Switching from Windows 10 with Jaws 17 to Mac with Voiceover?

macOS & Mac Apps

Hello, I am seriously considering switching from windows to mac. I've had an iPhone for about three years now with no problems. Are there any limitations I should know about before switching? I have to write and format long documents, read pdfs (including using OCR like Kurzweil 1000 to convert pdf images into text), brows the internet a lot, and and use Excel and powerpoint occasionally. Any thoughts on a possible switch would be appreciated.



Submitted by Kayla Cole on Saturday, September 24, 2016

I made the switch from Windows to Mac about six months ago, and I have never looked back. I was a high schoolEnglish student, who also had to write and format documents, and I can honestly say that the Mac is so much more straightforward and easy to use while editing with Pages. Note that Microsoft Word is not accessible, however, Pages is, and it's far better and easier to use than any program on Windows. VoiceOver is a learning curve, but you can use many commands as you would with the iPhone, with the TrackPad Commander. I definitely would encourage anyone who is considering the switch to the Mac from Windows. You will not regret it.

Submitted by Pinkcupcake11 on Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hi Kayla, thanks so much for your answer! If word is not accessible, what happens when people email you word files? Also, do you ever read pdfs on your mac? Does it work well? What software would you use to convert pdf images into text. I have to do that a lot and I usually use Kurzweil 1000, but I don't think there is a mac version for that.

Submitted by mehgcap on Saturday, September 24, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Word documents can be opened by Pages. Extremely advanced ones may run into importing problems, but that's rare as far as I know. I don't use this feature much myself. Also, you may run into frustration depending on your use of advanced features, like tables that span multiple pages. I can't attest to this personally, not needing such things, but others have said that Pages with VO can sometimes fall down.

PDFs are more problematic for me. I haven't yet found a good program to read them--the default one, Preview, renders each page as a single, huge block of text.

There are OCR apps for macOS. DocuScan Plus, Abbyy Fine Reader, and Prizmo all come to mind, though you'll have to check to see if they support importing image-only PDF files.

Submitted by Pinkcupcake11 on Sunday, September 25, 2016

In reply to by mehgcap

I read online that Adobe Reader DC is accessible? Also, is word 2016 not accessible? other articles I read made it sound like it mostly worked.

Submitted by Tyler on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

From personal experience, I've found Adobe Reader DC to be accessible; but with a somewhat off label implementation of Voiceover support. There are tricks to using Adobe Reader with Voiceover that you wouldn't use for other typical Mac apps.

For the first time to my knowledge in Microsoft Office for Mac history, Microsoft substantially improved accessibility in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. While it is not what I'd assess as fully accessible, it seems to work for reading, writing, and basic formatting of documents.


Submitted by Ekaj on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Regarding .pdf documents, I believe Capti Narrator is a good option. I haven't yet downloaded it, but there is a very good audio demonstration on here of this program. In this demonstration the program is being used on an iOS device, but it can be used on a Mac as well. Having said all that, I have been a Mac user since the end of 2013. At first I was very skeptical and didn't want to stop using Windows, but I have since come to know the Mac operating system and VoiceOver pretty well. As others have pointed out, there is definitely a learning curve but it's worth all the trouble. I've found that there is more than one way of accomplishing certain tasks on here, which is very nice. In addition, I love the fact that these things are accessible right out of the box.

Submitted by peter on Sunday, September 25, 2016

I have been a long-time JAWS user but really enjoy my iPhone and am really impressed about how accessible it is for performing many functions.

Although VoiceOver works really well for most purposes, I would really miss the sophistication of a robust screen reader like JAWS. Even when documents and aplications are "accessible", it doesn't necessarily mean that they are "useable" or can be used efficiently and productively with a screen reader.

First of all, as some have noted, the native Apple aplications are pretty accessible. However, this same accessibility does not always come to third party applications. This is one area where screen readers like JAWS stand out - JAWS is customized to work efficiently with numerous third-party applications.

In addition, the customized scripts used with JAWS bring workflow efficiencies to aplications that are not available with the built-in accessibility features. As an example, there are hotkeys in JAWS that enable one to automatically monitor (have spoken) specific cells in an Excel worksheet even if focus is not on the cell. This can be handy when changing some entries and one would like to know how some other value has changed without having to go through the hassle of navigating back and forth between cells. This is an example of workflow efficiency. Yes, this can be done laboriously with keyboard commands, but a customized script improves productivity.

Finally, as some have pointed out, Pages is "mostly" compatible with Word formats. The same is true of Open Office and Word documents. However, our sighted son who tried to get by using Open Office in college was just missing too much of the formatting of many documents originating in Word and just couldn't easily collaborate when most people were using Word.

