Issue keeping me from moving to mac permanently

macOS & Mac Apps

Hi all

i've been trying to migrate to Mac OS for the past few weeks (have been using windows for years) and ran into a deal breaking issue

I am a full-time software developer and wasn't sure about the general accessibility of some IDES/Editors i'm used to using in windows but I managed to get IntelliJ idea working with voiceover and also visual studio code to some extent...

The only thing keeping me from moving to Mac OS at this stage is voiceover's bad performance with Safari.

Am I missing something voiceover/safari/config related? Or is it just the worst screen reader/browser experience around? coming from windows i've accepted that to navigate by heading/tag on mac I have to hold [cmd]+h to navigate by heading etc but the general experience just seems ridiculously bad e.g. I keep having focus issues, voiceover will jump from the HTML content to the toolbar at random times and it seems like voiceover sometimes skips over content for some unknown reason?
I also turned on the setting that allows web navigation using the arrow keys but that also seems half baked quite inconsistent at times and using the trackpad or arrow keys with quicknav seems to work a bit better but that's not a very productive option... Are there any other/better alternatives? Haven't tried chrome/firefox, I assumed Safari would be the most accessible as it's an apple app...

In contrast Voiceover/safari on IOS seems to work way better than all android alternatives. Not sure at all what to make of this did Apple just stop voiceover development on Mac and focus all efforts on IOS?

If there's no workaround/alternatives at this stage I guess i'll have to keep using windows as a functional/productive browser experience is very important for me.




Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Sunday, April 19, 2020

My 2011 macbook isn't able to upgrade any more, so I'm stuck at mac OS high Sierra, but you are absolutely correct that safari on the mac is a train wreck. For me, there are not only focus issues, but sometimes VO will just randomly restart itself, and I get countless busy messages. Mind you, this system is almost never bogged down at any other time. I have a 2 TB solid state drive and 16 GB of ram; hoping to make this little machine last as long as possible. Interestingly, Safari works more or less decently on my phone, but I definitely prefer to do as much of my web browsing in Windows as possible. The only thing I actually use my mac for at this point is email. I was without windows for a couple of months, so had all my mail archived on the mac. Now, it's easier just to keep doing mail on the mac rather than trying to set things up in windows again. For some reason, I've been hesitant to install third party browsers on my mac or iphone, but I'm starting to wonder if, especially on the mac, it might make for a better web browsing experience.

Submitted by MelodicFate on Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hi, I use Safari quite often, and don't really have issues. I'm running a 2017 MacBook Air with 8 gigs of ram and a 500 gig hard drive. When I use Safari, I have Quicknav turned on at all times. The only web-specific thing I have in my rotor are headings. I heavily use the find command, as well. I don't get many busy messages. I'm not certain what you could try to fix this, I was just giving you my experiences as a Mac user for about 10 years. But Quicknav is definitely your friend in regards to Safari. In fact, I use it almost everywhere.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Sunday, April 19, 2020

I also do a bit of programming and find Safari quite lacking. The issue with Quick Nav is that it makes it difficult to select and copy items. Selecting chunks of code from the web is something I have to do quite often. Safari is horrible at this. The focus issues make it very frustrating to find the lines you want to copy, Quite often you go to copy a line you need and all of the sudden you find yourself selecting a line back at the top of the page. Its why right now I mainly stick to Linux and Windows for web browsing and coding.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Sunday, April 19, 2020

Besides the Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge web browsers, I can't think of any other browser options that would be better.

Does anyone know if Mozilla Firefox finally works with VoiceOver on the Macintosh these days?

Submitted by peter on Monday, April 20, 2020

When I read this thread and the difficulties that you and some others are having with using VoiceOver on the Mac the first question that comes to mind is why you want to move to the Mac? If everyone in your workplace is using a Mac that might be understandable or if you are developing code for Mac's. But if you have a tools that is working why choose a tool that isn't as good?

Of course the other option is to continue using Windows on a Mac with Boot Camp.


