Initial Impressions from Jumping to macOS from Windows 10

macOS and Mac Apps

I recently switched from a full-time Windows 10 user to using a MacBook Air. My Windows laptop, which is my second, and has lasted me almost 6 years through a hectic school life finally gave up the ghost, after keyboard keys began flying off left, right and centre in some crazy Buckeroo-style game. Having used Windows for 10 years or so (bearing in mind that I’m 16, this is a majority of my lifetime), I expected the transition to Mac OS to be difficult at best. Now, in fairness, I received the MacBook by fedEx yesterday afternoon, so I definitely have plenty more to learn. However, thus far, I am pleasantly surprised — which, in itself, is an understatement.

I just thought I’d mention the highlights of Mac OS for me so far, from the perspective of a Windows switcher (although not a Windows lover, in all honesty.

VoiceOver consistency
I’ve used an iPhone and an iPad since 2012 and 2013 respectively, using VoiceOver full-time, as I have no vision to fall back on. I’ve also used these devices with bluetooth keyboards, and was therefore pleasantly surprised to realise that these skills definitely made for a smoother transition to voiceOver on the Mac. Many keyboard keystrokes are similar/the same, and the same modifier keys are used in Mac OS and iOS. If I had come from JAWS and NVDA on Windows, with no VO experience on iOS, the transition would have been a nightmare: there are very few similarities when it comes to basic OS navigation.

Voiceover’s ability to use the trackpad for input, using gestures similar to those on iOS, with some additional Mac-specific ones, is potentially one of my favourite features of the Mac. Navigating by touch feels so much more natural and comfortable for me, and I’m so glad that the accessibility team at Apple retained the consistency between iOS and Mac OS when it comes to gesture control.

Handoff and continuity
I’ve had some experience of this before, between iPad and iPhone, but I honestly think that this feature cannot be truly appreciated until a Mac/MacBook is brought into the equation. Even within 24 hours, I have found myself several times looking at a page on safari, and needing to go somewhere else, only to pick up my iPhone and find the page ready and waiting for me there. As well as this, being able to make phone calls via my iPhone from the Mac is simply incredible: it makes life just that little bit easier if you’re already on your Mac, and need to contact someone.

Apple Music
Yes, I know — I’m the obligatory individual who subscribes to Apple Music, but I never really thought about it being on the Mac. The fact that it is — albeit in the mess that is iTunes — is great for me. It’s made easier to access through the inclusion of Siri; I can ask her to play one of my playlists, and iTunes pops up and we’re off. Playlists also sync between devices, which is super helpful.

Finally, potentially my favourite little gimmick on the MAcBook — the ability to authenticate oneself using the Apple Watch! Being able to switch on the Mac, and have it ready to use straight away, without need for a password etc is unbelievably useful, and feels very futuristic. It provides me with yet another reason to wear my Apple Watch!

Most, if not all of, these features are new to me, as a Windows switcher, and I’m loving them. Yes, there have been some learning curves involved, and I’m still trying to get my head around a few of the VO keyboard commands, but on the whole I’m really happy. The jump from windows has been made all-too-easy due to my experience with iPhone and iPad, particularly using a bluetooth keyboard, and I would therefore recommend anyone with any iOS experience and an urge to investigate the Mac to give it a go!



Submitted by mendi on Friday, June 1, 2018

I definitely agree with your assessment of saying if you're a JAWS or NVDA user the switch is not so simple. I use an iPhone, but I am not a bluetooth keyboard user really, which makes learning the mac quite the challenge. That said, interesting thought that perhaps it could be made less of a headache if I were to tackle keyboard commands on the iPhone first before giving the Mac another go.

I think the jump to Mac is 100% easier with iOS Bluetooth keyboard experience under your belt. There are some excellent online guides which can get you started

Submitted by Chris Hill on Friday, June 1, 2018

I am playing with an older mac, and I've used IOS since an iphone 3gs. Frankly, I'm not having a whole lot of fun with it. I get trapped inside things and can't manage to switch the focus to what I want. I think if I had the touchpad I'd be having a bit more fun than I am, or maybe a newer version of the operating system would help, this mac is running a pretty old version. The main question I'm trying to determine the answer to, though, is maybe something someone else knows about. HOw well does the MAC really work with ms-office or preferably libreoffice or Open office. I know they have Numbers and Words and all, but I havbe a lot of experience with spreadsheets in Ms Office, and I don't want to try to reinvent the wheel.

Maybe part of my issue is that I never got into using the keyboard with my iphone, I just prefer to use the phone itself, but that doesn't change the focus issues, I suspect.

