What program do you think that you use the most on your computer? If you are anything like my friend Damashe and myself the answer to this question is very easy. It is our web browser of coarse. In this weeks Switching To A Mac Series Damashe will explain some quick and effective ways of using keyboard shortcuts for getting around websites quickly, and I will do the same on the Mac platform. So sit back and get ready to learn how to use your web browser of choice more efficiently.
The Internet On Windows
Whether you use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox, or Google’s Chrome browser, the following tips will definitely help you navigate the web more efficiently. Most of these keystrokes will work across most Windows screen readers, but a few are specific to JAWS, the screen reader we are working with here.
In Windows, pressing the Windows Key+R opens a run dialogue box. You can type in any web address like “www.fedoraoutlier.com”press Enter, and the page will be launched in your default browser.
Speaking of default browsers, Internet Explorer is the default browser for Windows. If you prefer Chrome or Firefox, upon opening your chosen browser, you should be presented with an alert explaining that this browser is not the default browser. You can select to make it your default browser from the alert, or have it never alert you again.
Now to actually navigating the web. You may be familiar with some of the keystrokes for moving to page elements such as headings, edit fields, and so on. Here are a few that should get you going to where you want to be:
•H will move you to the next heading, allowing for quick navigation through a page.
•C will move you to the next combo box, where pressing space will allow you to select an item in said box.
•E moves you to the next edit field, which would include a search field and any fields for entering information.
•L moves you by lists on a page.
•M will move you to the next frame on a page, such as the frames containing share options on a blog site.
With all the above shortcut keys, pressing shift along with the corresponding letter will move you to the previous occurrence of the element. Pressing Alt+D will place you in the address bar, where the current page’s URL will be located. This URL is usually already selected, so you can quickly copy or start typing a new web address, which will erase the current one as you type.
Another useful key is F6, which will move you from the main page through any toolbars you have and the address bar. In both Firefox and Internet Explorer, you have the menu bar with such items as a file menu, edit, view, help, and some others.
Chrome, however, is different. You have one menu that contains several of the options that are spread between different menus in the other two browsers.
All three of these browsers are free of charge, and in the case of Chrome and Firefox, must be downloaded and installed manually.
Hopefully these tips will help you better navigate the web on windows. Stay tuned as Scott discusses web browsing on the Mac.
The Internet On A Mac
Web browsing on a Mac computer is probably one of the things that can frustrate a new Mac user more than anything else. By this I mean that compared to web surfing on Windows, the Mac does some things a bit differently.
Probably the biggest difference in the way the information is presented to the blind Mac user is how the screen reader on a Mac (VOice Over) presents web pages.
Unlike a Window screen reader such as Jaws, or Window-Eyes which gives you a top to bottom approach to a web page. Voice Over presents the information more like a traditional book, meaning that instead of navigating up and down, we navigate left to right.
I will be perfectly honest here, this does take some getting use to but once you learn how to navigate websites in this manner you will find yourself wondering why the Windows screen readers do not do it in this way.
Another big difference on the Mac is that when navigating a web page if you come across
a block of text that you would like to explore more closely
, you have to do what is called “Interacting” with that text. Try and think of this much in the same way you would think about viewing the contents of a folder that you just pulled out of a filing cabinet.
In order to get to the contents of the folder you must first open the folder. Well this is what we are doing with Voice Over when we interact with an item. We are telling our Mac that we want to see the contents inside of a screen element. This could be a block of text, or a heading group, or even a toolbar.
Now lets move onto talking about the 2 web browsers that are accessible on the Mac platform. Unfortunately as of this writing Mozilla’s Firefox browser is not accessible to Voice Over although there is some limited accessibility if you are willing to try the latest nightly builds of the current beta, but I must warn you that if you do use these nightly builds they can be a bit buggy and unstable.
The default web browser on the Mac is Apple’s Safari. This browser comes pre-installed on all Mac computers and it is very accessible.
The other web browser that is accessible on a Mac is Google’s Chrome. Chrome is accessible, but in my opinion it is not quite as accessible as Safari, I do think that everyone should always have more than one browser installed on their computers, so I would encourage you to go to www.google.com/chrome and download and install it.
One thing that I really love about using a Mac is how programs use the same keyboard shortcuts and menus across
the board. This makes learning how to use a new program fairly simple on a Mac.
Here are some keyboard shortcuts that you can use with Safari and Chrome that can help you get around the Internet more effectively.
•Control+Option(VO)+Command+H- Will move you to the next heading.
•VO+Command+Shift+H- Will move you to the previous heading.
•VO+Command+T- Will move you to the next Table.
•VO+Command+Shift+T- Will move to the Previous Table.
VO+Command+F- Will move you to the next frame.
•VO+Command+Shift+F- Will move you to the previous frame.
•VO+Command+J- Will move you to the next control.
•VO+Command+Shift+J- Will move you to the previous control.
•VO+Command+L- Will move you to the next link.
•VO+Command+Shift+L- Will move you to the previous link.
•VO+Command+V- Will move you to the next visited link.
•VO+Command+Shift+V- Will move you to the previous visited link.
These are but a few of the most useful keyboard shortcuts for using Safari and Chrome on your Mac.
By far this next part is what in my opinion sets Voice Over on the Mac apart from the Windows screen readers.
With Voice Over on the Mac while you are in your web browser you can simply press VO+U to launch the Web Rotor. For those who are familiar with using the Web Rotor on an iOS device, on your Mac it works much in the same way.
After launching the Web Rotor just press the left or right arrow on your keyboard to move between the different rotor items. You can choose which items are available on your Web Rotor by going into the Voice Over Utility on your Mac by pressing VO+F8. Then choose Web in the categories pain, and then click on Web Rotor.
Once you have chosen which type of information is to be displayed in your Web Rotor with the left and right arrows, just use the up and down arrows to read that information.
Once you find the part of the website that you want to navigate to press VO+Spacebar to jump right to that part of the website.
I know that this is a lot of information to digest and at first it can seem over whelming, but once you begin to get comfortable with your Mac I think that you will agree that switching to a Mac from Windows was one of the best decisions that you could have made for yourself.
Does learning about new technology interest you? Then you would probably be interested in our weekly Twitter Access Chat held every Tuesday evening at Eight O’Clock Eastern Time. With these Twitter chats we will have someone interesting in the blindness community answering questions from you the audience, so please stop by and join in the fun.