Submitted by Ben Bloomgren on Monday, April 20, 2020

With all due respect, I've not found similar issues to those of which you speak in your post. I use Safari on OSX every day, and it works wonderfully. Admittedly, I'm no programmer or software developer, but from the front end user interface, it works very well.

If it doesn't work well for you, definitely consider Google Chrome. It's not an App Store app. You can download it directly from google. To me, it's kind of that "to each his own" thing.


Submitted by Deon588 on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

@Peter the reason i'd like to move permanently is that i'm already mostly in the apple ecosystem. I have an iPhone, apple watch and appleTV and the integration between mac OS/all those devices is much better than the windows integration. I tried to move completely to Android last year but that was even harder as Android still has a lot of catching up to do with IOS and Samsung's Tizyn OS for their watches is unbelievably bad (their screen reader works OK on the watch but you can't open 99% of apps while running the screen reader)...
@Ben I think the issue I have is more in terms of productivity. If I wanted to read this thread on Safari on Mac OS I would have had to go through the following steps:
1. Interact with the HTML content after page has loaded.
2. Turn quicknav on.
3. Assuming there's headings I could then type h to move through the headings.
4. If I got to a post/comment I wanted to read line by line I would then have to change the router to navigate by line...
5. Assuming I wanted to read a line by word/character I would constantly have to change the router.
6. If I got to a link I wanted to open I then need to press the voiceover modifier key/s and spacebar to activate the link...

On windows using NVDA it's as simple as navigating to the URL, then pressing h to move through the headings and if I got to a post/comment I want to read I can just use the arrow keys to navigate by line/character and If I wanted to navigate by word I could hold [CTRL]+arrow keys and just press enter to activate links...
I remember a few years ago apple was promoting Voiceover on the mac as having far less keyboard shortcuts to remember than the windows counterparts but i'm finding the opposite to be true...
I think it's amazing that they managed to map the screen layout (at a high level) to the different regions of the trackpad but I don't think flicking around on the trackpad for hours is going to work.

Submitted by mority on Wednesday, April 22, 2020


The lacking Safari experience and the constant needing to hold down buttons to navigate is one of the issues I'm having with the Mac OS system and one of the reasons why I will stick to Windows or Linux when it comes to working with the computer.

I find that there are multiple things not very much to my liking in safari, quick letter navigation didn't work as it should and using the rotor is just not efficient. If I want to do something on the web, I don't want to hold down some extra buttons just to move the screen readers focus around.
other reasons why the switch to Mac isn't an option is the terible word processing experiences with Word and Excel.

Greetings moritz.

Submitted by Siobhan on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Voice over is like the arthritic old man trying to keep up with the grand kids. Safari works ok, but of course I don't code much. I'm disheartened when someone tries to say well if it works, why change? I'd rather see more blind people using a Mac and sticking it to developers of sites applications and games. I think there are so many sighted and blind people using Windows that you are getting off easy. Your site works fine with windows because nine out of ten people use Windows. What if I use a Mac and have trouble? I'm not spending a hundred bucks, to bootcamp this, just to do something that in theory should work no matter what platform I use. I support whatever works for you. If you move to the Mac, awesome. I don't judge what others use. I do stick up for the Mac's side if only to get people's attention. we can't change things, if we don't stand up for what doesn't work or is clunky. Don't use Windows because it's easy, don't use the Mac because it's a learning curve. Use whichever makes you happy.

Submitted by Life in Six Dots on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

At this point in time Firefox is still inaccessible with VoiceOver but I heard from Jamie Teh that they are working on this right now, so we should hear something later this year. I for one am really looking forward this as dev tools in Safari are terrible. One reason I'm still on Windows.

Submitted by Becca on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Hello. I use both a Mac and Windows running Bootcamp. I'm not sure if you knew this but you can change the grouping behavior so you don't have to interact with items all of the time. This may help with the issues you're having with Safari.

You can change the grouping behavior so you don't have to interact with everything on the screen. For example, when you are in a list of items on the finder you can use the arrow keys instead of pressing VO plus shift plus down arrow.To change the grouping behavior, go to the Voiceover Utility, on the utility categories navigate to navigation. Here's a link of the types of grouping behavior:…

@Becca thanks for that, this resolved 90% of my issues. This feels so much more natural coming from windows than the default setting. When disabling grouping how do you access the regions that gets grouped by default? e.g. how can I access the safari toolbar with grouping disabled?

