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Introduction and Welcome to 227


Voiceover: From Wellington, New Zealand, to the world, it’s the Living Blindfully podcast – living your best life with blindness or low vision. Here is your host, Jonathan Mosen.

Jonathan Mosen: Hello!

After months of testing, Mona for Mastodon, the most powerful, accessible way to use Mastodon on iOS, macOS, and iPadOS is in the App Store.

This episode is devoted to a tutorial on Mona, Mastodon, and why we’re embarked on a brighter social media future.

Welcome to episode 227 which is being released outside the normal scope of releases, but we’re doing that because I wanted to get this in your hands, particularly for our wonderful Living Blindfully plus supporters, the moment that Mona was available in the App Store.

Before we get on with that, though, of course, let’s have a look at numbers. Area code 227 is new, very new and shiny, because it was announced in late 2022 that area code 227 is being allocated to Baltimore, Maryland. And apparently, it serves the same areas as the 240 and 301 area codes, so Baltimore keeps expanding and expanding.

So if you’re in Baltimore, (and I know we have a lot of blind people in Baltimore who listen) [laughs], then welcome. Maybe you’ll get a shiny new area code 227 number one day.

And on the country code front, country code 227, as we stay in Africa, is the country code for Niger. So if you’re listening from there, a special welcome to you.

Advertisement: We bring you transcripts of every episode of Living Blindfully, and that’s possible – thanks to sponsorship from Pneuma Solutions.

One of the cool things about the internet is that it connects us with the wider world. But another cool thing about the internet is that it can create places just for us. Of course, Living Blindfully is one such place. And another one is Sero.

Sero (spelled S-E-R-O) is a social network designed by us, for us.

Sero is available everywhere. It’s on your smartphone, your Apple TV, your Amazon Echo, and of course, on a fully accessible website.

If you download the Sero mobile app from wherever you get your apps for your mobile device, you’ll be able to sample some of the content free, and that includes this podcast and MushroomFM. But paying a subscription to Sero gives you access to a treasure trove of information including newspapers, forums where blind and low vision people can discuss a wide range of issues, a handy accessible email client, and so much more. You have to check out all the features. You’ll be amazed at how much is there.

Go to

That’s, Access the products link, and then choose Sero for more information.


Mona Tutorial Introduction

This episode is a comprehensive tutorial on the Mastodon app for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS called Mona. As I go, I’m going to explain some of the key concepts behind Mastodon and why it, and platforms like it, are critical for a better social media future.

To help you skip those parts of this tutorial that don’t interest you, and so you can use this as a handy reference tool as you learn Mona, it’s segmented by chapter. That also means it’s segmented by heading in the transcript.

How Mona Came to Be

In episode 175, I gave you a demonstration of a powerful third-party app for Twitter called Spring. It’s developed by one person, Junyu Kuang. By the time I reviewed it, it was a fairly mature product and had become increasingly accessible. Sometimes, gloriously, you find this – that an indie software developer gets enthusiastic, not just about creating an accessible experience, but about creating an efficient, configurable experience that’s accessible.

Over time, Spring won me over with its continuing accessibility improvements, and it replaced the venerable Twitterrific for me as my iOS Twitter client of choice. And Twitterrific had set a very high bar.

I’m a finicky person, (as you know if you listen to this podcast), when it comes to what my screen reader speaks, and in what order it speaks it. Too much information slows me down. Too little information is a hindrance. Information in the wrong order can be frustrating. It’s a fine line, and that line will be different depending on your personal preference. Spring for Twitter had it out of the park in terms of configurability when it comes to VoiceOver speech.

I published that episode about Spring back in April, 2022, and the social media landscape has changed dramatically in a year.

I’ve chronicled Twitter’s implosion on this podcast. It began in November of 2022, with the firing of Twitter’s accessibility team and it’s been a rapid downhill spiral ever since, as its new owner’s harmful, erratic behavior has damaged both the culture and functionality of the network.

It wasn’t too long before third-party Twitter apps like Spring were in the firing line. First, they came for (and singled out) Twitterrific and Tweetbot, 2 very popular third-party apps for iOS. And ultimately, they came for Spring as well. Finally, they even came for the blindness-specific Windows clients.

Most developers quite reasonably and understandably admitted defeat, but Junyu Kuang showed some spunk and he’s been playing a cat-and-mouse game, exploiting holes in Twitter’s third-party app ban. If nothing else, it’s been entertaining to watch.

But with the decline of Twitter came a realization. The internet has gone horribly wrong. If one person with more money than most of us can imagine, and much more money than either sense or decency can destroy what he himself described as a town square of the internet, which at its peak was being used by around 300 million people, something’s gone badly wrong, and it’s time for a rethink.

Well, it turns out that a group of people were well ahead of the curve and were just waiting for a crisis like the one that has rocked Twitter. You may have heard of the World Wide Web Consortium, known as the W3C for short. They do important work on standards that make the web open, inclusive, and accessible. You may have heard of their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, for example.

In 2018, to very little fanfare (except with super geeks and those who dreamed of doing social media differently), the W3C introduced something called ActivityPub. That’s all one word. ActivityPub is an open, published standard for social networking. It facilitates a very different kind of social media from the walled garden approach that’s become the norm. The current dominant approach doesn’t put us, the end user, first. Instead, it turns us into the product, even though we create content for these companies.