Anyway, as with most things, it really depends on what you expect to be doing with your computer and what aplications you need to run. If you are a real power user and/or expect to use many third party programs in order to work with other or use special tools or aplications, I would think that you would want to stick with a Windows Pc and commercial screen reader.

Just my two cents.


Hi T Dog, thanks for your answer! Would you mind telling me what specific problems you have found with office accessibility and the tricks with adobe you are refering to? I just want to get as much information as possible :).

Submitted by Jeff on Sunday, September 25, 2016

I second Pete's comments. I love my iPhone for what it does, but for many of my computing tasks, Windows is more productive if not absolutely necessary. For example, my broadcast software only runs under Windows.

If you're proficient with certain Windows programs, you may find that not to be the case for MacOS or iOS. Personally, I have seriously considered my options and have definitely decided to stick to using Windows for my serious computing tasks and use my iPhone for the tasks it's best at performing.

Submitted by Toonhead on Sunday, September 25, 2016

For me, it's windows 10 all the way for computing tasks, and iPhone for everything else. Also, please don't forget that in Windows, you have a choice of screenreaders, 2 of them are even free options. NVDA which is fast becoming a real favorite of mine is really doing a lot of nice things. Also, if you have a copy of Microsoft office installed, there is a free version of the Window-eyes screenreader available. You have to purchase some voices for it, but the cost is low and it does come with a few free options. I love having choices, and Windows gives me that.

Submitted by Justin on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hi there!

I was a long time windows user up till 2010. I got my first MacBook from the college I went to and have loved it since. I have now bought my second machine 3 years back and have used them exclusively. Some people love windows and ho well it works, others love mac and how usable it is right out of the box. I'll say this however. If switching to a mac, take the time before you get a mac machine to look over the getting started articles on Applevis' site to become more familiar with the more challenging VO commands. The trackPad commander is good for basic navigation, however you'll have to learn more advanced VO commands.
Regarding text/formating, the iWork suite of microsoft office equivalent applications is your best way of doing word processing/formating/spread sheets/ powerpoints/etc. Sure, anything is possible on the mac with VoiceOver, however we need to find a work around for certain things. I can't really be specific on what work arounds I might need to do, because they're muscle memory and I just automatically do them once I get them engrained into my skull, lol. But really, if you can look at a mac machine at an apple store for a little bit, then that's probably your best bet to decide "do I really want to shovle out$900/3000 on a macBook?" I say $3000 because some of the 15 inch macBook pros with maxed out everything can run upwards of $3000.
I hope this will help you in your decision.
Best of luck to you!

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Sunday, September 25, 2016

I too have been a long time Windows user. I purchased my first Mac about two months ago. For the most part I like it. However it does fail in certain areas. Like reading pdfs and web browsing. The good thing is is that you can use boot camp to have windows on your machine for those tasks the Mac does not do well. You could also use VM fusion to set up a Windows virtual machine. These are two other options to consider.

Greg Wocher

Submitted by mehgcap on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by Greg Wocher

One comment. I completely agree that PDFs are not efficient to read. However, web browsing is very doable. I switch between my personal Mac and a Windows machine for work every weekday, so I use both all the time. I find nothing on Windows I can't do on Mac, and I prefer some things on the Mac (such as not having Forms Mode). VO in Safari does a lot of things differently, and it takes a lot of practice and playing with all the options before you are really proficient with it.

Submitted by peter on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just FYI, forms mode can generally be disabled in Windows screen readers if you don't like it. In fact, Windows screen readers generally have lots of options that you can customize for how web content is read: i.e., read page automatically or not when opened, announce the title bar or not automatically, skip certain page elements automatically, pass through web aplications reserved keystrokes or not, ability to add placemarkers, control of page refreshes and how the screen reader should react, etc. ...and that is just for web aplications. In addition each application can be customized to suit an individual's working style and desires. So yes, MAC's and VO are very accessible, but Windows screen readers offer a lot more flexibility for optimizing one's work flow.


Submitted by Fred on Sunday, September 25, 2016

In reply to by Pinkcupcake11

Docuscan can open and save PDF files to RTF or TXT files as well as perform OCR quite well. I used Windows for 25 years before switching to Mac. If you work in a job where Windows is the boss, that's one thing. If you are working on your own and want superior performance, get a Mac. The only app I have found that the Mac needs is a personal check printing app such as Money Talks for Windows.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Another thing to consider is the cos of software. On Windows there are a lot of free to low cost solutions for a lot of tasks. However on the Mac side software is fairly expensive. For example a good programming text editor on the Mac side is $50)BBEdit) whereas on the Windows side you have several good ones that are free with just as many features. This and some of the other mentioned issues can be a real problem and is why I mentioned boot camping or using Windows in a virtual machine. these two options can give you the best of both worlds on one machine.

