while you use it. From the “Glass Position” drop down menu you can change how the magnified area is displayed to you:

  • Under the mouse cursor. When this setting is enabled, the Glass (magnified area) is centered directly over the cursor. This is the mode most users prefer, since the eye naturally follows the cursor movement. This mode will work on Vista but it will disable Aero. “Use Float Zone” is an option that allows you to, if enabled, make the Glass “float” following your mouse movement. If disabled, you mouse will be centered in the middle of the glass.
  • Corner tracker. When this setting is enabled, the cursor is positioned at one of the corners of the Glass (magnified area) and the Glass follows the cursor. As the cursor moves near the edge of the screen, the Glass position changes, relative to the cursor, to accommodate the screen location. You can control the spacing between the cursor and the Glass by adjusting the Offset from cursor (pixels) setting. The default is 30 pixels.

  • Fixed elusive. In this mode, the Glass remains in a fixed position on your screen unless the cursor moves into the magnified area, in which case, the Glass moves to a new fixed position automatically. This Glass Position is especially useful when typing in a word processor or other text-based application because you can focus on the magnified area as you type without affecting existing text. 

  • Fixed position. In this mode, the Glass remains in a fixed position on your screen. It does not move “out of the way” as the cursor passes into the magnified area, as happens with the Fixed elusive position (see above). Mouse clicks pass through Glass check box setting works on Vista but is kind of quirky.
  • Full screen. In this mode, the Glass is full screen.

“Advanced” options descriptions courtesy the developer.

2009-08-31_235817

From the “effects” tab you can add multiple different cool effects to your Glass/magnified area (flip horizontal, flip vertical, gray scale, rotate 90 degrees, rotate [smooth], noise, negative, brightness/saturation/contrast, “web designer”). As you see in my above screenshot if you are not really sure what the effect does, just hold your mouse over it and an example will be shown to you. You can add as many effects as you want.

Take note that you can have multiple “Glass Profiles”. By default “(default)” is selected and enabled but you are more than welcome to create your own or use the many other predefined profiles that come with the software:

2009-08-31_235705

Text Caret profile:

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Graph Editor profile:

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Half-Screen profile:

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Classical Photographer:

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Note that classical photographer covers your whole screen with the magnifying glass area (although it doesn’t magnify anything but rather just applies an effect).

High Contrast Vision:

2009-09-01_004853

2009-09-01_004916

Full Screen Glass:

2009-09-01_005009

Web and Art Designer:

2009-09-01_005120

One interesting feature of this program is the “Auto-Switcher”:

2009-09-01_000338

2009-09-01_000343

What this auto-switcher feature basically does is it detects what program/window is located under your mouse cursor and changes the “glass profile” accordingly. For example if I was to open up Windows Calculator and place my mouse and magnified glass over it the magnified glass profile would change to “Graph Editor” profile and then when I move my mouse/magnified glass away it would change back to default or whatever profile I had. This is really cool if you want to make use of the profiles feature (you can add and remove the auto-switcher “targets” as you please). However I would like to point out for some reason auto-switcher does not work with Notepad. Sometimes it detects Notepad when I have it open but it does not switch glass profiles to anything; rather it just closes my magnifying glass. Other times it does not detect Notepad at all. *Shrug* not sure what is up.

Another interesting feature MGP has is the “mouse shaking”:

2009-09-01_000929

When you have MGP on (note you need not have to be using the magnifying glass; MGP just needs to be on like sitting in your system tray) and you shake your mouse vertically or horizontally you can either turn command mode on/off or enable/disable the magnifying glass (depending on your settings). This mouse shaking does need a bit getting used to so play around with the intensities.

Yet another interesting feature MGP has is the ability to take screenshots of whatever is under the magnifying glass:

2009-09-01_001251

Take note that this screenshot feature works just like if you were to press Print Screen on your keyboard in a normal situation. In other words, the screenshot is not saved after you take the screenshot; rather it is copied to your clipboard and it is up to you to save it (open up Paint and paste in there for the most simple solution).

