February 12, 2017

Why I Keep Using The Mac

Why I use A Mac

 

The reason why I stay using the Mac, is that it is well integrated with everything else that I use. for both home and work: the Mac, the Apple Watch, the Apple TV, and of course the iPhone.

 

I have been using a Mac now for over 10 years and iOS for almost 8 years.  One thing that has always stood out for me with the Mac is that as a person who is blind, I can completely trouble shoot or re-install the OS completely independently without sighted assistance.  My interaction with a Windows machine over these years when something has failed, has always meant I have needed someone with sight to let me know what was happening on screen or to assist me getting the screen reader up and going again.  I know that with the latest Windows 10 preview build, that you can now kick in Narrator which is a great thing.

 

I am a poor speller at the best of times, and when writing on the Mac, spelling suggestions don’t even work because I’ve mangled  a word so badly.  Siri comes to the rescue with “Spell Yogurt” which is a particular word that I always forget to spell when doing a shopping list, and yes, I used Siri to spell it just now.

 

With FaceTime, I can make and answer calls via my iPhone, and since I’m already on the Mac, can use Textedit or Pages to take notes whilst I’m chatting on the phone as it were.

 

Being able to ask Siri for directions to a location, then within Maps, share to my iPhone: ready to follow the directions when I leave the house.

 

Quickly looking up a word within the dictionary app is always helpful.

 

I really enjoy the TWiT TV Network which most of the time I listen to on my iPhone, but sometimes its just nice listening to via the TWIT TV app on the Mac.

 

Both Skype for business and skype work well with voiceOver, so when working with folks at work or chatting with people for a podcast, its all covered.

 

I still appreciate the fact that when I plug power in to the Mac, a chime plays to let me know that power is on and my Mac is charging: no need to check the charging status.

 

My family and friends all use iOs devices, so rather than having to pick up my iPhone to send a Message, I use Message on the Mac to send and receive messages.

 

Our family uses Find My Friends to keep track of each other.  Rather than having to get out my iPhone, I can check in the Notifications Centre on the Mac to see where folks are.

 

As the Mac comes with the Mac App Store, most of the apps that I use on the Mac are from this source.  I feel better protected, and the apps work reasonably well such as Twitter.

 

As I am a big fan of using iBooks on my iPhone, being able to read these same books on the Mac with VoiceOver is a huge plus.

 

The iWork suite works well with VoiceOver on the Mac, but what is great as well particularly for work is the fact that Microsoft Office works well: I Particularly use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook on the Mac all the time these days.

 

My main source for social media is Twitter, the Mac client works fairly well, and some times I live it running it in the background and just listen to the Tweets.

 

Universal copy between the Mac and my iPhone comes in very handy for copying phone numbers or URLS in either direction, and nothing could be easier than selecting copy on one device, and paste on the other.

 

As I produce a fair number of instructional documents, some of which folks want in an audio format, using Add To iTunes As A Spoken Track, comes in very handy for quickly converting a text document in to an audio file.

 

As I where away the hours when working on the Mac, rather than having to check the time manually, I have the Mac system clock tell me the time every 15 minutes so I can automatically keep track of time passing, and don’t miss an appointment.

 

Speaking of appointments, I use Reminders and Calendar appointments on my iPhone which of course come across to the Mac as well.

 

When shopping, I use the Notes app on the Mac to make a check list of items to check off when I pick up the Note on my iPhone when shopping.

 

Adjusting the sound of the Mac with audio feedback I’ve always found handy for both VoiceOver and general sound output on the Mac.

 

I tend to use both Google Chrome and Safari on the Mac for slightly different purposes.  I use Chrome for the client management system at work and Safari for reading articles on the web via the Reader mode which strips out the html code just leaving the text of the article to read.

 

As iTunes originally was developed for the Mac, I seem to have less issues with it from an accessibility point of view that I do when using iTunes on Windows.  Consequently when there is an update to iTunes, I don’t get as nervous that something may have broken from the screen reader point of view.

 

Speaking of iTunes and music, I have a number of Airplay speakers including number of Apple TVs around the house, depending on what I am doing and where I am, I just pipe the music to the appropriate speaker or Apple TV.

 

I certainly enjoy listening to Audio Described movies from the iTunes Store since Apple is making a considerable effort in making these available.

 

When  my family goes and stays over night if we are visiting, I always take our family MacBook Pro which has my boys favourite movies on it plus the Apple TV so I can stream them from the Mac on to the TV via the Apple TV.

 

I seem to be given iTunes cards from family and friends on a regular basis.  Like the iPhone, I can use the camera in the Mac to input the iTunes gift card straight in to iTunes.

 

Using my AirPods across all devices: particularly Apple Watch, iPhone and the Mac: means I can just use one bluetooth head phone for all my devices.

 

As I use an Apple watch, having my Mac simply unlock when I sit down to use my Mac is fantastic and much more convenient and faster than waiting for the screen VoiceOver to speak out the security prompt, and for me to type inn my password.  There have been times when I have got a bit impatient and have started typing in my password before VoiceOver has started talking, only do find that I have sent the last person in Messages my password smile.