Greg Wocher

Submitted by Siobhan on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hi. In the end, you make the hcoice: windows is ok, Mac is ok, only you can pick. However if you are brave, go online, find mac apps that aren't in the app store, and try them out. sure you'll get the ooo apple didn't develope this, warning, just flip that off with the one digit solute, and install it. As you can see, i jump in with both feet. There are a ton of free pdf apps on the app sotre. Pretty much if you use an iPhone you'll be almost halfway to where you want to be with a mac. Just take it slow, one piece of advice, don't go back tow hat you know. To be honest, if you get discouraged, and go back to windows for something that's easier, faster, better, you're really not giving yourself a full shot with the Mac. I had a dead windows computer, went with the mac, I also have an old laptop someone gave me and windows ten is ok, but I don't like it much, so I stick withwhat works. Good luck. If I sound a little harsh, I just hate how these discussions go from please help windows versus Mac versus iPhone, I don't know why that happens but it does. This is why i usually don't ask for help just go out and do it. can't be concerend with anyone but you.

Submitted by Justin on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Totally agree with Siobhan on this. Went in feet first and haven't regretted it since. Sure some apps aren't cheap, but they're worth it, usually!

Submitted by Jeff on Sunday, September 25, 2016

I want to comment on Greg's suggestion that Windows can be run on a Mac. I considered this in my decision to stick with a Windows computer. I decided that if I still needed Windows for some of my computing tasks and would want/need to install Windows on my Mac, then I might as well just buy a Windows computer. Mac hardware is more expensive than equivalent Windows hardware and I'd still have to purchase Windows plus whatever Windows screen reader I wanted to use. And as mentioned by others, Mac apps tend to be more expensive.

So, the real question you need to answer is: Is there anything that you can and want to do on a Mac that you cannot do on a Windows Computer? Alternatively, can you do everything you want to do on a Mac and avoid Windows altogether? For me, the answer to these questions is "no" so I decided to forego the additional expense of a Mac and stick to using Windows on my computer.

Submitted by mehgcap on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

For what it's worth, the apps on the Mac have never seemed especially pricy to me, though those are, of course, only the apps I use.

  • Hermes is free and open source; it plays Pandora.
  • Pages/Keynote/Numbers are all free on any Mac made after fall 2013, and take the place of rather pricy MS Office apps.
  • Very good mail, calendar, notes, and other apps are included on the OS by default.
  • Night Owl isn't perfect, but it handles Twitter okay and is also free.
  • iMovie, Garage Band, Photos, and other apps come free on the Mac.
  • OS X Server is only $20, as are the afore mentioned iWork apps if you have an old Mac.

Plus, of course, all macOS updates have been free for years, and not just for the first year after release like Windows. Also consider that the $70 add-on for NVDA to bring Nuance voices to your screen reader isn't needed, as the Mac comes with a bunch of Nuance voices available to download for free.

Again, this will all depend on what you do and what software you need to use. Yes, some apps cost more, like Transmit. Yes, Windows has free versions of most of the software listed above. My point is that getting the apps you want may not be nearly as costly as you think, and the Mac includes many things you may be thinking you have to pay for.

Submitted by Nickus on Sunday, September 25, 2016

I baught my first iMac 2 or so years ago after seeing how great the iPhone worked for me, before the Mac I had been using Windows with Jaws since I can remember. I use my Mac on a daily basis but also still use a Windows machine on a daily basis at work. Because of this arrangement I don't really have that much experience using Pages, Numbers etc on the Mac side, because I've been doing all those things using MS Office on the Windows side. In the last month or so and since I'll be getting a MacBook soon, I've considered completely dropping Windows and using Mac for my work as well.

Once I get my MacBook I'll see how it goes, I'll install MS office on it and compare it to iWork to see which one works best for me, but I'll also Bootcamp Windows on to it even if only until I get properly proficient with either iWork or MS Office on Mac OS, but the plan is to eventually completely drop Windows.

What I can tell you, in my experience, if you are really a hardcore MS Word and especially Excell user as in really dealing with large Word documents and complex workbooks in Excell on a daily basis, then there is no way you'll get better than Windows with Jaws, not even NVDA will come close to Jaws if you are really a intensive Word and Excell user.

If considering pricing, I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago long before I baught my first Mac, that for me, a Mac will technically work out cheaper than a Windows PC. If you consider the price of a Windows PC plus the price of Jaws, then for less money you can buy yourself a decent Mac with built in screen reader, plus then there's also the price of MS Office where iWork is free on Mac.

Submitted by Pinkcupcake11 on Sunday, September 25, 2016

In reply to by Nickus

Hi Mickus, thank you for your comment.
What are some things that NVDA and voiceover can't do on large documents? I have to use those all the time (my thesis for my last year of college will be about 100 pages, for example).

