I am looking for pointers to information that's likely already here on Applevis or elsewhere on the net.
I'm a Windows person but I've wanted to learn the Mac for a while. I've played with the voiceover tutorial on a lab computer but that's about it. I am a very experienced iDEVICE user.
I know how to access all the great Getting Started resources here, I know about the NBP books, but I don't have a Mac of my own. So some of the tutorials on things like reading mail, accessing iTunes or keeping a calendar are not relevant for me. I am active on bookshare though and am happy to read anything recommended here.
I work at a college , where there are a ton of spare Macs around. In fact, I just found something in our storeroom yesterday that everyone told me was "just a monitor" but looking at the connections, I'm pretty sure there's an entire Mac inside.
On Wikipedia there are pictures of the different Mac models and their vintages, but that doesn't help me much. If I am using a Mac borrowed from our storeroom, in a computer lab or at someone's desk, how do I know:
* What kind of Mac it is and what vintage it is
* What operating system is running and how/if it can be upgraded?
* Limitations I should be aware of if it's an older Mac.
* If it is OK to use my Bluetooth Braille display or keyboard without messing up the system for the next sighted user?
* If it boots in to Windows what to do to get back to the Mac operating system.
Most of the tutorials assume you have your own Mac. I'm doing this learning piecemeal on whatever Mac I happen to have access to at any given free moment.
Sadly, I work just two miles away from the Apple main campus, yet I know next to nothing about Macs. So I've made it my goal this summer to stop being so ignorant.
Figuring it out
If the mac is booted up, go to the Apple menu and select the "About this Mac..." option. This will give you the model and date of the hardware. For figuring out ports and upgrade possibilities, I recommend you get the free Mac Tracker iOS app which is a very easy to use database of every Apple device listing specifications for every model including the version of Mac OS a computer came with as well as the maximum version it can run. As far as paring Bluetooth Keyboards and Braille displays, this shouldn't mess up anything on any version of Mac OS. Worst case scenario you may run into is that VoiceOver won't support your display and simply won't connect to it, as major Mac OS releases added support for Braille Displays.
As for figuring out models by Touch, I haven't had a lot of experience with varied Mac Models, but even then I can tell you this will be quite difficult as older Mac models were simply revisions of the hardware inside, not so much the software. So a 2009 MacBook Pro is not going to feel any different to a 2012 model, unless it's one of the very new Retina models which is thinner and won't have a CD drive. It's only very Recently that Apple decided to start making their computers even skinnier throwing out ports in the process, with the 2015 Mac only having 1 USB C port and the new butterfly keyboard, and the 2016 pro's getting the touch bar instead of the top row where you'd normally find function keys
A Bit of Experience with This
I actually have a bit of experience with this, as a sister and I both have MacBook Airs and hers is a bit different than mine. I have a 13-inch model and hers is the 11-inch model. The top row of keys on hers are slightly different. I know this because she got hers not long after me, and I was at our parents' house to train her on some things. Both of us got mid-2013 models, and I'm pretty sure they're exactly the same as far as functionality and such. There was a post made on here awhile back regarding the different Mac models, and it was very helpful. I'm not sure how current that post is though, since Apple have now rolled out newer Macs. I can try and link to that post though if nobody beats me to it between now and when I finish my morning round of dishes, lol! Update, Here's that post from earlier: https://www.applevis.com/guides/miscellaneous/explaining-myriad-models-macs . The chargers are exactly the same though.
Sounds like you're dealing
Sounds like you're dealing with iMacs. Previous commenter is right though that you can't always tell what specific model you're using unless it's booted up. I'm a geek though so I often found myself poking around the "about this Mac" menu of the different models in my college's computer labs, classrooms and the bookstore. lol When I first started playing with Macs on campus back in 2008 or so, it was really hard to figure out. I'd take my thumb drive to a computer lab to work on a paper, get frustrated and just end up doing it in my dorm room later. I didn't really figure macos out until I got my own Mac. One thing that used to be great if you're moving between several Macs in a college setting is that Apple used to let you cary your VoiceOver preferences on a thumb drive. You could plug your drive in, start VoiceOver and it would ask you if you want to use your preferences. Once you answer yes, boom all your customized settings would pop up. I made a lot of use of this near the end of my time in college. Sadly, Apple seems to have killed this feature post 10.10 Yosemite. Wish they would bring it back, or even better let you store your prefs in iCloud. That way you wouldn't need to have a thumb drive with you at all.
Some super great links
Solved my problems with this wonderful Applevis article:
and now I have been able to identify every Mac I've come across before it boots up. Thanks Applevis team for the great volunteer efforts!