How to Display Messages in a Larger Font in Mac OS X Mail

Mac Mail app shown running on macOS Sierra

Coyote Moon, Inc.

Occasionally, you may run across an email with type so small it is difficult to read. Instead of struggling to read it, you can change it quickly to a larger type size for easier reading. Apple's Mac OS X and macOS Mail offer a couple of ways to quickly display an email message in a larger size font.

Information in this article applies to all versions of OS X and macOS.

How to Display OS X and macOS Mail in a Larger Font

You're just a keyboard shortcut away from reading an email in a larger font size in Mac OS X and macOS Mail:

  1. Open the Mail application on your Mac and click an email message to open it in the preview pane, which is the large area where you can see the entire email.

    Mac Mail app showing an email in preview pane
  2. Press the keyboard shortcut Command and + (the plus key) to enlarge the contents of the preview pane, including the text of the email. Repeat the keyboard shortcut as many times as you like. Each time, the text gets bigger.

    Enlarged email in preview pane in Mail app
  3. To reduce the size of the text, use the keyboard shortcut Command and - (the minus key). The size change using this method (either to enlarge or reduce) is temporary and not saved. The email returns to its original size when you close it.

  4. If you don't like keyboard shortcuts, you can enlarge the text in an email by opening the message and selecting Format in the Mail menu bar, followed by Style and then Bigger. This change is also temporary.

    Drop-down menus to enlarge text in an email

Only the message content in the preview pane is enlarged or reduced using this method. The Mail sidebars and toolbar, as well as the header of the email, are unchanged in size.

Make Everything Bigger in Mac OS X and macOS

Any user who has difficulties with vision may be interested in enlarging everything on the Mac display, not just the text in emails. You can do that using keyboard shortcuts with one of the accessibility features on the Mac, but first, you have to activate the feature in System Preferences.

  1. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu.

    Apple menu drop-down window
  2. Click Accessibility.

    System Preferences screen showing Accessibility option
  3. Select Zoom in the sidebar and check the box in front of Use keyboard shortcuts to zoom to activate the feature.

    Accessibility Zoom options
  4. Now that the feature is activated on the Mac, the keyboard shortcuts are:

  • Toggle the accessibility zoom on with Command + Option + 8
  • Zoom in with Command + Option + = (equal sign)
  • Zoom out with Command + Option + - (minus sign)
  • Return to the original display by repeating Command + Option + 8