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I noticed on a game play video of Fallout 4, a magnifying glass appears next to an object.

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What is this for, and how do I activate it?

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The magnifying glass is caused by tagging a particular material in the crafting interface or via Inventory (see How do you mark components and what effect does it have?). It's there to let you know that item can be broken down into a material you're looking for.

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    it's worth noting that the Scrapper perk will highlight objects and containers that hold those materials in the world, making it harder to miss lootable objects that have the material you're looking for. Eventually I just marked every material except wood and plastic (for aesthetic reasons) so that nearly everything that contains loot highlights for me. (The exception is cupboards and things that only hold medicines, drugs, and ammo; only something with some kind of building material will highlight.) – gatherer818 Dec 4 '15 at 16:18
  • Related question explaining how to tag items: gaming.stackexchange.com/q/243122/108003 – DCShannon Dec 4 '15 at 18:59

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