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Web browsers and text-editors are the only desktop apps that come to mind which support zooming via ctrl + + / - / 0 or (cmd + + / - / 0) shortcuts. Why is this? Should my app / desktop apps in general support it?

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    Also photoshop? – Roger Attrill Sep 17 '15 at 14:36
  • On Windows (not sure which versions) then the Windows key and +/- already does a general desktop zoom (via the Magnifier tool) so there's no need to add this unless your application has a specific canvas to zoom in and out of. – Roger Attrill Sep 17 '15 at 14:45
  • @RogerAttrill Thanks. Forgot about that. I'm also thinking about ctrl +/- to change font-size when I say zoom, so not just really zooming everything. Some apps will have settings for font-size but don't support ctrl +/-. – Adam Lynch Sep 22 '15 at 15:52
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No, desktop applications themselves should not be zoomable, but their viewed or edited content usually should scale. This can be a web page in a browser, a text document in a text editor, as the question mentions, but really anything else, especially images of all kinds (e.g. still : moving or bitmap : vector). It depends on the context whether zooming should work in pre-defined steps or continuously.

The common Windows/Linux keyboard shortcuts Ctrl++/-/0 translate to Cmd++/-/0 on Mac OS. The scroll-wheel on a mouse can often do the same when a modifier key, e.g. Ctrl/Cmd is being pressed. On touch-pads and touch-screens the usual pinch two-finger gestures should result in the same and are often accompanied by double-tap or two-finger double-tap for “zoom to fit”.

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I don't think a software-independent function is necessary, since it is in your responsibility to serve the user a deserved user experience :)

For example: Your app comes with an "how to find us"-section where you have integrated a map. In this case you build in a zoom-function.

Another example would be: Why should you let your user zoom in your weather-app which only comes with a dynamic thermometer?

I think this zoom function can also have a negative impact on the UX of your app…

  • "I don't think a software-independent function is necessary." Hmm sorry, that's not what I'm asking. I meant why don't desktop app developers build in this ctrl +/- feature. "I think this zoom function can also have a negative impact on the UX of your app…" Hmmm that's just bad work then? Or else it's just harder for typical desktop apps to implement it because of how the layout flow is implemented, etc. – Adam Lynch Sep 22 '15 at 15:50
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A Designer might not want you to experience his product, zoomed in or zoomed out.

Websites is a different case since Web is open for you to experiment with.

With apps, a far lot of power goes into the hands of the developers to exactly dictate how they would want you to view their app. And for a good reason, I believe zoom in hasn't been implemented.

If your point is, they could improve accessibility, it's the OS's function to make sure it scales the fonts and other elements of the UI accordingly to the user's set accessibility settings, but as far as a product goes, with great power comes great responsibility and developers need to take the extra effort to take their responsibility of this immense power of control they have over the app and provide the best experience they can.

For the same reason, stores should be far more vigilant before publishing half-baked apps.

  • "it's the OS's function to make sure it scales the fonts and other elements of the UI accordingly to the user's set accessibility settings." But how come a lot of apps have their own settings then for font-size, etc.? Correct me if you think I'm wrong but maybe it's just harder to implement in typical desktop apps versus on the Web because of the how the layout, etc. is implemented. – Adam Lynch Sep 22 '15 at 15:48

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