Buying a Mac

macOS & Mac Apps
I've used a PC for many years, but I'm seriously thinking of buying either a Macbook Pro or Air. I already use VoiceOver on my iPhone and love it. Would it be a hard transition from PC to Mac? My current screen reader is Window-Eyes. Thanks.



Submitted by Dave Nason on Sunday, December 23, 2012

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
It's not any more difficult to use or anything, in fact I really like the Mac and VoiceOver. But you do need to be prepared to work at it because there is a learning curve. I switched two years ago though and have been really happy with it. It also may depend what you use your computer for. Productivity, word processing etc. is probably the weakest element of the Mac for VoiceOver users. Personally I run Windows 7 as a virtual machine on my Macbook to give me access to Microsoft Office. If you have the chance to play around with a Mac for a bit before deciding, do it.

I agree with Dave82, Productivity is lacking. Apple is making progress. For Word and Excel type stuff, Windows is better. So keep a Windows computer for that, or run VM software on Mac. Apple builds a sturdier computer. You also don't deal with the crashing of a Windows computer.

Submitted by jrjolley (not verified) on Sunday, December 23, 2012

In reply to by J.P.

Hi, I agree with both comments 1 and 2. The VO learning curve isn't all that difficult if you accept, from the get go, that this isn't a Windows machine. The initial frustration will be finding applications that do what you need. I use a mac full time, don't bother with Windows in a VM or otherwise. I did initially, but I began to use the VM less and less as I found comparable mac programs. It's each to there own in this situation though. The comments regarding productivity are well founded. I'd be interested to know what mac you go in for and why. The macbook airs are really quite nice machines for the use case, the retina MBps are far too expensive but I understand this is just because of the display. I think that if you need a machine to do light browsing, a bit of email, facebook, twitter, some light word processing then a macbook air would do the job for 99 per cent of folks these days. If you need support for additional hardware, use music applications with any sort of regularity and need lots of storage options, the macbook pros are ideal.All of the various mac options are fine machines though, you can get useful work done on any of them these days.

Hey all, I have been a mac user for almost 3 years, made the switch from using windows with Zoomtext when I needed a full time screen reader, and the cost of a mac compared to windows plus jaws was about the same. I am interested to know what people use for a screen reader while using a virtual machine, as I thought I heard voiceover wouldn't work when running windows? I am fed up with the lack of accessibility with numbers and have contacted apple accesibility several times and got the standard response. I use spread sheets a great deal and I constantly have to restart numbers as it has a lot of issues with Voiceover. I would be looking to use the VM with excel which I have but cannot use with Voiceover. Thanks

Submitted by Dave Nason on Monday, December 24, 2012

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by blindgator

You're correct, VoiceOver does not work on the Windows side, it can't. You are literally running Windows on your Mac, so your screen reader options are the same as a Windows machine.

Submitted by J.P. on Monday, December 24, 2012

I use NVDA on the Windows side with VM, you don't have to worry about upgrade cost, like with JAWS. NVDA is open source, and very reliable.

Submitted by Dave Nason on Monday, December 24, 2012

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by J.P.

Me too.

Submitted by Janet I on Monday, December 24, 2012

You guys are wonderful. Am I correct that if I buy a Mac, I will need to have its hard drive partitioned if I want to use Microsoft Office and Goldwave? Will Apple do that or will I have to hire someone. Also, if I don't use Microsoft Office and someone sends me a Word or Excel document, will the programs that come with the Mac be able to read them?

Submitted by blindgator on Monday, December 24, 2012

In reply to by Janet I

Hey Janet, I can't answer all of your questions about partioning a drive, as I have never done that. To use Microsoft Office you would have to do so. I use Pages Apple's answer to Word, and it works pretty good for me. You can open any word document in it and save all your pages documents as a word document, which I do as everything I email to someone goes out as a word document. Numbers is Apple's answer to Excel, but it has a ton of glitches with Voiceover. Some days it will work pretty good for me, and other days I have tons of problems with it. Overall I am pretty happy with my mac, but it did take me a good 2 months of using it non stop to get use to it. Anyone who tells you there is not a learning curve is dead wrong, but than again I had never used a screen reader, and had to learn all the keyboard shortcuts from scratch, as I used Zoomtext with a mouse until my vision got worst and I needed the full screen reader. There are websites also that are either not properly designed or that safari and voiceover does have trouble with which can sometimes be frustrating. For example safari does not have flash built into it, but you can easily use chrome to open anything with flash. I rarely need to but at least this is an alternative and an option. Hope this helps.

Submitted by Eirik the Red on Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In reply to by Janet I

Hi, Janet. If all you need to do is use productivity software like MS Word and Excel on Windows, I'd advise you to run Windows as a virtual machine inside the Mac operating system. In this way, you don't have to worry about partitioning, and you can use Windows and the Mac at the same time. I have a virtual version of Windows 7 that I use with NVDA and Jaws, and it works really well. Also, you can install Windows without help from a sighted person if you use VMWare Fusion as your virtual machine player.

