Changing How Your Mac Looks, Sounds, and Feels - Getting Started with Mac Basics - Macs All-in-One For Dummies, 4th Edition (2014)

Macs All-in-One For Dummies, 4th Edition (2014)

Book I. Getting Started with Mac Basics

Chapter 6. Changing How Your Mac Looks, Sounds, and Feels

In This Chapter

arrow Changing the Desktop and screen saver

arrow Setting the date and time

arrow Adjusting alert sounds

arrow Making your Mac more accessible

arrow Talking to your Mac

arrow Listening to your Mac

The desktop user interface functions the same way regardless of the Mac model you have, but that doesn’t mean they all have to look and feel the same. To personalize your Mac, you can change the way it looks and even how it behaves.

By customizing your Mac — and adjusting how it works to make things easier on your eyes, ears, or hands — you can stamp it with your personality and truly turn your Mac into a personal computer that feels like it’s working with you and for you, rather than against you.

When you have a choice about how an application or function looks or responds, Preferences are where you go to specify your choices. There are two places to find preferences on your Mac:

· image⇒System Preferences gathers all the preferences settings for your Mac operating system in one place. This is where you set up your Mac’s appearance, connect to a network or printer, and establish the type of notifications you want to receive for incoming information such as an e-mail message or Facebook update. You read about keyboard, mouse, and trackpad preferences in Book I, Chapter 2.

· Application menuPreferences lets you set application-specific preferences. In Book I, Chapter 4, you can read all about Finder preferences.

In this chapter, we discuss the System Preferences. We show you how to customize your Desktop image, set up screen savers, and adjust the screen resolution. We explain how to use Notification Center and how to set the date and time. At the end of the chapter, we introduce you to theUniversal Access functions, which are the preferences you can choose to make working with your Mac easier if you have trouble with your vision, hearing, or movement.

image If you share your Mac with other people and set up separate user accounts as explained in Book III, Chapter 2, some system preference settings, such as Network or Date & Time apply to all users, while others, such as Desktop, as well as app preferences, are specific to the user who sets them.

Changing the Desktop and Screen Saver

The Desktop fills the screen in the absence of any application windows, and the Screen Saver is the image that runs across the screen when your Mac sleeps. You set preferences for both from the same window, and we explain how to do that in the next few sections.

Choosing a Desktop image

Generally, the Desktop displays a decorative background image. Your Mac comes with a variety of images, but you can display any image, such as a photo captured with a digital camera or a favorite picture you downloaded from the Internet. To choose your Desktop image, follow these steps:

1. Control-click anywhere on the Desktop and choose Change Desktop Background.

Or you can click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and choose Desktop & Screen Saver from the pop-up menu.

The Desktop & Screen Saver preferences pane appears, as shown in Figure 6-1.

2. Click one of the following to choose the Desktop image (click the disclosure triangle next to Apple if you don’t see the first two choices):

· Desktop Pictures to browse images bundled with OS X.

· Solid Colors to pick a solid background color.

· iPhoto to choose a photo from your iPhoto library (learn all about iPhoto in Book IV, Chapter 3).

· Folders for access to photos stored in your Pictures folder.

3. Choose the image or color that you want to adorn your Desktop.

· Set your favorite color (say, poppy red) as your Desktop. Click Solid Colors, and then click the Custom Color button under the color chips. When the color picker opens, click to choose your preferred shade and then click the Close button.


Figure 6-1: Desktop preferences let you choose a different background image.

· Use a personal photo. Click the disclosure triangle next to iPhoto and then scroll through the choices. Click Photos to see all the photos you have stored in iPhoto or click successive disclosure triangles, such as Events or Places, to narrow your choices to specific albums in those sections.

· Use something from your Pictures folder (inside Folders). These are images downloaded from a website or from a digital camera. Images stored in separate folders inside the Pictures folder will not initially be visible; click the folder to see images inside.

· Click the Add (+) button in the lower-left corner and use the dialog that appears to navigate to the folder that contains the image you want to use.

4. Click the image or color you want to use.

5. (Optional) If you choose an image from iPhoto or the Pictures folder, a pop-up menu appears above the images, as shown in Figure 6-2. Choose how you want the image to appear on the Desktop from the following options:

· Fill Screen: Expands or contracts the image to fill the screen but might cut off edges, depending on the aspect ratio of the original image.

· Fit to Screen: Expands the image to fill most of the screen but might leave edges uncovered, depending on the aspect ratio of the original image. Click the menu to the right of this option to choose the color of the border that may surround the image.

· Stretch to Fill Screen: Stretches a picture to fill the entire screen, which might distort the image similar to the way a carnival mirror can.

· Center: Places the image in the middle of the screen at its original size, and might leave edges uncovered or crop out portions, depending on the image’s dimensions. Click the menu to the right of this option to choose the color of the border that may surround the image.

· Tile: Duplicates the image in rows and columns to fill the screen. Some images are too large to tile and the option will be grayed (as in the figure). Resize your selected image in iPhoto or another photo manipulation app or choose a smaller image.


Figure 6-2: Choose how you want your photo to appear on screen.

6. (Optional) Select the check boxes next to the options at the bottom of the window to do the following:

· Change Picture: Click the pop-up menu to tell your Mac to change the Desktop background picture based on a time interval, when you log in to your Mac, or when you wake it from Sleep mode. Choices come from the category where you select the Desktop image, so if you choose an image from the Desktop Pictures folder, the selection is limited to those images. Choose a photo from an iPhoto Event, and the selection changes between photos in that album.