Each social media company wants you to spend as much time as possible on their particular site so they can manipulate you. The longer you spend on the site, the more ads they can serve to you. And the more you post to the platform, the more the algorithm learns about you. The more the algorithms know about you, the more they can serve you content that will keep you engaging with the platform so you’ll see more ads, stick around for longer, post more content, and so the cycle perpetuates.

The way these companies make their money, it’s not in their interests for you to be able to take your content elsewhere, or for you to be able to consume and create a range of content from various services in the one place.

ActivityPub facilitates a different, much better kind of social media. You might be familiar with RSS readers, also known as feed readers. RSS has accessible benefits for blind people because you can subscribe to content from many websites, (some of which may not actually be very accessible), and read them in one accessible app.

But what if you could have something that’s like RSS but it’s two-way? So not only can you read, you can create as well. What if you had one client that lets you follow video content creators you like, bloggers who write content that interests you, and even audio content creators, as well as people posting short updates? Then when you want to comment on any of those things, you can do so right from that same client.

ActivityPub provides for all of that. In fact, the Living Blindfully website has implemented ActivityPub, so you can follow and comment on blog posts from the site in a client that has implemented ActivityPub. This is the bright future that ActivityPub is making a reality, and it’s one of the best bits of accessibility news in a very long time because people with a variety of accessibility needs can consume and create content in the way that suits them best.

It is in our interests as a blind community to support ActivityPub-based initiatives because they’re going to be more accessible. There will always be accessible choices. And if there aren’t, they can easily be created because the standards are open.

I mentioned that ActivityPub was officially published in early 2018, but the concept of open social networking, based on a range of interconnected servers sharing content underpinned by a well-documented standard, has been around much longer than that. The trouble was, most people just weren’t ready to listen, weren’t ready for it. I include myself, sadly, in that group.

Even though I took a stand and removed myself from Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2017 (until paid employment required me to recreate my Facebook account), I still had Twitter. Twitter was where all my friends were. This federated series of systems, known as the Fediverse, seemed too geeky, too niche, too complicated, and I wasn’t interested.

In November 2022, it became very clear to me that social media had finally reached a tipping point. I adopted Mastodon as my social network of choice, which is at the moment, the most popular platform in the ActivityPub-based interconnected series of services, known for short as the Fediverse. I immediately felt welcome and at home.

But frankly, while there were a few accessible options in terms of functionality, reliability, and look and feel, they were on the mediocre side. Many were developed by well-intentioned enthusiasts, and they could be left to languish for a long time between updates.

Elon Musk, to the rescue. Thanks, Elon.

On the one hand, his decision to ban third-party apps made business sense in that he hoped more people would use Twitter’s own offerings and therefore, get ads in front of more eyeballs. He could also try to upsell and have more people opt into the paid tier of the product.

The trouble is, adopting a third-party client took effort. There had to be such a level of dissatisfaction with what Twitter itself was offering that people would seek out, and often, pay for a better experience.

So when Twitter pulled the plug on third-party apps, they sent developers and highly engaged users running to Mastodon. And that’s how Junyu Kuang, the developer of what in my view was the best iOS Twitter app ever created, turned his considerable talents to Mastodon.

In December 22, he made early test versions of the app available to those who had already purchased Spring and, like me, had moved from Twitter to Mastodon. He was able to use the code he’d written for Spring as a starting point, so accessibility was pretty good from the beginning.

But over the months that Mona has been in beta, he’s once again demonstrated an exceptional commitment to VoiceOver users. Like many of the blind people who’ve tested this app, I feel like we’ve all built this thing together as we’ve discussed the specifics of the way the app should work with VoiceOver. Right throughout, the developer has been engaged and responsive. The end result is at last now in the App Store and is, without question in my view, the most accessible, configurable, powerful Mastodon app for iOS.

There are other good ones, but nothing comes even close to the level of VoiceOver accessibility that Mona offers.

Versions of Mona and Introductory Pricing

Before I discuss how to use Mona, I want to introduce you to the pricing tiers. These are introductory pricing tiers. I’m producing this at the end of April, 2023, and the developer of Mona has said that these prices only apply until the end of May, 2023. So if you’re listening after that, check the App Store for up-to-date pricing. And I’ll give you pricing in US dollars but the explanation, of course, applies worldwide.

The good news is that you can use basic Mona functionality for free. There will be some limitations, but you can do basic posting and reading of one Mastodon account at no cost. And that may be all many people need. If you do need more functionality, you can upgrade.

There are 2 paid options. Both of them are one-off purchases. The app developer has repeatedly expressed some discomfort with subscriptions. And in light of recent discussion that we’ve had on this podcast, some people may be heartened by that. I guess you can’t guarantee what will happen in the future, and it may well depend on how much support he gets for this model. But I think, the pricing is very reasonable given that he’s asking for a one-off purchase.

He has spent hours on this app, and he’s incredibly responsive to feedback and suggestions for future features.

If you want to buy Mona Pro, which gives you a lot more functionality, (and I’ll discuss that in just a moment), that’s going to cost you US$9.99. Mona Pro unlocks all the functionality of the app for one specific device type. So if you only have an iPhone, for example, a one-off purchase of US$9.99 will unlock Mona Pro for you.

If you have another Apple device like an iPad or a Mac, or you have both of those devices, you want to look at the next tier which is called Mona Pro Max. That costs US$15.99 at the time that I’m recording this, and that allows you to use the app on all device types.

If you’re even considering buying another type of device in the future, even if you don’t have one at the moment, then you may like to opt into Mona Pro Max and future-proof yourself. That’s a great way to support the developer.