This is an excellent string of advice and I agree with most everything. I bought an 11 inch Air about a month ago and love it! About half the weight of my higher end Thinkpad and boots in about 5 seconds. As far as processor power, memory and storage, it is ample. Browsing works very well, mail is superb, and managing the machine is a true pleasure compared to a Windows machine. However, I find that Office applications on WIndows are far better than the Mac apps. I've purchased Pages for $20 and played quite a bit with it and can't get close to how well Word works in Windows. I'm trying, but sense I will go to VMWare Fusion and Windows for these uses. From the last post by Eirik, I'd appreciate any tips you have for FUsion and running JAWS in the WIndows screen. I'd like to go completely Mac, but I am not there yet with the productivity tools.

Submitted by Eirik the Red on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In reply to by ray h

Hi, Ray. I use a handy little programme called Sharp Keys to remap various keys on the keyboard while running Windows. Just install Windows as a virtual machine, install Sharp Keys, remap the capslock key, and you should be good to go. Here's a link to the download page for the latest version of Sharp Keys:

Submitted by Janet I on Monday, December 31, 2012

If I'm going to just use my version of Microsoft Office on the Mac, do I have to install both Boot Camp and VMware Fusion? I'd be using Windows XP and Office 2003?

really useful comments as I'm thinking of getting a MacBook Air as well. Does voiceover on the MacBook Air work well with Skype?

Submitted by Eirik the Red on Monday, December 31, 2012

In reply to by Janet I

Hi Janet. You don't have to install Bootcamp and Fusion. If you only intend to use windows as a virtual machine, then just install Fusion and forget about Bootcamp.

Submitted by Carlos Alonso on Monday, December 31, 2012

Hi Janet, I got my first Mac on Friday, like yourself, I've been using a PC for many years initially with ZoomText and for the last 4 years with JAWS. Also like you, my experience with the iPhone and Voiceover made me very interested in the Mac. I'm very happy with my purchase so far - as far as how difficult it is to transition, well I am by no means an expert, but after using it for a couple of days, I can say that there is definitely a learning curve and wouldn't call it easy. I think if one was starting from scratch learning how to use the Mac would be easier than learning the PC. However, particularly for us needing a screen reader, many years of using a Windows PC with JAWS or Window Eyes gets you very used to doing things a certain way and switching to the Mac makes you have to learn a bunch of new shortcut keys and so forth. There are some excellent articles posted in Applevis about switching, I found one by David Woodbridge that really helped me a ton in getting started, it's a must read if you are making the switch. The Mac does allow you to run Windows in Virtual mode or with a dual-boot setup, there are also several Applevis posts about this. You might still need Windows if you have to use a spreadsheet program, MS Office is not accessible running onder OSX and the Apple word processor (Pages) is accessible but not the spreadsheet app (Numbers). Other than that I've read several posts here and elsewhere from folks using their Macs with Voiceover exclusively and not ever going back to Windows. I think if you put the time and effort into getting used to the Mac and not keep switching back and forth from Windows using OSX with Voiceover is quite doable and like the iPhone, the Macs are great sleek pieces of hardware and you'll like the experience. Good luck, it's great that we have Applevis as a resource for this type of switch.

Submitted by blindgator on Monday, December 31, 2012

In reply to by Carlos Alonso

Hey Carlos, I just wanted to say that you nailed it. Being someone who switched from the PC when it was time for a new computer, I went with the mac, and there is a learning curve. I was using Zoomtext and it took me a little while to get used to learning how to use the screen reader and all the keyboard commands, but once you get it down, wow. One thing that has not been mentioned in this thread, and one of the main reasons I went with a mac, is I wanted a computer with the screen reader built into the operating system. This may not be the case anymore or with Jaws, but three years ago using Zoomtext on an XP slowed my computer to a crawl, so one of my biggest decisions to switch to a mac was the built in Voiceover. Is the mac and Mountain Lion perfect? No, it does have problems and bugs, but I think any computer and assistive technology will. Good luck with your decision.

