In this demo, I show you a nifty work around on how to change Sound Output Sources on the Mac without having them activate when you try and Arrow through them.

In this demo, I show you how to select the various Mac OS accessibility options so that you can use your preferred access options at the Login Prompt.

Note - this demo was done on the current beta of Mac OS Catalina at the time of recording Feb 18 2020.

As I said in the demo, I havne't looked at the Login options for quite a while, it used to be just VoiceOver, but now it is all the Accessibility options.


In this demo, I show you how to split VoiceOver Speech away from System Sound so that if your recording you don't get VoiceOver being part of the recording.

Another situation could be, if your listening to a Zoom Webinar for example, you can more easally take notes when you have separate sound sources between the webinar and you listening to VoiceOver.

Review notes of the MacBook Pro 16


In the Box


MacBook Pro 16 inch.

96W power adapter (to support the 100MAH battery which can still be taken onboard an aircraft).

USBC cable.



Main Specs


16 inch Retina display.

Intel Core i9.

Apple T2 Security chip for both security and system functions.

4 Thunderbolt 3/USBC ports (4 ports).

Up to 8 core processor.

Up to 8TB SSD storage.

Up to 64MB memory.

AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics.

Up to 11 hours of battery life when wireless web browsing and video playback (compared to 10 hours with the previous MacBook Pro 15).

6 speaker sound system (has to be heard to be believed (my comment) and studio quality mics (3 in an array.

Keyboard - Magic Keyboard with refined scissor mechanism with 1MM travel (absolutely a much better keyboard), Touch Bar, Touch Bar (physical Escape key on left and :Touch ID/Power button on right), and inverted capital T cursor keys.

720P iSight camera.


MacBook Pro 16 slightly longer/wider than the MacBook Pro 15, and 0.76CM thicker.

Weight: MacBook Pro 1.82KG, MacBook Pro 16 1.95KG.


The MacBook Pro 16 due to the larger heat sync and better air flow, the MacBook Pro 16 is a lot less likely to throttle cPU performance back when under significant multi core and multi thread processing.


The MacBook Pro 16 is for heavy duty professional use such as video editing, compiling code, merging thousands of audio files etc.


Physical Description


Left side: 2 Thunderbolt 3 USBC ports towards back of the unit.


Right side: 3.5MM head phone jack, and 2 Thunderbolt 3 USB ports towards back of the unit with the head phone jack first when going from back to front on the left hand side.


Bottom: 4 rubber feet at each corner in slightly to prevent unit slipping on a surface.

Also on the bottom, on the left and right hand side, a long vent containing the speakers.


Top: retina screen containing the camera. Between the Touch Bar and the screen towards the left 3rd is the 3 mic array.  Left and right of the Touch Bar physical Escape key, and on the right of the Touch Bar the Touch ID/Power key.

The rest of the keyboard is in front of the Touch Bar with dots on the F and J, the inverted capital T (is back).

In front of the keyboard, is the large haptic style Trackpad.


Front edge - moulded indented area to allow screen to be lifted up.




Installation and Setup Issues


Opening up the MacBook Pro 16 for the first time, system automatically turns on. Waiting for the boot sequence, user will be prompted if they wish to use VoiceOver.


Typical setup process for setting up a new Mac - selecting language/country, connecting to a WiFi network, logging in to 

AppleID, choosing display, privacy screens, setting up Hey Siri, setting up Touch ID, and so on.


I had issues installing/setting up Mac OS Catalina 10.15.1 namely unable to choose my WiFi network from the table list (focus issues with VoiceOver), unable to sign in with two AppleIDS for iCloud/Media, and Hey Siri kept being read out by VoiceOver so had to stop.


Also whilst Touch ID did work for setup, was not getting percentage or instruction to put finger on or off via VoiceOver as is the case with iOS.


Finally had to setup Mac without AppleID, and Hey Siri.  Completed this in System Preferences/Internet accounts once Mac setup.


