Skip to content

Call our free helpline

0800 048 7642
How to control your computer with head movement in macOS 12 Monterey

How to control your computer with head movement in macOS 12 Monterey

This guide also covers setting up switches (keyboard keys, assistive switches, or facial movements) to perform actions such as left-clicks and right-clicks.

Short guide:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and select System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.
  3. In the sidebar, click Pointer Control. On the right, select the Alternative Control Methods tab.
  4. Tick the checkbox for Enable head pointer. The pointer will now follow your head movements.
  5. To customise head pointer, click the Options button.

Before and after

Images illustrating pointer control before and after Head Pointer has been enabled

This section gives you step by step instructions on how to enable the head pointer option in macOS 12 Monterey, with pictures of the screens to help.

Open System Preferences

1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and choose 1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and choose System Preferences from the menu. from the menu.

Open the Accessibility settings

2. In the System Preferences window, click Accessibility.

Find the Pointer Control settings

3. In the sidebar, click Pointer Control. On the right, select the Alternative Control Methods tab.

Enable Head pointer

4. Tick the checkbox for Enable head pointer to turn it on. The pointer will now follow your head movements. 

Fine-tune Head pointer

5. To change the settings for Head pointer so that it works best for you, click the Options button.

Select the camera you wish to use

6. By default, Head pointer will use your computer’s built-in camera. If you would like to use a different camera, connect it to your computer, then select the Camera Options button.

Choose you camera

7. Select your camera from the drop-down menu for Camera. Click OK to save your selection.

Chose if the pointer follows your head or your face

8. There are two ways to control the pointer- Relative to Head, and When Facing Screen Edges

Click the drop-down menu for Pointer moves and choose from:

  • Relative to Head – this is the default. The pointer will follow the direction of your head movements (regardless of where your face is turned) - for example, if you move your head to the right, the pointer moves to the right.
  • When Facing Screen Edges – the pointer follows the direction you turn your face away from the centre of the screen - for example, if you turn your face towards the bottom-left of the screen, the pointer moves towards that end of the Dock. To stop the pointer moving, turn your face to the centre of the screen again.

Change the pointer speed

9. Adjust Pointer Speed to specify how fast the pointer moves when you turn your face or move your head. The lower the number, the slower the pointer moves.

Change the amount of head movement required before the pointer starts moving

Note: This option only applies if Head pointer is set to When Facing Screen Edges

10. Adjust Distance to Edge to specify how far your face must be turned away from the centre of the screen before the pointer starts moving. A higher number helps Head pointer differentiate between intentional and unintentional movements.  

Enable actions to pause and recalibrate Head pointer

11. To enable actions to pause and recalibrate head pointer, select the Actions tab.

Specify how the actions are triggered

12. You can assign switches (keyboard keys, assistive switches, or facial movements) to perform the pause and recalibrate actions. Tick the checkbox to enable the action, then select the Assign button and follow the on-screen instructions. Select OK to save your changes.

Enable alternative pointer actions

13. When using Head pointer, you may also want to use alternative ways to perform pointer actions, such as left-click, right-click, double click, and drag-and-drop. You can assign switches (keyboard keys, adaptive switches, or facial expressions) - to perform these actions. Go back to the main Alternative Control Methods screen, if not already there. Tick Enable alternative pointer actions.

Customise alternative pointer actions

14. By default, the switches assigned alternative pointer actions are:

  • Left-click: F11
  • Right-click: F12
  • Double-click: unassigned
  • Drag and Drop: unassigned

To edit these switches, or to add more switches, click the Options button.

Add a new switch to perform an action

15. To add a new switch, click the + (plus) button.

Choose the type of switch you want to use

16. Choose Physical Switch or Facial Expression, then click Next.

Set up your switch

17. If using Physical Switch, press your switch when instructed, then chose the action.

18. If using Facial Expression, choose the facial expression and the action from the drop-down menus.

Click Done to save your new switch.

Edit existing switches

19. To edit existing switches, select the switch in the list, then click the Edit button.

20. Follow the on-screen instructions to change the action associated with the switch, or click Reassign to change the switch. Click Done to save your new switch.

Hear a sound when a switch is recognised

21. If you’d like to hear confirmation when a switch is recognised, tick the checkbox for Play sounds.

Receive visual feedback when a switch is recognised

22. If you’d like to see an onscreen confirmation when a switch is recognised, tick the checkbox for Show actions visually. Once enabled, you will see a circular outline around the pointer when you activate a switch.

Save your changes

23. When you are happy with your settings, click the OK button to save your changes.

Close System Preferences

24. When you are happy with your settings, close System Preferences by clicking the Close button (red circle) in the top-left corner of the window or using the Cmd + W keyboard shortcut.

Note: If this does not work it could be because your computer settings are managed by someone else (an IT department or administrator for example). If so, you will need to contact them to access these settings or for help.

Need some more help?

Call our free helpline 0800 048 7642 or email enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk

Need free IT Support at Home?

If you are older or disabled and need IT support at home, you can book a free home visit.