Having a newer Mac and keeping the OS updated only serves to benefit you when it comes to using VO. While there may be bugs here and there with new releases, ultimately each update increases speed and efficiency so I would strongly advise you to upgrade your system or get new hardware or at least give it a try to see the difference.The latest version of MS Office works great on the Mac and I've had no issues whatsoever. Haven't used OpenOffice, but Google Docs/Sheets has gotten better and is also quite functional and accessible. If you have the ability to test all this out before committing to a full overhaul and upgrade, such as going to an Apple store or trying the latest computers out with MacOS High Sierra at a resource center, I strongly recommend that!

Submitted by Justin on Friday, June 1, 2018

As a long-time mac user, I can safely say, welcome to the wonderful world of MacOS. Understand, I've not used a BT keyboard on my iPhone for a few years, I use BSI braille screen input for all my typing needs. I use the keyboard for everything in MacOS, however, and keep the trackpad commander disabled. For focus issues, Chris, what OS are you using. I use High sierra 10.13.4, and I'm assuming you've got a machine that's older than 2009, so it might not be an intel machine. MS office didn't work until a year and a half or so ago, so I am not exactly sure about the focus issues you're having. Truely, focus issues are not that frequent on my end, and everything is running smoothly. For a learning standpoint, there is no real compairison between mac and windows, they're two different to really compare. Before I got a mac in 2010, I was a long term windows user, going back to win 95, then jumping to XP for several years.
In my experience, use whatever OS ecosystem you're comfortable with, and if it works, then it's good for me. Personally, I'm thinking of getting a windows laptop to play around with, since it's been 9 years or so since I've dropped Win. It's truely unfortunate that people don't make much in the way of games for the mac. That's another valid point. There really aren't many games for the mac platform. :( oh well.

Submitted by Kelsey on Friday, June 1, 2018

Due to my budget, as well as the frequent need for USB/SD card support, I opted to buy the 2017 MacBook Air. It's running High Siera, and is as smooth as I could have hoped for -- definitely smoother than my Windows 10 machine (admittedly coming up to 6 years old now).
I'm becoming accustomed to, and quite fond of, the trackpad commander on the MacBook Air: it reminds me of navigating on iOS, and is a nice addition, whether you use it or not.

Submitted by Vsevolod Popov on Friday, June 1, 2018

Hello Kelsy and all! Thank you for your post! It was useful to me because i will switch to a mac book soon. I am also 10 year windows user and i also used my iPhone with a bluetooth keyboard. I am going to use it for a learning things in the university. My laptop works awful with windows 10 and i decided to try the mack book out. I think that it will not be a problem because i have my pc with windows 10 so it will be a good thing to learn. . But i have lots of questions about voiceover on a mac. I cannot understand what interacting with objects is need for and how i can understand that i need to interact with it. This is the most difficult thing for me. Also i don't know how to use finder and how to switch to it after pressing f4 key. Do i understand right that f4 key is like an iOs home screen? I have tryed the last mack book air and last mack book pro in our russian store "restore" but it's difficult for me to decide which keyboard is better really. Does windows work well on a mack book air? These are my all questions and thank you for your post again!

Submitted by Justin on Friday, June 1, 2018

I would be cautious when thinking of running windows on macbooks. Think of the resources windows takes. If you are still wanting windows, then keep your PC around for when you might need it. Think of the finder as a desktop in windows. It's where all your files/folders are stored. To access finder, you can Command+tab to get to finder. This is like tabbing between applications in windows with the Alt+tab keystroke. Do this till you hear VO say finder, then release. Voila, you're in finder. No need to hit the F4 key. That doesn't take you to finder like whatever it does in iOS. Also, no need to use a BT keyboard on macbooks, as it's really a standard laptop keyboard, just substituting the windows/alt keys with Option and command keys.

Submitted by Malthe on Friday, June 1, 2018

Windows works fine on a macbook, either virtualised in VMware fusion, or run on a separate bootcamp partition. Personally I like to run Windows in VMware, so I can have both operating systems booted at once and switch between them as needed. VMware is pretty smooth, I tend to alocate about half my macbook's resources to it, which works well on my MBP from late 2013

Submitted by Ekaj on Saturday, June 2, 2018

I, too, made the jump from Windows to Mac at the end of 2013, but at the time I didn't have my iPhone. That came later, which I'll get to in a bit. But thinking things over a little has caused me to realize that I'm even more appreciative of Apple than before when I used the AppleII. Don't get me wrong: I liked Windows a lot, and there's certainly something to be said for the accessibility work that Microsoft has done and is continuing to do. But one thing which I didn't much care for is the fact that Microsoft didn't have their own screen reader. Based on what I am hearing that is different now, due to the improvements in Narrator. I used NVDA for awhile and loved it. But to have a fully-functional screen reader right out of the box on all of Apple's products is truly great. Additionally, it seems that with every update on the Mac VoiceOver gets better still. Some will disagree with me here, but I haven't found any of the bugs to be show-stoppers. Some of them are more serious than others, but there are workarounds.