Again similar to Print Screen, you take screenshots via hotkey (Shift + Ctrl + C by default). You may change the hotkey to practically anything you like:

2009-09-01_001325

While on the topic of hotkeys, I would like to point out MGP works with hotkeys; almost any feature is accessible via hotkey:

2009-09-01_001507

Like with “Copy image to clipboard”, you can change any hotkey to practically anything (mouse, keyboard, combination of both).

One big thing to remember is before you exit the options menu, be sure to click “Save” from the top or else any of the changes you made will not be saved.

The last thing I would like to point out about MGP is if you right click on the system tray icon you can do some quick settings changes from there instead of having to open the main options menu:

2009-09-01_001733

Actually I lied. The real last thing I want to point out is the “Command Mode”. “Command Mode” allows you to quickly change the settings of the current glass profile you are using:

Animated GIF courtesy of the developer

Okay overall, as I already said, while I initially thought this program would be horrible, the abundance of features and customization earn this program two thumbs up. Excellent magnifying glass program! However, there are two features I would like to see added to MGP:

  • I find it annoying MGP has no ability to hide the mouse cursor while using the magnifying glass. I find that when reading or looking at images the mouse cursor tends to get in the way. I would like to have the ability to hide the mouse cursor and unhide it at will. Note that some of the profiles, such as “Half screen”, do not include the mouse cursor in the magnifying glass area. However I am looking for this option to be added to the program so all profiles can have the ability to hide the mouse cursor. (I mainly want it for the “Under cursor” glass position.)
  • Currently MGP disables Vista/Win7 Aero while the magnifying class is being used. I find this to be annoying… very annoying. Now, in defense of MGP, other magnifying glass programs also do this; however there are magnifying glass programs that work just fine with Aero also (such as Windows 7’s built in magnifier). So, it is not an impossible task to make MGP Aero-compatible.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}Yes, Windows has built-in magnifying glass tools; however, with the exception of Windows 7, these magnifying glass tools are more cumbersome than useful. Even the Windows 7 magnifying glass does not compare in functionality, features, and customizability of Magnifying Glass Pro. I give Magnifying Glass Pro two thumbs up and highly recommend it to people who need or want this type of software.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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42 comments

  1. Random Thoughts

    @Jean-Luc Picard:
    Fubar, our most enthusiastic fan of dotTech, also mentioned in his GOTD critique today that the Microsoft mouse comes with a magnifier. As anyone who has used one knows, it does have an extremely irritating habit in Vista of switching Aero off and on again before taking effect. This can last 5 to 7 seconds, which, while staring at a blank flickering monitor, seems like a lifetime.
    It should be noted that the cursor stays firmly planted in the middle of the magnified field as well.
    There are many things to like about that mouse, but those are two that try one’s patience. Much like reading Fubar.

  2. RobCr

    @Dr Nitin:
    Are you referring to the LiveZoom feature only available in Vista onwards ?
    Could you elaborate ?
     
    I have downloaded and tried it.
    It is extremely irritating (chaotic).
    Try comparing it to Magnifying Pro, in full screen mode (no border), and using the Ctrl + Win key shortcut to show/hide it.
    Have you tried it ?

  3. RobCr

    @janet:
    Yes.
    To prove it, I just closed mine, and started it manually ok.
    If you make a shortcut to –
    “C:\Program Files\MagniGlassPro\MagniGlassPro.exe”
    that will do what you want. (I am using XP, so your shortcut may differ slightly)
    There is an option in the program that you can set, to tell it not to start with windows.
    HOWEVER, I recommend that you keep it running all the time, as it uses zero CPU.
    And it just has an icon in the Sys Tray, which you hardly notice.
    Have you tried my shortcut for showing/hiding it –
    Ctrl + Windows key.
     
    PS Ashraf,
    I just noticed there is an option under Misc, to hide the mouse cursor

  4. RobCr

    @Dr Nitin:
    If my memory is correct, Zoomit takes a snapshot of your screen, which it then shows it to you magnified.
    The good news is – you can write onto it.
    The bad news is – you are no longer viewing your live screen, you are viewing a historic picture taken when you ‘fired’ Zoomit.