The reason I want to switch is that Mac comes with voiceover (sure, windows has free screen readers, but all I have read online is that they have limitations and shortcomings, which leads me to pay for Jaws which is quite expensive. Also, I paid a lot more for my windows than what I would have paid for a Mac with equivalent performance, and I've heard that Macs are not as slow.

I don't mind having to learn new commands (I did that when I got an iPad mini with a bluetooth keyboard) and I kind of enjoy that learning process, so having to re-learn things is not really a problem. At this point the only reason I hesitate to switch is people's comments about word processing (office not being accessible) and struggles with pdf documents (which i use all the time).

Submitted by Sam N on Monday, September 26, 2016

I agree with Pete. You have to listen to the phrases people are using here. When people use words like mostly, and for the most part, and sort of, and I haven't yet found a good replacement for, and I have this crazy work around to describe screen reader access, that should tell you something, especially as an English major. VO cannot be scripted, so, in my opinion, it is not a full screen reader. It doesn't even compare with NVDA in that regard. If you are a power user, you are going to wind up using Windows and JAWS on a virtual machine, anyway, so you aren't even going to save money. If anything, you'll spend more. Microsoft 2016 is accessible, and you can do some neat things with it. For example, it's actually easier to mess with headers on the Mac version. But that's really it. Anyone who says they switched and never looked back aren't power users, and that's fine. You ultimately need to make an informed choice. Remember the "grass is always greener" effect. If you have a friend with a Mac, use it. Buy a Mac and liberally take advantage of the 14 day money back guarantee. Don't get me wrong, iPhone accessibility is amazing and a big cut vabove the compitition, but Mac falls short. I'll be excited when they open Mac OS up to third-party screen readers.

Submitted by Brian Giles on Monday, September 26, 2016

Interesting discussion here. I switched to Mac in late 2010 and now have my second Mac, but am considering switching back. For me, I'd rather just get a Windows machine instead of boot Camping my MBP. I love the Mac OS, but the one critical piece of software for us, the screen reader, is just more useable on Windows. That's not to say that VoiceOver is terrible, but Windows screen Readers are just more versitile. I agree the Mac needs third-party Screen reader options.

The other thing to consider though is the way Windows works. A lot of mainstream techy computer sites tell you to reinstall Windows every so often because it slows down over time. That doesn't happen on macos, or at least I haven't noticed it, apart from trying to put Maverics on my old 2009 MB and it couldn't run it well. I think that came down to my hardware though. I had to take my old win 7 desktop in once because it wouldn't boot, and I paid 60 bucks and all they did was stick the disc in the drive, click a button, and it fixed it. Ridiculous! That's what first made me make the switch. I've never had to reinstall macos, but it's nice to know I can do it independently if I have to. MS needs to give us a way to install Windows without a pair of eyes around.

So I'm still undecided on what I want to do. And I found a local guy selling a win 8 tablet that is seriously tempting me. lol

Submitted by Siobhan on Monday, September 26, 2016

Hi. Speaking from experience, windows always frustrated me, because i needed sighted help to install it, or if the screen wasn't read, I was criticised for what did you do wrong this time? With the Mac, the other day, the Gold Master of Siera didn't install, causing me to recover the drive, I ended up reinstalling a backup and all works fine, aside from some little tings i set I can't figure out how to fix, nothing crucial though. You keep saying "Iv'e heard online," and other such statements, in the end, you can't listen to anyone except you. so if you want to be swayed by Windows, go for it, If you want to be swayed into a Mac, only to switch back, someone will do that. Go to an Apple store, give them your requests of how you need to use long documents, and pdf files etc, see what someone will tell you. Oh sure, you'll need to avoid the buy the Mac sales pitch, but if you are a good judge of character, can read people well, it's easy enough to stomp down on that idea. Just figure out what You Want, not what you think we are all using our macs for etc. I'm not even going to touch on the screen reading aspect of this post, because personally, I don't need a bunch of voices I may like, or dislike, I'd rather see bugs fixed, enhancements met, and serious capability done. One final word on apps, as i said, the word processing, numbers and keynote are all great, but there are tons of apps not on the Mac app store. Since you're still proficcient with Windows, Google what you're looking for. How about reaching out to a developer on a site like say buy my mac app.com or something, and tell them, hey I don't want to pay for this, I need it to do, and explain yourself. Just my thoughts.

Submitted by Jalys Ortiz on Monday, September 26, 2016

Actually, Microsoft Office is quite accessible with VoiceOver as of the 2016 edition--and I actually prefer it on the mac. To me, it's not as confusing in terms of layout, once the learning curve of VO is dealt with. :)

Submitted by Jalys Ortiz on Monday, September 26, 2016

Also, to add to my previous comment, I would suggest that you visit an Apple store if you can, or, if you know someone who has a Mac, you should play around with VO on there. It was definitely helpful for me when it came to deciding whether or not to make the plunge (and I did).

