How to use keyboard accessibility features on Mac

Christine Keychron K2 Custom Hero
Christine Keychron K2 Custom Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

If you have trouble using a keyboard with your Mac, some keyboard accessibility features can help make things significantly more manageable for you. With these specific options enabled, you won't be accidentally typing when you don't intend to, and you also won't need to hold down modifier keys while holding another key down — this can be difficult to do for some. Enabling these keyboard accessibility features is pretty straightforward and will open up a whole new world to those who require it.

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

Keyboard accessibility on macOS: How to enable Sticky Keys

Enabling Sticky Keys with macOS Monterey on one of the best Mac desktops allows you to type certain things that would typically 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.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing launching System Preferences, click Accessibility (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left.
  2. Choose the Hardware tab at the top right.
  3. Click the checkbox next to Enable Sticky Keys.

To enable Sticky Keys, click Keyboard on the menu at the left, them choose the hardware tab at the top right. Click the checkbox next to Enable Sticky Keys. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Options next to Enable Sticky Keys.
  2. Click the checkbox next to each setting to enable/disable it.
  3. Click the dropdown menu next to Display pressed keys on screen.
  4. Click a location where the pressed keys will be displayed.
  5. Tap OK.

To enable Sticky Keys, click Options next to Enable Sticky Keys, then click the checkbox next to each item you want. Click the dropdown menu next to Display pressed keys on screen. Click a location wh (Image credit: iMore)

Keyboard accessibility on macOS: 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.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing launching System Preferences, click Accessibility (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left.
  2. Choose the Hardware tab at the top right.
  3. Click the checkbox next to Enable Slow Keys.

To enable Slow Keys, click Keyboard on the menu at the left, them choose the hardware tab at the top right. Click the checkbox next to Enable Slow Keys. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Options next to Enable Slow Keys.
  2. Click the checkbox next to Use click key sounds (super helpful).
  3. Click and drag the slider to increase or decrease the keypress delay. Left is shorter while right is a longer wait.
  4. Tap OK.

To enable Slow Keys, click Options next to Enable Slow Keys, then click the checkbox next to Use click key sounds. Click and drag the slider to increase or decrease the key press delay. Tap OK. (Image credit: iMore)

Keyboard accessibility on macOS: 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.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing launching System Preferences, click Accessibility (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left.
  2. Choose the Viewer tab at the top right.
  3. Check the Accessibility Keyboard box.

To enable the accessibility keyboard, click Keyboard in the menu bar, then select the Viewer tab. Click Accessibility Keyboard. (Image credit: iMore)

Keyboard accessibility on macOS: How to manage options for the accessibility keyboard

To make adjustments via Options:

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

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing Managing Options for Accessibility Keyboard by Clicking Options..., click checkbox (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the arrows to determine the number of seconds that should pass before that happens.
  2. Drag the slider to determine how much the keyboard should fade.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing Managing Options for Accessibility Keyboard by Clicking arrows, drag slider (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the checkbox to enable keyboard sounds when using the accessibility keyboard.
  2. Click the drop-down to set when keys on the keyboard should register as "pressed."

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing Managing Options for Accessibility Keyboard by Clicking checkbox, click drop-down (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the checkboxes to allow the Accessibility Keyboard to insert and remove spaces and capitalize sentences automatically.
  2. Click Hot Corners.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing Managing Options for Accessibility Keyboard by clicking checkboxes, click Hot Corners (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the drop-downs to select what should happen when you activate any of the hot corners.
  2. Click the checkbox to determine your preference for whether the panel should follow Hide or Show for the Home panel.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing Catalina's Hot Corners options (Image credit: iMore)

Keyboard accessibility on macOS: 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.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing launching System Preferences, click Accessibility (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left.
  2. Choose the Viewer tab at the top right.
  3. Click Options

To use Dwell, click Keyboard in the menu, then choose the Viewer tab. Click Options. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Dwell.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing enabling Dwell by Clicking Options..., click Dwell (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the checkboxes to allow dwell action toolbars in panels, show dwell actions in the Menu bar, and to always dwell in panels.
  2. Click the checkbox to allow dwell to zoom.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing enabling Dwell by Clicking checkboxes, click checkbox (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the arrows to determine when zooming should happen.
  2. Click the checkbox to hide dwell time indicators.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing enabling Dwell by Clicking arrows, click checkbox (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the drop-down to determine the default dwell action.
  2. Click the checkbox to auto-revert to left-click.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing enabling Dwell by Clicking drop-down, click checkbox (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the arrows to set the default dwell time, the panel dwell time, and the dwell movement tolerance.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing enabling Dwell by Clicking arrows to your tolerance (Image credit: iMore)

Keyboard accessibility on macOS: 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.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing launching System Preferences, click Accessibility (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Keyboard in the menu on the left.
  2. Choose the Viewer tab at the top right.
  3. Click Panel Editor

To use Panel Editor, click Keyboard, then choose the Viewer tab. Click Panel Editor. (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Add Panel to create an entirely new panel.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing how to use the Panel Editor by clicking Panel Editor..., click Add Panel (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the panel type you want to create.
  2. 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.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing how to use the Panel Editor by clicking panel type, click drop-downs (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Add Button to add a button to an existing panel.
  2. Enter a name for your button.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing how to use the Panel Editor by clicking Add Button, enter button name (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the drop-downs and menus to determine the button's font size, screen position, image, color, and action.
  2. Enter a spoken phrase for activating the button.

Use Keyboard Accessibility features on Mac by showing how to use the Panel Editor by clicking drop-downs, enter spoken phrase (Image credit: iMore)

Start typing

If you need to make your typing experience more manageable, the keyboard accessibility features should help you out. These are all of the current keyboard accessibility features that are available in macOS. Enjoy!

Updated February 2022: Updated for macOS Monterey.