Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Many web pages are designed to a minimum width which is often wider than some older screens or settings. There are a few alternatives.
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.
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.
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 800x600, 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 1280x1024 select 800x600 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:
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.
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 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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