Submitted by Tree on Monday, September 26, 2016

First let me just say I have been a mac user for a long time and plan on purchasing a new mac in the next few months.

In my opinion you should not move to the mac unless you have a specific reason to do so. I am a mac user because of audio production, but if I did not need pro tools, Garageband and Amadeus pro I would not waist my time with Mac OS.

The biggest shortcoming of the mac is non audio productivity, in other words, PDF's, spreadsheets, and word processing. There is no decent PDF reader for the mac, word processing is extremely inefficient and buggy, and spreadsheets are extremely laggy.

I struggled through such things in college, work and internships, but why struggle if you don't have to? Ask yourself what the mac will give you that NVDA on windows won't offer, and then decide if that is worth giving up PDF accessibility and efficient word processing.

Submitted by walkseasy on Monday, September 26, 2016

I love my Mac with Voiceover, but it is not the best choice for everything. I would not tell anyone that a Mac with Voiceover was a good choice for collaborating with others using Microsoft Office applications, or taking online college courses, or doing much with PDF files. The above activities will frustrate the Voiceover user, and led them to believe the Mac is not a good computer. Now let me say what I think the Mac with Voiceover is good at, and in some cases will even be better than the Windows computer.

After five years of using the Mac with Voiceover here is what it has proven to be good for me. Anything I have tried to do on the web with Safari has been successful. Examples would be shopping, paying bills, and looking up information, and interacting with social sites. The iTunes program is outstanding with Voiceover. I use it to backup all my IOS devices, and organize all my music. iTunes on the Mac is superior to iTunes on Windows. Email, and messaging work fine with Voiceover, and the built in Mac applications. Moderately advanced word processing, and spreadsheets can be done with Voiceover with Textedit, Pages, and Numbers.I love the Time Machine backup system on the Mac. With Time-machine I can easily revert my system if there is any problem such as an unsatisfactory update. I especially like that there is Voiceover functionality during any type of computer maintains. This even includes a complete format of the computer hardest. When doing computer maintain the Mac is superior to Windows. I have never needed sighted assistance to do anything with my Mac computers. In short I would say the Mac with Voiceover is an excellent choice for any personal home computer use.

Submitted by Andy B. on Monday, September 26, 2016

I know at least 6 people that depend on VO who are going through college right now. They use their MAC full-time, and I am one of those people.. I also know some people that use it full-time for work outside of audio production. To make things short, the MAC or Windows for that matter, will only live up to what you make it live up to. If you believe a MAC will never live up to the high performance laptop you wish it would live up to, then it will never be your dream laptop. Instead of trusting other people's opinions on productivity, try steamrolling Office 2016 or iWorks. People will never know the potential or limitations by standing on the sidelines and complaining about it. Find alternatives. If you need to write a formal paper, try Perrla Complete. Believe it or not, it is completely accessible on both Windows and MAC.. Apple depends on all of you to make their products better than the current versions. Why sit around and talk about what they do or don't do? Start telling them what needs fixed, improved, and give them a compliment once and a while... It goes a long way.
Over the past few years, I used MAC for xCode, php, perl, python, swift, java, javascript, html, css, shell access, ssh, mysql servers, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Pages, Numbers, Keynote (used for a college presentation), Safari, writing formal essays, and other general tasks like note taking and email. Again, what you decide is up to you, but don't claim a MAC fails the test when you haven't started the test yet.

Submitted by Apple Khmer on Monday, September 26, 2016

It just all depends what you are seeking to do with your machine. Me, the further I got with higher education, I figured I'd better be flexible; so I boot camped my Mac. Befoer I boot camped my Mac, I had left WINDOWS for about five years. Both will do what you want or need them to do to the best of their capabilities. You just have to learn how to maximize productivity, and use them as proficiently as possible.