Submitted by Pa. Joe on Thursday, April 23, 2020

When I arrive at a page like this I first press VO. plus U. Then using the arrow keys I browse headings, links etc. Pressing the enter key will cause me to land on a place that I chose. The down arrow reads a line at a time. The right and left arrows reads a letter, and option plus right or left arrow reads a word at a time. I seldom use quick nav.

Submitted by mority on Friday, April 24, 2020


Hmm, the grouping setting does sound quite interesting in my book, sadly it doesn't fix the other issues I'm having with the Mac platform. Don't get me wrong, but for efficient work I need a wird processor that actually works with doc and dox files, and a tool like Excel where I can create tables in an accessible way and also do calculations with like adding, subtracting and so on.

Greetings Moritz.

I can't speak for using mac OS on a desktop but I can say that being introduced to the iPhone and other iOS devices was a game changer. Despite the glitches with Braille access I like the simplicity of a touch screen interface. Fairly standard gestures across apps and no need to memorize complicated windows and screenreader keyboard shortcuts. Even using touch gestures in windows can be confusing because some of the windows touch gestures conflict with JAWS or NVDA and the user needs to pass through the gesture just like they would with a windows keyboard command and screenreader.

I have used computers for the past 30 years. Initially I used DOS screenreaders and with the transition to Windows I used JAWS for 25 years. Now I use NVDA and like it very much. The assistive technology paradigm is expanding beyond what I call the Internet Explorer and JAWS paradigm. Internet Explorer is a dead browser and I fail to see why some people stick with it and the government optimizes accessibility for it. A good example is the 2020 census form which is lousy from an accessibility perspective and violates many WCAG guidelines. That's a separate topic but it is related to accessibility and usability.

I have noticed that people who are younger than I are moving away from JAWS and Internet Explorer. They are using NVDA, Narrator, Linux, Android, and Mac iOS and/or mac OS. Many blind people I talk to say they like what they consider the simplicity of the mac. I do like the fact that accessibility is available right out of the box. No need to install a screenreader or drivers for a Braille display. People tell me they like the track pad and using quick nav.

Two issues prevent me from using the mac. For one thing, I have a satisfactory windows computer which meets most of my needs. I would need to justify the expense of buying a mac and then determine what I would use it for. This is no criticism of Apple just my current situation. My higher priority is getting a new Braille display which I really need. If I can find use cases for the mac, then I would take it seriously. One compromise I am considering is getting one of the new iPads with the magic keyboard. I have seen examples of cases where the iPAD and keyboard fit into a small case and I liked that. That will give the Braille notetaker some competition but again that's another story. I could forsee carrying around an iPad with keyboard as well as a 20-cell Braille display and I would be happy with that. I would rather do that instead of buying one of the new Android notetakers which i think are impractical for my needs.

I am an accessibility tester so I do know that at some point I should learn how to use a mac even if it is only for accessibility testing. These are just my thoughts.

Submitted by Earth on Friday, May 1, 2020

I have not have any issue using safari to navigate this page at all and didn't have to go through the step Peter has provided above. yes, I also use Quick Nav but I also use trackpad. you can use the trackpad on safari like you do on the iPhone. so it work the same for me either on phone or on the Mac. to select text, I don't have that problem either but I don't know what I can do to help you because I don't experience the same problem many of you do.

Submitted by Deon588 on Friday, May 8, 2020

I guess apple has a very small accessibility team and seems like they're all focusing on IOS. Even with the interaction issue resolved Voiceover + safari still doesn't come close to NVDA with firefox or chrome on windows. Also chrome works but only with quicknav so it seems like the navigate web pages using arrow keys was a hack/workaround Apple only implemented for Safari...