· Random Order: Randomly changes the Desktop background image. Left unselected, the images change in the order they appear in the source.

· Translucent Menu Bar: Gives your Mac’s menu bar a translucent “see through” effect.

7. Click the Close button in the upper-left corner of the window. (Or choose System Preferences⇒Quit or press image+Q to close the System Preferences window.)

Customizing the Screen Saver

A screen saver is an animated image that appears onscreen after a fixed period when your Mac doesn’t detect any keyboard, trackpad, or mouse activity. When selecting a screen saver, you can choose an image to display and the amount of time to wait before the screen saver starts.

image For an eco-friendlier alternative to using the screen saver, check out the Energy Saver setting described in the section about putting your Mac in Sleep mode in Book I, Chapter 1.

To choose a screen saver, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences from the Finder menu and click the Desktop & Screen Saver icon.

Or you can Control-click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and choose Desktop & Screen Saver from the pop-up menu.

The Desktop & Screen Saver preferences pane appears.

2. Click the Screen Saver tab to display the Screen Saver preferences pane, and then click one of the screen saver styles shown in the left column.

The preview pane shows you what your screen saver will look like. Scroll through the pane on the left side to see the different screen saver styles, which have slightly different options:

The first 14 styles all use photos and display a Source menu under the preview image. Open the pop-up Source menu and select from Recent iPhoto Events, Default Collections (which include some fabulous National Geographic photos), a folder, or photo library, as shown in Figure6-3. Check Shuffle Slide Order (hidden under the pop-up menu in the figure) to randomly display the images in the chosen event, collection, or library.

· Flurry, Arabesque, and Shell display luminous, colorful, moving shapes.

· Message displays something you write, such as an inspirational phrase or reminder.

· iTunes Artwork displays a collage of album covers from your iTunes collection.

· Word of the Day shows a word selected from the dictionary you choose in the Screen Saver Options menu.


Figure 6-3: Screen Saver preferences let you define an image and an inactivity time.

· Random picks a different screen saver image every time the screen saver starts. After your randomly chosen screen saver starts, that same animated image appears until you press a key to turn off the screen saver.

image You can download third-party screen savers from the App Store. When installed on your Mac, they appear after the Random choice.

3. Open the Start After pop-up menu to specify an amount of time to wait before your screen saver starts.

Opting for a short amount of time can mean the screen saver starts while you’re reading a web page or document, so you might have to experiment a bit to find the best time for you.

4. (Optional) Select the Show with Clock check box to display the time with your screen saver.

5. (Optional) Enable Hot Corners.

1. Click the Hot Corners button (refer to Figure 6-3).

2. Open one (or each) of the four pop-up menus and choose a command that your Mac will carry out when you move your pointer to the specified corner, as shown in Figure 6-4.


Figure 6-4: Each pop-up menu defines a function for a hot corner.

Two common uses for a hot corner are to turn on the screen saver, or to put your Mac’s display to sleep to save energy.

image You can define multiple hot corners to do the same task, such as defining the two top corners to start the screen saver and the two bottom corners to put the display to sleep.

3. Click OK to close the Active Screen Corners dialog.

6. Click the Close button in the Desktop & Screen Saver preferences pane.

image You can customize the layout of the System Preferences window by choosing View⇒Customize. Clear the check box next to the items you don’t want to see. You still see all the preferences in the Show All menu and the System Preferences menu accessed from the Dock.

Changing the Display and Appearance

Because you’ll be staring at your Mac’s screen every time you use it, you might want to modify how the screen displays information. Some changes you can make include changing the Desktop size (resolution), or selecting another color scheme of your various menus, windows, and dialogs. The next sections show you how.

Changing the screen resolution

The display defines the screen resolution, measured in pixels, which are the dots that make up an image. The higher the display resolution, the more pixels you have and the sharper the image — but everything on your screen might appear smaller.

image Selecting your Mac display’s highest resolution generally puts your Mac’s best face forward, so to speak, when it comes to making everything look sharp and correct on your screen.

To change the screen resolution, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Displays icon, or click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and choose Displays from the menu that opens.

The Display preferences window opens, as shown in Figure 6-5. Depending on your Mac model, the image may be different.


Figure 6-5: Choose a different screen resolution.

2. Click the Display tab (if it isn’t already selected) and select one of the following:

· Best for Display: Sets the resolution to an optimal size.

· Scaled: Choose a specific resolution to make objects appear larger on screen or to make them smaller so you see more objects on screen.

3. Choose a resolution.

Your Mac immediately changes the resolution so you can see how it looks. If you don’t like the resolution, try again until you find one that’s easy on your eyes.

4. Adjust brightness.

Move the brightness slider to adjust the luminosity of your screen or select the Automatically Adjust Brightness check box to have your Mac adjust the screen brightness based on the ambient light.

5. (Optional) Adjust color.

Click the Color tab, click the Calibrate button, and then follow the steps that appear to tweak the way your Mac displays colors; click the Done button when you reach the final step to return to the Display preferences pane.

6. Click the Close button in the System Preferences window when you’re happy with the screen resolution.

image The AirPlay Display menu will be active when external monitors or displays are available on the same network. A Detect Displays button appears when you hold down the Option key. Do this and then click the display in the pop-up menu to connect your Mac to it. After you connect another display, hold down the Option key while clicking Scaled to adjust the resolution for that display.

Changing the color of the user interface

Another way to change the appearance of the screen is to modify the colors used in windows, menus, and dialogs. To change the color of these user interface items, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the General icon.

Or, Control-click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and choose General from the menu that opens.