Submitted by Siobhan on Monday, September 26, 2016

@andy.B is correct, you make it do what you want. As I said, you are looking to be swayed in either direction. If you like Windows, and Jaws, which seems to be your comfort food, by all means, shove more into your mouth, enjoying the expensive pricetag. Is there room for improvement on both ends of the spectrum? absolutely, but Andy's right, if we don't say Apple I'm having trouble identifying the dom focus with the function of a web page because safari won't see it, then apple won't know. All to oftne, we just ask, and expect to have things handed to us. So put your proverbial money where you're mouth is. Come back on here, and answer some of what at least i have asked, instead of your placid platitudes of general mishmash of something doesn't work right. Unless you've speciffic examples, clear cut why you say windows is better, at least I won't think any more of your statement then what it is, asking for other's opinion. Will you switch? I can't say. what i can be assured of is, your complacency to want your decision made for you. I'm by no means discouraging you from windows, i'm discouraging you from asking what you should do, and not standing on your own two feet, and saying hey, I have a brain, here's why I chose, insert product. Take this for what it is, harsh reality of asking for others' advice, when you are cocerned about a new operating system. For what it's worth, I have the confidence you can master the Os's finer points, I am unashamedly unsure of your comitment to either stick witht he Mac without resorting to what you know, or pretty much reading this, going back to your comfort zone as I said. By no means, am I disliking jaws it has it's place, I'm as i stated, disheartend by the either Mac is yay, Windows is nay, or vie versa attitude. I will always live by Mac, is good, windows is good. I also would google more pdf options then what's put out in the app sore. I was always looking for third party content in Windows to do what i needed and once I saw some apps I chose not to spend the money on, I researched and have found alternatives. I have no examples as I did a completely clean install, so I need to figure out what to redownload, however the app sotre is just the sidewalk of installation. Me? i'm walking across a six lane highway, hoping not to become someone's new windshield decoration. Oh and andy if you read this, sorry I links your username wrong, and two, because i'm taking college courses as of now with CSS Java script etc, glad the Mac can stand up to it. :)

Submitted by Brandt on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hi there folks,

Ok, let me give you my personal situation here. I lost the use of my write hand in early 2009, and could never find a way to type effectively one-handed in Windows. There are a few options, but all of them require tedious setup, for which I did not have the patience or time. DragonDictate for Windows is also quite expensive, and also does not work well with windows screen readers, unless you are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money for JAWS scripts, which obviously, I was not willing to do. The default windows dictation/voice recognition does not work well, unless you spend hours and hours training the thing, which, once again, I was not willing to do. A friend of mine had a Mac at the time, with which I had an opportunity to play. He showed me a demo of an app called One-Hand Keyboard, and eureka, the lights went on, doors opened, and Angels started singing. I could once again type at almost 50 words a minute! Not quite the speeds I could reach before, but much better than the 20 I could in windows.

I bought my first MacBook Pro, still have it, by the way, in early 2013. I also, have an HP Pavilion 2009 model running Windows 10 on the desk next to me. However, I might just get rid of it, for I have just upgraded my Mac to such an extent where I believe I could run windows without lag in VMware Fusion.

Please do not take me the wrong way, I am not saying that Windows is bad in any way, shape or form. In fact, there are things that you can do in windows that you cannot in my experience do on the Mac. For example, you cannot broadcast easily from the Mac as a blind person, I have tried many times before, and failed.

However, multitrack editing is a real pain in windows! Please note, I say that with feeling! One of my favourite audio editing tools does not have a Windows equivalent.

Social media, I can take it or leave it on both. Night owl for Mac is pretty decent for one it is, which happens to be a free Twitter client. On the other end, chicken nugget for windows is an extraordinary piece of work. However, the Facebook mobile site is slightly trickier on the Mac. Though, I must admit, I am not a big Facebook fan in the first place. Other stuff, LinkedIn, Readit, etc. Not my problem.

I think I should now shut up! Though to put all the above said shortly, neither Mac or Windows is inherently inferior to the other.

Submitted by Tree on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I know we blind people love making ideological crusades out of every conversation about technology, but we have a specific person asking a specific question about specific needs.

In my experience word processing and spreadsheets are not as good on the mac, but let's just focus on PDF reading, which is one of the things Pinkcupcake11 mentioned as a need.

Ask yourself this question Pinkcupcake11, if everything els on the mac was just as good as windows, with the exception of PDFs, is that exception enough of a reason to stay with windows. Only you can answer this question, but I would be very surprised if any knowledgeable person would even argue about the lack of great options for pdf readers on the mac.

I have downloaded dozens of Pdf apps on the mac and none of them offered full access to tagged PDF's. Before I graduated from college I did a year long internship with the emerging Technology and Accessibility department of my university. I was the screen reader expert, and it was my job to research the accessibility of services. My boss asked me if there was a way to fully access PDF's on the Mac O S without windows. Weeks of testing later I had to tell her no there is not a way. If anyone finds a Mac PDF reader that can fill forms, access headings, alt text, table of contents etc. please let me know, because I would love to have such an app.

I have not looked into PDF readers for a while on the mac, so my info might be out of date, but as far as I know this is the lay of the land, someone please correct me where I am wrong.

Preview only offers access to the text of files, and that text can be difficult to copy and paste.

Adobe DC is extremely laggy and is difficult to use to even read PDFs, because you can only read pages one at a time. Tables are not Accessible, text can not be selected to copy, and most other things are hit and miss.

