I'm a software engineering student and I need to buy a new laptop. I'm completely blind and currently I use Windows with NVDA. I was thinking to get a Mac air M2 with 16 GB ram as my next laptop.
I already have an iPhone, Apple Watch, and Airpods. This is why I am thinking to go full-in in the Apple ecosystem. I will keep my Windows laptop and most likely convert it into a Linux machine.
I'm still not decided if I should go for a Mac or just a Windows laptop. I've never used a Mac before and I wanted to reach out to Mac users to share my use case and ask if the apps I use on a daily basis are accessible on the Mac, if the user-experience is comporable to Windows and if there are maybe better alternatives.
Here are the programs I use on Windows on a daily basis. Can someone please give me an overview of how they work on Mac?
Programming in Python and C++. I use VS Code for this. Next semester I will start learning Java. For this I will most likely use VS Studio. I've heard good things about ExCode and TextMate on the Mac. I also want to start getting into iOS development.
Command line to SSH into Linux. I also use WSL to have Ubuntu on my laptop. How accessible is the command line on Mac?
Cloud services: OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive. I have a paid OneDrive account. How well does OneDrive and the rest, but mainly OneDrive integrate with Mac? Can you set it up so that files from documents back-up on OneDrive? Is there a way to get a file explorer experience on the Mac, or do you need to use the OneDrive app to upload and download files? This is really important since the Mac I will get will be 256GB and I have 1TB storage on OneDrive. I use it a lot on Windows.
For emails I use Thunderbird. What is a Mac alternative? I use Protonmail as my main email and I need third-party email integration. Is the stock email app ok for this?
I use ProtonVPN. On Windows over all it is not accessible, but the connect-disconnect button is accessible. How is ProtonVPN on Mac?
Messaging apps: Discord, Whatsapp on the web and the desktop app, Messenger on the web. How is their accessibility?
Microsoft office products, mainly Word and Excel. Also I've recently started using Microsoft Access for work. How is the experience for Word?
Google Docs and Sheets. I use them for work on a daily basis.
Reaper to record music.
With NVDA I use the InstantTranslate add-on. Is there an alternative for this with VoiceOver, and if not, is it possible to make one with Shortcuts?
ABBYY Fine Reader to scan documents and books. Has anyone used Fine Reader on the Mac? How does it compare to Windows? Any alternatives that support languages written in Cyrillic?
Bitwarden as a password manager. How is the Mac app?
Foobar to play audio files. What is a Mac alternative?
Which app do you use to read PDFs and Epubs?
Thank you very much for taking the time to read and reply.
If you already use it go with windows and your software. NVDA is good and they fix bugs ASAP compare to apple.
As someone who owns both a Windows machine and a Mac and has spent time developing on both, I would go with Windows. XCode is certainly more accessible than it used to be and for developing for the Apple ecosystem you have little choice but to at least own a Mac. VSCode is a far better experience from a usability standpoint. A lot of this comes from the way Voice Over and mac are set up. At the end of the day, because of how Voice Over functions on Mac, I would rather code on Windows with NVDA, Jaws or even Narrator.
This isn't to say Mac is all bad; I enjoy the Swift UI language and certainly there are tasks for which Mac is better suited. . Coding on Windows is simply faster and requires a lot less in the way of finger gymnastics.
One last note, though. The one catch with Windows is you need to consider the manufacturer of the computer. I personally recommend getting a Surface of some kind if possible, mine is the best performing Windows machine I've ever owned both for speed and stability of operation.
Go with windows. If windows is what you're used to already, stick to it.
@surviver wolf, what do you mean by the machine you get beeing a catch? I mean how do different manufacturers affect this? I'm curious.
What I have had experience with:
I have not had much experience with Windows and have gone through all my education with a Mac.
•vs code and vs Studio are both fully accessible. I have not tried eXcode or TextMate.
•Command line is also fully accessible, I have no trouble with command line ssh connecting to my raspberry Pi.
•I have never used cloud based services, but I would assume it would work.
•If by '3rd party integration' you mean that the Mail app can send/receive emails from gmail accounts, then yes. I use a email with a personal domain name and a uni email. Both work fine.
•I Have not tried ProtonBPN.
•Discord is very accessible. There is also the Message app that you would be familiar with from your iPhone.
•All Microsoft apps are accessible, but can be a bit clunky at times.
•I have not tried Google docx.
•I don't really know what special things should be in an audio editing app, but there is a apple app called Garage Band that could be good.
•Voice over supports multiple languages, but I don't think that it translates it for you. You can control-click to bring up a menu that allows you to translate selected text though.
•I have not used either Find reader or Bit warden.
•The default Mac app, Preview, can open files like PDFs and is good.
As for the type of Mac, after some reading and numerous uTube videos, I would say that the MacBook air is probably the best choice. (Also what I use)
But, really Just go with the device/OS that will allow you to get the most done. A Mac can be very good when you get used to it, however there are situations where you realise that certain apps can't run on MacOS...
I'm going out on a limb here, I'd purchase a Mac
Hi. In my opinion, the Mac side of software is terribly underdeveloped in so many areas. sure, you can use windows, you've used it for years. How is any innovation going to come out of anything, if blind people just, stick to what they know or what works? For the record, society is usually based off of windows, so I wasn't trying to stereotype anyone in my last sentence. I say it won't. Sure, you'll have bugs, Apple's getting to big for its' britches, but nothing will change unless someone says, let me try. If it sucks and you honestly cant' do what needs to be done on the Mac, you said you still have the windows box to use. I'd love to see better things come out on the Mac, there's not much for us to work with. Soon as I decide to upgrade, I'll start in on Swift playground and see how that goes. Whatever you choose, I wish you the best. I just hope something comes out of your search.
You cold do both…
I will start by saying windows is going to be the easiest path here. Reason being the Microsoft office suite is easier to work with on windows. I can quickly create PowerPoint, word, excel etc on windows, on the mac it is far slower. Just in terms of how you navigate those apps.
Google Docs etc is quite poor on the mac. Just does not work consistently you will become incredibly frustrated with it if you are used to it working fluidly on windows.
Here is an option though, run windows as a VM on the mac. Yoy can run the insiders ARM version of windows 11 on parallels. Then you can use office, chrome etc on windows. This works quite well and I use it at home and work.
This then gives you access on mac to such tools as:
I then run all browser based content through chrome on the windows VM. Works well.
For windows switching across both operating systems I use shortcat on the mac.
You will have to do a lot of configuration to get all this working. Expect to spend a lot of hours tweaking keyboard layouts, rebinding keys and fiddling with dependencies to get emacspeak working. You will end up with the best of both worlds.
If you want an easy life stick with the windows laptop.
Agree with mac and a virtual…
Agree with mac and a virtual windows.
I haven't tested VM's on the new processor architectures yet, but both VMWare fusion 12, Parallels and UTM should support it. You really get the best of both worlds with that setup in my opinion.
Almost every single one of those apps is substantially better on Windows, including anything terminal-related. Apple gives Voiceover on Mac nowhere near the love it deserves and has repeatedly failed to fix accessibility bugs. It is not the experience we've come to expect on iOS.
Also, anything Microsoft just straight up works better on Windows. Word and Outlook are okay on Mac (and still better on Windows), and everything else is downhill from there.
As somebody who uses WSL, Git, and BScode, all of those are better on Windows as well. Nothing has come close to the level of control you get in a powershell prompt with NVDA and a numpad. Voiceover for Mac sucks a fat one in the terminal.