Join Christopher Breen for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the Accessibility settings, part of Mac OS X Mountain Lion Essential Training.
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One of the most powerful features of the Mac OS is also a feature that few of us rely on, and that's accessibility. This is a group of features built into the Mac OS that allows those with certain physical limitations to use the Mac. While it's designed primarily for those with vision and hearing challenges, there are a couple of features that those without these issues can benefit from. So, let's take a look. We'll go into System Preferences and click on Accessibility. Accessibility is made up of three sections. There's Seeing, Hearing, and Interacting.
We'll start with Display. First option is to Invert colors. Let's see what that looks like. So basically, you have this X-ray kind of look. For some people with visual impairments, it makes it easier to see their screen. You can also use Grayscale, Enhance Contrast, that's an extreme but you can pump it up a little bit. And then there's Cursor Size and this is actually something that's helpful if you're doing a presentation. Turn that on and you notice how much larger the cursor gets.
So if you're doing a presentation to a large room, it's much easier to see this large cursor instead of something that size. Then there's Zoom. You can use keyboard shortcuts to zoom. So I turn this on. To turn it on, I press Command+Option+8. It's zoomed in, and if I hold down Command+Option+minus, it goes back to the normal size. You can also use a scroll gesture with a modifier key to zoom. I find this really helpful. So I turn that on.
I hold down the Control key, and then using the scroll ball on my mouse, I can zoom in and out. You can choose different modifier keys if you like: Control, Option, or Command. Smooth images is on by default, and then you can choose Zoom follows the keyboard focus. So you'll zoom in to areas where you're using the keyboard. With Zoom Style, you have a couple of different options. The default option is Fullscreen, or you can choose Picture-in-picture. Now watch what happens when I do that.
You see that just the area right around the cursor is zoomed. If I click on More Options, you see that I can change Zoom settings. So I can set maximum zoom as well as minimum zoom. And then there's VoiceOver. Now if during installation of the Mac OS you waited too long at the beginning of the process, the Mac would start talking to you and asking you if you'd like to use VoiceOver. This is a screen reader built into the Mac. It's very powerful and better yet, it's free.
The general idea is that VoiceOver provides spoken feedback on what's on your Mac's screen. It tells you what's under your cursor and then it will read the text to you. When you turn it on, you'll see the beginning of a tutorial on using VoiceOver. Going into the details of VoiceOver is beyond the scope of this course. If you need it or know someone who does, run through the tutorial and look at Apple's Help Menu. Now we'll take a look at Audio. The first option is to flash the screen when an alert goes off. So if you don't hear very well and some kind of alert goes off, you may miss it.
However, if you see that, you know that an alert has happened. If you hear better with one ear than another, you may not be able to hear all the audio that's coming in through your headphones. So what you can do instead is choose to Play stereo audio as mono so that the stereo sound is mixed, so that you hear the same thing, both through the right and the left channel. Into Interacting, let's look at Keyboard. If you have some difficulty moving your fingers, Sticky Keys can help.
What you can do is you can turn on Sticky Keys and then you can press the Command key, let go, and then press another key, and it will act as if both had been pressed at the same time. So if you wanted to save a file, for example, you'd press Command, let go, press S, and the Mac would react as if you pressed Command+S at the same time. If you can't move very quickly on the keys, turn on Enable Slow Keys. So you can press it and it won't react right away. And then Mouse & Trackpad.
If you enable Mouse Keys, this allows you to use the number pad to move your cursor. So you'd enable this. I'm pressing the number 8 key on my keypad, I'll press 2 now, and that makes the cursor go down. I'll press 1, now you go southwest, 7 northwest, 9 will send you northeast, 6 sends you east. Anyway, you get the idea. Using a number pad, you can move the cursor around. You can change the speed of your double-click, and you can also ask your Mac to ignore the trackpad that's built into your laptop if you're using a mouse or a wireless trackpad.
And then Speakable Items. Now the idea behind Speakable Items is that you're supposed to be able to press a key, instruct your Mac to do something, and then it will do it. So, you have a Settings screen, and on this screen, you can turn on Speakable Items and you could choose how your microphone is connected. Also, if your Mac recognizes what you've said, it can speak the acknowledgement, or by default, it will play a sound. Listening Key is where you choose which key to press to enable Speakable Items.
And you can choose, it will listen only when the key is pressed or listen continuously with a keyword. So for example, if the keyword is "computer," and then you'd command it to do something. And then you click on Commands and then you see this Command set list. Here you can choose the kind of commands that you want your Mac to keep an ear out for. As I said, there are plenty of helpful options here even if you don't have disabilities that might prevent you from using the Mac as it's initially set up.
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- Configuring Mail, Contacts, and Calendar
- Setting rules with Parental Controls
- Jotting down info with Notes
- Viewing and saving PDFs, text documents, and images
- Using Safari to browse the Internet
- Playing and recording videos with QuickTime
- Video conferencing with FaceTime
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- Downloading widgets
- Sharing files with AirDrop