Submitted by Chris Bruinenberg on Monday, December 31, 2012

Hi all, Would somebody like me to atempt to make a podcast on installing win 7 under fusion? I can walk through the steps to making your capslock to be your insert key on windows. Just let me know, feel free to add me on skype. cbruin7

Submitted by MarkSARCH on Monday, December 31, 2012

In reply to by Chris Bruinenberg

Hi to all I don't try change your mind, everyone has difference experienced, ideas, comments, using or taking decisions to purchase a Mac. Don't think and go with the idea that VoiceOver on the iOS devices iPhone, iPad, iPod ) works on the same way on Mac, VoiceOver on iOS devices seriously I'm agree that is the best screen reading however I don't share the same respect to VoiceOver on the Mac an other words on iOS devices you can do almost everything but not on Mac. All depend what do you want go and what you want do? I have a MacBook pro running mountain lion and I back to windows PC, I got a windows 8 couple weeks ago and I love it, and my question and may your too! Where is the Mac? I spent $1500 on the Mac machine and is not complain nothing to do with Mac are good machines I'm talking about VoiceOver on the Mac. I have my windows 8 NVDA as screen reading and works amazing, Just make sure before to purchase it

Submitted by Carlos Alonso on Monday, December 31, 2012

In reply to by Chris Bruinenberg

Chris, it'd be great if you could do such a podcast, after researching, it makes more sense for me to run Windows in virtual mode rather than dual-boot - thanks in advance for volunteering... blindgator, good point, having a built-in screen reader was probably the best practical reason for me buying the Mac, I have to still use a Windows laptop at work which I have to bring home with me so when I was considering what to replace my personal desktop with I went with the mini and I got a very solid, sleek and super fast desktop with built in speech, like you say not perfect but I am very pleased with it.

Submitted by Earth on Monday, December 31, 2012

In reply to by Carlos Alonso

I also was a window PC user and stil am but love the mac air that I just got in August. I experienced that the voiceover some time can read more on the safari than JAWS can on IE. my friend and I were go through this one site and I tell her to look for thing and I do the same on the Mac while she on the window. As it turn out, mac went more smoothly and able to read everything on that site but she had difficulty on the window and can't get JAWS to find some of the button on the site. I love my Mac!!!

Submitted by Carlos Alonso on Monday, December 31, 2012

In reply to by MarkSARCH

Marco makes a good point regarding the reason to buy a Mac, I think all of us who went from zero or clunky smart phone accessibility to the experience of using an iPhone with voiceover were naturally wondering if that kind of accessibility is there in OXX - so one shouldn't make the switch solely based on that expectation, since there are now decent solutions in windows, even free ones like NVDA. Having said that, there is no windows PC that is ready to speak out of the box yet, Narrator in Windows 8 is improved but is no Voiceover. I fairly thoroughly searched forum posts and such before ordering my Mac and understood that 1 - there is a learning curve, 2) if budget is critical you can still get a cheaper solution with a PC and NVDA, 3 - if you have to use spreadsheets you at least initially will have to install windows on your Mac. But I also found that many issues some people complain about are actually things that you can manage by learning to use Voiceover more thoroughly. Even with JAWS not everything is spoken automatically or easily, you sometimes have to rely on the review cursor, virtualizing screens, OCR, scripts etc. So perfect accessibility is not there, anywhere, but when I powered up my new Mac, the speech came on after a few seconds when I didn't click on anything, my wireless keyboard and track pad were already functional and I went through the initial setup in a couple of minutes. And on the first day I was navigating web pages fairly easily, read and wrote email, setup calendar contacts and even sent and received text messages from Mountain Lion in which links to my iPhone through my apple ID. And this Mac mini is super fast and smooth, speech quality is great and very responsive and it's about half the size of my old PC keyboard, that's not just cool, it's very practical! So far I'm a happy camper and next is installing VMWare Fusion and hope not to rely on the Windows crutch too much, I don't think I'll have to...

Submitted by Vash Rein on Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In reply to by Earth

I actually want one and think it is worth the money and effort of learning an os that is almost completely accessible. However, even though it is worth the price, it can be a little too high for something that is going to be switched in 2-4 years. I buy windows notebooks because they are cheaper and for someone like me, who upgrades every 2 years or so, paying upwards of $1500-$2500 isn't worth it because it'll cost too much to keep doing it, especially since Apple upgrades its MacBook air and pro specs yearly. Performance wise, I think everything works well and since you can either install windows and run it separately in your mac when booting or even running it as a virtual machine, its almost like having too computers. Design wise, you're not going to find anything with the mac's physical quality. Very beautiful and extremely solidly built machines. Moreover, you get only usb 3.0 when many pcs still offer usb 2.0 and a thunderbolt port which is essentially better than usb because of its size and much greater speed.

Submitted by Janet I on Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thanks to everyone who commented on my topic. I bought an 11 inch Macbook Air, yesterday. Am I correct that to install a VM, i first install VMWare fusion, then Windows and finally Window-Eyes? Will Window-Eyes automatically run anytime a Windows application is launched?

Hi Eric, I have Sharp Keys installed, but I don't see how to map an alt, Windows or control key. Where can I find those keys on the right side? Many Thanks.

Submitted by Isaac Hebert (not verified) on Monday, January 28, 2013

buy the macc book air because you can install mountain line on it.