The General preferences pane appears, as shown in Figure 6-6.


Figure 6-6: Use Appearance preferences to modify colors.

2. From the Appearance and Highlight Color pop-up menus, choose your color variations.

The Appearance pop-up menu defines the colors that normally show up on windows, buttons, and so on. The Highlight Color pop-up menu defines the color of items that you select.

3. From the Sidebar Icon Size pop-up menu, choose the size of icons in the Sidebar of the Finder window.

4. Select the radio buttons and check boxes to adjust how the scroll bars work.

These changes will be seen only in applications that support these features. Choose from these three:

· Automatically Based on Mouse or Trackpad reveals scroll bars only when the window is smaller than its contents. This gives you a visual clue that there’s more than meets the eye.

· When Scrolling uses a shadowy black oblong that appears only when you are hovering over the right edge of the window if you’re scrolling up and down, or on the bottom of the window if you’re scrolling left to right. The advantage is that scroll bars don’t take up precious window real estate.

· Always puts right side and bottom scroll bars on your windows whether you need them or not.

And then choose one of these:

· Jump to the Next Page moves your document up or down one page when you click above or below the scroller in the scroll bar.

· Jump to the Spot That’s Clicked takes you to the position in your document more or less in relation to where you clicked the scroll bar. If you click near the bottom of the scroll bar, the window jumps toward the end of the document.

5. (Recommended) Select the Close Windows When Quitting an Application check box to only open the app (and no windows) when you restart an app.

image By default, when you quit an app, windows that are open in that app close. Then, when you restart the app, the windows that were open when you quit automatically reopen.

6. From the Recent Items pop-up menu, choose how many items you want to appear in the Recent Items list under the imagemenu.

7. Select the LCD Font Smoothing When Available check box to make fonts appear smoother.

8. Click the Close button to close the General preferences pane.

image To move quickly between one System Preferences pane and another, click and hold the Show All button to reveal a pop-up menu that lists all the preferences items in alphabetical order.

Changing the Date and Time

Keeping track of time might seem trivial, but knowing the right time is important. That way, your Mac can determine when you created or modified a particular file, and keep track of appointments you’ve made through applications, such as Calendar.

Of course, keeping track of time is useless if you don’t set the right time to begin with. To set the proper date and time, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Date & Time icon.

Or, Control-click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and choose Date & Time from the menu that opens.

The Date & Time preferences pane appears, as shown in Figure 6-7.


Figure 6-7: Set the clock in your Mac.

2. Select (or deselect) the Set Date & Time Automatically check box.

If you select this check box, open the drop-down list to choose a location.

This feature works only if you’re connected to the Internet. If you aren’t connected to the Internet, click the calendar to pick a date and click the clock to set the time.

You can use a different method to set the time. Instead of selecting the Set Date & Time Automatically check box, click the Time Zone tab at the top of the window and then click near your home city on the map.

You can also click in the Closest City field and begin typing the name of the city nearest you in the same time zone, or click the drop-down list and select the city nearest you.

3. (Optional) Click Set Time Zone Automatically Using Current Location if you want the clock to change automatically when you travel to a different time zone.

This feature works when you have an Internet connection and have turned on Location Services.

4. Click the Clock tab and select (or deselect) the Show Date and Time in Menu Bar check box, as shown in Figure 6-8.

If selected, this displays the time on the right side of the menu bar. After you make your selection, you can select the other options to change the appearance of the clock, such as choosing between a digital or an analog clock, and choosing whether to show the day of the week (Digital option only).

5. Select (or deselect) the Announce the Time check box if you want your Mac to recite the time by using a synthesized voice every hour, half-hour, or quarter hour.

The associated pop-up menu lets you specify when announcements are made; click the Customize Voice button to choose what kind of voice is used and how quickly and loudly it utters the time.

6. Click the Close button to close the Date & Time preferences pane.

image Click the Language & Region icon in System Preferences to change the time and date format based on your language and region. Use the pop-up menus as shown in Figure 6-9.


Figure 6-8: Pick the type of clock you want.


Figure 6-9: The Language & Region preferences provide time and date formatting options.

Adjusting Sounds

Every Mac can play sound through speakers (built-in or external) or headphones, from making the simplest beeping noise to playing audio CDs like a stereo. Three primary ways to modify the sound on your Mac involve volume, balance, and input/output devices.

· Volume: Simply means how loud your Mac plays sound by default. Many applications, such as iTunes, also let you adjust the volume, so you can set the default system volume and then adjust the volume within each application, relative to the system volume, as well.

· Balance: Defines how sound plays through the right and left stereo speakers. By adjusting the balance, you can make sound louder coming from one speaker and weaker coming from the other.

· Input/output: Depending on your equipment, you might have multiple input and output devices — speakers and headphones as two distinct output devices, for example. By defining which input and output device to use, you can define which one to use by default.

To modify the way your Mac accepts and plays sound, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Sound icon.

Or, Control-click the System Preferences icon on the Dock and choose Sound from the menu that opens.

The Sound preferences pane appears, as shown in Figure 6-10.


Figure 6-10: Use Sound Effects preferences to define audible alerts.

2. Choose a sound effect.

Click the Sound Effects tab (if it isn’t already selected) and scroll through the list to choose the sound your Mac will play when it needs your attention, such as when you’re quitting an application without saving a document.

image In the last section of this chapter, “Setting up Dictation & Speech,” we tell you how to hear a spoken warning when your Mac wants to alert you to something.