An additional reason you may wish to buy Mona Pro Max, even if you have no intention of buying anything other than the single device you have right now, is that Mona Pro Max enables family sharing. So if you have a family sharing group set up and there’s someone in that group who might want to get on Mastodon as well, then you’ll save on the deal if you buy one copy of Mona Pro Max and share that among your family sharing group.

Now there’s also a generous offer for people who have purchased Spring for Twitter before. If you, like me, did that, then you can get Mona Pro Max for just US$8.99. And it’s a nice touch that the developer is acknowledging the support that we’ve provided him in the past for the Twitter app.

So you download Mona free from the App Store, try it out with the free tier, and then you can decide if you’d like the premium features.

So what are those premium features? Well, according to the developer, you get a full-featured post composer. You can write longer posts, you can attach pictures and videos (and I presume, that also means audio as well, And we’ll cover that in a little bit), you can add content warnings, which are an important part of Mastodon’s culture. There are also more posting actions including favoriting, reblogging (which is also sometimes known in Mastodon as boosting), quoting posts, which is a really controversial subject on Mastodon, (and I’ll cover that a little bit later), adding bookmarks (I’ll also discuss why they’re important), and also, translation.

If you go pro, you’ll be able to customize the tab bar, which is just a very useful feature. And I’ll demonstrate that as well in a moment. You can pin frequently visited pages to your tab bar. You can rename those tabs. You can change tab icons as well.

For our low vision friends, you’re able to fully customize the way that the app looks and feels. You can even import themes that are created by other users.

The pro version also provides for syncing with iCloud. So if you want to use Mona on a range of devices, you’re able to do that and everything will stay in sync, including the last post that you read.

You can add multiple accounts with the pro version. That’s something that I need to do. You can also opt to favorite, reblog, quote, post, or follow using a non-current account. And if all this sounds confusing because you’re not familiar with Mastodon terminology, hopefully you’ll be a little wiser when this tutorial is over.

Filtering and muting. You can filter timelines in the pro version based on post category and content. You can hide posts with certain words, hide posts from certain people. You can customize push notifications based on notification category.

For low vision folks, once again, you’ll be pleased to know that with the pro version, you can customize fonts. You can set different fonts for body text and headings. You can select from a variety of built-in fonts. You can set custom fonts installed by third-party apps.

And finally, you can export and import settings – easily transfer your custom settings between multiple devices.

So quite a big list of things that you get with the pro version.

Obviously, the free version allows you to try it out and get a feel for the app. But I think most people eventually will want some of these features and will upgrade to pro. And that’s fair enough. I think the developer deserves recompense for all the work he’s put in.

Setting up your first account

I’m going to run Mona now and will take you through the setup process. In doing so, I should say that I am using a beta version just before it hit the App Store, so there may be some changes. but by and large, you will find that this is the experience you will find if you download Mona. So we’ll launch the app.

VoiceOver: Mona beta. Settings button

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: Need help? button. Mona beta. Sign in button.

Jonathan: And there’s a sign in button. And we need to do this because we’re not signed into a Mastodon account right now. If you’re already on Mastodon and you’re registered with your favorite Mastodon instance, then you can skip this section.

But I wanted to cover this because when I talk to people about Mastodon, the thing that people find most confusing is choosing an instance. For some, it all just seems too complicated, too geeky. I did cover this issue back in episode 206 of this podcast. But just so everything’s in the one place, let me recap.

First, what is an instance? An instance (or sometimes known as a server), is a bit like your email provider. Even though you might be on Gmail and I might use my own email domain, we can still communicate with each other via email, despite being on different servers.

That’s the beauty of the open internet. That’s how the internet was supposed to work. It wasn’t really intended that just because you’re on Facebook and I’m on Twitter, we couldn’t communicate with each other via social media.

Anyone can set up a Mastodon instance. Even if you don’t have any technical skills, you could use a Mastodon hosting company. I highly recommend It’s where MushroomFM and Living Blindfully host our servers. They give excellent results and they’re reliable.

An instance might be run by an organization, or it might be run by an individual. It could be public, or it could be unique to that organization or individual.

If it all seems too complicated and you just want to get on Mastodon already and experience it, then it’s no problem at all to register with which is run by the creators of Mastodon to begin with.

This is a large instance. And because of its size, moderation can be an issue at times. It’s also been known to be a little bit unresponsive in terms of sluggish behavior when it’s under heavy load, although I believe that has improved in recent times. So if you just choose you can get the feel of Mastodon.

When you choose an instance, you’re not making an irrevocable commitment. It’s straightforward to migrate your followers and your friends to another instance later.

A caveat, though. At this stage, you cannot migrate your posts. For example, when I rebranded this podcast, I was able to move all my friends and followers from the Mosen at Large account to the Living Blindfully account, and the old Mosen at Large account now redirects to the new one.

You might change to a smaller instance because it’s better moderated.

The owner of the instance sets the rules in terms of what’s acceptable on their instance, so you really should check the rules out before you agree to sign up to an instance. If you, for example, prefer an instance that acts aggressively against hate speech to create safer social media, then you may choose accordingly.

Although it’s generally true that everyone on Mastodon can talk to everyone else on Mastodon, it is also true that if an instance’s moderation team considers another instance to be objectionable, one Mastodon instance can completely block another.

