Off-topic: Outlook 2007 Zoom Bad GUI

It is a symptom of bad UI design when things just happen, and you have no why, and no visible indication to help you figure it out. Last night, I noted that the text in Outlook when composing email suddenly was way larger than normal. I put that way as a fluke, but today, the effect was still there, all the time. Strange. So I went in and checked my font settings, which were all fine. This being Office 2007, I suspected some kind of zoom effect, but there was no zoom indicator in any Outlook window. I tried ctrl-+ and ctrl– to see if Outlook respected the web-style view size shortcuts. But no effect.

So I dove into the help system, and the first hit was the right one.

A topic called, of all things, “The text of my message is larger or smaller than usual”:

If you read that closely, you realize that what we have here is a really bad case of product design and bug fixing. Essentially, they have put in a documentation fix for a bad UI problem. This text is a plain admission that people do this by mistake and have no idea what they did to cause it, or even that they are seeing a zoomed view. The root problem is that the zoom activitity can be done by mistake, by the shortcut “ctrl-scrollwheel-on-mouse”. Microsoft must have noticed this in testing, and put in a piece of help to help you out. But before you can find that, you need to figure out that you should search the help for the issue.

If you do not have a scroll wheel or don’t know this, the solution is to get to the format text tab, click zoom, and then change settings in a dialog box. Amazingly bad, consdering the effort going into Outlook:

The correct solution is NOT to document it like this, but rather to just have the same little zoom control as all other Office programs and remove the easy-to-hit-by-accident shortcut (maybe it can remain if the effect is clearly seen in the zoom control).

3 thoughts on “Off-topic: Outlook 2007 Zoom Bad GUI”

  1. Happened to me too. Unfortunately I didn’t think about checking the help, and took me some time to find it was the zoom (using google).
    Then I was curious how to reproduce the zoom shortcut, because I didn’t remember getting into the Format Text toolbar, and found this post.

    Thanks 🙂

  2. It’s strange. From time to time I will try to scroll down an email in Outlook and it will go into the “zoom” mode without pressing ctrl, just using the mouse scroll. At least now I know how to zoom it back using ctrl. Thanks for the tip.

  3. I have the same problem Charles… and that’s how I arrived at this post… I wonder if any fix has been posted for it

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