Skim use to be able to be used to access headings, but that broke in Mavrics.

PDF pin can be used to type in form fields, but it can not access other form elements, such as buttons and check boxes, and it does a bad job with reading the text.

The non DC version of Adobe reader is totally inaccessible to voice over, however it's self voicing feature can, sometimes be used to fill out forms.

ICab is actually, perhaps, the best PDF reader on the mac, even though it's a web browser. It can be used to read and to fill most forms I think, however it can be cripplingly laggy with larger files.

You can use an OCR app like fine reader to convert a PDF file to something the mac can use more effectively, such as HTML, but that still will not allow you to access forms, it will take a while, and your results will very.

Those are the highlights of PDF accessibility on the mac, or at least they were about a year ago. Like I said, please point out anything I got wrong, since Pinkcupcake11 did specifically mention PDF files as a need. If anyone can show a proper PDF app on the mac then by all means do so and we mac users will rejoice, but until then Windows is better then the mac in this one area at least. That is a fact not an opinion.

Another fact is we blind people get too ideological in such conversations. Someone has asked a simple question about technology they need, and we have a chance to help them. I am not sure what we all think we have to prove. We all suffer from the accessibility shortcomings of mac and windows, and we can all help each other overcome such shortcomings. I for one do not have any stock in microsoft or Apple, and my only motivation for talking about accessibility is to give and receive information.

Submitted by jaan ali on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I am very happy with my Mac, only one thing bothers me, and that is reading or writing PDF on Mac or filling PDF forms

Submitted by Andy B. on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Creative thought helps solve this problem. I just finished filling out the 1065 tax form from www.irs.gov and a disability services request form from school. Both of which are pdf files. Oddly enough, both forms were tagged forms. Table of contents/ first letter nav worked like a dream in both. The form fields were completely accessible as well. If it were my job, I would need more wide range testing to say for sure, but what little testing I did, it is safe to say that most properly created pdf forms are accessible on a MAC. The trick is to turn quick nav off. Use the VO keys to get around. Moving by heading worked with VO+CMD+H and VO+SHIFT+CMD+H. To type in the form fields or activate buttons/checkboxes, left click on them with VO+SHIFT+SPACE.
The only point that needs discovering is how to copy/paste text in a pdf. I can't do it with quick nav turned off because SHIFT is used for a VO modifier. After we discover how that works, the pdf problem is solved. I used Adobe Reader for my test.

Submitted by Larry on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hello :)

It really depends on what you need to do within each program, and how willing you are to find your own way of doing things. I am in my 3rd year of Uni and have only used my Mac, as it does what I need it to do. Some formatting things are a bit hard to do in Pages, for example, knowing if a paragraph got indented proply. My solution to this was to use a pre-made template, thus making sure that the document is correctly formatted.

I use Numbers for simple tasks, which I think it does quick and well. I have also noticed that if a PDF is properly formatted my PDF-reader picks up the headings very well, and I am fortunate enough to study at a Uni that provides me with well formatted PDFs. I agree with a previous poster that it is a bit difficult to copy text from a PDF, and the way I get around this is to use VO + Shift + C, which copies the last spoken VoiceOver phrase, and then just CMD + V to paste the phrase into Pages where I keep my notes.

I have found that the more I learn about the Mac, and the more time I spend tweaking it to my preferences the more happy I am with my buy. I thought that I would miss Windows so I have Boot Camp with Win 7, but I have never regretted the switch and I only boot Windows to play a game, lol.

It is a learning curve and it might take some time to get use to the Mac, and in the end, the only person who can answer whether or not the Mac will work for your purposes is you :)

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Submitted by Tree on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This topic made me want to check out Adobe DC again, since I have not looked at it in quite a while. Since your getting such great results Andy B I'm worried that I must be missing something on my end.

I said in my previous comment, "Adobe DC is extremely laggy and is difficult to use to even read PDFs, because you can only read pages one at a time, and Tables are not Accessible" I'm assuming you are having different results, Andy B, since you report few issues with Adobe and say, "it is safe to say that most properly created pdf forms are accessible on a MAC."

Help me understand what I am missing. First of all, you say you are filling forms with Adobe and that is proof that PDF's are accessible on the mac. if you look at my previous comment, which I quote in this comment, I do not say Adobe DC has any issues filling forms. It does offer access to form fields, buttons etc. However, what I did say was that "Adobe DC is difficult to use to even read PDFs because you can only read pages one at a time. Tables are not Accessible." I'm playing with the app right now, and I assume I am missing something, because I am having even more difficulty reading PDF's then I thought I would. I am able to see form elements and interact with them, but no matter what I do I can not seem to be able to even find the actual text of the document. For example, I am able to see in this federal tax form the field for my social security number, but I am not able to find the instructions for what the form is and what you should do with it. I can see the headings for such information, but not the actual information itself.

