Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


How to change text size on a per-app basis in MacOS Sonoma

Are there apps you use in MacOS that you wished had larger text, but you don't want to make a system-wide change? Sonoma has a handy trick up its sleeve just for you.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
MacBook Pro (M3 Max) with new macOS Sonoma lock screen
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Most MacOS apps do a very good job of presenting text in such a way that it's readable. However, every once in a while I run into an app that doesn't quite cut it. 

You can always do a quick multi-gesture zoom on a trackpad, if you're either on a laptop or you have a trackpad. If you're on an iMac without a trackpad, you don't have the luxury of multi-touch gestures. On top of that issue, the Option-Command-Equals shortcut (for zooming in) and Option-Command-Minus (for zooming out) aren't exactly the most efficient methods. 

Also: How to optimize storage on your MacOS device

Fortunately, MacOS Sonoma has the ability to configure per-app text size, so you can enlarge or shrink the text size for specific apps. That text size will remain, so every time you open the app, you won't have to worry that the text will be too small to read.

So, how do you do this? It's quite simple. Let me show you how.

How to change the text size of a specific app

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this trick is a device running MacOS Sonoma. If you're running an older version of MacOS, you'll have to upgrade to add this feature. 

Also: Upgrading to MacOS Sonoma? Do these 7 things first

Other than that, you have everything you need.

1. Open System Settings

The first thing to do is open System Settings. You can do this by clicking the Apple icon in the Menu Bar and then clicking System Settings.

The Apple menu from the Menu Bar.

You can also access System Settings from within the Launch Pad.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Navigate to Display Settings

Once System Settings opens, navigate to Accessibility > Display. Within that page, you'll find the Text entry. Click that entry and prepare to configure your per-app text size.

The Accessibility section of System Settings.

There are plenty of other customizations you can take care of in this section of System Settings.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Configure text sizes per app

In the Text window, you'll find the global text size slider, as well as a list of all your installed apps. You can resize the text for all your apps by moving the slider to the left (to decrease) or to the right (to increase). 

Also: How to easily back up your Mac onto a USB drive (and feel like James Bond doing it)

To change the size of the text for a single app, locate the app in question, and click the associated dropdown. You can then select from Preferred Reading Size, Default, or anywhere from 9pt to 42pt size. Once you've made the change, go on to the next app and continue until you've configured all the individual apps you need. You don't have to restart any of the apps, as the changes happen in real time.

The text-size drop-down.

You can configure each app individually or set a system-wide Preferred Reading Size.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The difference between Default and Preferred Reading Size in Default is set by the app and Preferred Reading Size is set by the slider at the top of the Text Size popup. With this in mind, you could set a Preferred Reading Size for all apps and then, for those apps where default is fine, set those to Default. Or, you could customize every app you use. 

Also: How to update every Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, more)

Either way, thanks to this feature, it's possible to tweak every MacOS app you use such that you won't have to worry about having to struggle to read what's on the screen.

Editorial standards