This story originally ran in September 2013 with the launch of iOS 7. Now that iOS 7.1 is out, we’ve updated it with some of the new accessibility changes available.
iOS 7 has many snazzy effects and cool new animations, but it’s not for everyone: Some users have reported feeling dizzy from the operating system’s motion effects, while others (my father included) are having issues reading the system’s default text. But you don’t have to deal with feeling ill every time you look at your iPhone—there’s another way. Here’s how to de-animate and re-boldify iOS 7.
Reduce motion in iOS 7
If transitioning from apps to the multitasking screen on iOS 7 has you feeling seasick, don’t panic: There’s no need to throw your iPhone overboard. You can disable this animation and iOS 7’s other more drastic shifts by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.
Reduce Motion quiets iOS 7’s whooshing transitions into static cross-dissolves, disables dynamic wallpaper and other parallax motion, turns off the moving Weather backgrounds, and reduces Messages’s bouncing effect.
If you like most of the aforementioned motion, but just want to axe parallax wallpaper, there’s a setting for that, too: Make sure Reduce Motion is off, then go to Wallpapers & Brightness and tap on your current wallpaper. A new button appears above the Cancel and Set buttons: Perspective Zoom. Turn it off, and your wallpaper should once again be as still as it was in iOS 6.
Make the text larger and bolder
Having trouble reading text in your apps? There are two solutions hidden away in Settings > General > Accessibility. The first, Larger Type, hooks into iOS 7’s Text Kit framework and lets you set a predefined text size for apps to use; you can make that text even bigger by flipping the Larger Accessibility Sizes toggle. Currently, this switch only works for apps that support it—this includes any built-in app on your device, but your third-party programs may not yet have implemented this feature.
If it’s not large text you seek but thicker text, iOS offers a Bold Text option within the Accessibility screen. Enabling it does require rebooting your iOS device, but after you do so, your device’s default font is bolder all around.
Increase Control Center and Notification Center’s contrast, darken colors, and reduce whiteness
Thanks to iOS 7’s new layered view, the Siri, Control Center, and Notification Center features appear to float above your current home screen or app when you open them. Sometimes, however, that contrast is a little rough, making it hard to see what’s on that top view.
To make it a little easier to see, check out the Increase Contrast menu, found under Settings > General > Accessibility. You can enable the Reduce Transparency switch to remove the subtler blur in favor of a straight transparency gradient.
There are two other switches under Increase Contrast: Darken Colors and Reduce White Point. The first darkens all of the color highlights found in iOS 7 and system apps; menus, colored icons, and such all appear a shade darker when this switch is enabled.
Reduce White Point adds a slight grey tint to any pure white screen, potentially making it less glaring for users who have brightness hiked all the way up.
Make sure a switch is on or off
While it may not necessarily be necessarily nausea- or migraine-inducing, if you have trouble with color, the On/Off Labels switch in Settings > General > Accessibility enables shapes under iOS 7’s white-and-green switches so that you can tell when one is enabled or disabled. (The circle indicates a switch is disabled, while the vertical line indicates it’s enabled.)
Buttons for everyone!
Is the buttonless interface of iOS 7 driving you crazy? You can add button shapes to just about any text-based button in the system interface and native apps by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Button Shapes and enabling the toggle.
Warning: Based on an informal poll of Macworld staffers, these buttons may not necessarily improve the look of iOS 7. Your mileage may vary.