Now to my iPhone. My parents and I had been consulting with my brother, who is on his second iPhone. I have a bit of a hand coordination issue, and we were skeptical about the touch screen. But my brother suggested we talk with some of the people at Second Sense here in Chicago, which used to be the Guild for the Blind. He worked there for a bit. So we met with them and they couldn't've been more helpful. I got my iPhone the day before Easter, and have been playing around with it. I couldn't be happier with this phone. Apple truly is committed to making their products and services usable by everybody, and it shows.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, June 2, 2018

I listened to many podcast about using a mac. I prefer W10. I always use Window 10. However my first PC was an apple C which I had to use vocalize because there was no VO at that time. Window is much easier to use and simple for me. I do love my iPhone but I will keep W10.

Submitted by Mike Taylor on Saturday, June 2, 2018

Hi and congratulations on your mac. I was a windows user full time until about 2years ago having switched to a mac after literally spending a few years looking at its developments, and having an iOS device since 2012. Now I use windows all the time at home, only using our windows machine to keep its security updated as some of my family still use windows. That is until a few weeks ago when the windows machine died. I only use windows in work now. I love the mac because it of course has VoiceOver built in, and its just more logical than windows and narrator although I think it is only right that we give microsoft credit for now trying to improve narrator, and having accessibility take a more prominent place at the development stage. That in any industry is a good thing. That said, my nac does what I expect it to do, it just works, I can easily get help if I forgot a command using the VoiceOver help items, and the one time that an update did go wrong, meant that I could reinstall the OS without any problems. So yep I love it.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Saturday, June 2, 2018

I have been using Windows since version 3.1. I could see back then. Nearly two years ago I tried to make the switch. Its not easy at all. I find myself getting easily confused in save dialogs. It is not easy to pick the folder where you want to save your document or file when inside a program like code runner. My biggest complaint however is that web browsing with Voiceover and Safari is dismal at best for me. I constatly get stuck in webpages. I will hear the thunk sound like you have reached the end of something yet there is still a lot more to the page. I also get the dreaded Safari busy message quite a bit. I find it difficult to figure out where on a webpage I am at times as well. Also it is confusing to have to worry about do I interact or not with this particular item or not.

Submitted by Marconius on Saturday, June 2, 2018

In reply to by Greg Wocher

Sounds like you are navigating to poorly designed websites. If you are having trouble with the latest version of Safari, download Google Chrome and try going to the same page with it. When you come across something that VoiceOver calls out as a Group, that's where you can interact with it using Shift-VO-Down Arrow. Are you using QuickNav when surfing the web? Tapping the Left and Right arrows on your keyboard simultaneously will activate QuickNav which makes life a whole lot easier to jump through apps and sites. Being able to switch rotor modes with the Up and Left or Up and Right arrow keys then using the Up and Down arrow keys to quickly navigate through the chosen method saves a lot of time and makes your workflow much more efficient.

Can understand the difficulty with Save dialogs, but that just takes some time, trial and error to learn. The important parts to know are that you'll always start off with the filename field focused when opening a Save dialog, so you just start off naming the file you want to save, then navigating down the interface just brings you to a variety of options on where you want that file to go, and that would be a series of View options like Icon, List, and Column view, a sorting pop-up, and a pop-up for a destination directory/folder. I usually set this view to Columns, and then when you hear "Column view" you can interact with that and that will bring VO into the actual directory list so you can make sure you are in the right place, or quickly switch through the files and folders to get to the right place. Stop interacting with the column view when you are in the right place, then simply hit VO and the End button to jump directly to the Save default button, and off you go.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Saturday, June 2, 2018

I have never liked quick nav all that much. This is because of focus issues. When I use quick nav and I go out of it to copy something, focus is never where I was reading with quick nav. This is a real pain when I am trying to copy code. Some of the sites I was refering to are bookshare, nls bard and other sites like them. It seems Voiceover has a difficult time with some of the more complex web elements like nav bars and the like. These types of elements are where I seem to get stuck the most.

Submitted by Bobbi on Monday, June 4, 2018

First let me tell you that I think this post was an amazing read. I am very seriously considering upgrading to a Mac and am doing so at least 6 months ahead of being able to do so, but in the process I have been looking at what articles I can about how to transition, the pros and cons to using bootcamp/VMWare, etc.

