8 Replies Latest reply: Aug 22, 2011 11:24 AM by rccharles
asuka.n.pico Level 1 Level 1

Back in 2005, I bought my mother a 17" iMac G5 2.0 GHz, which originally cam with OS X 10.3 (Tiger?). Over the course of the years, partially in an effort to be able to provide "in-house" tech-support for her, I have kept at least one Mac system myself. However, also over the course of the years, my Macs have been replaced with the newer, Intel-based, offerings--currently have two MacBook Pros from late 2010... I've also recently upgraded to Lion.


So here's where it gets tricky...


My mother is currently enrolled in Microsoft Office courses as part of a medical curriculum at a local community college and, while the courses are tailored to Office 2010 for Windows, she also has the latest version of Office:Mac because she prefers to use her Mac ; ) In fact, she pretty much only uses her PC Laptop for school work, everything else is done with the Mac.


Imagine her surprise when, no doubt due to some half-remembered/ill-conceived button-pressing, she ends up with gigantic fonts in her system dialog boxes! (see image). At first, I thought it was a simple matter of disabling some accidentally activated handicap/accessibility feature, but after playing with these features on my own machine--Lion has the same layout, apparently--I was unable to recreate the conditions depicted in the attached image. I did quite a bit of research online to see about adjusting font sizes and such, but with an eye towards doing this with shortcut key-sequences or obscure menu selections as it's not likely at all that mom was engaged in any command-line hijinks : | All I found in my travels was advice on how to set font sizes in individual program, shortcut key-sequences concerning increasing/decreasing font sizes in Mail, Safari, etc., and a BUNCH of references to a utility called TinkerTool, which I eventually downloaded, installed and played with as a longshot--mom certainly doesn't have anything like this on her syste... she's INSANELY paranoid about downloading ANYTHING off of the Internet... perhaps overly so at time ; |


Regardless, none of the answers.advice I found online dealt with her problem in particular. As you can see, the font sizes only seem to be affected in the dialog boxes--they're HUGE! I'm no slouch when it comes to using OS X, and I'm no stranger to Unix/Linux and certainly know that almost each and every pixel in the OS(s) are controllable through some configuration file or mind-numblingly involved command (from the CLI), but I have to pretend that I don't know anything about those things because it doesn't make sense that a 62 year-old woman who's just now learning MS Office at a local community college has any idea that these things are even possible, let alone stumble onto whatever arcane series of arguments would tell a command given in a terminal window would result in these sort of type-setting shenannigans : |

Universal Access panel shot.png

As I said, mom has a 17" iMac G5 2.0 GHz (ca. early 2005) w/ 160 GB SATA HDD, 1 GB RAM, running OS X 10.5.8 (Leopard). Can you guys help me to help her?

iMac, Mac OS X (10.5.8), 17" iMac G5 2.0 GHz ca. 2005
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10

    Maybe turn Zoom off in Universal Access prefernces. Note the keyboard commands use to zoom the screen.

  • asuka.n.pico Level 1 Level 1

    At first, I thought it was a simple matter of disabling some accidentally activated handicap/accessibility feature, but after playing with these features on my own machine--Lion has the same layout, apparently--I was unable to recreate the conditions depicted in the attached image.


    Tja, that was my first guess as well, but enabling the zoom feature (and actually zooming in) magnifies everything on the screen proportionally (as if you were zooming in on the entire desktop) and, as you can see, in my mother's case, only the font sizes in the dialog boxes--ironically enough in the example in the picture--like those of the Universal Access System Preferences panel, for instance. The surrounding fonts, e.g. drop-down menu, icon names, etc., are not affected. The fact that mom's screenshot indicates that the zoom function is enabled is a result of my suggestion to her to insure that it is turned on/off with the shortcut key-sequences and does not actually indicate whether the screen is zoomed or not.


    ... however, fiddling with these options on your own system would show you what I mean about the entire desktop being affected rather than individual font sizes in dialog boxes (e.g. aforementioned attached screenshot).


    Thanks, though : |

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7

    Have the Finder as the active app. From Finder's "View" menu, select "Show View Options" and you get this option box for the desktop:


    Screen shot 2011-08-21 at 6.03.05 PM.png


    She can adjust both icon size and font size from there.

  • asuka.n.pico Level 1 Level 1

    No joy : (


    The basis of my troubleshooting efforts thus far has been to attempt to recreate the problem on one of my own systems--lest my tinkering by proxy leave mom with a smoking hole where her nerves used to be. As such, for every idea I have/receive from others, I try it and see if it can help me to end up with a result similar (if not identical) to that shown in the originally-posted screenshot.


    So any potential solutions are judged by their ability to reproduce the originally-posted problem (and correct it).


    The "View Options" method only serves to adjust the size of the text associated with icons; it does nothing for the text within dialog boxes such as the one in the screenshot : |


    Thanks, though : |


    Please don't let this discourage anyone, though... I'm stumped for the time being as well so keep those suggestions/solutions coming, please : )

  • asuka.n.pico Level 1 Level 1



    The more research I do on this problem, the more I turn up people that are more than a little displeased that there doesn't seem to be an easy way to increase the OS X system font size (such in dialog boxes, etc.). It would seem to me that people would be beating down my door to find out how my mom seems to have Forest Gumped her way into doing just that : o


    Dunno' about all the Menu Bar stuff, guys, but mom has stumbled onto the solution for almost every other font size increase; if anyone can help me fix it, the solution to your problems would, theoretically, be a matter of reversing the steps in the solution to hers : |


    Any takers?

  • rccharles Level 6 Level 6
    Classic Mac OS

    A lot of people would like to know how to do this.  Let us know if you figure it out.


    Just the dialog boxes.  The apps are normal?



    Copy finder plist files to the desktop.  I believe they will be recreated. I believe bdaqua has posted the file names.  You can post the question in the tiger forum, if you cannot figure out the names.


    Save the plist files so someone can examine them.


    Run disk utilities.  Verify disk.  Fix permissions. 


    The only thing that I can figure is that the system font file got changed.


    Install & run applejack


    Just a WAG on my part.



  • asuka.n.pico Level 1 Level 1

    I'm starting to come to this conclusion myself, actually... though, how mom managed to do this on accident without mucking about in terminals or anything more than just a cursory knowledge of the OS X system configurations (behind the scenes), I don't know : |


    ... on the other hand, her and I tend to be the exceptions to a lot of rules : |


    I downloaded and installed TinkerTool, even though it supposedly doesn't work past 10.5.8, in the hoopes that, what it displayed (regardless of what it could change) would be correct as far as my "System" and "System (Headlines)" font settings were (see attached screenshot of the font section of TinkerTool for my system--not mom's).


    I've instructed her to install and run the utility (but not to change anything) and then send me a screenshot of the "Fonts" section so I can compare it to my own. If there's something different on her system, since TinkerTool should work on hers, we may be able to fix it that way... though it would, frustratingly enough, remain a mystery to all concerned as to how she managed to stumble upon this in the first place : |


    Anyway, I'm still hard at work on it... hopefully others are too and will share what they discover (if anything).tinkertool_default_font_settings_panel.png

  • rccharles Level 6 Level 6
    Classic Mac OS

    I am more & more leaning to the finder plist files.  See this page for their names.