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Easy zoom

Zoom in on your screen with hot keys using this free Microsoft utility.

Zoomit from Microsoft Sysinternals is a nifty little screen-zooming and annotating tool for presentations. It's free, portable, and compatible with all versions of Windows from XP up as well as Server 2003 and above. It sits in the System Tray until you activate it with customizable hot keys. You can use it to zoom in on portions of the screen, move the zoomed portion, and even draw on the screen, with or without zooming. Zoomit's drawing mode accepts digital pen input and is compatible with tablet PCs.

When you first run Zoomit, the Options dialog appears; there you can set your hot key choices or accept the defaults. We chose the default settings, Ctrl-1, 2, 3, and so on, for toggling the Zoom, LiveZoom (only in Vista and Windows 7), Draw, Type, and Break functions. These settings include various other options, such as Fonts on the Type tab and a Timer as well an Advanced options on the Break tab. We tried Zoomit's main Zoom function by clicking the program icon in the System Tray as well as via the hot key combination; both worked smoothly. We clicked Zoom, selected a portion of the screen with a left mouse click, and scrolled the mouse wheel; the screen image zoomed in and out, and we were able to move the zoomed portion easily by right-clicking the mouse, dragging the image, and left-clicking to fix it. Pressing Esc or double-clicking the image restored the screen to normal. The Drawing tool worked fine with the mouse and a Wacom pen, producing a customizable line on any screen image on which we activated it. We set the Break Timer for 1 minute, activated it, and a blank white screen appeared with a digital clock displaying a 1-minute countdown. When the break time was over, the screen returned to normal, and we went back to work.

Timing and smoothness are critical in presentations, and no audience likes to sit still while you fumble with file menus and awkward image slideshows. Zoomit can give you a magic touch. With a little practice, you could probably become as proficient with Zoomit as the average teenager is with texting.

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