How to use Keyboard accessibility features on Mac

If you have trouble using a keyboard with your Mac, there are accessibility features that can help make things significantly easier for you so that you're not accidentally typing when you don't mean to and you don't have to hold down modifier keys when holding a key down for a while is difficult for you.

Here's how to set up your keyboard so that it's just your type — accessible! #sorrynotsorry

How to enable Sticky Keys

Enabling Sticky Keys allows you to type certain things that would normally require you to press multiple keys simultaneously by typing them in succession instead.

  1. Click the Apple menu button on the top left of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left**.
  5. Click the checkbox next to Enable Sticky Keys.
  6. Click Options next to Enable Sticky Keys.

    Click Keyboard in the menu on the left, click the checkbox next to Enable Sticky Keys, click Options

  7. Click the checkbox next to each setting to enable/disable it.
  8. Click the dropdown menu next to Display pressed keys on screen.
  9. Click a location where the pressed keys will be displayed.

    Click the checkbox next to each setting to enable or disable it, click the dropdown menu, click a location

How to enable Slow Keys

If you have tremors or other impairments that might cause you to press the keys on your keyboard multiple times when you only mean to press them once, you can enable Slow Keys so that each key must be pressed for a certain length of time before it registers.

  1. Click the Apple menu button on the top left of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left.
  5. Click the checkbox next to Enable Slow Keys.
  6. Click Options next to Enable Slow Keys.

    Click Keyboard in the menu on the left, click the checkbox next to Enable Slow Keys, click Options

  7. Click the checkbox next to Use click key sounds (super useful).
  8. Click and drag the slider to increase or decrease the key press delay. Left is shorter and right is a longer delay.

    Click the checkbox next to Use click key sounds, click and drag the slider to increase or decrease the key press delay

How to enable the Accessibility Keyboard

The Accessibility Keyboard is an on-screen keyboard that lets you type and perform other actions on macOS without using your Mac's hardware keyboard.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.

    Open System Preferences, click Accessibility

  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Click Accessibility Keyboard.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  5. Click the checkbox to enable the on-screen Accessibility Keyboard.
  6. Click Panel Editor… if you want to open the panel editor.

    Click the checkbox, click Panel Editor...

  7. Click Options… to view various options for the Accessibility Keyboard.

    Click Options

How to manage options for the Accessibility Keyboard

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.

    Open System Preferences, click Accessibility

  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Click Accessibility Keyboard.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  5. Click Options…
  6. Click the checkbox next to Fade panel after inactivity if you want the keyboard to fade out when you're not using it.

    Click Options..., click checkbox

  7. Click the arrows to determine the number of seconds that should pass before that happens.
  8. Drag the slider to determine how much the keyboard should fade.

    Click arrows, drag slider

  9. Click the checkbox to enable keyboard sounds when using the Accessibility Keyboard.
  10. Click the drop-down to set when keys on the keyboard should register as "pressed."

    Click checkbox, click drop-down

  11. Click the checkboxes to allow the Accessibility Keyboard to automatically insert and remove spaces and capitalize sentences.
  12. Click Hot Corners.

    Clikc checkboxes, click Hot Corners

  13. Click the drop-downs to select what should happen when you activate any of the hot corners.
  14. Click the checkbox to determine you preference for whether the panel should follow Hide or Show for the Home panel.

    Click drop-downs, click checkbox

How to use dwell with the Accessibility Keyboard

Dwell is a feature that allows your pointer to be controlled with head or eye-tracking technology.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Click Accessibility Keyboard.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  5. Click Options…
  6. Click Dwell.

    Click Options..., click Dwell

  7. Click the checkboxes to allow dwell action toolbars in panels, show dwell actions in the Menu bar, and to always dwell in panels.
  8. Click the checkbox to allow dwell to zoom.

    Click checkboxes, click checkbox

  9. Click the arrows to determine when zooming should happen.
  10. Click the checkbox to hide dwell time indicators.

    Click arrows, click checkbox

  11. Click the drop-down to determine the default dwell action.
  12. Click the checkbox to auto-revert to left-click.

    Click drop-down, click checkbox

  13. Click the arrows to set the default dwell time, the panel dwell time, and the dwell movement tolerance.

    Click arrows

How to use the panel editor

The panel editor allows you to create custom panels to use along with the Accessibility Keyboard, allowing it to customize it exactly to meet your needs.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Click Accessibility Keyboard.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  5. Click Panel Editor…
  6. Click Add Panel to create an entirely new panel.

    Clikc Panel Editor..., click Add Panel

  7. Click the panel type you want to create.
  8. Click the drop-downs to determine panel behavior.

    • The drop-downs allow you to select which applications cause your panel to appear, how your panel is displayed, its auto scan style, and the size of its gliding lens.

    Click panel type, click drop-downs

  9. Click Add Button to add a button to an existing panel.
  10. Enter a name for your button.

    Click Add Button, enter button name

  11. Click the drop-downs and menus to determine the button's font size, screen position, image, color, and action.
  12. Enter a spoken phrase for activating the button.

    Click drop-downs, enter spoken phrase

How to enable keyboard navigation to move between controls in macOS Catalina

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac (sadly, no public beta for the Apple Watch). While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.

    Click Keyboard, click Accessibility Keyboard

  3. Click Keyboard.
  4. Click the checkbox next to Use keyboard navigation to move focus between controls.

    Click Keyboard, click checkbox

  5. Click either Standard controls or Full Keyboard Access.
  6. Click Commands… to view the full keyboard access commands.

    Click Standard controls or Full Keyboard Access, click Commands...

Great accessories for your Mac

Apple AirPods 2 (From $159 at Apple)

The best Apple accessory has gotten betting with AirPods 2. Now offering a wireless charger case, the popular earbuds feature the new Apple H1 headphone chip that delivers a faster wireless connection to your devices, as well as support for "Hey Siri."

Samsung T5 SSD (From $88 at Amazon)

This solid-state drive from Samsung is speedy, tiny, and portable. It also connects using USB-C, making it a perfect companion for your new Mac.

Questions?

Questions about accessibility features for your keyboard? Let us know in the comments below!

Updated July 2019: Added information about using the Accessibility Keyboard, dwell, and the panel editor.

macOS Catalina

Main

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