Chapter 7. Using Mac OS X Applications

Mac OS X comes with many accessible applications that you can use with VoiceOver, such as Mail, iChat, and iTunes. This chapter provides information about using some of the Mac OS X applications.

For information about other applications that are compatible with VoiceOver, click the following link to visit the VoiceOver Application Support webpage.

Address messages in Mail

When you start typing email addresses in a New Message window in Mail, some recipient names may appear as Smart Addresses. Smart Addresses are names and addresses that are in your address book, your Previous Recipients list, or available mail servers. Smart Addresses show the name within a blue field, which includes a pop-up menu of related commands, such as Reply to Sender or New Message.

  1. In Mail, open a New Message window.
  2. Navigate to the To field, if necessary, and start typing the recipient’s email address.

    You hear the name and email address of the first name that matches what you’re typing. If more than one address is available for the recipient, you hear “Mail has new window” and a pop-up menu of addresses becomes available. Use the Down Arrow or Up Arrow key to navigate the list of addresses.

  3. To enter the selected address in the field, press Return.

    To delete an address you just entered, press the Delete key once to highlight the address and a second time to delete it. If a recipient has a Smart Address, you hear “menu button,” which refers to the pop-up menu in the Smart Address. To open the pop-up menu in a Smart Address, press VO-Shift-M.

  4. To add another address, repeat steps 2 and 3.

    You can add as many addresses in the field as you want. If you enter multiple addresses that aren’t Smart Addresses, separate them with a comma.

  5. To move to the next text field, press VO-Down Arrow.

If it’s easier to type email addresses than to use Smart Addresses, turn off Smart Addresses. In Mail, choose Mail > Preferences > Viewing, and then deselect the “Use Smart Addresses” checkbox.

Read messages in Mail

Mail lists messages in one or more columns, depending on whether you’re using three-column or classic layout. In three-column layout, the preview of the current message appears in the third column, along the right side of the window; in classic layout, the preview appears in a pane under the messages list.

In three-column layout
  1. Press VO-Up Arrow or VO-Down Arrow to navigate the messages list until you hear the message you want to read.

    Mail reads the list preview of each message in the message list. If a message is the top message in a conversation, the preview information includes the count of messages in the conversation.

  2. Read the message.
  3. If the message isn’t the top message in a conversation, or if it is but you don’t want to expand the conversation in the messages list, press VO-J to jump to the preview pane and start reading the message.

    If the message was part of a conversation and you want to read the other messages in the conversation, interact with the message and then use VO-Down Arrow or VO-Up Arrow to navigate the other messages in the preview pane.

  4. If the message is the top message in a conversation and you want to expand the conversation in the messages list, interact with the messages list, interact with the message, and then press VO-Right Arrow until the VoiceOver cursor is on the collapsed disclosure triangle. Press VO-Space Bar to expand it, and then press the Down Arrow to navigate the list of messages in the conversation.

    The message displayed in the preview pane changes to show the message currently selected in the messages list. To jump to the preview pane to start reading the message, press VO-J. If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, keep a finger on the trackpad and press the Control key. When you’re done, press VO-J or use the gesture again to jump back to the messages list.

In classic layout
  1. Press the VO and arrow keys to move across or down each row in the messages list until you hear the message you want to read.

    To hear a description of everything in a row, press VO-R.

  2. To start reading the message, jump to the message preview by pressing VO-J.

    If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, keep a finger on the trackpad and press the Control key.

  3. When you’re done reading, jump back to the messages list by pressing VO-J.

    If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, keep a finger on the trackpad and press the Control key.

To quickly read through the messages list, press VO-Shift-Down Arrow to interact with it. Then press VO-Right Arrow or VO-Left Arrow until you’re in the column you want to hear, such as the Subject column, and then press the Down Arrow or Up Arrow key to move up or down in that column.

Use data detectors in Mail messages

Mail can detect specific information or data in messages and make it easier for you to use the data. For example, Mail can recognize phone numbers and add them to your address book, or recognize a date and time and create an iCal event for it.

  1. In a message you’ve received, move the VoiceOver cursor over a phone number, email address, URL, street address, date, or time.

    Mail outlines the data as a field with a pop-up menu, and VoiceOver speaks “data detector.”

  2. To open a shortcut menu that contains commands for using the data, press VO-Shift-M.

    For example, if the data detector is the URL of a website, you can choose Open URL from the shortcut menu.

Accept iChat invitations

If you set iChat preferences to announce when a new invitation arrives and to speak message contents automatically, you’ll hear “Chat invitation from [buddy name]” when you’re invited to chat, followed by the text of the new message, and finally “iChat has new window.” You can ignore the message if you’re busy, or switch to iChat and accept the invitation.

  1. Press VO-F1 twice to open the Application Chooser menu.
  2. Press VO-Down Arrow until you hear iChat, and then press VO-Space bar to select it.
  3. Press VO-Down Arrow until you hear “Chat with [buddy name] new” and then select the command.