I love the method of using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPhone as a means to transition and indeed have been considering off and on for the past year as to if I really would like a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone since I primarily use MBraille and touch typing on the regular keyboard when necessary. Perhaps this is the biggest reason to go for it.

I think, right now, my biggest questions happen to be regarding VMWare or bootcamp for Windows. I am presently studying to be a medical transcriptionist, which will require the windows platform on the job in the majority of cases. But for the most part, I don't intend on using Windows any more than I absolutely have to, primarily for workwhich will involve needing to use JFW with MSWord And whatever software required for the job. There will of course be those occasional games, as well, but that's about it.

Mac side, I am a musician and enjoy composing music. I would ideally like to get myself a Komplete Kontrol keyboard and set myself up with logic and sample libraries, etc. I really don't want to give half my resources to windows. If I'm on the Mac side, I'd prefer to keep all of them available for my music setup. This could probably spark a whole new thread, but I figured since I am a Windows user considering the transition and upgrade from a presently 4-year-old Lenovo Thinkpad, I thought I'd pose the question here, what would be best in my situation? Obviously not one person is going to know that, but I'd like to get some different perspectives re the bootcamp/VMWare debate. Which is best for you and why? I know that not everyone is going to have the same situations as I, but I figured if I could get some input from frequent users of either (or both?), that would be very helpful.

Thanks again Kelsey for such a beautifully written post, and I look forward to seeing more on this topic in the future.



Submitted by Malthe on Monday, June 4, 2018

Regarding resource alocation in VMware, the resources are only alocated when the virtual machine is booted, so when you're using resource intensive apps like music related stuff, simply quit VMware and you're fine.
In terms of using MS word on VMware it works well too, and there are some options you can tweak to make office run smoother, like turning off animations. I hear that MS Office on the mac has also gotten more accessible, though unfortunately I am unable to test that at the moment.


Submitted by 780KixxFan on Monday, June 4, 2018

Hello and thank you for this very well-written post. I would love to hear your experiences or anyone's experiences regarding word processing. I am talking about having a Web page open and arrowing easily through it, pasting bits of text from the Web page in the Word or Pages document you are writing and not losing focus in either as you go back and forth. The general ease of cutting, pasting, copying, navigating by sentence and paragraph, selecting text, etc. I know JAWS with Word is what I am used to, but I am very curious as to how that part of the transition will go for those making the transition. I have been an iOS user since the very beginning in 2009 but have very little experience with a Mac. Thanks for any input!

Submitted by Devin Prater on Thursday, June 7, 2018

Yes, beautiful post. I hope to see more from you in the future. I got this MacBook a few months ago, well okay, more like half a year ago, but I'd had a Mac mini since 2013 or so. It took some getting used to, but by day three, I was pretty used to Mac OSX Mountainlion as it was back then. Voiceover hasn't changed too much over the years, but maybe we don't need too much new stuff in screen readers, just more stuff in the operating system. Of course, the image description feature added in High Siera is nice, and I hope Mojave improves that, and auto-language switching is good too. What I mean is, Voiceover isn't as "fluffy" as JAWS, but it definitely can be extended with Apple Script and such, and can be made better by users, somewhat.

Submitted by Vsevolod Popov on Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hello Kelsy and all! Thank you for you post again! I also switched from a windows laptop to a mackbook air 13 2017. But i still use my windows pc when needed and use my mac as main laptop now. I also didn't experience any big issues with switching to mac but here are some questions that i'd like to ask. First, what iPhone do you use? I ask that because handof and continiuity work really awful on my devices. These things work only after i rebute my phone and they stop working really fast. All conditions for handoff to work are done. Bluetooth is turned on, wi-fi is also turned on, handoff, of course, is also turned on on boath devices but it doesn't work. Universal clipboard doesn't work also. I tried to rebute my iPhone 5S, it starts working but then it stops and i cannot use universal clipboard and such things. Also in safari i noticed that when entering an address and pressing back-space voiceover pronounces the previous letter and it doesn't speak a letter that i'm deleting. What can i do with handoff and all these things to work? Thank you!

Submitted by Ahmed on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

In reply to by 780KixxFan

Hi as far as text selection goes it’s possible you use option+shift+arrow keys to select command+C to copy command+X to cut Command+V to paste to have the VoiceOver cursor stay within the boundary of the page your reading you use VOshift-down-arrow as for Word processing with MS Office it’s doable that is: after you deal with the learning curve of VoiceOver. I say learning curve because with OSX things are presented differently meaning VoiceOver’ has concepts that will seem strange to you but Voiceover has an inbuilt tutorial that will teach you the basics of how to navigate and how to use VoiceOver. I’m happy to answer any Mac VoiceOver questions people have especially in an education setting. you can also email me at: