How To: 7 Ways to Quickly Open the Hidden Magnifying Glass Feature on Your iPhone

7 Ways to Quickly Open the Hidden Magnifying Glass Feature on Your iPhone

The iPhone has included a real-world magnifying glass called "Magnifier" since iOS 10, but it remained relatively obscure until iOS 14 when it received significant upgrades such as a new interface, hideable controls, a customizable toolbar, improved filters management, multi-image shooting, and people detection. But one of the best things about the update is that it can simply be opened more easily.

The accessibility feature comes in handy for people with vision issues who need to zoom in on everyday items to see them better. Even if you don't have any vision problems, Magnifier is useful for seeing things from far away. For example, viewing the hours of a business from the parking lot without ever leaving your car or looking at the fine print on a tiny paper document or menu.

In the past, you could only open the Magnifier tool using the Accessibility Shortcut, where you would just triple-click the Home or Side button to access it, or using the optional Control Center toggle. Those ways still exist and are handy for sure, but since iOS 14, we've found at least four more options for opening Magnifier, many of which can be more convenient.

Enable Magnifier Before You Start

Before you use most of the options below, you must first turn the Magnifier feature on. To do so, go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Magnifier, then toggle the switch on.

I say most because half of the options below do not require Magnifier to be activated first. The switch is primarily to make it work with the Accessibility Shortcut (Option 1) and to unlock its app icon (Option 3), the latter of which is also needed to gain Siri support (Option 5). Control Center (Option 2), Back Tap (Option 4), Shortcuts (Option 6), and Voice Control (Option 7) do not need the switch toggled on first.

Option 1: Triple-Click the Home or Side Button

The traditional way to open Magnifier is to triple-click the Home or Side button on your iPhone. If you don't have any other Accessibility features turned on, triple-clicking Home or Side will open Magnifier automatically, as long as it's enabled.

If this isn't the case, go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Accessibility Shortcut, and choose "Magnifier." Note that Magnifier does need to be enabled first, as seen above, for this option to work.

Option 2: Use the Control Center Toggle

Another way to quickly access Magnifier, which has been around since iOS 11, is to use its optional control in the Control Center. This method does not require that Magnifier be enabled beforehand.

To add the control, go to Settings –> Control Center. Next, scroll down and tap the green plus (+) button next to Magnifier to move it to your list of Included Controls. If you want to move the Magnifier control's location in Control Center, press down on it and drag it to its new spot.

Now, swipe down from the top right of your iPhone (on Face ID models), or swipe up from the bottom of the screen (on Touch ID models), to bring up the Control Center. Then, tap on the Magnifier control, which has a magnifying glass icon.

Option 3: Use the Hidden App Icon

If you're running iOS 14 or later, a hidden app icon for Magnifier will reveal itself on your home screen after turning the feature on in Settings, so make sure the accessibility tool is enabled. To open Magnifier, just tap its app icon.

If you don't see the Magnifier app icon anywhere on your home screen, you can find it in your App Library instead. Then, if you want faster access to it, you can add it to your home screen. Swipe left on your home screen until you reach the App Library, find Magnifier in the library, then press down on it and drag it to your home screen.

Option 4: Tap the Back of Your iPhone

Back Tap, which allows you to run multiple actions by tapping on the back of your iPhone, can be used to open and use Magnifier. It does not require that Magnifier be turned on beforehand.

To use Back Tap, go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Touch –> Back Tap. Next, choose one of the tapping options (for two or three taps) and select "Magnifier," which will appear under Accessibility.

Any time you double or triple tap on the Apple logo on the rear of your iPhone, the shortcut will run and launch Magnifier. If the feature is disabled in the Accessibility settings, it will stop Back Tap from working with Magnifier until you enable it again.

Option 5: Ask Siri

As long as Magnifier is enabled, you can easily ask Siri to launch the accessibility feature. This is because Siri will only recognize the tool as an app if it's available on the home screen or App Library, as weird as that sounds. That's also why you won't be able to get Siri to work with Magnifier in iOS 13 and earlier.

With it activated, all you need to say is "Open Magnifier," and Siri will open Magnifier; Again, if the Magnifier feature is not toggled on, Siri will mention that it cannot open it. If it is enabled, and you're running iOS 14 or later, but Siri still won't open Magnifier (it's a little buggy), you can try Option 6 below as a backup.

Option 6: Run a Shortcut

Lastly, you could build a shortcut that opens the Magnifier tool using many of the options above, but it also gives you more ways to open the app. Like Control Center and Back Tap, this option does not require Magnifier to be toggled on first in Settings.

To build the shortcut, open Shortcuts, tap "My Shortcuts" if not there already, then hit the plus (+) button to start a draft. Tap "Add Action" or the search bar at the bottom, then search for and tap the "Open App" action. In your workflow, tap "Choose" in the Scripting box, then find and select "Magnifier." That's the only action we need, believe it or not.

Hit "Next," then name it whatever you want. If you're having issues with Siri, you could name it "Magnifier" so that Siri tries to open it instead of the app directly. You can call it something else, of course. Tap "Done" to save it.

If you don't want to build the shortcut yourself, you can install it via the link below. After opening the shortcut link, you'll either be redirected to Shortcuts, or you'll have to tap on "Get Shortcut" to open Shortcuts. In the Shortcuts app, tap on "Add Untrusted Shortcut" from the preview. (If it doesn't work, go to Settings –> Shortcuts, and make sure "Allow Untrusted Shortcuts" is enabled.)

You can then run the shortcut in several different ways, some of them previously mentioned, without having Magnifier enabled; you can run it directly from Shortcuts, from your home screen, using Back Tap, with Siri, etc. Below, I'm running the shortcut from a widget on my home screen.

To run it from a widget, you'll need to add the Open Magnifier shortcut to a shortcut list, add the list to a widget, and then add the widget to your home screen or Today View. Check out our guide on recreating the Favorites widget in iOS 14 and later to get an idea of how it's done.

Then, simply tap on the Open Magnifier widget, and it will run the feature.

Option 7: Use Voice Control

I wouldn't recommend using Voice Control unless you already use it during your workflow, but it's definitely a viable option either way. Magnifier does not need to be enabled first either. To turn on Voice Control:

  • Go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Voice Control, then toggle the "Voice Control" switch on.
  • Ask Siri to "Turn on Voice Control."
  • Set up an Accessibility Shortcut. Go to Settings –> Accessibility –> Accessibility Shortcut, then check "Voice Control." Then, any time you triple-click the Side or Home button, it will turn Voice Control on/off. If you have more than just Voice Control assigned to the shortcut, you'll have to select it from the menu after triple-clicking.

With Voice Control on, all you have to say is "Open Magnifier." You won't run into any issues here as you would with Siri occasionally, which is a bonus.

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Cover photo, screenshots, and GIFs by Nelson Aguilar/Gadget Hacks

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