The instance you choose can also make a difference if you’re looking for new people to follow, if you want to expand your social media horizons. This is because each instance has a feature known as its local timeline. This shows you all publicly listed posts sent from that instance in one place. So if you were to choose, for an example, an instance set up for the blind community, the wider disability community, or those with an interest in accessibility, you’ll see posts on the local timeline from people you may wish to follow, assuming those themes are of interest to you. and are 2 popular instances in the blind community.

To create an account, you should go to the website for the instance that you’re interested in. for example, or or read the rules. Complete the form. Sometimes, access is granted immediately. Sometimes, access has to be granted by a moderator so it may take a while.

When you receive email confirmation that you are up and running on the instance that you have chosen, then you’re ready to sign in with Mona. I’m already on Mastodon. And in fact, I have several instances to choose from, so I’m going to choose the sign in button.

VoiceOver: Server. Text field. Is editing. Character mode. Insertion point at start.

Jonathan: You’ll notice, actually, that Mona is offering as a default instance. Some other clients offer quite a selection, and you can browse through that selection.

I understand why they’re doing that – because the whole point of the Fediverse is to get away from centralization and picking one place. The trouble is it can cause confusion and with so many choices, people just get overwhelmed, they close the app, and they never think of Mastodon again.

I noticed that for the same reason, the official Mastodon app is now also offering as a default. But you can just overwrite it.

You’ll also have heard that Mona is referring to instances as servers. And we sometimes see this in Mastodon speak – that there are multiple words that are acceptable for the same thing. So if you see server, it means instance. Instance means server. They are interchangeable.

I’m going to type in in this edit field because if you want to keep up with this podcast, you can follow So I’ll type that in., and I’m going to press enter. I’m using a Bluetooth keyboard at the moment.

VoiceOver: Settings button. Text field. Is editing. Cancel button. Address, 20%. Secure and validated.

Jonathan: I’m now in an in-app browser. It’s taken me to the website where I have to log in and also authenticate Mona with my Mastodon instance. Because just like Twitter, it’s really important that you’re careful about the apps that you grant access to your account. Otherwise, bad things will happen.

So I’m going to flick right.

VoiceOver: Format options button. Reload button. Sign in to Heading level 1. Sign in with your credentials. If your account is hosted on a different server, you will not be able to log in here. Email address. Text field.

Jonathan: If you are already logged in, you may not need to go through this process. But I am just going to sign in to the account.

I’m using a different iPhone for this demonstration than my normal one because on my production iPhone, I’ve customized Mona so much, I didn’t want to start all over again. So we’ve got a different iPhone here, and I’m going to sign in and I will pause the recording while I do that.

I signed in with my username and password. Mastodon does provide for 2-factor authentication using an authenticator app. I strongly recommend doing this for an additional layer of security. Once you’re signed in once, you stay signed in. But it is important to protect your social media assets, obviously.

So I’m going to flick right.

VoiceOver: Signed in as @podcast.

Jonathan: Okay, there’s some text that we’ll skip.

VoiceOver: Authorization required. Heading level 3.

Jonathan: Let’s just read this.

VoiceOver: Authorization required. Heading level 3. Mona for iPhone would like permission to access your account. It is a third-party application. If you do not trust it, then you should not authorize it. Review permissions. Heading level 3. Full access to your Mastodon account – read and write access. Push notifications – read and write access. Follows, mutes and blocks – read and write access. Authorize button. Deny button.

Jonathan: This is a very similar experience to the one you may have seen if you authorized third-party Twitter apps when they existed. So now, I’m going to choose authorize.

VoiceOver: Authorize button.

Jonathan: And double tap.

VoiceOver: Authorize. Settings button. Living Blindfully Podcast button. 38 new posts.

Jonathan: That’s all there is to it. I’ve now got my Living Blindfully Podcast account set up in Mona.

Exploring the Tab Bar

And I’m on my home timeline. I can confirm that by going to the bottom of the screen.

You’ll find a tab bar that’s quite busy, and you can customize this tab bar. So if it’s a bit overwhelming and you think you won’t need some of the features here, you can remove them. If you want things added, you can do that, too. We’re going to cover all of this.

VoiceOver: Selected, home. New content available tab. 1 of 14.

Jonathan: VoiceOver speaks when you’ve got new content available, which can be very helpful.

VoiceOver: Notifications, new content available tab. 2 of 14. Communities tab. Three of 14. Search tab. 4 of 14. Lists tab. 5 of 14.

Jonathan: I’ll talk about lists now because it’s probably something we won’t spend too much time in for the rest of this tutorial.

If you follow a lot of people and you want to organize them into lists… for example, posts from people that you just don’t want to miss, ever. I have a list like that called priority posts. You can do all of that. You might want to have a list about technology news – people who post technology-related events.

One of the limitations of Mastodon currently is that you can’t add someone to a list that you are not following. And I did use to do this on Twitter a lot. I would add politicians who I felt some obligation to monitor, but I didn’t want to follow them because a follow might be considered an endorsement. You can’t do that on Mastodon, but you can take somebody out of your home timeline once you’ve added them to a list in Mona.

VoiceOver: Hashtags tab. 6 of 14.

Jonathan: Hashtags are very important in Mastodon. We’ll talk about that quite extensively as we go through this.

VoiceOver: Messages tab. 7 of 14.

Jonathan: You can send private messages on Mastodon, and we’ll cover that.

VoiceOver: Profile tab. 8 of 14.

Jonathan: This is your own profile.

