Best Reader App For Mac

For the last few decades, reading printed books has been on the decline year to year. Some part of the change can perhaps be attributed to the rise in other forms of entertainment (e.g. Netflix and iTunes), but mostly it’s just been all of us collectively deciding to switch to a variety of book reading apps.

In 2011, Amazon announced that they were selling more electronic books than physical ones through their Kindle platform, which was available on all Kindle devices, as well as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. Apple with the iBooks ePub reader for Mac, iPad, and iPhone was not too far behind. The rest of the apps for reading books were generally created by smaller third-party startups.

While reading on dedicated devices, such as Kindle, Nook, or Kobo, now takes the top spot, with smartphones and tablets coming in second, reading books on Mac also has its own benefits, which have long been overlooked. Let’s see how and why you should read more on your Mac.

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What Are The Best Book Apps For Mac

Reading on your Mac has a few advantages over specialized readers or your smartphone. First of all, you have enough screen real estate to easily process a book of any kind, especially if it involves illustrations and graphs, which you can enlarge and modify as needed.

Second, reading on Mac doesn’t lock you into a specific format, such as .mobi, .epub, or PDF. If you’ve been wondering how to read book online, it’s practically only possible on Mac.

Third, as you read on your Mac, taking notes and annotation becomes so much easier. Reading could be a truly educational experience, which in turn could elevate the quality of your reading material.

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Luckily, all the best book apps are available on Mac for less than the price of a single magazine. Most popular app examples include Kindle, iBooks, and MarginNote.

Is Kindle reader for Mac a good choice?

The most widely used reader for Mac is the Kindle app from Amazon. Undoubtedly, its best feature is the access to millions of Kindle-compatible books in the .mobi format. Besides, Kindle for Mac boasts an adjustable interface, where you can change your preferences as to fonts, line-spacing, and background colors.

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The drawbacks of using a Kindle reader for Mac is mostly being restricted to .mobi format, available only on Amazon. Plus, the Kindle app doesn’t make it easy to upload your own books that you got somewhere else. For years, the Kindle reader for Mac has been avoiding the idea of bringing hyphenation to the platform, which makes text lines more uniform and easier to read. Although the platform supports hyphenation now, most of its books still don’t.

You can try and download Kindle for Mac on the official Amazon website or in the App Store. Kindle’s main competitor as of now is Apple’s iBooks app. Let’s see how they differ.

Why use iBooks for Mac?

Without a doubt, the iBooks app (now called Apple Books) is convenient simply because it already comes pre-installed with your Mac. You can use it to buy any book in the Apple Book Store, which carries nearly all the popular titles.

Unlike Kindle, Apple Books is the best ePub reader available on the market, although it also does support other formats, most notably PDF. You also have more adjustment options, particularly, hyphenation works much better in the iBooks app than it does on Kindle.

The latest updates to iBooks also included the support for audiobooks, which has expanded a straightforward book reader app into a full entertainment and education experience available at any time, whether you’re driving or relaxing at home.

How to read with MarginNote

The third popular book reader app is MarginNote. While it supports ePub and PDF just like iBooks, its unique features lie in advanced annotations, mind-mapping, and flashcards that allow you to better absorb all the reading material.


Annotations let you highlight text and make quick notes on the margins, whether to explain certain concepts or to save ideas for later use.

To make an annotation with MarginNote:

  1. Simply highlight the text by clicking and dragging your cursor
  2. Choose one of the available options: either make a note, add a tag, highlight with a certain color, or look up the sentence online
  3. If you’ve selected to make a note, use all the tools in the pop-up window and click on the icon in the top right when you’re done

To use the app to include an excerpt of text in a mind map:

  1. Choose one of the available excerpt tools from the top bar
  2. Highlight the part of the text you’re interested in
  3. Click Add to MindMap

To make a flashcard in MarginNote:

  1. Highlight the text as before
  2. Click on the share icon in the top bar
  3. Select Add to Card Deck

Finally, you can export all your notes into Evernote, Anki flashcards, iThoughts mind-mapping, or print.

