Getting Started With the Mac

Listed below is a selection of posts from across the AppleVis website which have been especially selected to help you setup and get to know your first Mac.

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Guide by Tyler on Monday, October 14, 2019


If you’re new to the Mac, learning and mastering the VoiceOver screenreader can seem daunting at first. In an attempt to streamline the search for essential getting started information across the AppleVis website, I will provide a series of tips, along with links to more comprehensive guides and podcasts, organized by heading and subheading.

From personal experience, I have found that one of the most effective ways to learn a new screenreader is to read documentation with another more familiar one. For example, you could start reading this guide on iOS, Android or Windows, gradually try various things on the Mac, and finally, see how you do relying on VoiceOver in addition to or in place of your other screenreader.


The Mac refers to Apple’s line of personal computers. Mac laptops range from the low-end MacBook Air to the high-end MacBook Pro. Mac desktops include the Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro.

Guide by Nicholas on Saturday, January 2, 2021

Compiled below is a rearrangement of Apple’s published VoiceOver key commands charts, edited/confirmed for macOS Monterey.

Editor’s note: VO Key Commands are arranged by Levels. Press and hold the keys below while typing any other key.

Level One: Press Control-Option.

Level Two: Press Control-Option-Shift.

Level Three: Press Control-Option-Command.

Level Four: Press Control-Option-Command-Shift.

A “Combined Listing” has been provided at the end of this document. This offers an arrangement by keypress, with all Control keys and notes included, per key.

Except for the Combined List which is my own arrangement, all information is presented as true as possible to Apple’s original materials.

-End of Editor’s note.

All information provided is copyright Apple, Inc. All rights reserved.

Podcast by AppleVis on Saturday, December 2, 2017

In this podcast, Khalfan Bin Dhaher demonstrates Multilingual VoiceOver support on macOS.

Podcast by AppleVis on Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In this podcast, David Woodbridge introduces us to Siri on the Mac. Siri on the Mac offers many of the same capabilities available on iOS, along with Mac-specific functionality such as the ability to search through folders to quickly find files.

Guide by Tyler on Monday, May 18, 2020


If you’re coming to the Mac from Windows, you’re probably used to either downloading apps from the Microsoft Store, or downloading an app package from a website and running its included installer. On macOS, there are several ways apps can be installed and uninstalled, which I will give an overview of in this guide.

The good news is that whatever methods the developer has employed, the installation and uninstallation processes should seem very straightforward to you, the user. Toward the end of this guide, I will attempt to explain some of the security warnings that you may come across in your use of apps, as well as best practices to keep your Mac and the information on it secure.

Guide by Tyler on Monday, April 8, 2019


If you own a computer or mobile device, there’s one thing you’ve probably heard time and time again, back up your data.

When your critical information is stored in only one medium, it is inherently vulnerable. The device’s internal storage, either a hard drive or solid state drive, could fail, complications could occur during an update or other system event, the device could get lost or stolen, or a flood or fire could break out at the device’s location.

For this reason, it is advisable to always back up your data. On an iOS device, you probably back up your data in iCloud. However, on the Mac, iCloud backup is not available. Thus in this guide, I will be discussing how to back up your Mac with Time Machine, a backup utility built in to macOS.

Guide by Tyler on Monday, December 17, 2018


If you’re a Mac Voiceover user, there’s one word you absolutely hate hearing, the B word.

Of course, I’m talking about the word, “Busy.” It may pass after a few seconds, causing only minor annoyance, or it can happen frequently and significantly disrupt your workflow.

Often times, repeated experiences like this mean you probably have some performance issues to address. In this guide, I will give an overview of some of the most common problems and solutions. That being said, a slow Mac is a nonspecific symptom with many possible causes; so there might be other explanations for your problem.


If you’re a Voiceover user, you’re probably accustom to hearing the word, “Busy,” spoken at various points and not being able to navigate normally. This phenomenon describes intense processor activity that limits your ability to navigate within the focused app, and in extreme cases, your entire system.

Guide by mehgcap on Saturday, April 11, 2015

What Is Night Owl?

