Set Office 2004 zoom levels via mouse

Recently, I shared a tip about using OS X 10.4.8’s control-scroll zoom feature, which lets you quickly change the system-wide zoom (magnification) level on your display. It’s quite handy, especially when you want to see smaller items on the screen.

But sometimes, you just want to change the zoom level within an application. Many applications have a Zoom menu option somewhere to control just that—increase the zoom level, and everything on the screen gets larger, making it easier to see small text, or manipulate tiny objects.

Microsoft’s Office 2004 suite is no exception—Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (but not Entourage) all feature a View -> Zoom menu item. But using it is a bit time consuming. First you choose the menu, then you pick a pre-set zoom level, or enter your own value, and then click OK. You can also put a button on the toolbar which does something similar. Still, it’s hardly a fast and fluid operation.

Enter the mouse. In all three of the above applications, if you hold down Command and Control and then move the scroll wheel on your mouse (or drag your fingers on a scrolling-enabled trackpad), you can rapidly increase or decrease the zoom level. Move the wheel up, and you’ll zoom in; move it down, and you’ll zoom out. The amount the zoom changes with each tick of the scroll wheel varies between the applications. Word seems to go in 10-percent steps; Excel uses 15-percent increments; and PowerPoint steps through the fixed zoom levels (including ‘fit,’ which means I had a stop at 152 percent) in its Zoom menu. Excel and PowerPoint are also limited to 400-percent maximum zoom, while Word will go up to 500 percent.

Although I prefer the keyboard for many tasks, there’s no doubt that using the keyboard and a scroll wheel mouse is the quickest and easiest way to set a zoom level in the various Office 2004 applications.

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