3. (Optional) From the Play Sound Effects Through pop-up menu, choose whether your Mac plays sounds through its built-in Internal Speakers or through another set of speakers you might have connected to your Mac.

4. (Optional) Drag the Alert Volume slider to the desired location to set how loudly (or softly) your Mac will play the alert when it needs to get your attention.

5. (Optional) Select (or deselect) either of the following check boxes:

· Play User Interface Sound Effects: Lets you hear such sounds as the crinkling of paper when you empty the Trash or a whooshing sound if you remove an icon from the Dock.

· Play Feedback When Volume Is Changed: Beeps to match the sound level while you increase or decrease the volume.

6. (Optional) Drag the Output Volume slider or press the volume-up and volume-down keys on the keyboard.

Output volume defines the maximum volume that sound-playing applications can emit, so if you set Output volume at 75 percent and then play a song in iTunes with the iTunes volume at 50 percent, the song plays at 37.5 percent of the Mac’s maximum output capacity.

7. (Optional) Select (or deselect) the Show Volume in Menu Bar check box.

When selected, you can see and adjust your Mac’s volume from the menulet in the menu bar.

image Menulets are mini menus that open when you click the icons on the right end of the menu bar and give you quick access to specific System Preferences settings, such as Network, Time and Date, or Sound.

8. Click the Output tab to display the Output preferences pane.

· Click the output device you want to use if you have another output option connected to your Mac, such as headphones or external speakers.

· Drag the Balance slider to adjust the balance.

9. Click the Input tab to open the Input preferences pane, as shown in Figure 6-11.

10. Click the input device you want your Mac to use to receive sound.

For instance, you might choose a built-in microphone or the line in port as your input device.

Your Mac may not have a Line In port — the MacBook Air does not.

· Drag the Input Volume slider to adjust the default input volume.

· Select (or deselect) the Use Ambient Noise Reduction check box to eliminate background noise.

Select this option if you’re recording with the built-in microphone or someone you’re having a FaceTime or Messages voice or video chat with complains that they can’t hear you clearly.

11. Click the Close button to close the Sound preferences pane when you finish making adjustments.


Figure 6-11: Input preferences let you define how to record sound.

Noticing Notifications

When your Mac wants to tell you or remind you of something, it alerts you. It used to be those alerts were few and far between, but today with bells ringing for birthdays, beeps telling you you’ve got mail, and banners flying across the screen with the latest tweet, your Mac can sound like a noisy traffic jam. From Notification Center, you can define how you want to be alerted by any app that might generate an alert. It’s managed in System Preferences, and you view the Notification Center by clicking its button at the far right end of the status bar.

There are several types of notifications, which you can turn on or off for each app that notifies you of something:

· Banners are mini-windows that appear for a few seconds in the upper-right corner of your screen and then disappear automatically.

· Alerts are banners that remain onscreen until you click an action button, such as Reply or Later.

· Badges appear on the app icons on the Dock and Launchpad as white numbers in red circles, indicate the number of items that need attending, which can be messages to be read or apps to update.

· Sounds play to let you know an app or your Mac needs your attention.

· Notification Center holds items from various apps, such as a Facebook post by someone you follow or upcoming calendar events.

To personalize how you receive notifications, do the following:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences or click the System Preferences icon on the Dock or from Launchpad.

2. Click the Notifications icon.

The Notifications preferences window opens, as shown in Figure 6-12. Your preferences window may look slightly different based on the apps you have installed on your Mac.

The list that runs down the left of the window is divided into different sections:

· Do Not Disturb is its own section, and we explain it in Step 7.

· In Notification Center lists all the apps that you choose to appear in the Notification Center.

· Not In Notification Center lists apps you choose not to appear in the Notification Center.

Words immediately under the app name indicate whether badges, banners, alerts, and/or sounds are used to notify you of information from the app.


Figure 6-12: Manage how your Mac alerts you.

3. In the list that runs down the left of the Notifications preferences window, click an app and choose how you want to be notified when that app has information for you.

Figure 6-12 shows the notification options for Calendar.

· Click the Calendar alert style you prefer. Choose None, Banners, or Alerts.

· Select the check boxes for the type of notifications you want. If you select Show in Notification Center, use the pop-up menu to choose how many recent notifications you want to see.

image If you deselect Show in Notification Center, the app will be moved to the Not in Notification Center section of the list on the left of the preferences window.

4. Click the next app in the list and set your preferences.

Some apps have additional choices:

· Twitter: Click the Notifications button of the Twitter alert preferences to choose to show notifications for Direct Messages and specify from whom you want to see mentions and replies.

· Mail and Messages: Choose if and when you want to see a message preview.

5. Open the Sort Notification Center pop-up menu and choose to sort

· By Time, which displays items in Notification Center in the chronological order in which they arrived

· Manually, in which case you click and drag the apps in the preferences list into the order you wish them to appear in the Notification Center

6. (Optional) Click Share Buttons and then select the Show Share Buttons in Notification Center check box.

This will let you write and send Messages and post to Facebook, Twitter, and Facebook directly from the Notification Center.

7. (Optional) Click Do Not Disturb, as shown in Figure 6-13, to schedule an interruption-free work or rest time.

When Do Not Disturb is on, you don’t hear any alert sounds and notification banners remain hidden. Choose the features you want to use:

· Turn on Do Not Disturb: Select this check box and then use the arrows to set the From and To times to schedule a daily fixed time of silence. Deselect the checkbox to deactivate scheduled Do Not Disturb time.

· When Mirroring to TVs and Projectors: Selecting this check box prevents interruptions such as a banner that might come across the projection screen during your multi-million dollar deal presentation.


