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What Is Quartz (or Why Can't Windows Do That)
Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4

Universal Access Freebies

To wrap up our discussion of Quartz, let's take a moment to look at some important, yet often overlooked, features that it brings to our desktop experience via the Universal Access panel in System Preferences.

Start out in the Seeing tab and make sure the "Enable access for assistive devices" box is checked. After enabling the zoom feature, use the ⌘⌥- and ⌘⌥= shortcut keys to zoom in and out. Under the Options button, you'll find a lot of settings that you can fine tune. The ones specifying how the screen should scroll with regard to your mouse pointer are particularly interesting. Being able to zoom in on anything that's displayed on the screen is a powerful feature, and Quartz brings it to us at no additional charge.

universal access pane
Use the often-overlooked Universal Access pane to zoom, adjust contrast, or manipulate the color by inverting and/or shading to a grayscale.

In the Display section, you'll find some other interesting features that Quartz makes possible. Checking the "Use grayscale" option yields the expected effect, but enabling the "White on Black" option might just impress you, give your eyes a break, and extend the amount of work you can get done when you go unplugged. Unfortunately, you'll notice that screen shots you take while using grayscale or "White on Black" don't reflect the change of colors. (Talk back and say why not to earn a gold star for the day.) Under the Hearing section, you'll see an option to make the screen flash any time that there's an alert. Who would've thought?

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you now know a lot more than you ever thought you would about all of the magic that empowers your Mac to have the most advanced user interface on the planet. Quartz really is an engineering marvel, and it's only going to keep getting better.

Matthew Russell is a computer scientist from middle Tennessee; and serves Digital Reasoning Systems as the Director of Advanced Technology. Hacking and writing are two activities essential to his renaissance man regimen.

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