The Mac platform has always been one of the best computing environments for accessibility, and a recent macOS update added a feature that points the way to a possible future where the mouse, trackpad, and even finger taps may not be needed to control your Mac. macOS 10.15.4 brought a new alternative control method to the Mac – using your head and facial gestures.
It’s quite simple to set up…
Setting Up Accessibility
- Launch System Preferences
- Click on Accessibility > Pointer Control > Alternate Control Methods.
- You will need to check two different checkboxes:
Enable alternate pointer actions and Enable head pointer
(see image below).
- Once you’ve checked the two boxes, you’ll notice that moving your head up and down and side to side moves the mouse pointer around on the screen. While this is a fascinating trick, it doesn’t let you do much. You want to be able to emulate all of the usual mouse/trackpad actions with your facial gestures.
- Click the Options… button next to Enable alternative pointer actions. Here you can add facial expressions — Smile, Stick Out Tongue, Open Mouth, and Raise Eyebrows — and assign them to various pointer actions. In the screenshot below, I’ve assigned Smile to double-click, Open Mouth to left-click, Stick Out Tongue to Drag and Drop, and Raise Eyebrows to do a right-click.
What surprised me is how easy it was to navigate my Mac – including launching apps, performing Finder actions, selecting items from menus, and so on – with the combination of head movements and facial expressions.
For even more flexibility in navigating your Mac without using your hands, combine head gestures with another feature available in macOS Catalina and later – Voice Control.
These accessibility features can keep you working on your Mac if you’re ever injured or suffering from pain, and need a break from using your keyboard and mouse.