Given that my last two posts so far have been written with a more serious tone, I thought I would take the time to develop this blog further by introducing the reader to Some personal interests. One of particular significance, is computers and technology. More specifically, the Apple ecosystem – highlighting Voiceover accessibility.
A user of Apple products since 2009, beginning with the iPhone 3GS, and moving to my first macintosh in January 2010, my experience so far has been positive. Everything I have learned up to this point, I accredit to the many people who through private consultation, Internet mailing lists, and personal research – all have added to my knowledge concerning the enthusiasm I have for Apple hardware, and associated software packages created to Work on this platform. Because of this, LaunchBar is a software package I have come to heavily rely upon.
This program is produced by Objective Development, and with the evolutionary updates that have included Voiceover accessibility, it is proving to be a great addition to my daily computing. Furthermore, kudos is in order for the development team who has listened to users of Voiceover because their effort and time are indications of a company who is willing to listen to customer feedback.. Therefore, this review will be a brief summary of my impressions.
It is perhaps fair to note that LaunchBar is not for the Apple beginner because learning how to operate a macintosh computer with the keyboard is very different from a Windows environment using JAWS (Job Access With Speech). Thus, for the heavy to moderate macintosh user, this is a great addition to his or her Workflow. The ease at which files and folders can be accessed is the hallmark of LaunchBar, which intern, makes using the computer a more pleasant experience. This pleasantry, is efficiency, which for the heavy to moderate Voiceover user, minimizes the need to use an assortment of “unnecessary” keystrokes to find files or folders. “Efficiency,” in this regard is not meant to deny the utility of the standard Voiceover keyboard commands because these are equally important, but for a seasoned user, these can appear to be cumbersome. (At least, this is my viewpoint).
For example, a standard method of accessing applications, documents, and downloads, for a beginner is done by invoking “the doc,” which is visible by pressing “command-shift-D,” then using first-letter navigation to find the aforementioned item. However, for the seasoned macintosh user, pressing “command-shift-A” for applications, “command-shift-O” for documents, and “command-shift-L” for downloads. (These keystrokes can also become apparent for an early computer user, but in my case I was unaware of them until roughly a year into my Apple experience).
LaunchBar has greatly enhanced my computer use by allowing me to not only search for files and folders more effectively, but this program offers an assortment of other features. For instance, the abbreviated shortcut command allows a person to create “one” or “two” letter keystrokes, which when typed, directly places focus on a particular file or folder that has been indexed. In my case, I have indexed “bookshelf,” which is a folder where I store my digital books and manuals. Now instead of accessing the finder, I simply invoke LaunchBar, and type the letters “B” and “S” Together, which them immediately places focus on the bookshelf folder. Additionally, I have indexed the Take Control book series subfolder, which is housed within my bookshelf folder, so when I press the letters “T” and “C” Together this folder automatically appears. Another feature I have come to rely heavily upon is a Skype script, which allows me to initiate calls after selecting a phone number from my contacts list. Once I enable the script to be used from within LaunchBar preferences, I then invoke LaunchBar and type several letters of the contact I want to call, press the right-arrow key to expand the contact card, press the down-arrow key until I find the desired number I want to dial, and press enter. Within several seconds Skype receives the script command, and my call is placed. Finally, the last feature that I have come to enjoy is the “merge clipboard” function. This is a great innovation because in order to select noncontiguous files so they fall within a single clipboard post, I simply press “command-C” once to begin my clipboard selection, but for additional files or folders I wish to add to the clipboard selection, I press “command-c” twice. I like the audible tone of a stapler that is being pressed when this function is used because it is confirmation that the merge clipboard function is Working.
These examples are only several uses for LaunchBar. Many more methods on how to master this great application can be found within the TidBits Take Control series. Additionally, credit is due to Katie Floyd and David Sparks – who are the co-hosts of the Mac Power Users podcast because their interviews and desire to explore unique ways of how to increase one’s efficiency with the macintosh has contributed to my purchase and/or test of several other software packages.