    The VoiceOver cursor moves to the iChat invitation window.

  4. Type your response in the text field.

    If you set the initial position of the VoiceOver cursor to be the first item in a window in VoiceOver Utility, you must navigate to and select the Accept button at the bottom of the window before you can type your response.

  5. Press Return to send your response.

You interact with the iChat window the same way you do with other windows. All the messages in a text chat, including yours, are displayed above the text field in an HTML content area. You can interact with the area to move up and down the messages and read them.

Hear iChat invitations and messages

You can set iChat preferences so that iChat announces when a new chat invitation arrives, and speaks the text of new chat messages. You can also set alert preferences for other events and types of chats, such as audio and video chats.

  1. In iChat, choose iChat > Preferences, and then click Alerts.
  2. To hear incoming invitations, click the Event pop-up menu and choose Text Invitation.
  3. Select the “Speak an announcement” checkbox.
  4. To hear incoming messages, click the Event pop-up menu again and choose Message Received, and then repeat step 3.

Now when you receive a chat invitation, you’ll hear “Chat invitation from [buddy name],” followed by the text of the new message, and finally “iChat has new window.” You can ignore the invitation if you’re busy, or accept it.

When cursor tracking is turned on, iChat speaks incoming messages only when you’re focused on the message portion of the chat window; if you’re typing a message in the text field, incoming messages are not spoken. You can turn off cursor tracking while using iChat, so you can move the VoiceOver cursor to the message portion to hear incoming messages, while the keyboard focus remains in the text field where you’re typing.

You can use hot spots to be alerted of incoming messages.

Navigate iChat messages

You can use a VoiceOver command or gesture in iChat to jump between the text field where you type your message and the table of incoming messages. This is useful if you want to review what your buddy said before you send your own message.

  1. When the VoiceOver cursor is in the text field, press VO-J. If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, keep a finger on the trackpad and press the Control key.

    The VoiceOver cursor jumps to the end of the last message in the HTML content area.

  2. To navigate the messages, press VO-Shift-Up Arrow or VO-Shift-Down Arrow.
  3. To move the VoiceOver cursor back to the text field, press VO-J. If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, keep a finger on the trackpad and press the Control key.

The next time you jump during the same chat, the VoiceOver cursor moves to the last message you read.

You can turn off cursor tracking while using iChat, so you can move the VoiceOver cursor to the message portion to hear incoming messages, while the keyboard focus remains in the text field where you’re typing.

Use iTunes

You can use VoiceOver with iTunes to navigate the iTunes Store to buy music, movies, TV shows, apps, and audiobooks, or download free podcasts. You can use all of the general VoiceOver commands to navigate the iTunes window. You interact with toolbars and lists just as you would in any other window.

To learn more about accessibility solutions for iTunes, open iTunes and search iTunes Help for “accessibility.” Or click the following link to visit the iTunes website:

Change tab stops in TextEdit

You can click tab stop buttons located at the right end of the TextEdit toolbar to add new tab stops. When the VoiceOver cursor is in the ruler, you can add or move tab stops.

If the ruler isn’t available, open TextEdit preferences and make sure the “Show ruler” checkbox is selected.

Add or change a tab stop
  1. When the VoiceOver cursor is on a tab stop button or in the ruler, press VO-Space bar.
  2. In the dialog that appears, press VO-Right Arrow to navigate to the Right Tab Stop pop-up menu, and then press VO-Space bar again to open the pop-up menu.
  3. Press VO-Down Arrow or VO-Up Arrow to find the type of tab stop you want to add, and then press VO-Space bar to select it.
  4. Press VO-Right Arrow until you reach the edit text field for the ruler marker value.
  5. Type the measurement for where you want to place the tab stop. For example, 6.25 indicates six and one quarter inches on the ruler.
  6. Press VO-Right Arrow until you reach the OK button and click it.
Drag a tab stop to another location
  1. Interact with the ruler by pressing VO-Shift-Down Arrow, and then locate the marker for the tab stop you want to move.
  2. Interact with the marker.
  3. Press VO-Left Arrow or Right Arrow until the marker is located where you want it.
  4. Stop interacting with the marker by pressing VO-Shift-Up Arrow.

Automate tasks with AppleScript

You can automate many tasks by writing scripts using the AppleScript programming language included in Mac OS X. After you enable VoiceOver to work with scripts, you can open the VoiceOver AppleScript dictionary in AppleScript Editor to see the terms available to use in scripts.

Enable using scripts
  1. When VoiceOver is on, open VoiceOver Utility by pressing VO-F8.
  2. Click General, and then select the “Allow VoiceOver to be controlled with AppleScript” checkbox.
Open the VoiceOver AppleScript dictionary
  1. Open AppleScript Editor in Launchpad.
  2. Choose File > Open Dictionary, and then choose VoiceOver at the bottom of the alphabetical list.

You can use the NumPad, Keyboard, and Trackpad Commanders to assign custom commands that run AppleScript scripts to keys and gestures. You can also assign the commands to braille display keys.