One final issue, had to update to Mac OS 10.15.2 as there was a bug with VoiceOver in 10.15.1 where the Time Option+T once VO Keyboard Commander turned on via Shift+VO+K wouldn’t work, fixed in 10.15.2.


As with all Macs used, I made the following changes:

In Finder preferences  - turn on Show Hard Drive on the Desktop, and show File Extensions.

Finder view - changed to List View.


System Preferences/Accessibility:

Check - Show Accessibility Status in Menu Bar.

Speech - Check Enable Announcements, and Check Speak Selected Text When a Key is Pressed. 

Descriptions - Check Play Audio Descriptions when Available..


System Preferences/Date and Time/Clock - Announce the Time Every (Quarter Hour).

System Preferences/Users - check VoiceOver within Accessibility options to come up at login screen.

System Preferences/Siri - change Siri short-cut to FN+Space Bar.

System Preferences/Sound - check Play Feedback When Volume is Changed. Adjust the sound volume for Time/date Announcement.


Mail - Shift+Command+M Show Mail Box List.

Safari/Preferences/Advanced - check Press Tab to Highlight Each Item on a Webpage.


VoiceOver Utility/verbosity - uncheck  Announce Hints in VoiceOver cursor.

VoiceOver/Trackpad Commander - Enabled VO+two finger clockwise rotate.

VoiceOver/Keyboard Commander - Enabled Shift+VO+K.


Physical Benefits of the New MacBook Pro 16


Physical Escape key rather than using the virtual Escape key on the Touch Bar.

Escape key and Touch ID button well spaced away from the Touch Bar.

Good separation between key rows on the keyboard.

Inverted capital T much easier to locate the Arrow keys.


The Touch ID makes it extremely easy to pay for purchases, and to unlock the MacBook Pro 16.


Absolutely amazing spacial studio sound when sitting in front of the MacBook Pro 16 speakers with excellent base.  Actually does sound like you are sitting in front of a HomePod.


VoiceOver sounds extremely clear with the speakers, and the Progress Clicks for the progression of a progress bar from the left to the right stereo speakers are quite profound and very easy to pick up and listen to.


Interesting effect when listening to voiceOver and music, voiceOver really does sound like its coming from a speaker in front whilst the music is coming from the speakers everywhere: makes it easier to listen to VoiceOver whilst listening to music.


Very high quality retina screen of benefit to low vision users, particularly when in conjunction with Zoom and the other new options in Catalina to have items speak under the pointer, and hover text magnification.


Benefits and Points to Consider


As there is no function bar, you can easily use F1 to F10 function style keys with VoiceOver by holding down the Fn key which turns the row of numbers in to F1 to F10.  For example, to do VO+F8 it would be FN+VO+8 (8 on the number row).

Note  for volume Up or Down for VoiceOver - Shift+VO+Dash or VO+Equals.


To use Touch Bar with VoiceOver, 1 finger drag or flick left or right across Touch Bar, to explore, and then 1 finger double tap on item to activate.

Note - Touch Bar changes options depending what application is in focus.


To toggle VoiceOver on or off non Touch Bar Macbook’s - Command+F5.  Touch Bar - Command+Touch ID 3 times.


To bring up the Accessibility Options Dialog box, on Macbook’s with no Touch Bar Option+F5, with Touch Bar Option+Touch ID 3 times.


With Mac OS Catalina, it is now possible to have various accessibility options turned on before the login screen, not just VoiceOver which was previously the case in earlier versions of Mac OS.


Transferring from a previous keyboard such as the MacBook Pro 13 or MacBook Air etc, is now much easier to transfer to the MacBook Pro 16 due to the excellent layout of the keyboard.


Keyboard is an absolute joy to type on with the keys having good mechanical feedback and motion.


I still surprisingly found VoiceOver’s change voice parameters command Shift+VO+Command+Arrow keys still extremely sluggish even on this MacBook Pro 16.  Ever since Apple switched the this command from VO+Command+Arrow keys the responsiveness of switching between the various speech parameters of Rate, Pitch, Volume etc has been very disappointing in the time it takes to switch from one item to the next: really does feel like I’m using a very old MacBook from a decade ago.


