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Three Easy Ways to Read Fine Print Without a Magnifying Glass

I'm an online writer, handyman, traveler and former Caribbean live-aboard sailor who now lives in Austin, TX.

Fine print on items such as small batteries and SIM cards can be viewed by taking a photo on your smart phone and enlarging it.

Fine print on items such as small batteries and SIM cards can be viewed by taking a photo on your smart phone and enlarging it.

The moment finally came when I realized my eyes were no longer 18. All those Lutein supplements that I'd taken seemed to be in vain when I was asked by my cell phone provider to remove my SIM card and read the numbers on it. I popped out the tiny card from my phone, then quickly realized there was no way I'd be able to read the microscopic letters and numbers on the card without a magnifying glass. My parents owned a magnifying glass, but I did not. After all, those were something that only "old people" used. "Hang on, I'll be right with you", I told the representative, as I fumbled to read the numbers on the card.

Method 1. Taking a Cell Phone Photo

Then an idea suddenly came to me. What if I took a photo of the SIM card with my wife's phone, then enlarged it? I put the call on speaker, snapped a quick photo of the tiny SIM card and then expanded the image. Voilà!, there it was, easy to read and stored for future use. If you ever find yourself in a bind as I did, rest assured that most any tiny print can be viewed or photographed using your smartphone's camera and either zooming in live or viewing it after the image has been captured. Below is a small button-type battery viewed using this method.

This is a pair of very low strength prescription glasses but still they magnify the text by about 50%.

This is a pair of very low strength prescription glasses but still they magnify the text by about 50%.

Method 2. Using an Old Pair of Glasses

Another method of reading fine print without a magnifying glass is to use an old pair of glasses. I'm not talking about putting them on your face, but instead using them as you would a magnifier. Many lenses, especially those at higher prescription levels and old reading glasses will act as a magnifier when held close to print that you're trying to read. Locate an old pair of glasses (bifocals and trifocals work well) and hold it up to the print and see if it doesn't make it easier to read. Try reversing the lens from the usual way that you look through glasses to see if this increases the effect. Below is an example of fine print magnified by a pair of old glasses.



Method 3. Use Binoculars as a Magnifying Glass

I'm sure most people reading this article have used a pair of binoculars, but have you ever looked through the other end of them? If you look at an object through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars, it will make that object appear to be ridiculously far away, since it has the opposite effect of looking through the normal end. On the other hand, it you look through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars at something very close up, you'll find that it works similar to a microscope. You can control the focus and magnification by how far the eyepiece part of the binoculars is from the object. If you own a pair of binoculars, you also own a fairly powerful microscope that can come in handy for reading things like those tiny numbers on SIM cards.

Other Methods For Reading Fine Print

There are other methods to read fine print besides using a magnifying glass. Your computer's webcam may be used if it has the ability to focus close up, as some models do. Try turning on your computer's camera and holding the object that you're trying to read up to the lens to see if this enables you to magnify it.

Also, any kind of glass that is optically clear, such as a wine glass, may offer magnification when held at a certain angle. Glass that is convex, or curved outward is best, as this principle is what lenses and magnifiers use to increase image size.

You might be thinking, " so why not just buy yourself a magnifying glass, they're cheap?" That's a great idea, and yes they are inexpensive. I wrote this article for those who might not happen to have one around and who need a quick solution for reading tiny print. I've since bought myself one that serves a dual purpose. It's a 10" square model that is desk mounted and features an extension arm and clamp that I can remove. I use it to tie fishing flies and leader knots and it's very helpful for other purposes as well.

Please Leave us Your Tips!

If you have any tips of your own for other ways of reading fine print, please leave them in the comments section of this article.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Nolen Hart