How to Use Your Mac with Vision Limitations

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Click the question mark button in the lower-right corner of any System Preferences pane to open help for that preference. To modify the vision assistance features of your Mac, follow these steps.

  1. Choose Command→System Preferences and click the Accessibility icon.

    The Accessibility preferences pane, shown in this figure, opens.

    Set options for making your Mac easier to use.

    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 black and white.

      Use the sliders to change the contrast and cursor size. Although the Cursor Size slider is in the Seeing section, you 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. The figure 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.

      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.

      Zooming options come in handy even if you have perfect vision.

      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.

    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 ⌘+Q to quit System Preferences or go on to the next section to set up other Accessibility functions.