Thought’s about the Mac; post 2 – Tips and tricks.

It’s funny how easy it is to get motivated to write a new blog post when using such a comfortable keyboard. Sorry, Emma expects that I’ll mention the keyboard during every Mac related post… I aim to please. 🙂

I’m learning a lot about the Mac and the way OSX does things every day. I thought I should list some of the little tips and tricks I’ve picked up. I should give credit where credit is due of course. A lot of what I learn is shared freely by the Mac users on Twitter. Without them I think I would have found this process particularly difficult.

I’ll break these down into a list.

  • When using the YoruFukurou Twitter client with Voiceover, you will find that if quick nav is turned on replying to tweets can be a little hit and miss. Pressing enter on a tweet may result in the wrong name being added to the text field. The very simple solution to this is to turn off quick nav while in this application. This actually has the effect of making navigation around the various tables, tabs and edit fields much easier.
  • In mail, voiceover tells you that a conversation has a number of unread messages. Again, when using quick nag expanding the is conversation to read the messages in it is not as straight forward as you might think. You have to interact with the message, find a particular graphic and hit VO space to activate it. Again, it’s one of those situations where the message table works best if you turn off quick nav. To do this, press the left and right arrows together. Then you can expand the conversation by pressing right arrow. For some reason, Voiceover isn’t particularly responsive when reading messages and at times, if a conversation is collapsed it can fail to read anything at all. This could be something I’m doing wrong though. Of course, any comments regarding this or any other Mac post are more than welcome.
  • The widget area is cool! I’m still getting to grips with it but from what I’ve been able to figure out so far, widgets are reasonably accessible for the most part. I’m still looking for a nice RSS reader though but I’m sure I’ll find one eventually. I think the widget area is easier to use when the trackpad commander is turned on. Double tap the right side of the track pad to bring up a list of widgets. Configuring some of the widgets can be a little hit and miss but it’s certainly possible given some time. For example, the weather widget let me configure my locality but the done button wouldn’t work when I used the arrows in conjunction with the VO modifier to navigate to it. I found that I had to delete the county and country from the text box and re-add it again. This time, instead of using the arrows, I tabbed over to the done button and hit VO and space to activate it. I have no idea why but this works perfectly every time. By the way, when I say I hit VO, I mean that I am using the standard Voiceover modifier keys. These are control and option. Yes, unlike Windows and Even Linux screen readers that have just one modifier button, Voiceover has two that need to be pressed together. In my view, as a beginner I should add, this complicated modifier is just the start of what is one of the most mind bending keyboard command structures I have ever had the misfortune to come across. Seriously, I don’t know what the person who came up with these keyboard commands was smoking but it must have been some powerful stuff!
  • To bring up the notification bar, swipe with two fingers from right to left starting at the very edge of the track pad. Swiping from the middle or more accurately, not swiping from the very edge of the trackpad will cause voice over to stop interacting with the current control. I like this actually. To get out of the notification area, either scrub the trackpad with two fingers or press escape. Both actions do the same thing essentially.
  • To get the number sign, press command and 3.
  • To get the Euro sign, press command and 2.
  • In the menu extras area, you can’t just press space when using quick nav like you could in previous versions of OSX. I know that it was called something different in previous versions as well but it’s basically the same thing. I don’t know why they have broken the convention in this single area. It’s actually a bit frustrating. Anyway, as I’m sure you know, either press VO and space to activate the item or use the and down arrow combination.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the Voiceover help. Press VO and h to launch this. Using the commands help is brilliant when getting started. Not only will it list the commands, you can press enter on one of the commands to perform that action. One of the commands I find most useful is in the general menu. It’s “Bring window to front.” So many windows are launched containing system messages but for some reason you can’t set focus to them using command and tab. Pressing VO, shift and F2 usually does it though. Oh, that brings me onto another irritation while using the Mac. On the Mac book pro and the Mac book air, a number of Voiceover commands such as this also require you to press the function key as well as for example, VO and shit. HOwever, it doesn’t actually say this in the commands list. It’s annoying to think a command doesn’t work only to find that it’s one of the few that requires the function button for some reason. I’m not even sure why! Almost all of the apple keyboards are the same. Why it would require the function key is a bit of a mystery to me.

Ok, my bus is getting to it’s stop so I have to go. Let me know if you have any questions or better yet, any suggestions.

Until next time!


2 Responses to Thought’s about the Mac; post 2 – Tips and tricks.

  1. So, how do you like the mac? I am just searching through twitter and came across your posts. Our twitter is @BlindAccess if you would like to follow us on twitter.

    • Avatar digitaldarragh
      digitaldarragh says:

      The Mac is… Different. I’m not sure if it’s better but it’s certainly an interesting distraction.