VoiceOver: Favorites tab. 9 of 14. Bookmarks tab. 10 of 14.

Jonathan: Let’s talk about favorites and bookmarks, and what the difference is.

The most important thing to note about favorites is that it’s not the same as favoriting something on Twitter or liking something on Twitter. When you do that, you’re sending the algorithm a message and the algorithm takes notes of what you have favorited or liked.

On Mastodon, there’s not that kind of manipulation going on. So when you favorite something, the person who sent the post will let them know that you favorited it and people appreciate it, I think, to get some acknowledgement of a post. But it doesn’t do anything like amplify a post, or anything like that. It is really just a thank you or an acknowledgement to the person who sent the post, and it’s public. So when you favorite something, the person who sent the original post will know that you favorited it.

If we go on, though…

VoiceOver: Bookmarks tab. 10 of 14.

Jonathan: Bookmarks are incredibly handy. I favorite a lot on Mastodon because it’s just courtesy to thank somebody or acknowledge someone for posting something of interest. I use the bookmark feature much more sparingly.

Bookmarks are completely private to you. If you find a post on Mastodon that you think, “I want to go back and read this.”, or “I want to refer to it later.” (Perhaps it’s a useful tech tip or an article that you just don’t have time to read right now.), you can bookmark it, come back to those bookmarks later, and read all those posts in one place. Bookmarks are completely private to you. They can’t be reviewed by other people.

VoiceOver: Drafts tab, 11 of 14. Trending tab, 12 of 14. Mute items tab, 13 of 14.

Jonathan: Mona supports a raft of muting options, and you may need to go in here if you think you’re missing out on posts you actually didn’t intend to mute, or you’ve had a change of heart.

VoiceOver: Settings tab, 14 of 14.

Jonathan: And there are lots of settings. We’re going to spend plenty of time on those settings.

But that’s what’s on the tab bar by default.

Mona is exceptionally context-aware. And if there’s one piece of advice that I would offer for using the app effectively, it’s to be mindful of just how contextually aware it is. Click up and down even if you don’t normally expect the actions router to work because the developer has made exceptional use of the actions router in places you might not expect it to work. So a range of options are at your disposal.

Similarly, triple tap or perform a double tap and hold. They do the same thing, and you’ll find more contextually aware features.

For example, I’m still on the tab bar now. And if I triple tap…

VoiceOver: Settings.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Edit tab button. Customize tab bar button.

Jonathan: We can customize the tab bar.

VoiceOver: Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: And I’ll double tap to dismiss it for now.

Interacting With Posts on the Home Tab

I’m going to just tap in the center of the screen, which will give me access to the posts that are here.

VoiceOver: Clare Page, replying to @kernsac. Hi, Peggy! Enjoy your coffee and don’t get too hot. Yesterday. Actions available.

Jonathan: There’s a post on Mastodon from Clare Page who the Living Blindfully account is following. I’m going to triple tap on this post.

VoiceOver: Translate button. Select text button. Open in browser button. Copy text button. Copy link button. Share button. Mute button. View reblogs button. View favorites button. Report button. View author button. Open in new window button. Customize actions button. Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: And that was all achieved by triple tapping on the post and then flicking right. I’m going to close this menu now.

VoiceOver: Home.

Jonathan: But you also heard VoiceOver say “actions available”. And when you hear that message, you know that you’re able to flick down through a series of choices. So let’s get back to that tweet.

VoiceOver: Clare Page.

Jonathan: Mona is very good about keeping your place, by the way. And that’s important, because I always find that it makes much more sense to read social media in the order that the posts came in – oldest to newest. And Mona is fantastic about this. Many other Mastodon clients give you gaps in your timeline if you try to read this way after being away for too long. But Mona gives you the complete experience. It’s very reliable.

Anyway, I’ll flick down on this same post.

VoiceOver: View links.

Jonathan: View links is a little bit of a misnomer, I think. Because if you go in here, there’s a lot that you can achieve. If there are links to an article, something on the internet, you will certainly find them there. But you will also find a lot of other useful material in this screen. I’ll double tap on view links.

VoiceOver: Clare Page button.

Jonathan: The first thing we have is a button with the name of the person who sent this post. And if I double tap on that button, we will get into their profile (and we’ll show you that in a moment). I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: @kernsac button.

Jonathan: This is the full Mastodon address for Peggy Kern, who was mentioned in this post, and she’s at

The way that you mention someone on Mastodon is that you write the @ sign just as you would if you were on Twitter. And then, you write their username, followed by the instance they’re on, largely like an email address.

So if you wanted to mention this podcast account, you would get into the post composer and you would type the @ sign, followed by podcast and then another at sign So the first one is mentioning me and then the rest is rather like an email address. But it isn’t. It’s a Mastodon address. So is how you would mention me on Mastodon.

And Clare has mentioned Peggy that way. And so we could also double tap on this and view her profile.

VoiceOver: Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: That’s all we have at the moment. But if the post had contained some links to other places, we would get those in here as well. So it’s important to know that this is more than just links in the browser. It’s a very handy screen. I’m going to dismiss the context menu.

VoiceOver: Dismiss context menu. Home, Clare Page.

Jonathan: We’re right back on the place where we were, and I’m going to flick down to continue to look at our actions that are here by default.

VoiceOver: View links.

Jonathan: So we have view links.

VoiceOver: Reply.

Jonathan: We can reply to this post. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Reply. Living Blindfully podcast. Text field. is editing. Insertion point at start.

