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How can I view large web pages without having to scroll right and left?

I am a very hesitant user of e-mail and the internet; but for bank stuff and
keeping in touch with things I have to. My eyes are not good, so I have to make
things larger. So far I have been able to visit most of the desired web pages
without scrolling to the right – my laptop has an almost square screen (800 x
600) – now lots of sites are so wide, that I can’t read the contents without
scrolling to the right for ever and ever. I forget what it said at the
beginning of the row. How can I make those pages narrower without making the
letters smaller?

This is a real problem that more and more people are facing.

Some things can be adjusted, while others cannot. I’ve touched on some of
these concepts before, but your scenario is interesting because it presents
perhaps the most inflexible of situations.

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First, I have to point out that some websites are simply designed to a
certain width, and they will not automatically resize to a smaller sized screen.
Ask Leo! attempts to be flexible, resizing to
whatever the window size happens to be. Even then there are limits where
scrolling will kick in, and there are ways for comments to also break the
ability to resize below a certain width.

More common lately are websites which are specifically designed to be
displayed at a specific width. My own Taming Email is such a site. The content portion fits
within an 800 pixel width screen, but the site actually assumes a 1024 pixel
width, placing the navigation off to the right on smaller screens.

“… some websites are simply designed to a certain
width …”

The problem is two fold: web design is extremely difficult when you can’t
make assumptions about the width of the screen, and web designers can take all
sorts of shortcuts if they do make the assumption. With 800 pixel wide screens
representing around 6% of Ask Leo! visitors, and 93% being 1024 or wider, you
can see that if an assumption is going to be made; it’ll probably not be
800.

If you’re stuck with hardware that only supports a maximum of 800×600,
there’s little that can be done.

On the other hand, one of the mistakes I see many people doing in situations
such as yours is to attempt to enlarge things by selecting a resolution much
smaller than their hardware could actually handle. For example I’ve seen people
with hardware capable of 1280×1024 select 800×600 instead as a way to magnify
what’s displayed on the screen.

It works, but as you can imagine, there are problems. Like websites that
assume you have a larger screen.

My preferred approach works like this:

  • Configure your display to the highest resolution possible. In the
    long run this will give you the most flexibility among the other options we
    have to increase the size.

  • Use your browser’s magnify function to make websites bigger. Experiment with
    both IE7 and Firefox, as their approaches to magnification are different. There
    are also several zooming / magnification extensions for Firefox that may prove
    useful. The same applies to other applications that you might use, by the way.
    Many have zoom or font selection options.

  • If the text used by Windows itself is too small, then there are two
    options:

    1. Increase the
      DPI or “dots per inch” setting. This setting will make everything
      larger, including images (which may appear somewhat blurred as a result,
      depending on the exact setting used). This is perhaps the simplest and most
      complete approach.

    2. Change the Windows font size. Right click on an empty region on your
      desktop, click on Properties, then the
      Appearance tab, and select Large Fonts or
      Extra Large Fonts for “Font Size”. This will affect only
      Windows fonts
      . Many if not most applications, like your browser, will be
      unaffected.

  • Use the Magnify utility. Most people aren’t aware that Windows comes with a
    simple screen magnifying utility. Typically it’s in All
    Programs
    , Accessories,
    Accessibility. When used, Magnifier displays a resizable and
    dockable window that contains a magnified image of wherever your cursor happens
    to be. Both mouse or keyboard editing cursor will be used depending on which
    was moved last. Here’s an example using the magnifier to view a portion of the
    Ask Leo! homepage:

    Magnifier on the Ask Leo! homepage

    Magnifier is simple, yet it has several options to make it quick and easy to
    use. While it takes a little getting used to, the bottom line is that it works
    with everything.

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10 comments on “How can I view large web pages without having to scroll right and left?”

  1. Leo, you missed a very important point – browser. Some browsers allow you to fit the page to the window width, and the best one amongst them is Opera. (Firefox and IE do not support this feature). I have been enojying the ‘fit to display width’ feature in opera for a long time. Not to mention, opera is a full featured browser, comparable to firefox, and certainly better than IE.
    If a page has a horizontal scrolbar (meaning it cannot fit to your display width), press Control + F11 and it would be resized to fit it properly. The font size stays the same, just there are less words on one line.
    I certainly recommend giving it a try.

    Reply
  2. My 90 year old Mother has age related macular degeneration and, as a result, only has peripheral vision. I had upgraded her to a 19″ monitor and continued at 600 x 800 resolution. She also encountered the “scrolling” problem and even with a 19″ screen had great difficulty in reading email and using Quicken. These are tasks that are very important to her and ones that she is very proud of still being able to do.

    She also had difficulty in using the magnifier in Windows as it took her time to locate and a great deal of time to manuver around the screen. We also tried a magnifying glass set up next to the computer but this was also a poor solution.

    Ignoring all advice from knowledgeable people at a low-vision center, Costco, Best Buy, CompUSA and others I purchased a 37″ Samsung LCD TV and set it up to alternate between being a TV and a PC monitor for her. Resolution is still set at 600 x 800. It has allowed her to continue with these important tasks and she can know read her emails, use Quicken and surf the web and read everything on the screen.

    She was beginning to lose hope that she would be able to do these tasks.

    Anyways for those with declining eyesight this solution should be tried. It has worked very well for on 90 year old Mom.

    Reply
  3. Congratulations to Shreyas – beat me to it!!

    Leo, and everyone else:

    I can’t believe there are still people who think Firefox is the great and only new hope of an alternative to the dreadful browsers micro$oft keep supplying.

    OPERA is a BETTER BROWSER and introduced many features Firefox and IE try to copy.

    Ctrl+F11 = ”fit to width” is but one of it’s wonderful features – and it works like a dream!!

    It used to get a bad press for not being free but now it is.

    Opera.com

    Waste no more time, get it now and never again worry about sideways scrolling.
    There’s even the facility to make ‘fit to width’ your default setting!!!

    Check this: http://operalover.tntluoma.com/

    Reply
  4. I just remembered something else that should interest Ed:

    If you’re using Opera ( free from Opera.com !) then as well as being able to ‘fit to width’ you can enlarge or shrink anything the browser is showing simpy by tapping on + or – on the numeric keypad part of your keyboard, and * takes you back to 100% zooom level..
    Even better, if you selected Ctrl+F11 everything still fits to width!!!
    Amazing!
    Try it….
    Then thank me by making a big donation to an internationally recognised poverty relief charity.

    Reply
  5. I use Firefox and a click on Ctrl (+)+ increases the type size (which I always need to do when reading “Ask Leo”) A click on Ctrl (+)- takes it back to 100%. This also works on IE.

    Reply
  6. Thanks,Leo! I’m new to computing and your site gave me an easy fix. All I had to do was reconfigure my screen resolution. I went to the Microsoft Help site and didn’t find anything about this solution. Thanks again. H.D.

    Reply
  7. This is a large issue for me too. The Ctrl-+/- in Firefox helps but there are many pages which require h-scrolling no matter what size the font (My screen is 1500 px wide!)
    Tried Opera as suggested and it works like a dream. Thanks to you and your readers.

    Reply

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