As the MacBook Pro 16 has no USB ports, a USBC hub with USB and other ports would be of advantage, especially if wanting to plug in a USB Braille display.  Not a disadvantage, just something to keep in mind.


Quite surprisingly, I still kept getting VoiceOver’s “busy” processing announcement every now and again when doing such simple tasks as adding an attachment to Mail.  With the Shift+VO+Command issue as well, I’m wondering if the actual code for VoiceOver has at all been optimised to take advantage of the faster processor?


The MacBook Pro 16 does get quite warm when using it on your lap, particularly if wearing shorts and the aluminium casing is in contact with your skin, quite noticeable and may be uncomfortable for some.


The increase in weight over the other MacBooks may be a consideration in carrying the unit around.


The only way to get high quality microphone recordings out of the MacBook Pro 16 is to try and speak directly in to the Mic array (which is quite difficult given it’s placement).  It does not compare to an external microphone, especially when being able to get closer or positioning an external mic close to your mouth.


The 720P iSight camera located at the top of the screen as with other MacBooks, is disappointing in such a high end MacBook given the target market, and the ever growing use of video conferencing including Apple’s own FaceTime group conferencing facility.


When invoking Siri via the keyboard shortcut, or “Hey Siri” ,would have been useful to have the usual alert sound to let the user know that Siri is listening.  This happens whether using the internal speaker or head phones (same with Hey Siri).


Summing Up


The MacBook Pro 16 is clearly aimed at the pro market where besides getting through massive amounts of processing quickly, it also translates in to less time taken to produce content: i.e. time is money.  However, for VoiceOver users, the new keyboard/layout, and the sound of music/VoiceOver does make this MacBook Pro an attractive MacBook (if price is no option).

For low vision users, it is important to point out that whilst the physical screen is bigger, display wise it is primarily still the same retina screen found in the MacBook Pro 13.

It would be great to see this keyboard come back in other MacBooks as they hopefully are updated with this new style of keyboard, without the price tag of the MacBook Pro 16, especially for the ageing population who don’t need a fast machine, but do need a larger screen, and a easy to use keyboard.


For a portable go anywhere MacBook and cost effective, the MacBook Air is still the way to go, particularly for students  However, not with the new keyboard.


For a good mix of portability, power, and a bit more pricey, the entry or high level MacBook Pro 13 is a solid option, particularly for school and work where a bit more power is required.  However, not with the new keyboard.


Note - the MacBook Pro 16 replaced the MacBook 15, hence the new line up - MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13, and MacBook Pro 16.


A lovely unit. For me as a podcaster and radio show presenter, I am quite disappointed by the positioning of the mics as I would have liked to been able to just use the MacBook Pro 16 itself.  All the advancement has gone in to the processing speed which is fantastic for high pro users, but perhaps a little bit more thought should have gone in to the positioning of the mic array, and the 720P camera for video conferencing (even pros want to video conference and not just data crunch smile).


In this demo, I give you a quick look at how I use the Home app to access devices at home, the News app to keep up with news, and Voice Memos to quickly do and playback recordings from my Mac.

Of course, these were the apps that Apple ported from iOS on to the Mac OS to give the best of worlds for either accessing these apps from iOS devices or the Mac OS desktop.

In this demo, I demo the Mac app Tooth Fairy to show how easy it is to add a Bluetooth icon to the menu bar (in VoiceOver terms the Extra Menu) to allow faster access to AirPods: eg switching them from the iPhone to the Mac.

Link to the Mac App Store for Tooth Fairy

In this demo, I give you a demo of my wireless speaker setup at home and take you through the simple process of playing to the HomePod and other wireless speaker devices around my home.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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

For Mac and Windows screen reader users: how to play or podcasts on

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

Using iCloud drive in Yosemite with VoiceOver

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

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

Demo of the new VoiceOver browsing mode with Safari in Yosemite

Demo of sending a iMessage Voice Message in Yosemite with Voiceover

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

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

An overview of using Notifications Centre in Yosemite with VoiceOver

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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:

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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