Figure 6-13: Use Do Not Disturb to find some peace and quiet.

· When Do Not Disturb Is Turned On: Select the check boxes for the types of FaceTime calls you want to allow when Do Not Disturb is turned on. Choose Everyone or Favorites if you want to allow some or all FaceTime calls. Click Allow Repeated Calls if you want insistent callers to get through.

8. Click the Close button to exit System Preferences.

To see how your settings affect the Notification Center, click the Notification Center button, the right-most button of the menu bar. Its screen appears, as shown in Figure 6-14.

9. Click the Share buttons at the top to write a Messages message (see Book II, Chapter 3) or post to your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.

You see buttons only for accounts to which you signed in in Internet Account preferences, as we explain in Book I, Chapter 3.

For Facebook or LinkedIn, open the pop-up menu to choose who you want to see your post.


Figure 6-14: See notifications from different apps in one place.

10. (Optional) Click the Notifications Preferences button at the bottom-right corner to open the Notifications Preferences window and make changes.

11. Click the Desktop to close Notification Center.

Using Your Mac’s Accessibility Features

Not everyone has perfect eyesight, hearing, or eye-hand coordination. If you have trouble with your vision, hearing, or ability to use the keyboard, trackpad, or mouse (or all three), using a computer can be difficult. That’s why every Mac comes with special Accessibility features that you can turn on and modify for your needs. These features fall under three categories — seeing, hearing, and interacting — all of which we introduce you to on the following pages. If you’re interested in getting the most out of the Accessibility features, especially VoiceOver and Switch Control, we recommend that you read Apple’s extensive instructions for all the Accessibility features on both the Help menu and online:

image Click the question mark button in the lower-right corner of any System Preferences pane to open help for that preference.

Mitigating vision limitations

Every Mac includes three options to help the visually impaired:

· Display: Inverts the color of the screen so you see white or light colored text on a dark background.

· Zoom: Sets up keyboard shortcuts so you can enlarge (zoom) the screen.

· VoiceOver: Allows your Mac to read text, e-mail, and even descriptions of the screen in a computer-generated voice. VoiceOver can speak more than 30 languages and analyzes text paragraph by paragraph, so the reading is more natural and, well, humanlike. You can set up preferences for specific activities: for example, reading headlines at a quicker speaking rate than the article itself. And there are special commands to make browsing web pages easier.

To modify the vision assistance features of your Mac, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Accessibility icon.

The Accessibility preferences pane, shown in Figure 6-15, opens.


Figure 6-15: Set options for making your Mac easier to use.

2. Click the following tabs and select the options you want to activate:

· Display: Select the Invert Colors check box to switch to display white text on a black screen or the Use Grayscale check box to eliminate all color and make your display look like the images in this book — black on white.

Use the sliders to change the contrast and cursor size. Although the Cursor Size slider is in the Seeing section, we find a larger cursor can also help if you have difficulty using the mouse or trackpad to insert the cursor in a precise position or click a specific item.

· Zoom: Select the options for how you want to zoom. Choose Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Zoom to use the commands listed and/or Use Scroll Gesture with Modifier Keys to Zoom to zoom by holding a modifier key while scrolling. Choose the Zoom Style from the pop-up menu to magnify the Fullscreen or a Picture-in-Picture. Click the More Options button to see additional choices for the selected Zoom Style. Figure 6-16 shows the Picture-in-Picture Zoom Style with a crosshair cursor style and the Window Position as Follow Mouse Cursor. Try the different options to see which one works best for you.

image The zooming options can be particularly helpful when working with photo editing apps or when aligning several objects in a drawing or page layout app.


Figure 6-16: Zooming options come in handy even if you have perfect vision.

· VoiceOver: Allows your Mac to describe what’s onscreen and assist you in using the Macintosh menus. Click the Open VoiceOver Utility button to customize such options as how fast your Mac speaks and whether it speaks with a male or female synthesized voice. You find built-in support for many Braille tablets and verbosity settings, which allow you to specify how much information you want to receive about what’s onscreen.

image Click Show Accessibility Status in the Menu Bar to access an Accessibility menu that shows which features are activated.

3. Click the Close button or press image+Q to quit System Preferences or go on to the next section to set up other Accessibility functions.

Compensating for hearing limitations

To adjust for hearing impairments, you can have your Mac flash the screen to catch your attention and set up subtitles and closed captioning to appear when those options are available. Follow these steps to manage these two Hearing options:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Accessibility icon.

2. Click the Audio tab, and then select the Flash the Screen When an Alert Sound Occurs check box.

3. (Optional) Select the Play Stereo Audio as Mono check box to remove the stereo effect from music or other stereo-enabled sounds your Mac plays.

image Stereo plays separate audio tracks for each speaker. This effect mixes those tracks and plays the result through one speaker, which means that people who have hearing impairment in one ear get all the audio in the non-impaired ear.

image Use the Sound Preferences to adjust the volume of alerts and other audible output, as we explain in the earlier section, “Adjusting Sounds.”

4. Click the Captions button to select how you want to see subtitles or closed captioning, when those services are available.

Make the appropriate selections from the options shown in Figure 6-17.

· Style for Subtitles and Captions: Click one of the choices in the list, as shown in Figure 6-17, to see how it will appear and select it. Or click the plus button to create a custom subtitle style. In the window that opens, type a name for your new subtitle; choose the typeface, size, and color from the pop-up menus; and then click Done. The new subtitle style is added to the list.

