Apple has long made its operating systems compatible for the largest possible number of people, providing options and tools for those with assistive needs. Accessibility options can help not only those who need to adjust their computing devices for certain limitations, but some of these options can make computing easier for everyone.
Last year, we covered five accessibility features; and now, here are some more options that can help you use your Mac more efficiently.
Browsing accessibility options
Apple groups accessibility options in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences.
There are 13 sections in this preference pane, and it's a good idea to browse the options to see what they can do.
One of the display options I always turn on on my Macs is Reduce transparency. While I disagree with the terminology Apple uses—it's translucency, not transparency—what this does is get rid of the see-through menus and menu bars. I find it annoying to try to read a menu when I can see what's behind it. And if the menu bar is translucent, then there's less contrast between the text and the background. Here's an example of a Finder menu, with translucency on at the top and off at the bottom.
Another useful option is increasing the cursor size. As you can see in the screenshot above, I've set mine one notch higher than standard. I find that on a large display, it's much easier to see my cursor when it's larger than normal.
And if you still can't find your cursor? Make sure to activate Shake mouse pointer to locate. If you don't see the cursor, just shake your mouse, or move a finger back and forth quickly on your trackpad, and the cursor gets very large until you stop moving.
Make it bigger
My aging eyes need slightly larger fonts than average so I can read comfortably, but sometimes I get to a web page and the font is still too tiny. Sure, you can press Command-+ in your browser to increase the font size, but sometimes that's not practical, because it messes up the layout.
I use an option in the Zoom settings to be able to zoom in on my display at any time. Check Use scroll gesture with modifier keys to zoom, and choose a key; I use the Control key.
This means that when I need to read something small, I press and hold the Control key and scroll on my trackpad (you can do this with a mouse as well). If you use the Picture in picture option, the zoom only affects a small area around your cursor.
Input device options
There are some useful options to explore in the Mouse & Trackpad section of these settings. If you click the Trackpad Options or Mouse Options button, you can adjust the scrolling speed—this is how much your windows move when you scroll—and whether or not to use inertia. If you use inertia, the scrolled content slows down at the end of the scroll; without inertia it stops more abruptly when you stop scrolling.
In the video below, you'll first see scrolling with inertia, then without.
Sometimes you might want to turn the volume off on your Mac, but still be informed when you get alerts, the kind that manifest as system beeps. In the Audio settings, you can tell your Mac to flash the screen when an alert sound occurs.
Whether or not the audio is on, you'll see a brief flash telling you that your Mac is "beeping."
Check out the rest of the accessibility settings; in addition to those describe in this article, you may find others that make working with your Mac more efficient.
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