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OS X Mavericks: Use accessibility features

Use accessibility features

Accessibility comes standard in a Mac. Whether you have difficulties with vision, hearing, or physical mobility, OS X includes a variety of features to help you work in alternative ways—and make your Mac even easier to use.

VoiceOver Utility window

To easily check which accessibility features are on, select the option at the bottom of Accessibility preferences to show the accessibility status in the menu bar.

To quickly turn on common accessibility features without opening System Preferences, press Option (⌥)-Command (⌘)-F5. To hear the names of the options spoken in turn, press Tab. To set more accessibility options, click Preferences.

In some apps, you can have your Mac speak text by using the Edit > Speech commands. This functionality might not be available for all languages.

Use the built-in screen reader called VoiceOver

OS X includes VoiceOver, a built-in screen reader that describes aloud what appears on your screen and speaks the text in documents, webpages, and windows. Using VoiceOver, you control your Mac with the keyboard or trackpad gestures. You can connect a refreshable braille display to use with VoiceOver.

  • To turn on VoiceOver, press Command (⌘)-F5.
  • To customize VoiceOver to suit your needs, use VoiceOver Utility.
  • To learn how to use VoiceOver, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, click VoiceOver, then click Open VoiceOver Training.

For help with VoiceOver, choose Help > VoiceOver Help while VoiceOver Utility is open.

Zoom content on the screen

If items on the screen are too small, you can zoom in to make content larger and easier to see.

To set zoom options, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, then click Zoom.

Use your keyboard in different ways

If you have trouble using the keyboard, you can turn on Sticky Keys and Slow Keys, to make it easier to press keys.

To set these options, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, then click Keyboard.

Move the pointer with the keyboard

If you have trouble using a mouse, you can turn on Mouse Keys and then use the keyboard or numeric keypad to move the mouse pointer and press the mouse button.

To set the option, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, then click Mouse & Trackpad.

Use speech recognition and text to speech

Use speech recognition to get work done by speaking commands—for example, you can open apps, choose menu items, and more. OS X provides a number of commands, or “speakable items,” and you can create your own.

Use spoken commands to control your Mac

With text-to-speech options, your Mac can speak the text in dialogs and alert messages, and notify you when an application needs you to do something, such as accept a Messages invitation.

Hear your Mac speak text

Change how your keyboard, mouse, and trackpad work

OS X provides various ways to customize how your keyboard, mouse, and trackpad work. For example, you can adjust the speed at which the pointer moves across the screen when you move your finger across the trackpad.

  • To set options for your keyboard, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Keyboard.
  • To set options for your mouse, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Mouse.
  • To set options for your trackpad, including gestures, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Trackpad.

Control your Mac with adaptive switches

With Switch Control, people with limited mobility can use one or more adaptive accessories to enter text, interact with items on the screen, and control a Mac. Switch Control scans a panel or user interface until a switch is used to select an item or perform an action.

Use Switch Control

Last Modified: May 8, 2014
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  • Last Modified: May 8, 2014
  • Article: PH14322
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