 

As I still enjoy the occasional game of chess, having the default Chess application in the Mac speak out its moves lets me enjoy a good game of chess, even though I mostly loose to the Mac.

 

I know that I can use Siri to cary out calculations, but having the Calculator app also speak out its results is very handy for me as a screen reader user.

 

One of the dreaded things I absolutely hate on Windows is that sometimes sound is muted, and there is no keyboard short-cut to get it back.  On the Mac there is a short-cut and I’ve never not been able to get sound back on the Mac and consequently keep using VoiceOver.

 

Siri works well for launching apps, finding documents, and checking my Calendar.

 

I use preview on the Mac for quickly listing to audio files or checking a document, rather than having to launch an application to access the file.

 

Being able to check the status of what accessibility options I have turned on is quite useful, particularly when using other accessibility options other than VoiceOver.

 

Having the Mac speak out system messages or read what is on the screen through a keyboard command is again extremely handy.

 

Since I use some different bits of hardware in the house to control lights, lamps, check the indoor and outdoor temperature, and check who is at my door: rather than me having to pick up my iPhone to access these different systems, I can use my Mac as well.

 

VoiceOver on iOS and Mac OS have similar gestures and keyboard commands which makes transferring from one to the other a breeze, plus from a training point of view, very consistent and easy to explain and re-enforce ways of navigating.  In some ways, you are using one screen reader for mobile or desktop.

 

I forget sometimes how many different ways VoiceOver allows me to navigate: main keyboard commands, Lock VoiceOver keys, Quick Nav, numeric keypad, and of course the trackpad.

 

The sounds that VoiceOver on the Mac users to let you know what is going on is one of those things that when you don’t have it, you really miss it when I use Windows.

 

Using screen curtain to blank the screen so that people can’t see what I am doing when I’m reading a report on the train or reading a confidential document at work is extremely valuable.

 

Having a training mode in a screen reader to teach you how to use its basic functions is very important for new users.

 

When I am not using my MacBook Air Or MacBook Pro with the inbuilt trackpad, I can still use my Magic Trackpad with my iMac.

 

AS far as I know, VoiceOver is still the only screen reader that allows the launching of applications from its own Keyboard commander.  All the applications that I use regularly on the Mac have their own VoiceOver Keyboard Commander short-cut such as K for Skype, G for Google Chrome, A for Amadeus Pro, M for MarsEdit etc.

 

I still find VoiceOver on the Mac the easiest screen reader to install a Braille display.  For UsB, plug it in and VoiceOver will detect it.  With a Bluetooth Braille display, choose the Braille display you want to use and off I go.

 

As the cursor movement on both the Mac and iPhone are the same with VoiceOver when navigating: cursor is to the left or right of the character when moving: I don’t have to double check myself when switching between mobile and desktop.

 

No matter if I am typing in Messages, Notes, Mail, Pages, Safari etc, it its always nice to know that my typing is being spelled checked: did I mention I was a poor speller.

 

The strong integration between the Mac OS and VoiceOver, means that I never have an issue with the screen reader not working, hanging, not working with the video card, loosing its authorisation etc: it just keeps working.

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I take you through the main menu options, list some of the scenes I've already played, and play several scenes to give you an idea of the game.

I've played this game on Android and iOS, great its now availalbe on the Mac and just as fun to play.

 

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In this demo I give you a physical description of the new Macbook which was released earlier this year (2015) and offer some comments, particularly on the keyboard.

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In this demo I show you how you can get the Mac's system clock to speak every hour, every quarter hour or just on the hour.

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In this demo, I show you how to print to a PDF file rather than having to print to a printer.  Useful for saving receipts or other inforamtion as I do in Safari.

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In this demo, I show you how to restore the Apple tv from your Mac using a usb cable (warning only do this if you have to).  Once setup (using a Bluetooth keyboard), I go through a number of my own setup options: hiding home (main menu) screen icons, setting restrictions, changing the name of the Apple tv, setting time zone and language (of synthesiser), and turning on accessibility short-cut.

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This demo outlines the steps to take in enabling VoiceOver at the Login screen in OS X (System Preferences, Users & Groups, Login options) to allow Voiceover to speak and not necessarily be on in Finder which can be toggled on or off via Command+F5.

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In this demo, I show you how you can password protect a folder in OS X by Using the Disk Utility and turning your folder in to a password protected volume that you can mont and dismount when ever you need to.

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With the latest release of Yosemite update out at the end of January 2015, VoiceOver users can now playback voice messages in Messages in Yosemite.  Before this, you could only send voice messages, not play them back on the Mac: of course, you could always play them back on iOS.

icon for podbean

In this demo I show you how easy it is to use QuickTime Player in Yosemite to record the screen/audio of the iPhone running iOS 8.  Really it is just a matter of plugging in your iPhone to the Mac via the lightening cable, running QuickTime Player, choose iPhone camera and Microphone from the capture device popup, choose audio level, and press record.

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Demo of the Finger key app for iOS and Mac to use touch id to unlock your Mac from the iPhone.

