What information would you want in a directory of Mac apps?

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
Other Apple Chat

Hi all,

We shall shortly be expanding the AppleVis site to include Mac apps.

Amongst the anticipated changes is a dedicated App Directory for Mac apps. So, we now need to decide what information should be gathered on Mac apps. These are the obvious things:

  • Name
  • Category
  • Version Number
  • Free or paid
  • Version of OS X the app was tested on
  • Accessibility comments
  • Link to app in App Store
  • Link to developer web site

Can I assume that we are all happy with these?

I would then suggest that we have a rating system similar to what we already use in the existing App Directory. These are:

  • VoiceOver Performance
  • Button Labelling
  • Usability

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I don't use a Mac myself, so do not know if the issues are different to those on iDevices.

So, would you Mac users out there please suggest what we should be rating, and what the rating choices should be.

It would be better to get the rating system right from the start, rather than have to adjust it later.




Submitted by AppleVis on Thursday, December 8, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi all,

Just a quick 'bump' of this post to make sure that it doesn't get missed.

We really need feedback from Mac users on what accessibility information you want on Mac apps.

We can't move forward with this until you let us know what you want.


Submitted by Valzitrine on Friday, December 9, 2011

I've been using a mac since May of this year, and I have noticed that, occasionally, an app will open up and VoiceOver will tell me that (dropbox for example) "has no windows". Even though it gives you that message, the app is still accessible, but works in the background. With the help of the growl app, you can be notified whenever you receive file updates. However, sometimes when VO says an app "has no windows", it may mean that the app is completely inaccessible which is what I found out when I tried out a free app similar to ambiance or white noise. Maybe another accessibility comment to add could somehow indicate that the app either works in the background or requires you to go into system preferences to make any changes in your app settings.

Submitted by AppleVis on Friday, December 9, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Okay, lets see if we can identify the specific information needed.

In the iOS App Directory we currently use the following ratings:

VoiceOver Performance

  1. VoiceOver reads all page elements.
  2. VoiceOver reads most page elements.
  3. VoiceOver reads a few page elements.
  4. VoiceOver reads no page elements.

Button Labelling

  1. All buttons are clearly labelled.
  2. Most buttons are clearly labelled.
  3. Few buttons are clearly labelled.
  4. No buttons are clearly labelled.


  1. The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.
  2. The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver, but the interface could be easier to navigate and use. 
  3. The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver, but the interface makes the app very difficult to use.
  4. There are some minor accessibility issues with this app, but they are easy to deal with.
  5. There are some accessibility issues with this app, but it can still be used if you are willing to tolerate these issues and learn how to work around them.
  6. Some parts of the app are accessible with VoiceOver, but not enough to make it usable.
  7. The app is totally inaccessible.

Are these suitable for Mac apps? If not, what would be more relevant and useful?

I think those would be relevant to mac apps, but maybe another rating should be added somewhere that says an application works in the background, or requires another app such as growl to make it accessible with VoiceOver.

Submitted by AppleVis on Saturday, December 10, 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by Valzitrine

Thanks for the feedback.

Do you fellow Mac users agree?

Would a simple checkbox be enough to indicate that it's an app that runs in the background?

What do people think about having a text field where the person posting the app is asked to enter any information on how to make the app more accessible (such as using with Growl)?

Submitted by David Taylor on Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thinking about Mac apps is rather more like thinking about any computer app. There are all sorts of controls not just buttons that we need access to, so I would replace button labelling with access to controls. Sometimes you can see a control is there but not actually do anything with it. I do think this would also be helpful in IOS. It allows real descriptions of how to use things to be put in. There is also more disagreement about what is and isn't accessible. For instance, some people would say an app is accessible if you can get to it through the terminal, while others would not, and apps that reside in the menubar need a specific mention as we often can't do anything more than have them in the background whereas sighted people can. What I would be inclined to do is put a few up and see what comments come in and play it a bit by ear for a few weeks.

Submitted by Ken Ewing on Saturday, December 10, 2011

I think the current accessibility ratings that are in place for iOS devices apply to Mac applications too. Any other findings such as whether or not they run in the background or need another utility in order to make the experience better can be added in the existing comment fields. If someone knows how to use an application and want to share that information they can always submit a written guide and/or podcast on that topic.

Submitted by Esther on Monday, December 12, 2011

It might be useful if there were a field to also optionally provide a link to the app's description at the MacUpdate web site: www.macupdate.com This is probably the closest thing we have to a standard repository for information on Mac software. I usually Google the name of an application along with "macupdate" to provide a link to users. While this site does substitute for the developer's home page, it has several advantages for users: (1) it uses a standardized layout format for every application, that includes all the relevant information, such as a brief description of the app, the information about the latest current version and release date, a download link for the software, identification of the developer and link to the home page, etc.; (2) comments and ratings from the community; (3) a list of similar alternative programs that users have recommended. I've often seen posts from users who, after being pointed to the main page for a software application, write back asking for the location of the download link, or more information of exactly whaat the application does. The fact that the MacUpdate page for an application provides all this information in standard locations, and always contains a brief description, is a real plus. It also summarizes information about OS X version requirements, and information about whether an application is no longer being supported. This isn't really about the accessibility criteria, but in practice is a very useful standard site to link to and reference