  5. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Mr. Lee: I am almost 100% sure the reason why you are having problems is because you are on FF 2. May I ask why you do not want to upgrade?

    @sunny: I am looking into changing LightBoxes because I have myself noticed some problems with the current one I am using. Stay tuned.

  6. sunny

    Hey Ashraf,

    Followup on Javascript problem –

    I think the white misting part may only be visible on my pc, as I’ve set preferences to give me pages with a grey background to help minimise glare and sore eyes.

    On the normal white background the ‘white-misting’ effect probably wouldn’t be visible.

    However the images still don’t work.

    Tried in Google Chrome which is setup normally and seems not to accept any global user-changes. So, your pages show up with their white background. When I click on a screenshot the page goes very dark all over while it loads the larger image. Then the screenshot appears. Afterwards the page reverts to white again.

  7. Rob

    @Leland:
    I notice OneLoupe requires no install, so I will check it out, out of curiosity.
    Did you get Magnifying Glass Pro ?
    Have you tried it full screen ?
    And set the keyboard shortcut to Ctrl Win
    So it is there, then it is gone, in the blink of an eye.

    Without using ZoomFox, have you tried this –
    Center click the image (or link).
    It opens in a new Tab.
    Use Ctrl + or – to adjust the zoom.
    That is what I do all the time.
    Would ZoomFox provide any advantages over what I do ?

  8. Leland

    I just came across a program called OneLoupe for zooming that supports all versions of windows (98 through 7). You can find it at http://www.softwareok.com/?seite=Microsoft/OneLoupe

    Also for zooming images in Firefox you will find ZoomFox superior to Image Zoom; at least in my use it has been. It opens the image in a new tab to zoom on to your hearts content. To comment on Ozzie said about Image Zoom making images look blurred; that is most likely because of low resolution and nothing can fix a low resolution image unless it is CPU intensive and interpolates the image to try to create resolution which most people would not want as it would likely bog down your computer.

    Thanks Asraf as always for an excellent review.

  9. Rob

    @Mr. Lee:
    If you prefer not to upgrade, how about a chance to see what the latest version is like, without upgrading FF ?

    CometBird is virtually a clone of FF, but is slightly trimmer.
    I believe you could install that, without impacting your old FF.

    I suspect that you will become a convert to the latest version of CometBird (and/or FF)

  10. Mr. Lee

    @Ashraf:

    Hello Ashraf,

    I’m using Firefox version 2.0.0.20. Prefer not to upgrade. This is the first time I’ve had any issue with this older version of FF. Assuming that it may be related. I checked – JavaScript is not disabled. Perhaps I need a more current version of JavaScript. Do you know how to check for the latest version?

    Mr. Lee

  11. sunny

    Hi again. Ashraf, I’m using IE 7.
    I tested it on another site and it worked fine.

    Then I tried this page in Firefox, and when I clicked on a screenshot it kind of flicked to an isolated image and the cursor showed a + or – sign for enlargement/reduction. I couldn’t see anything else on the page while viewing the image. To get back to your page I had to use the top arrow-back button.

    Not sure if this is how it works for you in FF with Javascript switched on.

    The IE 7 with its white-out has still got me beat.

  12. Rob

    @Tortuga:
    I have ff 3.5
    In the Tools/Options Dialog
    In the Content Tab, there are checkboxes for Javascript and Java.
    I have them ticked.
    I also have the NoScript extension (add-in), which blocks scripts from running on any new web site I go to.
    If I trust the site I click the Options button (bottom right), that NoScript shows.
    You can click the appropriate choice from the popup menu.
    HOWEVER I just press the ‘a’ key on the keyboard, to save me navigating and clicking.

  13. sunny

    That’s very weird Ashraf. When I click on any of your screenshots your whole page gets a white mist over it and becomes virtually unreadable. Nothing at all happens to the screenshot except the white misting also. However when I clicked the link to your .jpg example at:

    http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/2009-09-01_045351.jpg

    the javascript seemed to work with that and the image got larger when I clicked on it and there was no white-misting at all. Everything remained clear.

