Top Tips: Using your MacBook

Erica: We’ve recently shared a short video of our Ambassador Al Haigh’s first client facing appointment. I felt extremely privileged to be a part of that first appointment, not just because it was my client, but it was truly amazing to see the benefits Amy got from being able to ask questions to someone who had experienced it first-hand. Al has already been through college so has already experienced the stages that Amy is about to face whilst going through her GCSEs at Secondary school. Similarly to Al, Amy also has Cerebral Palsy and is an essential powered wheelchair user. 

Following on from that visit, Al has put together some top tips (which you may not know you can do with a MacBook), as well as share with you how he uses his MacBook. 

Over to Al….

Al Haigh: I use my MacBook in a variety of ways. From productivity to casual use such as social media. Despite only being a Mac user since March 2020, being the owner of an iPhone for nearly 4 years meant that I became familiar with macOS really quickly and it was a massive asset throughout my college course. Personally, I don’t use many of the built-in accessibility features on my Mac, but I do use some built in features to make using the device much easier for me.

The MacBook I use is a 2019 16” MacBook Pro. I chose this device because at the time it was the most powerful MacBook that Apple made. Personally, I need a powerful MacBook because I do some very intensive tasks such as video editing. Amy uses a MacBook Air; the MacBook Air is the best MacBook for most people. It is the cheapest MacBook you can buy and is more than powerful enough for most people.

Al’s 2019 16″ MacBook Pro

Did you know you can get back to your desktop just by moving your cursor to the corner of your screen?

Although not an official accessibility feature, one of my favourite features on my Mac has to be ‘hot corners’. For those of you that haven’t heard of, or never used hot corners, they are a complete game changer! In a similar way to how you would use a shortcut, a hot corner will make your device perform a specific function when you place your cursor into any one of the four corners of your screen. For example, when I move my cursor to my Mac’s top left corner of the screen, it takes me to my desktop, when I move my cursor to the bottom left it launches the Launchpad. This is much easier than having to minimise each window individually.

What do you do if you want to move your cursor to that corner without activating the hot key function?

A brilliant feature within hot corners is that it can be set up so that they are only activated if you hold down a specific key on the keyboard whilst navigating to that corner. Excellent if you keep triggering them accidentally! I use this feature for putting my Mac to sleep as I found I was accidently putting my Mac to sleep when I didn’t mean to.

What can you do with hot corners?

When set up you can use a hot corner to:

  • Start screen saver
  • Disable screen saver
  • Mission control
  • Application windows
  • Desktop
  • Notification centre
  • Launchpad
  • Quick Note
  • Put display to sleep
  • Lock screen

These are what I have set up on my Mac:

Have you heard of Live Text?

Live Text is an excellent feature for anyone to use. Live Text will scan a photo for text and, if legible text is found, the user can copy and paste that text straight into a document such as a Microsoft Word document. This is a great feature for student’s taking notes. You can take a picture of the SMART board and copy and paste the text into whatever program you want.

The highlighted text within the picture above can be copied and pasted from the photo using Live Text.

Talk to your Mac

For any of you that own an Apple device you will know exactly what I mean. In the same way that you can with any Apple device you can use Siri voice commands to open documents, search the web, etc.

Did you know you can dictate your document?

Some people find typing extremely tiring, others simply don’t have the hand function to type, and some people can’t type their thoughts quick enough to express what they are saying. With a MacBook you can simply open a Word document, for example, press F5 and start to talk. It will do the typing for you. You can even change the keyboard language and it will type in an alternative language of your choice. An excellent feature for Amy about to do her Spanish GCSE. 

Let your MacBook read it for you 

We all know how tiring it can be reading a lengthy document. Wouldn’t it be great it your device could read for you? Well, it can! Spoken text is an excellent feature for someone who is unable to read the screen with their sight as it will read the entire screen out to you when turned on. What if you just want the page of a book read out and not the entire screen? Spoken content will allow you to access an area of a document and read it aloud when activated.

Well, those are some of my favourite features when I use my Mac. There are of course many more. 

I loved my first client appointment; it was fantastic meeting Amy and I’m really looking forward to my next client appointment which is booked in for January. It was great to see the impact Access Technology has on clients for the first time in person in my ambassador role. I can’t wait to go and see more clients!

Erica: Al was an integral part of the process of Amy getting her MacBook from assisting with the research to ensure it could do everything Amy needed it to, to offering advice around how best to use it. Thank you to both Al and Amy for such an inspirational appointment. 

Erica Gandy

Erica Gandy

Erica is an Assistive Technology Consultant here at access: technology, with a passion for photography and making jewellery. She can be contacted directly at erica@accesstechnology.co.uk

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