MarginNote is an indispensable ePub reader for Mac if you’re a student, professional researcher, lawyer, or just like to read challenging books that need some breaking down for better retention.

Make reading experience more focused

In the end, no matter which app you choose for reading, you should hope for a good, distraction-free reading experience, where you can focus on one thing at a time.

HazeOver is a lightweight Mac utility that allows you to automatically dim everything on your screen but the currently active app. It lives in the background but is always available in your menu bar in case you need to adjust some preferences, such as the level of dimming.

So when thinking about the best book reader app for your Mac, lean towards Kindle only if you already have a large library of .mobi books. Otherwise, choose the iBooks app for lighter reading materials and MarginNote when you really need to dive into something worth contemplating. Accompany all of these apps with HazeOver to improve your reading experience and minimize any distractions.

Best of all, you can try MarginNote and HazeOver for free via Setapp, a platform of more than 150 Mac utilities that bring solutions to any app-related problems. What’s next on your bookshelf?

Every Mac is built with assistive technologies to support people who are blind or have low vision. The VoiceOver screen reader describes exactly what’s happening on your screen. Hover Text lets you instantly magnify a selection of text. And Display Accommodations support color blindness and other vision needs.

Hover TextGet a quick size boost of what you’re reading.

Hover Text makes it easier to view text on your display. If a paragraph, caption, or headline is too small to read, just hover over it with your cursor and press Command. You’ll get a dedicated window with a large, high-resolution version of your selection. You can even choose the fonts and colors that work best for you.

VoiceOverHear what’s happening on your screen.

VoiceOver does more than tell you what’s happening on your Mac. It helps you make things happen. It gives you auditory descriptions of each onscreen element and provides helpful hints along the way — whether you prefer using gestures, a keyboard, or a braille display. And it supports more than 35 languages, including multiple voice options.

VoiceOverIntegrated throughout macOS and every built-in app.

VoiceOver is unique because it’s not a standalone screen reader. It’s deeply integrated in macOS and all the built-in apps on Mac. And as developers update their apps to take advantage of the accessibility interfaces provided by Apple, their apps can start working with VoiceOver right away.

VoiceOverImproved PDF, web, and messages navigation.

We’ve refined VoiceOver to make it easier to navigate PDFs, websites, and messages. In Safari, improved conformance with HTML5 accessibility standards allows for more consistent navigation of websites. VoiceOver is now better at reading aloud tagged PDFs and email messages. If you start reading a website in a different language, VoiceOver can switch to the voice for that language automatically.¹ And you can add custom commands and workflows to your MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Audio DescriptionsHear the details in every scene.

Watch movies with detailed audio descriptions of every scene on your Mac. Movies with audio descriptions are displayed with the AD icon in the iTunes Store.

VoiceOverNavigate VoiceOver with simple gestures.

You can control VoiceOver using many of the same gestures you use with iOS. Touch the trackpad to hear a description of the item under your finger, drag to hear items continuously, and flick to move to the next item. Enable the VoiceOver Trackpad Commander, and the trackpad surface will represent the current window or document, so you can navigate quickly to any corner or edge with a tap.

VoiceOverA virtual controller with customizable commands.

VoiceOver features a virtual control called the rotor. Turning the rotor — by rotating two fingers on the trackpad as if you were turning an actual dial — lets you access an array of fully customizable commands. Use it to browse web pages more efficiently and intuitively. The rotor lists common elements like “headings,” “links,” and “images,” and lets you navigate directly to the element of your choosing.

VoiceOverPlug-and-play support for braille displays.