If I look at a document that is only text, for example this copy of the novel 1984 which you can download from archive dot org, https://ia600201.us.archive.org/8/items/NINETEENEIGHTY-FOUR1984ByGeorge… I am basically not able to see anything but the headings.

I can't believe that the Adobe app would be this bad, and I'm sure you wouldn't be praising it Andy B if it can not be used to even read pdf files, so please help me understand what I am missing. I'm sure there is something odd going on with my system or something.

Just to make sure I'm clear, I'm not, nor have I ever, said that Adobe DC can not be used to fill forms, just that it offers a problematic reading experience. If you have to use one app to access forms, while you use another to read the text of the forms, that is a limitation, and Pinkcupcake11's original question was about limitations they should be aware of.

I also do not believe that Adobe DC can be used to read tables, not the table of contents but actual formatted tables like you would find in a web browser, however perhaps I am wrong about this.

I'm sure I am missing something and there must be an easy way to access the text in PDF documents with Adobe DC; if there is not then surely we can't say it's a way to truly access pdf documents on the mac.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but usually you don't write in PDF. What is typically done, even with Adobe's own Acrobat software to produce PDFs, is to prepare the media using another program (word processor, spreadsheet, etc). It is then converted to PDF and, if necessary, touched up with a PDF editor. Note that I say touched up, not edited, because you really don't do much content editing in a pdf file. The format is not designed for that.
If you want to produce PDFs on a Mac, just as a quick primer on what I mean, take a document you made in Pages or any editor of your choice. Press command-P to print, then find the PDF option. Your pdf will even come out accessible. If you're using Pages, there is a lot more things you can do when creating the pdf (see the export menu).
Touching up a pdf isn't exactly a breeze on any platform or screen reader combination, unfortunately. It can be done though. My favorite tool at the moment is PDF Pen Pro. It's more accessible than Acrobat on Windows. It isn't perfect, however it is the best tool I've found.

Submitted by splyt on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

For me:

If I spend x time to learn something on a system and x* 100 time to learn how to do the same thing on another, the first one is better.

If I have to use x commands to make something on a system and use x * 50 commands to make the same thing on the other, the first one is better.

If I have to research x time to make something on a system and research x * 10 time to research how to do the same thing on another system, the first one is better.

If my assistive technology is customizable by a rate of 50 x on a system and is customizable by a rate of a x rate on another, the first one is better.

if the number of bugs due to regressions (things working that stopped to do so) on assistive tecnology is x on a system and 10 x on another, the first one is better.

If you just know how to do something on a system because it is intuitive and have to spend a huge amount of time to learn how to do the same thing on another system because of the way it is, the first one is better.

For me, Windows is better. If you uuse a rationale and find that Mac OS is better, good.

Some of the commenters here said that things are doable. I want the most eficiente way of doing things doable. The fact that something is doable does not mean that its the best option.

For example, while I love the authonomy of formating and maintaining a system, I do maintain a system once a year and do use a system every day. If I have to choose between a eficient and a maintainable system with assistive technology I would go for the first one.

I would say that for me what some commenters here said is also what I think. If you're a power user and can follow your life with Windows, stay on Windows.
If you are not a power user, either systems will do fine with vantages and also the disadvantages.
Most part of power users who are with Mac OS need this system because other systems can not do given tasks. Give me an accessible iOS development environment and a decent audio editor for Windows and I will stop using mac OS happily.

P.S. Some commenters have criticised you for asking for recomendations. This is ridiculous. A clever people would ask for many recomendations and advices and make their own judgement taking in account all those advices. Asking for recomendations is good. But only you can decide.

I would recomend keeping both systems and using each one for what they are best for you. Time costs. Eficiency saves money so if you can use different systems to make your self the most productive person this is the best solution.

Submitted by Ahmed on Monday, November 25, 2019

In reply to by Pinkcupcake11

Hi PinkCupCake11 regarding MicroSoft Office is accessible as of the 2016 Edition but it has a learning-curve to it. Regarding PDF documents Adobe AcrobatReader DC is accessible but the implementation of VoiceOver is odd but their are tricks. Finally OCR their are a plethora of OCR apps some of which are payed and some are free

I love it I write documents format them spellcheck them use track changes it’s very accessible

Submitted by Lydia Alverson on Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Last year, I switched to a Mac from a PC running Windows 7, and I didn't have any problems. Setting up the Mac with voiceOver is a breeze. And there are plenty of resources on how to use voiceOver on Mac if you need any help. I did my homework ahead of time by reading about the basics online. It is definitely going to be a learning curve, but you'll be used to it in no time.