How do you increase system font size in macOS?

Make text more readable on the Apple Mac screen

Some people have found that the font size on their Apple Mac is uncomfortably small. Let’s see how to increase font size in Big Sur, Monterey and other versions of macOS. It’s an easy tweak.

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No matter which version of macOS is on your Apple Mac, some people just do not like the default font size because it is too small and system text like the menu bar and other items are hard to read. People want to know how to increase the system font size to make text more readable.

This seems to be more of a problem with certain versions of macOS and people ask ‘How do I increase Big Sur system font size.’ Perhaps there was a change in default settings or a change of system font or size. Something is different and it made text hard to read for some people.

The size of the screen and the resolution it uses is a factor, as is your eyesight. Some people can work comfortably with very small fonts, but others can’t. Let’s take a look at the options.

Increase font size in Finder

If the text in Finder windows is too small and hard to read, it is easily enlarged. Open a Finder window and click View > Show View Options. A window opens and the contents vary depending on the current Finder view, such as icons or text listing. No matter what the view, there is a Text size setting and clicking the current value shows a list of alternative sizes, some smaller, some larger than the current size.

Finder view options in macOS on the Apple Mac
Finder options for text size

Select a larger for size for the file listing. Down at the bottom of this window is a button to use the current view settings as the default for all windows. Click it to save you having to change every folder you visit.

That is not the only place that text appears in Finder and the sidebar lists system folders and locations, and you may have added a few favorite folders of your own. Is this sidebar text too small?

macOS Finder sidebar settings in System Preferences
Sidebar icon size also sets sidebar text size

Open System Preferences and click General. Just below the appearance and color settings is Sidebar icon size. Clicking it enables Small, Medium or Large to be selected. This not only changes the size of icons in Finder’s sidebar, it changes the text size too. Choose Large to increase the size of the sidebar text.

Increase the menu bar size

If the menu bar is too small to read, increase its size. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and on the Display tab on the right is Menu bar size. Click it and choose from Default or Large.

macOS menu bar size setting in System Preferences on the Apple Mac
Choose the size of the menu bar in macOS

It depends on your Mac whether there is a noticeable change in menu bar text size, so try it and see. Don’t worry if it does not do anything because there are more ways to change the text size.

While you are here in the Accessibility settings, select the Cursor tab and there is a slider to change the size of the mouse cursor.

Mouse cursor size in System Preferences on the Apple Mac
Set the size of the mouse cursor

If you are having trouble reading small text, you may also be having problems with a small mouth pointer. Drag the slider to the right to make it bigger.

Set the screen resolution

Changing the screen resolution is the best way to make text more readable because it increases the size of text everywhere and in every app. Although text is made bigger, which is great if you are struggling to read small text, it also makes it slightly fuzzy. It depends on the screen and for some screens it will be so slight as to not be noticeable.

Open System Preferences > Displays and what you see depends on the Mac. In the last 10 years there have been MacBooks with screens that were just 1280 x 800 pixels to iMacs with screens of 5120 x 2880 pixels. What you see in Displays depends on the Mac, but all have ways of adjusting the screen resolution. Here is a pre-retina display MacBook Air.

Set the screen resolution in System Preferences on the Apple Mac
The appearance of Displays in System Preferences varies

Choose the Scaled option and there are options to choose different resolutions. Switch back to Default for display and then hold down the Option key when clicking Scaled. Even more screen resolutions are displayed.

Set the screen resolution in System Preferences on the Apple Mac
Option+click Scaled to see more screen resolutions

The maximum resolution is the sharpest, but it also has the smallest text. Selecting a lower resolution increases the size of the text. Try each one and see which one is the most comfortable. You may find that alternative resolutions look a bit fuzzy at first, but improve after a few minutes, so try it for a while.

Display options in System Preferences on the Apple Mac
Retina display options

Most likely, System Preferences > Displays will look something like the screenshot above, which is what you see with modern retina displays. Select one of the options, especially one with larger text, and try it for a few minutes to see if it is what you need. Return and try a different scaled option to see how it looks.

Click Default for display and then Option+click Scaled to see more screen display resolutions. Option+clicking can show the resolution of second displays if you have one.

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About Anthony Waddilove 28 Articles
I have been a computer, phone and internet enthusiast for many years. This has enabled me to build up an extensive knowledge about them. I still have a lot to learn, but I am working hard at it!