Jonathan: We’ll go to the top of the screen and see what’s here when we reply.

VoiceOver: Double tap to dismiss pop up window button.

Jonathan: That’s at the top. of I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Close button. Reply dimmed button.

Jonathan: The button is dimmed at the moment because we haven’t written anything. Once we do, the reply button will not be dimmed.

VoiceOver: Clare Page. @frog67@Tweescake.Social, replying to @Kernsac. Hi, Peggy! Enjoy your coffee and don’t get too hot. Yesterday.

Jonathan: This is a handy feature. You have the original post on screen so that you can review it as you are replying. That can be important because some posts on Mastodon are lengthy.

The default for a Mastodon instance is 500 characters. So that’s over double the old default of Twitter, which was 280 characters. If you pay on Twitter now, I think you can get something quite high like 10,000 characters, or something like that. But 500 characters is the default on Mastodon.

There are some forks of Mastodon and some other Mastodon instances that have made some modifications that extend that. For example, if you use or they’re using a fork of Mastodon called Hometown. And by default, you get 2000 characters per post. So you may get involved in quite a complex discussion with someone.

And having this post on the screen as you reply is very handy.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully podcast. @podcast button.

Jonathan: This button isn’t particularly useful right now because I’ve only got one account set up. I will remedy that shortly. But if I had multiple accounts set up, I might decide “Actually, this post would be better if it came from my personal account, not from the Living Blindfully account.”, And I can change right from within the reply composer.

VoiceOver: replying to @frog67 and @Kernsac button.

Jonathan: This button tells you who you are replying to. If you want to change that, you can. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Close button.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: Selected. Clare page. @frog67 dimmed button. Actions available.

Jonathan: Because Clare was the original composer of the posts that we’ve opened up, we can’t delete her from the reply. And that makes sense.

You’ll hear that actions are available. If I flick down, …

VoiceOver: View profile.

Jonathan: I can view Clare’s profile, …

VoiceOver: Activate. Default.

Jonathan: And we can activate it. I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Selected. Others in this conversation. 1 people button.

Jonathan: This could be handy if you want to delete everybody else in the conversation other than the person whose post you are replying to. Sometimes, people get added over time in a long running thread, and you kind of get to the point where you think, “I wonder if all these people really are interested in this back and forth.” So you may be doing them a favor if you just take them out of the thread by double tapping this button that deletes everybody. Or you can flick right and you can delete every individual. In this case, there’s only one person being replied to. So if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: Selected Peggy Kern @kernsac button. Actions available.

Jonathan: But you can imagine there could be 9 or 10 people in a Mastodon discussion, and you might want to just delete certain people who don’t seem to be participating anymore. Or somebody might have got so frustrated with being bombarded with notifications that they may have said, “Take me out of the thread, please.”

There may also be situations where the reverse is true – that you actually want to add people to a discussion. Because people are spread across a wide range of instances, on some Mastodon clients, this can be tricky because you got to try and remember everybody’s usernames and what instance they’re on. Mona does a wonderful job of simplifying this.

If you want to mention somebody who’s not in the thread, write the @ sign and then type a bit of their username if you know it, their first name, or their last name. If you’ve had any kind of engagement with them at all, (whether it be having been in a thread with them in the past, or perhaps you are following them or they’re following you), if you start to type their name or their username, and then you flick right through a few elements past the edit field, past the content button, you’ll eventually get to a section that says autocomplete. You should have at least 1, and possibly, a number of suggestions that match what you typed in.

When I was testing this to see how flexible it was, I’ve found it very flexible. If I type the @ sign and then type the name Mosen –M-O-S_E-N, then when I flick right and eventually got to the autocomplete section, I found that I had come up, my MushroomFM account had come up, my wife Bonnie was also there so I could double tap on her name.

So you don’t even have to type a first name or start at the beginning. You can type a last name as well. It’s a very handy feature.

If you know the exact name of the person you want to add, then just type it in completely. But sometimes, we forget. It can get confusing. Mona has done a really good job in this regard.

I’ll perform the two finger scrub gesture.

VoiceOver: Reply. Living Blindfully podcast. Text field. Is editing.

Jonathan: And I’m right back into where I can type my reply.

So the voiceover support is just outstanding here. It does respect things like the scrub gesture.

And I’m going to type something in here. I’m going to type “Welcome to you both. I just happen to have selected this post to reply to as part of my Living Blindfully Mona tutorial.”

Let’s just read that back.

VoiceOver: Welcome to you both. I just happen to have selected this post to reply to as part of my Living Blindfully Mona tutorial.

Jonathan: We’ve got some text in here now. I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Public button.

Jonathan: Normally, you would leave your posts at public. There could be various reasons why you don’t want to do that.

And let’s have a look at the various post types and what they do. We’ll double tap this button.

VoiceOver: Selected. Public. Everyone can see it button.

Jonathan: A good explanation of what public means. I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Unlisted. Everyone can find it. Opt out discovery features button.

Jonathan: If you have a post that is unlisted, it doesn’t mean that it is private between people that you are mentioning. It does mean that it’s not discoverable, but people can find it. And if they are following you and the person that you’re replying to, then they will see it automatically.

VoiceOver: Followers only. Your followers can see it button.

Jonathan: This is a nice mastodon feature because some people choose to protect their accounts. And if you are familiar with Twitter, you will know that this was available on Twitter as well.

So whenever somebody wants to follow you, you would get a follow request which you can approve or not approve, as the case may be.

