A few beginners questions about my new Mac

macOS & Mac Apps

Hello everyone,
I got my Mac a few days ago, it's the new air 2020 with a customized configuration (a better CPU) and I love it so far. Though there are a few things I can't really figure out. It's a lot of questions so I didn't want to open a forum topic for each of them, I hope that's ok. So here it goes:
1. The most annoying problem I have is in safari, I can't go back. I've tried cmd arrow left, cmd left bracket (so the one to the right of the p, I have another keyboard layout that's why I say it), and cmd control 5 / cmd option 5. None of those works. The weird thing is that in the voice over help in the keyboard shortcuts/navigation menu, there's an entry for previous content, but it doesn't say the keyboard shortcut. Does anyone know what to do? I've tried the shortcut while in the web content and also outside of it. Edit: when I press vo and left arrow, it always said beginning of text. I've tried to deactivate quicknav. Also I've figured out that when I'm on the new tap button outside of the web content, it does work.
2. Is there a way to quickly switch between keyboard layouts? I'm a multilingual person and need at least three different keyboard layouts. This question also applies to languages -- is there a way to switch between languages like the language rotor on my phone? Yes, the Mac is supposed to recognize the language automatically, but in messaging apps like messages or messenger this doesn't work. I also figured out how to switch between voices, but I have 4 languages added and my main language, that makes the switching voices slower because I have a lot of them.
3. When I start a task on my phone in safari for example, I'd like to transfer it over to my Mac. So I've heard of handoff and it works the other way around when I want to continue a task I started on my iPhone with my Mac. But how can I take the task from my iPhone over with the Mac? The help says it should be in the dock somewhere, which is not the case for me or maybe I don't know how to access it.
4. When I am in the emoji selection and choose an emoji, it closes. I can't imagine that this is normal since sighted people use a lot of emojis too and opening the selection every time gets kind of annoying. So is there a workaround? I use vo and space to choose an emoji.
5. Using the dictating feature by pressing the fn key two times doesn't work for me, although I can start it from the edit menu. But even if I do that, I get stuck, navigating with vo plus arrows just gives me a ding, vo plus space or escape doesn't work either, I can only close the whole window. Do I do anything wrong?

Ok, I'm done with my novel for now, but I guess there will be more questions popping up with the time. :) Hope someone can help. Have a nice day everyone.



Submitted by Mira on Monday, May 11, 2020

Hi again, I have to add another question, it just popped up when I sent one of my first iMessages from my Mac. When I type and send a message and then type another one, sometimes the Mac will keep parts of the text of a previous message in the text field. This can be pretty annoying for both me and the recipient. I don't press any weird keys, just go into the text field with vo and arrows, then type away and press enter. This problem persists after restarting the Mac.

Submitted by mistermouse on Tuesday, May 12, 2020


It is funny to see that I have the same questions as a new Mac user, so I hope someone else here can help us.
The one thing I can tell you is that go back is with command key and the square bracket open [ . this key is located the second key to the left top of the enter key. This is if you use an qwerty keyboard, and is also the reason why I changed from azerty over, along with some other keystrokes that make more sense in qwerty.


Submitted by Daniel Angus MacDonald on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

the only answer I might be of help with is the one regarding dictation. you need to enable enhanced dictation in system preference>keyboard. from here a file will download and after it completes, dictation should work. it does not confolick with voice control.

Submitted by gamer2004 on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Is there a way to quickly switch between keyboard layouts? Yeah, as i know you can press ctrl space to change laioute

Submitted by Pa. Joe on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

After you add a language in preferences you can use it by pressing: command, option, control, plus shift. Hold these keys down, and then press arrow keys. This is like a rotor. You'll find your language in voices. There are short cut keys for typing tildas and so forth. They will be listed online because they are the same key strokes a sighted person will use. Also in advanced settings in pages you can type in a different language for that specific document. What I do is save one as a template.

Submitted by Justin Harris on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I had to go in to the system folder and delete a ton of default system voices for languages I don't ever use. That made cycling between voices super easy, because now I just have one for Spanish and one for English.

I have noticed your bug in Messages as well. Not sure why that is.
Same for emoji picker. I would love to see a work around for this. The Windows emoji picker works like you would expect, with a keyboard shortcut to open, and another to close. I have an older macbook pro without Touch Bar, so can't say for sure if it works well, but I know sighted people often use the Touch Bar for emoji.
As far as cmd and left arrow for back, I wonder if there is a way to program this. I will see if I can find anything to pull this off.

Forgive me if I am telling you something you already know, but to go back is: CcmD plus left bracket. that's the key just to the right of the letter P.

Submitted by Justin Harris on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Yes I am aware of this command, but do not find it as intuitive. For those of us who find ourselves switching back and forth between mac and Windows, cmd left arrow would be a lot more natural. I know some things can be programed or changed in VO utility. For example, I made the key for moving to next link K instead of L, and shift K to go backwards, to match more closely with NVDA. But I don't know if it will let me do the same with this command.
Will check in to it and report back.

Submitted by Justin Harris on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Interestingly enough, several places say that cmd left arrow should work.
Also, I tried the other command you mentioned, but it's not working either. I use a Spanish style keyboard, so it could have been reassigned. So for now I'm stuck jumping back to the toolbar and hitting back.
On a totally different note, I also have a question. In mail, is there a command to jump straight from the message list to the text of the message? As of now, I have to stop interacting with the list, move over, interact again, skip over a few buttons. Would be cool if there is a way to jump straight there.

Submitted by mistermouse on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

You could try to assign hotspot to the back key by VoiceOver shift and a number and then access it by VoiceOver and that number.

Also try VoiceOver and J to jump in your mail. This works in several apps.


Submitted by Pa. Joe on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Another tool I like to use with the mail app is Vvo plus U. it works like a rotor.

Submitted by mority on Monday, May 18, 2020


regarding all of those question, wasn't there a help section on apples website around regarding VoiceOver specifically? The only tutorials that we have are super old and basically not usable anymore. I managed to pick up a system with high sierra running on it, sadly it's the latest software it can run, but hey, it's at leased something, although I might miss super dooper features in Mojave and Katalina.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by Vsevolod Popov on Monday, May 18, 2020

Actually from what I have noticed if you want handoff to work you need to disable the screen curtain on your iPhone and then it will work.
I had a lot of issues with that.
Then you just go to your doc by pressing VO+D in finder and then the first option should the app you are looking for.

Submitted by Vsevolod Popov on Monday, May 18, 2020

How did you do that?
Where did you find these things in what system folder?
I also would like to do that but I am afraid to break something.