What’s Switch Control on Mac? How to enable and customize it?

May 5, 2020

Physical disability is no more a barrier. The advancement and innovations in assistive technology is helping millions worldwide to unlock their potential. More and more companies are coming forward and designing products with accessibility at its core. Apple is no stranger to this scheme and is working hard to keep up with the joneses! It’s endeavored to empower every disabled person with powerful accessibility features. Switch Control, an assistive technology, helps people enter text, move your pointer, select items, and do a lot more—all by clicking a switch. In today’s post we’ll learn how to enable Switch Control on Mac and customize it to one’s preferences!

How to enable Switch Control on Mac and customize it

Until now, using a conventional hardware like keyboard key, mouse, trackpad button, joystick, or adaptive device has been a challenge for differently enabled people. Switch Control Accessibility feature intends to ease that burden. It enables physically challenged people to use an adaptive device (such as a switch or joystick) to enter text, interact with items on the screen and control your Mac.

You can select controls available in the Switch Control Home Panel to select a switch and use it to perform an action.


How to enable Switch Control

Hover the mouse cursor over ‘Apple’ menu.

Click the menu to select ‘System Preferences’ option listed there.

Here, choose ‘Accessibility’ option.

Now, under ‘Interactive’ heading, click ‘Switch Control’ button.

Switch to the right-pane and select ‘Switch Control’ from the list of accessibility options.


Hit the ‘General’ tab and select ‘Enable Switch Control’ button.

Once Switch Control is enabled, the Home panel should appear on your computer screen.

How to use the Switch Control Home Panel

To glance through and select items from the ‘Home panel’, press a switch (a mouse button or the Space bar) and press the switch for the second time to select the highlighted item. By default, the Space bar is used as a switch when Switch Control is enabled.

For setting panel options, wait until the Panel Options icon (visible as a gear) appear.

When seen, click the ‘Select Item’ switch.

Click the switch again when the option you would like to configure is highlighted.

Here, increase or decrease the size of the panel or increase or decrease its transparency, as desired.

To return to the Home panel, click the ‘Select Item’ switch when the Home icon in the upper-right corner is highlighted. In the interface, press the switch when the Home panel is highlighted.

Set Panel options

The Switch Control Home Panel includes the following options,


This display or shows the default keyboard. Type text in a document or field by scanning the keyboard in the panel, opening a group of keys, and then selecting a key. The first group contains suggested words based on the first keys you press. This intelligence feature helps save both, time and efforts while typing by selecting a suggested word. If there are additional keyboards available, they can be seen in the Custom panel.


Provides buttons to move and click the pointer. To move the pointer to an area of the screen, select ‘Move’. Similarly, to automatically click the pointer when you get to an area of the screen, select ‘Move & click’.

For both the options listed above, a vertical block starts to glide across the screen as soon as you press the ‘Select Item’ switch,

When you press the switch again, the blue line either stops or (if the pointer precision is set to High in the ‘Navigation’ pane of ‘Switch Control preferences’) substantially slows down before you press the switch again to stop it. When you perform the same action horizontally, you'll see the pointer moving towards the intersection of the two blue lines.


Scans items and groups in the active window of the current app.


Starts scanning the items in the Dock, immediately.

Menu Bar

When configured, it scans the menu bar group first and the menu extras group, later.


Alongside controlling the media playback, it controls the volume or display brightness of your Mac.


Offers options to create custom panels in the ‘Accessibility pane’ of ‘System Preferences’.


This option finds its utility under situations where you would like to reposition the Switch Control Home panel on the screen.

It is important to mention here that if you have marked the ‘Allow platform switching to control your computer’ checkbox under ‘Switch Control General preferences’, you can also use your other devices to control your Mac.

Customize Switch Control on Mac

While you have the Switch Control panel open, you can choose to customize the Switch Control via 4 different tabs

  1. General
  2. Typing
  3. Switches
  4. Navigation

See what customization options these tabs have to offer.

1] General

It lets you modify the appearance of Switch Control Panel. You can choose to keep it dark or light. Just check the box next to ‘Appearance’ heading.

Similarly, you can force the panel to go into inactivity after few seconds. Select the time frame by clicking ‘Up’ or ‘Down’ arrow of ‘Hide panel after inactivity’ setting.

As the name suggests, you can use other Apple devices that’s already set up to work with your switches to control your Mac via ‘Allow platform switching to control your computer’. Just make sure the devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and using the same Apple ID.

2] Typing

Typing tab lets you enable some additional typing features such as

  • Automatic corrections
  • Text substitutions

You can easily configure them via ‘Keyboard Preferences’. So, switch to the ‘Typing’ tab under ‘Switch Control’ and hit the ‘Keyboard Preferences’ button located at the bottom of the window. Adjust the options as desired!

3] Switches

The tab allows you to add or delete switches, assign actions, and do other things.

4] Navigation

Helps you configure options related to actions you can take while navigating. For example, what should be done when the pointer reaches the edge, set Switch Control cursor size, what should be cursor’s restart position and others.

That’s All! Hope it helps!



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Hemant Saxena
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