How To Use Keyboard Accessibility Features On Your Mac

In System Preferences there are several keyboard-related accessibility features that can be useful for anyone. You can set modifier keys to remain active so you can use keyboard shortcuts without needing to hold down multiple keys at the same time. You can enable typing sounds and a slight delay to prevent keyboard errors. You can also bring up an on-screen keyboard to use if you are having hardware issues.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: How To Use Keyboard Accessibility Features On Your Mac.

So let's take a look at more Accessibility features on your Mac that could be useful to anyone. We're going to go to System Preferences and then Accessibility. I'm going to go down to Keyboard. There are two sets of settings here. Hardware and Accessibility Keyboard. Let's look at Hardware first.

The first thing you've got here is something called Sticky Keys. So let's look in the Options for Sticky Key. Sticky keys are the ability to be able to use modifier keys, like the Command key, Option Control and Space, without having to hold them down. So instead of, say, pressing and holding Command and C you could press Command release it and then press C to get the same option.

You can toggle this On or Off with pressing the Shift key five times if you want. So a way to get this On or Off without having to go into System Preferences. You can have it do a sound when the modifier key is set and display which keys, which modifier keys, are active in a corner. So let's do the top left here. So I'll enable Sticky Keys.

So before if I wanted to bring up say Search the Help Menu I could hold the Command key, hold the Shift key, and press the slash key, that has the question mark above i to do it. But with Sticky Keys on I can tap the Command key, and you can see it appears there on the upper left. Then I'll tap the Shift key and that appears on the upper left. Now I'm not holding any keys now. I can tap the slash key and it actually does the action. So that can be useful to just about anybody that wants, maybe, a different experience there using the keyboard and these modifier keys.

Now Slow Keys is a simpler concept. Basically it allows you to, if you tap a key on the keyboard nothing will happen. You actually have to tap and hold. So this is useful if you accidentally hit the keyboard a lot and you don't want to have every touch on the keyboard actually be a press. Now there are a couple useful things in here. If you set it to Short then the keyboard won't really behave any differently. But you can turn on Use Key click Sounds and your Mac will sound like a typewriter as you type things.

So let's bring up TextEdit here. So you get these little sounds going on. If I actually set a little bit of a delay and I try to type nothing happens and I get these little stunted sounds. But if I slowly type and press down each key almost like it's a mechanical keyboard then I can type. So it could be useful for some people. So let's turn that off and go to the Accessibility Keyboard.

Accessibility Keyboard is really useful if something is wrong with your actual physical keyboard. This happens from time to time. I hear about people saying their keyboard is not working. They want to troubleshoot it. Maybe it's a bluetooth keyboard. But without the keyboard it's very difficult to do it. You can actually bring up an onscreen keyboard. I'll enable it here and you can see a keyboard appears. I can actually use my mouse, use the cursor here, to type.

So here I am in TextEdit and you can see I can type with it. So not a great experience in general. But if your keyboard is not working for some reason then you can use this to get a few key commands going on just to get something happening so at least you can use your Mac until you figure out what's wrong with the keyboard.

Comments: One Response to “How To Use Keyboard Accessibility Features On Your Mac”

    Ron Hinds
    9 months ago

    Access to the Keyboard Viewer (access to special characters). At Finder-press these 3 keys Control+Command+Space

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