VoiceOver is the first screen reader to provide plug-and-play support for refreshable braille displays. Plug in or sync one of over 100 compatible displays, supporting more than 80 international tables, and the VoiceOver description is presented to you in braille. You can edit seamlessly in Grade 2 Braille, viewing your edits in the context of the actual line of text. Optimized for fast braille typists, VoiceOver makes working in braille easy and efficient. Converting between braille and text happens automatically so you see only Grade 2 Braille. And for sighted users who sit alongside you, there’s an onscreen braille panel that displays both braille and plain-text versions of the descriptions spoken by VoiceOver.

Dark ModeWorking hard gets easier on the eyes.

Dark Mode transforms the desktop and built-in apps with a dark color scheme that helps you focus on your work.2 The fine points of your content take center screen as toolbars and menus recede into the background. Light text against darker backdrops in Mail, Safari Reader, Calendar, and more makes everything easier to read in low lighting conditions. And the Accessibility preferences for increased contrast and reduced transparency work with Dark Mode enabled.

DictationYou say it. Mac types it.

Dictation lets you talk where you would type — and it works in over 40 languages. So you can reply to an email, search the web, or write a report using just your voice. Navigate to any text field, activate Dictation, then say what you want to write. macOS also comes with more than 50 editing and formatting commands. So you can turn on Dictation and tell your Mac to bold a paragraph, delete a sentence, or replace a word. You can also use Automator workflows to create your own Dictation commands.

SiriStreamline the things you do every day.

Siri helps you do more with your desktop.³ Ask Siri to send messages, track down files, create reminders, search the web, and even turn on and off VoiceOver and Invert Colors, without interrupting what you’re doing on the keyboard. And because Siri is integrated with VoiceOver, you can ask it to find a file and hear the answer read out loud. If you prefer to communicate by typing, you can easily set Siri to “Type to Siri” mode.

ZoomMake your screen up to 20 times bigger.

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Zoom is a powerful built-in magnifier that lets you enlarge your screen up to 20 times, so you can better see what’s on the display. You can zoom using full screen or picture-in-picture, allowing you to see the zoomed area in a separate window while keeping the rest of the screen at its native size. A shortcut key lets you pan the screen without moving the pointer while zoomed in. macOS can also flash the screen for notifications offscreen or speak text under your pointer. The hardware acceleration engine lets you boost the size of anything on your screen — text on a web page, family photos, or a place on a map.

Zoom DisplaySee content up close and at a distance simultaneously.

Now with macOS Catalina, if you have two displays, you can keep one zoomed in close while the other stays at a standard resolution. So you can tackle everyday work or give a presentation more efficiently.

Cursor SizeMagnify your cursor so it’s easier to use.

macOS lets you magnify your cursor so it’s easier to see where you are and follow along as you move around your Mac. Set the cursor size once and it stays magnified even when its shape changes. And when you swipe back and forth on your trackpad or quickly shake your mouse, the pointer grows so it’s easier to locate.

Contrast and Color OptionsInvert colors or enable color filters.

macOS lets you invert colors, enable grayscale, or choose from a range of color filters to support different forms of color blindness or other color vision deficiencies. You can select a common preset or fine-tune the color tint and hue to customize a display setting that works for you.

Reduce MotionDecrease the movement of onscreen elements.

If you’re affected by the motion of screen elements, you can turn on Reduce Motion to decrease movement in areas like Spaces, Notification Center, and the Dock.

Music, Podcasts, Books and TVNavigate and play with VoiceOver.

The Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books, and Apple TV apps are compatible with VoiceOver, so you can navigate and play all your content even if you can’t see the screen. Browse the apps as VoiceOver reads out headers, links, and other elements on the page.

Resources

Support

User Guides

Download Unified English Braille version of macOS VoiceOver User Guide
Or order an embossed copy of macOS VoiceOver User Guide

External Resources

Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Explore instructional videos with tips on using vision accessibility features in macOS.

Learn more about the Hadley Institute instructional videos at their website

Join a community of blind and low-vision users of Apple products.

Learn more about AppleVis.com at their website

Get information on the use of Apple products by those who are blind or low vision.

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Learn more about Mac-cessibility Network at their website