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For Mac and Windows screen reader users: how to play or search.play podcasts on http://davidwoodbr.podbean.com

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Demoing the new iTunes 12 layout for displaying iOS content (Summary, Music, Movies etc) with voiceOver

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Using iCloud drive in Yosemite with VoiceOver

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Demo of changing login password to use iCloud Apple ID in Yosemite with VoiceOver

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Demo of setting up SMS text forwarding on iPhone to Mac in Yosemite with VoiceOver

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Demo of the new VoiceOver browsing mode with Safari in Yosemite

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Demo of sending a iMessage Voice Message in Yosemite with Voiceover

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Using iBooks with Voiceover in Yosemite: downloading and reading an iBook.

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Demo of using voice dictation and Voice commands in Yosemite using VoiceOver

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An overview of using Notifications Centre in Yosemite with VoiceOver

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Using Hand Off between iOS 8 and Yosemite with VoiceOver: demoing Pages, Mail, and Safari

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Making  calls on your Mac via iPhone using iOS 8.1 and Yosemite with VoiceOver

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Demo of using Maps in OS X Mavericks to get route steps from origin to destination location.

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In this demo, I show you how easy it is to redeem codes yourself from compatible iTunes gift cards without having to ask anyone else to do it for you by using iTunes on your Mac with the EyeSight camera.

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Demo of dialling and logging in to a work voice mail and taking notes.

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Demo of the Airplane Setting app to turn wifi and Bluetooth on/off, and dim display. Besides being useful when flying, saves battery power.

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In this demo, I show you how to stream the Windows Media audio format using Safari on your Mac with VLC and a example website: http://members.optusnet.com.au/stephenjolley/livestreams

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In this demo, I show you how to setup the Battery Monitor app for Os X to speak out your discharge or recharge cycle every ten percent.

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In this demo, I describe the Logitech Solar K760 Bluetooth keyboard, explain how to pair up to 3 devices, and give a demo of switching from iPhone, Mac, and my Windows laptop: all done by the same keyboard.

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This document describes what will be covered in each of the chapters for using VoiceOver in Mountain Lion.

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This chapter introduces VoiceOver, the advanced screen-reading technology integrated into OS X. VoiceOver enables users with visual disabilities to control their Mac using a rich set of keyboard commands and gestures. This chapter provides an overview of VoiceOver and key topics such as the VoiceOver cursor and current focus, keyboard shortcuts, and using function keys on some keyboards.

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This chapter provides information about the basics of using VoiceOver, including how to get help while you’re learning. You’ll learn how to turn VoiceOver on and off and pause it, how to hear information about items on the screen and interact with them, and how to use cursor tracking.

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This chapter introduces OS X and key features such as the desktop, Finder, Dock, and Spotlight. You’ll learn how to use menus, buttons, and accessibility features that make it easier to use your Mac, as well as how to work with apps and windows.

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Text is found in many places, such as in windows and dialogs, in content areas like webpages and help files, and in documents. This chapter explains how to use VoiceOver to read, select, and edit text.

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VoiceOver provides numerous ways to navigate content and text. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to navigate content such as tables and text, and how to use navigation features such as Quick Nav, the Item Chooser, and hot spots, among others.

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This chapter provides information about using VoiceOver to browse and navigate webpages effectively using two different navigation modes, tables, images, frames, and web spots, as well as the VoiceOver Web Item rotor.

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OS X comes with many accessible apps that you can use with VoiceOver, such as Mail, Messages, and iTunes. This chapter provides information about using some of the OS X apps.

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This chapter explains how to use features that enhance collaboration between users. You’ll learn about the caption panel, the braille panel, the screen curtain, and tiling visuals. You’ll also learn how to mute speech and sound effects.

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This chapter explains how to customize your VoiceOver environment to best suit your needs. You’ll learn how to customize settings for voices, spoken details, braille displays, pronunciations, and more. You’ll also learn how to reset, export, and import your preferences, as well as use portable preferences and VoiceOver activities.

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This chapter provides information about using refreshable braille displays, both plug in and Bluetooth, with VoiceOver. This chapter also includes a list of the many types of braille displays VoiceOver supports.

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I demo how to drag and drop using VoiceOver from Safari, a web address to become a web location link on your desktop or folder in Finder. This way, you can launch websites from your desktop/Folder, rather than going in to Safari first.

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In the demo, I explain how the Solo-Dx (www.solo-dx.com) audio description track works, do a demo using the audio track for Hunger Games with the actual movie on my Mac as an example, and give contact details for Solo-Dx. As its an mp3 file, you can play the track on any device, and play the movie on your TV, Apple TV, Mac etc..

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A great self-voicing coin stack puzzle style game for the Mac. Also show you how to adjust the rate of the system voice that the game uses.

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This game is self-voicing and contains 3 games: Start a Brawl, Practise your GunSlinger skills, and play the One-armed Bandit. As it utilises the Mac system voice, I also show you how to change the system voice rate.

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In this spoken document, I go through the points that I go through to assist someone in transferring from Windows/Screen reader to the Mac/VoiceOver (re-posted).

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