Submitted by mority on Saturday, May 9, 2020


Well an interesting article for sure, but I see two problems with it.
1: It's from 2016 and a lot might have changed over the years, for example Microsoft Office wasn't accessible at all back in the day, but now it is up to a point.
2: I think that Jonathan Mosen hasn't been that neutral or possibly overstated some accessibility related issues he had. My experiences with this guy are that he is extremely biased and is all for Jaws and extra blindy friendly scriptys that mae his oh so hard life easier even though other possibilitys would be there. Sentences like:

You only have to have a rudimentary knowledge of the blind job market to know that without JAWS, many people who are gainfully employed wouldn’t be keeping food on the table.

are just bullshit and we all know that.

Other issues were, when he talked about the fact that when he used the twitter streaming service and VO kept interupting the stream which got on his n nerves i wondered why the heck he didn't disable speach? Even I as a VO beginner know that this is possible.
Lastly, his hole talk about the removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone and the hole stress he had with a curier service to get his lightning to two lightning adapter was just laughable at best.
Firstly, if you have to worry about getting your product in time before going on a hollyday, what about ordering it earlier so it's there in time? And as well, didn't the guy ever hear of bluetoothk.

The article is technically good, but not really what I call great.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by Deon588 on Tuesday, February 23, 2021

So it's more than 6 months later and I partially changed my mind/opinion after getting to know voiceOver on Mac a bit better and thought I'd post an update/list a few things some of you might not be aware of or hopefully found workarounds for...

I've been setting up a M1 macbook air for a family member over the past week and made a point to learn to be productive with Voiceover (especially internet browsing) and noticed the following:

negative points:

- I've set Grouping to ignore groups however when I navigate to a web page very often I still land in the sidebar initially and it's always a struggle to get out of there, is there a shortcut key to jump to the web content?

- Sweet spots are amazing but they seem quite limited unfortunately.
an example:
When I navigate to applevis/article 1 and set a sweet spot where the article text starts it works however it doesn't remember the sweet spot when I navigate to applevis/article2 (which has the exact same layout as article 1 just different content).
Am I missing something/is it possible to apply a global sweet spot across an entire website?

- On Windows NVDA has a shortcut key n while browsing that jumps to the next text after a block of links. This is extremely useful on any forum type website whith lots of user comments e.g. reddit etc. I set a shortcut key in voiceover to find next/previous plain text but it doesn't work the same way (I think it possibly considers text without styling plain text) so focus jumps to links and text...

Is there a way to accomplish this with Voiceover? Or if not could this be made possible with an Apple script?

- I use the IBM TTS (Eloquence) synthesizer on windows. Eloquence even though it sounds less human like than all the Mac OS voices is fast and somehow doesn't skip any part of a word when the rate is above 80%, I tried many voiceover voices and settled on Karen compact as that seems to be the only voice that doesn't chop of parts of a word when the rate is at 100% however the responsiveness isn't close to eloquence e.g. when I press the right arrow it takes a split second to read the next line.

I see someone found a way to make Eloquence work with voiceover using Wine. Has anyone tried this/is it as good as it is on Windows?

- Safari still doesn't have a propper high contrast theme/dark mode (There is a paid plugin on the app store though)

- Something as basic as copying text often doesn't work as expected on Safari.

- The arrow key navigation on the web only seems to work in Safari?
Did apple just write/implement this feature on their own browser? I would prefer to use chrome however this doesn't seem to work at all in chrome.

- Voiceover completely skips some elements and doesn't remember focus when opening a link and going back to the previous page e.g. on a local grocery store website when I navigate through a list of products there is a buy button that voiceover doesn't read at all. The workaround is to then click on the product, click add to cart and navigate back, after navigating back Voiceover doesn't remember where I navigated from and starts at the top of the page leading me to have to search for the specific product I clicked on to jump to the place I was before opening the product's page...

Positive points:

- On the M1 macbook air I haven't heard "Busy busy" once in safari.

- Unlike windows with NVDA/Jaws I haven't once had Voiceover freeze as a result of a browser/OS issue and I have to restart the entire OS to get it working again.

- I think voiceover is more customizeable than any other screen reader.

- The magnifier on Mac OS is much better than Windows magnifier in every possible way.

- The search while holding right command setting works very well.