vision/magnifying glass.gifEvery now and then an interesting little program comes to my attention. Such was the case when one of my readers sent an e-mail with an attachment called "oldpeople.exe." This attachment turned out to be a great little magnifying glass for your computer screen.

A little investigation led me to the real program and the story behind it. The program, which had been curiously renamed, is actually called the Virtual Magnifying Glass for Windows. In January 1999, a fellow named Harri Pyy created it when he was a computer engineering student. To improve his chances of getting a job at a software company, he sent it attached to his resumes to show his computer proficiency. The little magnifier fulfilled its purpose, and he got a substantial, well-paying job as a software designer. Since Harri hadn't created the program to make money, he decided to allow it to be distributed as freeware, meaning you can use and distribute the program without paying any fees. In January 2000 he made some fixes and released the latest version (1.50f).

You can download the magnifier at  The download will give you a choice of a larger file called mg150f.exe and a smaller zip file. The larger file is the one you should choose, since it includes the full installation, help files, and an uninstaller. At 406 Kb, it is still a small file and a quick and easy download.

Magnifying Glass is a very small program that will, when activated, put a magnifying glass on your screen. The magnifying glass is wooden-handled, round, and silver-rimmed, much like you probably played with as a kid. You can use the mouse to move the magnifying glass across the text or icons or other information on your computer screen. Click on the magnifying glass and it will disappear from the screen and appear as a small icon in the system tray (the area on the right side of the task bar, opposite the Start button.) You can activate the magnifier at any time by clicking on its icon in the system tray. Right clicking on the magnifier in the system tray will allow you to set the magnification level. The magnifier enlarges items from two to sixteen times. A help menu including instructions is available, although I found the magnifier so easy to use that the instructions were unnecessary. You can also elect to start the magnifier every time you turn on the computer.

The beauty of this little program is that it uses a familiar object in an inventive and useful way. Even when the text on the screen is large enough, there are times when icons and other objects could use a little amplification, even for those of us who don't consider ourselves to be one of the really "old people" yet. Anyone who has a slight vision problem should also investigate this Magnifying Glass - a useful little program. Thanks, Harri!