· Prefer Closed Captions and SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy): Select this check box if you want to see those types of captions rather than subtitles.

5. Click the Close button or press image+Q to quit System Preferences or go on to the next section to set up other Accessibility functions.

image If you’re watching movies, TV shows, or other video in one of your Mac’s media player applications (such as iTunes, QuickTime, or DVD Player), you may have closed caption options available, depending on the source of the video. Some apps have controls for subtitles and closed captioning within their menus.


Figure 6-17: Create custom subtitle styles here.

Interacting with ease

If you have physical limitations or find eye-hand coordination challenging, your Mac offers several options to improve your control of the user interface. You find each of the following under the Interacting section of the Accessibility preferences.

Easing keyboard limitations

If you have physical limitations using the keyboard, the Mac offers two solutions: Sticky Keys and Slow Keys. Sticky Keys can help you use keystroke shortcuts, such as image+P (Print), which usually require pressing two or more keys at the same time. By turning on Sticky Keys, you can use keystroke shortcuts by pressing one key at a time in sequence. Press the modifier key first, such as the image key, and it “sticks” in place and waits until you press a second key to complete the keystroke shortcut.

The Slow Keys feature slows the reaction time of the Mac every time you press a key. Normally when you press a key, the Mac accepts it right away, but Slow Keys can force a Mac to wait a long time before accepting the typed key. That way, your Mac will ignore any accidental taps on the keyboard and patiently wait until you hold down a key for a designated period before it accepts it as valid.

To turn on Sticky Keys or Slow Keys, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Accessibility icon.

2. Click Keyboard in the Interacting section in the left pane of the window, as shown in Figure 6-18.


Figure 6-18: Keyboard preferences let you adjust keyboard behavior.

3. (Optional) Select the Enable Sticky Keys check box and then click Options to select any additional options you want to activate.

When you enable Sticky Keys, you can press key combinations in a sequence instead of trying to hold down two or three keys at the same time. You can also make these adjustments here:

· Press the Shift Key Five Times to Toggle Sticky Keys: You can turn the Sticky Keys feature on or off from the keyboard.

· Beep When a Modifier Key Is Set: Alerts you when you press a so-called “modifier” key — a key such as Option or image — which is used in combination with another key to modify how that key works.

· Display Pressed Keys On Screen: When activated, any modifier keys you press (such as the image or Option key) display onscreen in the corner you choose from the pop-up menu, so you can verify that you’ve pressed the right key.

4. Click Done when you finish selecting your options.

5. (Optional) Select the Enable Slow Keys check box and then click its Options button.

When you enable Slow Keys, you can adjust the amount of time that passes from when you touch a key and when it’s activated. Here are your choices:

· Use Click Key Sounds: This option causes your Mac to make a clicking sound every time you press a key to give you audible feedback.

· Acceptance Delay: Dragging this slider to the left lengthens the time it takes your Mac to recognize when you press and hold down a key; dragging the slider to the right shortens the time your Mac waits to recognize when you press and hold down a key.

6. Press Done when you finish selecting your options.

7. Click the Close button or press image+Q to quit System Preferences or go on to the next section to set up other Accessibility functions.

Choosing mouse and trackpad options

If you have physical limitations using the mouse or trackpad, you can turn on the Mouse Keys feature, which lets you control the mouse through the numeric keys. Click the Accessibility icon in System Preferences and then click Mouse & Trackpad in the list on the left pane of the window (see Figure 6-19). Select the Enable Mouse Keys check box, which then activates the keys on the keyboard to function as shown in Table 6-1.

Table 6-1 Mouse Key Commands

Numeric Key

What It Does


Moves the pointer diagonally up to the right


Moves the pointer straight up


Moves the pointer diagonally up to the left

6 or o

Moves the pointer to the right

4 or u

Moves the pointer to the left

3 or l

Moves the pointer diagonally down to the right

2 or k

Moves the pointer down

1 or j

Moves the pointer diagonally down to the left


“Right-clicks” the right mouse button


Figure 6-19: Click the various options buttons and sliders to adjust how you use the mouse and trackpad.

When Mouse Keys is active, click the 5, i, or m key, which your Mac interprets as clicking the mouse key or trackpad, and then do one of the following to move the pointer. You may have to try all three of the 5, i, and m keys because which one works depends on your keyboard and Mac model.

image The Mouse Keys feature is really designed for keyboards that have a separate numeric keypad. If you’re using a laptop or other keyboard that doesn’t have a separate numeric keypad, the numeric keys might be embedded in the regular typewriter keys. To control the mouse pointer, you have to turn on the Num Lock key to use the numeric keys to move the mouse pointer. Then you have to press the Num Lock key again to use the keys for typing ordinary letters.

image MacBook and desktop Mac compact keyboards (without dedicated numeric keypads) do not have Num Lock keys and corresponding numeric key overlays on their keyboards. When Mouse Keys is turned on, you can use the letters as shown in Table 6-1, or you might want to consider buying an optional external numeric keypad or replacing it with an extended keyboard.

Use the various options and sliders to make the following adjustments to how the mouse and trackpad respond to your input (refer to Figure 6-19).

1. Click the Options button and then make these choices:

· Press the Option Key Five Times to Toggle Mouse Keys On or Off: Lets you turn the Mouse Keys feature on or off from the keyboard.

· Ignore Built-In Trackpad When Mouse Keys Is On (only Macs with trackpads): Disables the trackpad when you turn on Mouse Keys.

image If you select this check box, you will have to use the mouse keys to deselect it and use the trackpad again.

