I often lament the state of computer displays. Presently, they are for the most part married to a particular number of “pixels per inch.” This MacBook Pro, for example, has a 110 PPI display, which affects the size of everything on my screen. Back in the 80’s, Mac displays were a mere 72 PPI, and most computers nowadays are 96. Therefore, an image that is 100×100 pixels will appear to be a different size on each of these different types of displays.

Which is maybe fine. But there are some times when you want to make everything a bit larger. Maybe your eyes are tired, or you have poor vision, or you just think it would look better. The MacBook Air, in fact, allows a “pinch and zoom” gesture on its track pad, which you can use to enlarge photographs, or even a web page. The problem is, Apple’s Safari browser doesn’t actually let you zoom in the way you’d expect. The pinch and zoom gesture merely enlarges the text size. This often ruins the page layout, and doesn’t enlarge images or anything else on the page.

Apple knows how to handle this! If you “double tap” on a section of a web page on an iPhone (which runs a version of the Safari browser), you zoom in perfectly. It’s just as if you’ve leaned forward to look at a section of the page. It works wonderfully, and it’s a shame that my Mac can’t do the same thing (yet).

But Firefox 3 can. The latest versions have a “Full Page Zoom” feature that works quite well. As you zoom in, most elements of the page, including the layout itself, adjust themselves accordingly. It’s pretty neat – just hold command/control and type a plus or minus. The whole page gets larger!

I can’t help but think this is how all web browsers should work.