    Very very weird wouldn’t you say?
    BTW, I’m using XP Pro.
    I must try it on another website and see if it works ok there.

  14. Mags

    Thx for your review.

    I’ve been working on and off on an idea to possibly start up a non-profit business of teaching seniors to use computers.

    This is one item I’ve been looking for. I’ve also found that Windows Magnifier is really not that great for their needs. This I think would be close to perfect and will give it a try.

  15. Rob

    @Tortuga:
    You correctly picked up Mr Lee’s problem, whereas I did not.
    I did not realize that he was talking about clicking links.
    I agree with your solution, which I do all the time.
    I just click the wheel (push down on it, not a scroll), which opens the link in a new tab.

  16. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Everyone: You are all welcome =).

    @Rob: Windows does have magnifying glass tools. Look under Start Menu and Accessories or something. However I don’t think you can use hotkeys with the built in ones.

    @Mr. Lee: Do you have JavaScript disabled? I ask because I have it setup so whenever you click on an image the full image should open in a JavaScript “LightBox” right on top of the post; you simply just click out of the “LightBox” to return back to the main post and pick up right where you left off. In other words the image should never load on a page by yourself and you should never have to click “Back” to get back to the main post. Here this an example: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/2009-09-01_045351.jpg

    @Tortuga: Judging by your response I am assuming you also have JavaScript disabled. If so many dotTechies have JS disabled (why oh why do you guys disable such an awesome tool!) I may have to look into an alternative solution because I agree with you… having to load each image one at a time then clicking back is annoying!

  17. Tortuga

    Hello Mr.Lee :D

    I would agree w you, it is a bit annoying.
    But what I do is open all Ashraf’s pics/screenshots on new tabs one after the other in the beginning. This way I can read the text and reference the screenshot on the other tab, without the constant back & forth on the same tab. Try it, it’s much easier this way :)
    ****************
    Rob :D

    Great tip about that picPick soft.
    Thank You! I’ll try it

    ****************
    Hey Ash :D

    Thank You again for the info, review, how to.
    These guides are *indeed* greatly appreciated!
    I often reference back to them when I need to use the softs! I would be lost without them.

    Peace

  18. Rob

    @Mr. Lee:

    How are you doing your screen shot ?
    I don’t have that problem.
    I use picPick, and it just pops up with the captured image in a new Tab (within picPick).
    I then minimize picPick, and I am back where I was.
    (picPick is fabulous, and is free)

  19. Mr. Lee

    Hello Ashraf,

    As usual, another informative, thorough review. Very helpful. There is one thing I’m wondering if you can “fix” in your reviews. When one clicks on a screen shot and then clicks back to the review page, it always goes to the top. This is somewhat annoying, because then you have to scroll down and find your place again. After about the third time, it becomes very annoying! Is there any way for you set it up, so it will return to the same place in the body of text where you clicked on the screen shot? It seems like a small thing, but it really would be helpful . — Mr. Lee

  20. Rob

    Hi Ashraf,
    I have posted this on the GOTD web page.
    Your readers may be interested as well –

    Windows should have had this.
    (Instead of offering unclean options like changing text size, AGH!)
    I have mine set to full screen.
    I use Ctrl + Windows key
    So if I need magnification, I just press Ctrl Win, and then do the same to hide it.
    Trust me, grab this program.

  21. Ozzie

    Yes, this could be useful. I have Image Zoom as a Firefox add-on, but the problem is that when it expands something, it is all blurred, which isn’t very helpful when trying to hone in on the finer details. So this might indeed be worth downloading.

    Oh, and I concur with MikeR’s sentiments … still don’t know how you manage it all.

  22. MikeR

    Blimey, Ashraf: how’d you manage to carry out all this work so brilliantly and so fast?

    It’s not as if these are mere reviews, either — more like Complete User Guides.

    Anyway. Thanks for the heads-up on this one and the comprehensive analysis / tutorial: much appreciated.