· Initial Delay: Drag the slider to define how long the Mac waits before moving the pointer with the numeric key. A short value means that the Mac might immediately move the pointer as soon as you press a number or letter key. A long value means that you must hold down a key for a longer period before it starts moving the pointer. Choose a long value if you use a compact keyboard so you can type normally without moving the mouse and move the mouse without typing a series of the same letter.

· Maximum Speed: Drag the slider to adjust how fast the Mouse Keys feature moves the pointer with the keyboard.

2. Click the Done button to close the Mouse Keys options.

3. Drag the Double-click Speed slider to establish a double-clicking speed that’s comfortable for you.

4. (Optional) Select the Ignore Built-In Trackpad When Mouse or Wireless Trackpad Is Present check box.

Selecting this option tells your MacBook trackpad to ignore any touches and accept commands only from a mouse or wireless trackpad.

5. Click the Trackpad Options button to set the following options:

· Scrolling Speed: Use the slider to set the scrolling speed and then open the Scrolling pop-up menu to choose scrolling with inertia (scrolling continues after you lift your finger) or without inertia (scrolling stops when you lift your finger).

· Enable Dragging: Open the pop-up menu to choose Without Drag Lock, in which you place the pointer on the item, tap the trackpad twice, and then drag the item without removing your finger from the trackpad. Or, opt for With Drag Lock, in which you click and drag an item and even if you lift your finger from the trackpad, the item remains locked to the dragging maneuver until you tap the trackpad once.

6. Click the Done button to close the Trackpad Options.

7. Click Mouse Options and drag the slider.

Dragging the slider sets the Scrolling Speed that occurs when you use the mouse to scroll through windows.

8. Click Done to exit the Mouse Options.

9. Click the Close button or press image+Q to quit System Preferences or go on to the next section to set up other Accessibility functions.

image To find different types of keyboards and mice designed to make controlling your computer even more comfortable, search for ergonomic input devices by using your favorite search engine, such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. Search results will contain a list of product reviews and websites selling everything from left-handed keyboards and mice to foot pedals and keyboards designed to type letters by pressing multiple keys like piano chords. For a little extra money, you can buy the perfect keyboard and mouse that can make your Mac more comfortable for you to use.

Enabling Switch Control

Switch Control allows you to command your Mac with a series of switches, which can be the mouse, a keyboard, or a separate dedicated device. Experience and space limit our explanation here but to give you an idea, Figure 6-20 shows the Switch Control Home row that appears when Enable Switch Control is selected. We advise you to consult the Apple Accessibility documentation or set up an appointment with a Genius at an Apple Store to best take advantage of these functions.


Figure 6-20: Switch Control commands your Mac from the mouse, keyboard, or dedicated device.

Speaking with Your Mac

Your Mac offers voice command, dictation, and speech capabilities. The Speakable Items feature lets you control your Mac by using spoken commands, and the Dictation & Speech functions let you dictate to your Mac or have your Mac read text or alert you when something happens (for example, when a dialog pops up onscreen). Speakable Items are part of the Accessibility functions; Dictation & Speech share an icon in the System Preferences window. We talk about both here.

image Your Mac’s voice command, dictation, and speech capabilities can be useful for controlling your Mac or listening to text you’ve written to catch typos or other errors you might miss by only reading what you’ve written rather than hearing it aloud.

Setting up Speakable Items

To use the Mac’s built-in voice recognition software, you have to define its settings and then assign specific types of commands to your voice. You define the Speakable Items settings to choose how to turn on voice recognition and how your Mac will acknowledge that it received your voice commands correctly. For example, your Mac may wait until you press the Esc key or speak a certain word before it starts listening to voice commands. When it understands your command, it can beep.

To define the Speakable Items settings, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Accessibility icon.

2. Click the Speakable Items button in the left pane of the Accessibility window and then click the Settings tab, shown in Figure 6-21.


Figure 6-21: Define how your Mac recognizes spoken commands.

3. Select the On radio button to turn on the Speakable Items feature.

4. Choose an appropriate device for accepting your spoken commands from the Microphone pop-up menu.

Internal Microphone would be an obvious choice here unless you happen to have an external microphone connected to your Mac.

5. Click the Calibrate button to open the Microphone Calibration dialog, as shown in Figure 6-22.

6. Recite the phrases displayed in the Microphone Calibration dialog. If necessary, adjust the slider until your Mac recognizes your spoken commands.

Each command phrase in the listing blinks when your Mac successfully recognizes your phrasing of the command.

7. When your Mac recognizes all phrases, click Done to return to the Speech Recognition preferences pane.


Figure 6-22: Train your Mac to recognize your voice.

8. Click the Listening Key tab, click the Change Key button shown in Figure 6-23.

Pressing the Listening Key (Esc is the default) tells your Mac to begin listening for your spoken commands. You can change the default here.


Figure 6-23: Define a listening key to start giving spoken commands.

9. Press a key and then click OK to return to the Speech Recognition dialog.

You might choose a key such as ` (the accent grave character) or one of your Mac keyboard function keys.

10. Select one of the following radio buttons in the Listening Method category:

· Listen Only While Key Is Pressed: Your Mac accepts only spoken commands as long as you hold down the Escape key, or a different listening key you defined in Step 9. If you select this radio button, go to Step 13.

· Listen Continuously with Keyword: Your Mac waits to hear a spoken keyword (such as “Computer” or “Yoo-hoo!”) before accepting additional spoken commands. If you select this radio button, go to Step 11.