I choose to keep all my accounts open to the public. Anybody can follow me.

It may be that there are certain things I want to talk about that I don’t want to be publicly listed, that I only want to be available to my followers. And by setting this to followers only, it means that it is not visible to anyone who is not following me.

VoiceOver: Mentioned people only. People you mentioned can see it button.

Jonathan: This is the Mastodon equivalent of a Twitter direct message.

And I think it’s fair to say that it’s probably one of the most jarring changes for people coming from Twitter to Mastodon. Because in Twitter, there was a unique area for direct messages in the blindness-specific Windows clients. They often called it a buffer, or it could be a tab in your Twitter client. If you use iOS, whatever it is, you will not generally see your Twitter direct messages mixed up with your mentions or on your public timeline.

In Mastodon, while there is specific area devoted to these sorts of messages in many Mastodon clients, you will also, just on your timeline as you skim through your posts, see these private messages as well. And they’ll come up in your notifications.

And sometimes, if you’re having a conversation with somebody that’s on the personal side and you see these in your place where you’re used to seeing public post, you go, “Oh, was that really public?” And no, it’s not.

What also makes people do a double take is that if you’re reviewing your own posts and you’re skimming through the timeline and you are used to seeing your own posts pop up, your private messages will come up there, too (the ones that you have sent to someone else). And then you think, “Oh my goodness! Did I really not make this private?”

So it can be a bit jarring, and some people would like to see that changed. But that’s how it is for now.

So if you want to send someone or a group of people a private message, then compose a post as normal. But make sure that you have got this option selected.

VoiceOver: Mentioned people only. People you mentioned can see it.

Jonathan: And those are the types of posts that you can post.

So I’m going to press the escape key this time.

VoiceOver: Text field. Is editing. Welcome to you both.

Jonathan: We popped right back into the post. I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Public button. Characters remaining: 331.

Jonathan: This is important because it helps you know how many characters you have left and also, how many characters your particular instance supports. As I say, 500’s the default. But you do see some very high character numbers on some instances.

VoiceOver: Add image or video button. Actions available.

Jonathan: We’re all used to posting images and videos to social media. One thing I’m delighted about is that while it is not universally used, alt text is used far more often on Mastodon than it ever was on Twitter. And in fact, there are some Mastodon instances that say it’s a violation of the rules not to use alt text. I see so much of it used in Mastodon, and it’s really very much appreciated. So you can add images and video.

One thing you can also do with Mona is add audio, which is of particular interest to many in the blind community. I’ve seen a range of these services come and go that have integrated with Twitter over the years that provide for the posting of audio posts. AudioBoo, (when it was called AudioBoo), was just very busy with participants in the blind community. There were various others as well.

Now this feature is built right into mastodon, so knock yourself out. And Mona supports this very well. Not all clients do.

It would be kind of cool if Mona offered its own little voice recorder in-app. It doesn’t right now. So you need to record an audio file in another app.

If you attach a file, it’s got to be under 40 megabytes in length. The compatible file formats are MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC, OPUS, AAC, M4A, and 3GP.

You heard Mona saying that actions are available. If I flicked down, …

VoiceOver: Open files.

Jonathan: You can open the iOS Files app, and find a file that you want to attach and do it that way.

So you could record an audio file in something like Just Press record, or Ferrite, or any number of apps that will save to iCloud or Dropbox. Browse for that file, attach it to a post in Mona.

Not only can you attach audio posts, you can, of course, play them, too.

I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Add animated image button. Add poll button.

Jonathan: Now we’re going to come back to polls in a little bit because it’s a fun feature of Mastodon.

VoiceOver: Content warning button.

Jonathan: Let’s talk about content warnings, which are a very important part of Mastodon culture.

There may be some expectations pertaining to the instance that you are on about content warnings. For example, before came online, I was with the great folks at and they have a policy there that if you are writing about New Zealand politics, you should put that behind a content warning.

Content warnings are kind of like a subject line or a disclaimer that can be used for posts that may be triggering for some people. Some Mastodon clients let you completely hide content warnings. But typically, a Mastodon client will require you to take an action on a post that has a content warning before you can read it in full.

There is, for example, (and I think it’s an unofficial BBC bot that’s posting to Mastodon), and when there’s a mention of war or death in a news article, it puts that behind a content warning.

Some people find it just more verbosity. I am one of those people. I don’t find too much triggering, but not everybody is that way. Some people may find certain types of content anxiety-inducing, and this is a way to respect that.

If I were to double tap this, I’d be placed in another edit field where I can type a content warning. The content warning is deducted from your total number of characters.

VoiceOver: Settings button.

Jonathan: There’s a little settings button. I’ll double tap it.

VoiceOver: Done button. Mark as sensitive. Default button.

Jonathan: If I double tap this, …

VoiceOver: Default button. Yes button. No button. Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: If there is a post that is sensitive in some way, you can mark it as such. there is a default setting regarding this that applies to all of your posts.

I’m going to dismiss this.

VoiceOver: Mark as sensitive. Default button. Poll heading.

Jonathan: Then, there are some settings pertaining to polls.

VoiceOver: Multiple choices. Allow one person to vote on one or more options. Switch button off. Hide vote number. Hide the number of votes until the poll ends. Switch button, off.

Jonathan: And we’ll go back with the 2-finger scrub. I’m going to press enter.

VoiceOver: New line.

