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There are some Gems that have functionality so specific that I only rarely use them, yet are so useful that I keep them around. A good example is Eddie Hillenbrand’s free LargeType 1.0 (   ). All LargeType does is enlarge selected text on the screen so that it’s viewable from a distance. Nothing more, nothing less.

Why would you need such a feature? I find myself using it when I need to dial a phone number I found on the Web or in an email message without dragging my laptop over to the phone. It’s also a big help when I’m working on my PowerBook and I need to enter a password for a Web site or email account, or a registration number for software, and that data happens to be stored on my desktop Mac—I “project” it on the desktop Mac’s screen so I can view it from my laptop across the office.

LargeType is a Mac OS X Service, meaning its functionality is provided via the Services submenu of the Application menu. To view some text in large type, highlight it in any Services-aware application and then choose Application Name -> Services -> LargeType; the text will be displayed in a translucent overview:

LargeType display

I’ve actually used OS X’s Keyboard & Mouse preference pane to assign the keyboard combination Control+Option+Command+L to LargeType. Now, whenever I want to “blow up” some text, I simply highlight that text and then press the keyboard shortcut.

(Note that unlike most Services, which are generally plugins that you install in ~/Library/Services or /Library/Services, LargeType is provided as an application, though not one that you launch—you just drop it in your Applications folder, log out, and then log back in, and LargeType’s Service will be available.)

Although LargeType is intentionally limited in its functionality, there are a few improvements I’d like to see. For one, I wish LargeType worked system-wide, not just in Services-aware applications. (At the same time, I encourage you to email the developers of applications that aren’t Services-aware and request this very useful feature.) I’d also like it if LargeType would wrap larger blocks of text; in its current version, highlighted text is enlarged so that the longest unbroken line fits in a single line across the screen—which could mean that its not enlarged at all! (To be fair, LargeType was designed to enlarge short bits of text, not paragraphs or entire documents.) Finally, relating to this, it would be cool if longer blocks of text could be automatically scrolled on the screen.

Those wishes aside, LargeType is still quite handy. I don’t use it that often, but when I do need its functionality, I like the fact that it’s right there waiting.

LargeType is compatible with Mac OS X 10.2 and later.

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