11. Open the Keyword Is pop-up menu and choose one of the following:

· Optional before Commands: Your Mac listens for spoken commands all the time. This can make it easier to give spoken commands, but it also means that your Mac might misinterpret the radio or background conversations as commands.

· Required before Each Command: You must speak the keyword before your Mac will accept spoken commands.

· Required 15 Seconds after Last Command: You must repeat the keyword within 15 seconds after each command.

· Required 30 Seconds after Last Command: Same as the preceding option except the Mac waits up to 30 seconds for the next spoken commands.

12. In the Keyword text box, enter your keyword if you don’t want to use the default keyword (Computer) to speak to your Mac.

13. (Optional) Make choices in the Upon Recognition area (under the Settings tab; refer to Figure 6-21).

If you want your Mac to use the default sound (voice) Whit to confirm commands it successfully recognizes, select the Speak Command Acknowledgement check box. If you prefer to hear an alert sound rather than Whit’s voice, open the Play This Sound pop-up menu and choose the alert sound you want.

14. Click the Commands tab to open the Commands preferences pane, as shown in Figure 6-24.

15. Select the check boxes for one or more of the following command sets:

· Contacts: Listens for names stored in your Address Book. Select Address Book and click the Configure button to specify which names in your Address Book you want recognized.

· Global Speakable Items: Listens for common commands applicable to any situation, such as asking your Mac, “What time is it?” or “Tell me a joke” — and that’s no joke! Select Global Speakable Items and click the Configure button to turn off the Speak Command Names Exactly As Written. When this command is turned off, you can ask the same question in more than one way, such as asking “What is the time?” rather than “What time is it?”

image Click the Open Speakable Items Folder to open a Finder window containing file icons of all the commands you can say to your Mac, as shown in Figure 6-25.


Figure 6-24: Assign different actions to voice commands.


Figure 6-25: Here are all commands your Mac can recognize.

· Application Specific Items: Listens for commands specific to each application. A word processor might have a Format menu, but an audio-editing application might not.

· Application Switching: Listens for commands to switch between, start, or quit applications.

· Front Window: Listens for the commands to control specific items in the displayed window, such as telling your Mac to click a button or check box.

· Menu Bar: Listens for commands to display pull-down menus and choose a command.

16. Click the Close button or press image+Q to quit System Preferences or go on to the next section to set up other Accessibility functions.

Setting up Dictation & Speech

If you long for a secretary who takes dictation, your days of waiting are over. Follow the first set of steps to set up the dictation part of the Dictation & Speech preferences, and then read on to learn how your Mac can read text to you or alert you when something occurs, such as when you try to quit an application without saving a document.

To define the dictation capabilities of your Mac, follow these steps:

1. Choose image⇒System Preferences and click the Dictation & Speech icon.

2. On the Dictation tab, select the On radio button to activate Dictation.

3. Select the Use Enhanced Dictation check box.

Enhanced Dictation lets you dictate even when you don’t have an Internet connection, as shown in Figure 6-26.

The dictation dictionary for the default language, U.S. English, must be downloaded. The first time you turn on Enhanced Dictation, a dialog asks you to confirm the download of this dictation dictionary.

4. (Optional) Open the Language pop-up menu and click Customize to add more languages.

1. Select the check box for any language(s) you wish to dictate in.

2. Click OK.

Your Mac downloads dictation dictionaries for the selected language(s).

5. (Optional) Open the Shortcut pop-up menu to choose a key command for starting dictation.

Select Off to activate dictation with apps’ Edit menus, or select Customize to specify a key command that isn’t in the list.


Figure 6-26: Use Dictation without an Internet connection.

When you're in an app that you use to create written text, such as a word processor or an e-mail app, use your dictation shortcut or choose Edit⇒Start Dictation. The mini-window shown in Figure 6-27 appears, and you can begin speaking.


Figure 6-27: Your Mac is ready and listening.

If you activated more than one language, use the arrows next to the language to switch to another.

Continue here to choose the voice that will read to you:

1. Click the Text to Speech tab to open the Text to Speech preferences, as shown in Figure 6-28.

2. From the System Voice pop-up menu, choose Customize.

The bundled voices are very computer-like and unnatural. We deselected all of them.

3. Click a name and then click the Play button to hear a sample.

Downloading additional voices lets you hear smooth, natural feedback, and you can choose different languages, too.


Figure 6-28: Define the synthesized voice characteristics of your Mac.

4. When you find one or more that you like, select the check box next to the name and then click OK.

The voices are downloaded. (You need an Internet connection to perform this task.)

5. Choose the voice you want to hear from the pop-up menu.

If you choose a voice from a language that’s different from the one you want read, such as a French speaker for English text, your text is read with a (charming?) accent.

6. Drag the Speaking Rate slider to a desired speed and then click Play to hear your chosen synthesized voice at the specified speaking rate.

7. Select the check boxes for any of the following additional Text to Speech options you want to enable:

· Announce When Alerts Are Displayed: Makes your Mac speak when it needs your attention. It might say, “Attention!” or the name of the ailing app, for instance.

· Set Alert Options: When you select Announce When Alerts Are Displayed, click this button to open a dialog and define how and when your Mac should speak an alert. Make any changes you want in the Set Alert Options dialog and then click OK to return to the Text to Speech preferences pane.

· Speak Selected Text When the Key Is Pressed: Allows you to press a key combination (Option+Esc is the default) to tell your Mac when to start reading any text you select. Click the Change Key button to open a dialog where you can change the key combination to one that’s easier for you.

8. Click the Close button or press image+Q to exit System Preferences.