How Do I Use a Microscope

By following a few safety precautions and taking care when using your microscope, it should last for many years.  This article covers handling the microscope, cleaning the microscope, safe electrical use of the microscope and operating the microscope safely.

Learn How to Use a Microscope

Microscope objective lenses.

There are a few tips to follow for safely using a microscope.

  1. When using microscope slides, be sure to place a cover slip over your sample. This will flatten your sample, which is necessary when using a compound microscope. The cover slip will also contain fluid within your well depression slide and prevent spills on the microscope stage.
  2. When you begin using the biological compound microscope, always begin with the 4x objective lens (the lowest magnification). This will allow you to focus on your sample and help prevent you from smashing your objective lens into the stage. Move up one objective at a time, refocusing each time to get higher magnification. When you are finished using the microscope, always return the 4x (lowest and smallest) objective lens into position for the next user.
  3. Never use force when focusing the microscope. If the focus knob is tight and will not rotate it is because it is locked, the tension needs to be adjusted, or it is running into an objective lens.
  4. Microscope Condenser and Rheostat ControlWhen you first look through the microscope, you may need to adjust the rheostat light control or the condenser to get a more crisp and sharp image. The microscope rheostat controls the intensity of the light, dimming it or making it brighter. The condenser is located beneath the microscope stage and will move up or down.
  5. If you are using a digital microscope and can not see an image in the camera, you may need to engage the beam splitter to direct light to the camera.


How to Care For Your Microscope?

When carrying your microscope from one location to another, do not pick it up by holding onto the stage or the eyepieces. Place one hand on the bottom of the microscope and use the back arm of the microscope for carrying it. The image below shows the correct hand holds for safely moving a microscope without damaging it.

How to carry a microscope

Tips for Caring for Your Microscope

  1. Always use two hands when moving the microscope.
  2. Ensure the microscope is not plugged in before moving it.
  3. If using immersion oil, be sure to clean the immersion oil lens thoroughly after use.
  4. Keeping your microscope clean (especially the optics) will also ensure that it lasts longer.
  5. When the microscope is not in use cover it with a dust cover or store it in a microscope case.


How to Safely Operate a Microscope?

  1. If your microscope bulb needs to be replaced, unplug the microscope before changing the bulb and then only use the recommended bulb. If your microscope uses a Mercury bulb take extra precaution.
  2. Never plug in or unplug the microscope if your hands are wet. Always dry them first.
  3. When your microscope is not in use unplug it and wrap the cord safely so it will not be a tripping hazard or cause the microscope to fall off the table.

You may also find these articles helpful:

5 Tips to Properly Care for your Microscope

Microscope Parts and Specifications

If you have any questions about how to use your microscope, taking care of your microscope, or microscope safety contact Microscope World.