Night Owl is the only accessible Twitter client for the Mac, or at least the most popular among VoiceOver users. With it, you can retweets, manage lists, send direct messages, save searches, and much more. While most of the app is relatively simple, some parts can be a bit confusing, and there are some undocumented shortcuts and features. This guide will walk you through the basics of the app, and explained most of the features. If audio is your thing, AppleVis has has a Night Owl podcast.

Guide by mehgcap on Friday, October 19, 2012

What Is This?

Is there an application on your Mac whose menu items are lacking keyboard shortcuts? For instance, would it not be easier to add a shortcut to mail for the Save Attachments item, or to iTunes to sync your iOS device, or to Safari to quickly tweet a page? Well, you can do all this, and you need nothing more than a few minutes and System Preferences.

Podcast by AppleVis on Tuesday, August 28, 2018

To help start off a new school year, Tyler Stephen gives us a podcast covering some of the aspects of Pages for Mac for VoiceOver users.

For information about more advanced formatting functions in Pages, the following additional guides may be helpful:

Podcast by AppleVis on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In this podcast, Alex Hall gives us an introduction to using the macOS Calendar with VoiceOver.

Podcast by AppleVis on Monday, November 4, 2013
In this podcast, Steve Murgaski walks us through how to assign braille keyboard commands to VoiceOver actions. He also demonstrates how to change the way a braille display behaves through the Activity feature found in the VoiceOver Utility.
Guide by Piotr Machacz on Sunday, January 26, 2014


iWork 13 was a big update. One that excited blind people, and at the same time annoyed power users. Because the iWork apps were rewritten from scratch, not every feature was included at first. One of these features is assigning hotkeys to styles, which later was brought back in an update. A couple times I’ve seen people asking how it works, so I sat down to figure it out.

Blog Post by mehgcap on Sunday, March 30, 2014


Macs have been fully accessible since 2005, but those who have never used one may still believe the myths about VoiceOver that have been around almost as long as VoiceOver itself. Even long-time users may be doing extra work, not even realizing that there are shortcuts or steps they can skip. I would like to take this opportunity to dispel these long-standing myths, and maybe make you more comfortable with the idea of switching to, or at least trying out, a Mac.

Podcast by AppleVis on Monday, October 22, 2018

In this podcast, Alex Hall demonstrates the Home app on MacOS. The Home App is new in macOS 10.14 Mojave.

Guide by Kevin Shaw on Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Before I lost my sight, the usable low vision I had allowed me to fall in love with typography, design and the Apple aesthetic which I'd describe as clean and simple. I’ve kept this design philosophy throughout my life and have continued to edit and design my documents so they match this aesthetic.

These skills may take some time to master, but are worth the investment especially if you work in an organization that values design. Your documents will not only look better, but you will communicate that you are a student or businessperson who knows how to use your assistive technology well.

Guide by Tyler on Monday, March 23, 2020


If you use a Mac, at some point or another, you will need to drag an item from one place to another. You could be, among other things, trying to move a file, reorder a list, or attach photos and other files to a document.

While there is no, “Magic solution,” to drag and drop with VoiceOver, there are several methods you can employ that just might work to accomplish the task at hand. These tips come predominantly from my own personal use, as literature on how to do this is rather scarce. Therefore, if you know of additional tips and tricks, sound off in the comments.

Guide by Kevin Shaw on Saturday, September 4, 2021

In my first Pages guide, I described what certain typographic elements looked like such as bold text and underlining. In my second guide, I provided a crash course in how you can quickly apply styles in your Pages documents. In this guide, let’s tackle some more complex concepts. You can apply these to the test document available in my second guide, or use one of yours as a playground.

Podcast by AppleVis on Monday, September 28, 2015

In this podcast, Jonathan Simeone discusses and demonstrates the autosave and versioning features of TextEdit on macOS. These provide the peace of mind of knowing that your work is being automatically saved as you type, and that it’s quick and easy to revert to a previous version of a document.

Blog Post by David Goodwin👨‍🦯 on Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In this post I explain the importance of reporting accessibility-related bugs to Apple; and make a few suggestions for the best way to do so.

AppleVis is a great platform for talking about VoiceOver, braille, and low vision bugs - to confirm with others that what you are experiencing is actually a bug; to seek and share workarounds; or to simply vent the occasional frustration - but we also need to make sure that the Accessibility Team at Apple is aware of each and every bug so that they can fix them in a future software update.