My experiences with a Mac

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at
Sun Mar 16 11:49:41 UTC 2008

Tony Baechler wrote:
> I am guessing but I think it's based on OpenBSD.

It's an independent flavour of BSD derived from NextStep:

> One area where the manual is wrong is where it says that you can hold 
> down Control and Option and press the letter H for help on the current 
> control. The manual says that most controls have help tags.  Well, every 
> time I tried that, I was told that there was no help for this control.  
> I've so far only used programs supplied with the OS.  It has no 
> equivalent of MSAA, browse, or forms mode for web pages.  

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it only has an 
equivalent to MSAA, browser, or forms mode for web pages, but doesn't 
treat form filling as a different mode. Rather than scraping a virtual 
buffer from the tree of accessibility information, VoiceOver simply 
presents the tree, form widgets, links, text and all.

 > If there is a more complete manual besides the
> getting started manual that I downloaded, it wasn't obvious.

Well, that's actually a manual for an older version of VoiceOver from OS 
X 10.5.2. I'd supplement that with VoiceOver's own on-board help.

> There must be an easier way to get to 
> installed applications, but so far the only way I found was to open the 
> hard disk and arrow down to Applications.  

Depends what you find easier. There are lots and lots of ways to open 
applications, including via the command line:

I often just type the application's name into Spotlight and let OS X 
find it for me.

> Opening the Applications row 
> in the table showing all hard disk directories is as close to the 
> Windows start menu as you're going to get. 

Have you been using OS X long enough to make such a definitive 
statement? It's not clear what aspect of the Start menu you're missing.

> First, there was a dialogue that came up because the network wasn't set 
> up correctly.  It never spoke that at all.  I had to have sighted help 
> use the mouse to close the window.

You can switch between windows with Apple Tab.

> Another problem is that there is a 
> permanent menu bar on the screen but tapping Command or Option will not 
> open it, unlike Windows.

Control F2 will open the Apple menu, then you can press the arrow keys 
to move between the menus. (Though you also need to press Fn on a 
Macbook, since F2 is a secondary function of another key.)

 >  One nice thing is that the Apple menu
> is always visible so you can always get out of a program that locks up, 
> at least in theory.

Well, also Option Apple Escape will open a force quit menu, vaguely 
similar to the Windows Task Manager.

>  There are status menus also, such as for battery 
> power and bluetooth.  It read all of those fine.  There is no other 
> keyboard way to access them.  

Control F8 (again with FN on a laptop) with get you straight to that set 
of menus.

> I would like to briefly discuss the terminal since it will be of 
> interest to most of you reading.  As I said, it is based on BSD and has 
> the basic utilities you would expect such as ls, bash, man, less, and 
> nano.  It is missing other things that you would normally find though, 
> such as there is no cc or gcc and no text browsers.  There is the 
> standard ftp but no lftp or ncftp.

This is true of the default installation. But you can install Apple's 
XCode developer tools package for compiling and also either Fink or 
Macports to install lots of other Unix software. I prefer Macports 
myself. So, for example, I can just do:

sudo port install lynx

to grab lynx, and

sudo port install ncftp

to grab ncftp.

>  I can't tell if Apache comes 
> preinstalled or not but it didn't look like it even though Postfix is 
> installed and running. 

It does have Apache preinstalled:

> My guess is that either you have to add a root user 
> (but adduser and useradd didn't exist) or change everything via System 
> Preferences.

OS X has a root account disabled by default, like some other *nix 
systems (e.g. Ubuntu does the same thing). You can enable it if necessary:

However, you can do pretty much everything with sudo if you're a user 
with Administrator privileges, so I've never found any need to activate 

> It has no concept of things like windows or graphic dictionaries and it 
only shows
> you the active window or dialogue, so it would be impossible for me to 
> dismiss a background dialogue about the incorrect network settings 
> because it would never read it.

Do other screen readers interrupt to tell you that windows are popping 
up in the background or something?

> Again, I'll only have a week or so to play with it and experiment, so if 
> you have any questions or things you want me to look at, please ask 
> soon.  If this is considered off topic, sorry.  Please feel free to 
> repost to other appropriate mailing lists.

Well, this is a Linux list and OS X isn't Linux. However, here's at 
least two more appropriate mailing lists for VoiceOver issues:

They should be able to help out with some of your Terminal problems.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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