Jonathan: And that’s a configurable option. Right now, it’s inserted a new line in my post. I prefer it that way because on my account which has a maximum of 2000 characters, I have been known to write quite lengthy missives. So I like to break it up with paragraphs.

The one advantage of allowing enter to post a message is that it does make it easy, when you’re using braille screen input, because you can perform a three finger flick up, and it will send the post which is a fantastic feature. So I’ll talk about how you configure this a little bit later when we have a look at the settings.

But I am going to press command enter on the Bluetooth keyboard. You can also just go to the send button and double tap it.

The position of the send button is also configurable because it was quite a lively discussion about that during the beta phase, and I’ll show you that a bit later in settings.

VoiceOver: Sending your post. Your post is sent. Tap to view.

Jonathan: Now, time has a habit of moving on. There’s no way I found of stopping it, actually.

And since I sent that message, I’ve taken a break from recording. I’ve come back now.

There have been a couple of replies to that message that I sent. This gives me an opportunity to show you what it’s like to look at a thread in Mona.

I’ve still got focus on that original message from Clare Page. And if I double tap, we’ll get into the thread viewer. I’ll do that.

VoiceOver: post. Clare Page. Replying to @Kernsac. Hi, Peggy! Enjoy your coffee and don’t get too hot. The 27th of April at [2:27] AM. Actions available.

Jonathan: Those actions are the same as those that we saw when we were reviewing the timeline.

But now, we are in the view that shows the thread, if any, pertaining to this conversation. Focus has been put on the message that I’m looking at in the timeline, (which is actually the second message in the thread), because this is Clare Page replying to Peggy Kern.

If I flick left, I’ll get the original message at the top of the thread.

VoiceOver: 1 of 2. Peggy Kern. Good morning, Mastodonians. The temp is supposed to be around 88 today, and I don’t want it. Excuse me while I have a tantrum. Lol! Okay. I’m better now. We have nothing on the agenda except walks, and we’re hoping our daughter will FaceTime us this morning like she usually does. She and her boyfriend are planning on making a short trip down from Washington soon and it will be great to see her. But right now, it will be great to get some coffee in me. Have a good day, all!3 replies. Two days ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: You’ll hear that there are three replies. There are even more contextual options available if I flick left.

VoiceOver: Actions button.

Jonathan: We’ve got a button here called actions. And if I double tap, you’ll see quite a number of other choices.

VoiceOver: Open in browser button. Find button. Copy link button. Share button. Load from remote server Button. View reblogs. Button. View favorites, button. View edit history button. Pin to tab bar button. Add to Siri button. Add divide view button. Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Post.

Jonathan: And I’m back on the original post from Peggy Kern.

I won’t comment on all of these options. Except to say that if you want to see who has reblogged, (sometimes in Mastodon jargon also called boosted a post), that’s the Mastodon equivalent of a retweet, or who has favorited a post, you can see that there and that can be quite interesting.

The other feature I’ll comment on at this point is divide view because this is the first time we’ve come across it. And I would have ignored this altogether, were it not for the enthusiasm of Wenwei Fisher.

When I mentioned on Mastodon that I was putting this tutorial together, she said, “Please mention divide view.” And I’ve actually seen Wenwei being quite enthusiastic about this in the past, and I kind of thought, “What’s the fuss? What’s the big deal?”, and she kindly explained to me in simple terms that I can understand her use case for this. And so now, I will do my best to impart this information to you. So thanks, Wenwei, for expressing your enthusiasm for this feature.

When you choose divide view, what happens is that essentially, you’ve got 2 copies of Mona running on the screen at once. You have the top half running one copy of Mona, and the bottom half running another copy of Mona.

Wenwei finds this helpful because in one half of the screen, she might, for example, be looking at a thread (and we’ll talk about looking at threads in just a moment),. And that thread may have links to all sorts of information, or it may refer to certain products that you might want to investigate. On the other half of the screen, you might want to use the other view of Mona to look at certain things that are being referred to.

That is particularly possible because when you go to the search tab of Mona, not only can you search for people and for content in Mastodon (and I’ll show you that a little bit later), but you can also perform a Google search in the Mona search tab. If you keep the default, which is to run Mona’s in-app browser for these sorts of functions, then it means that you could be looking at a website or maybe watching a YouTube clip or something in one half of the screen, while you’re looking at Mastodon posts in the other.

It’s not something that I’ve played with before. But now that Wenwei’s brought it to my attention, I actually do find it quite intriguing.

There are a couple of ways that you can navigate from one view to another. One is that you can use the containers functionality on the actions rotor. So you would rotate to containers (assuming that you do have that option selected), you can flick down, and you will be able to get from one view to another. The trouble is, that really is a bit unwieldy because of Mona’s exchange of use of the actions rotor. Pretty much everything you do in Mona causes the actions rotor to gain focus again, and then you’ve got to switch back to containers.

So really, this feature (the divide view), is only going to be a value if you’re comfortable exploring by touch rather than flicking around everywhere. If you get a feel for where the boundary is between the 2 views of Mona, then it’s a fun one to play with.

You can invoke the divide view from various actions options. And when you don’t want it anymore, you can essentially toggle it off the same way that you toggled it on.

So have a play with divide view. It is a very unique and quite powerful feature to have these 2 copies of Mona running on your screen in the one window.

So now, we’re back on this first post. I’ll flick right. We’ll get to Clare Page’s reply, which we’ve now heard several times.

VoiceOver: 2 of 2. Clare Page.

Jonathan: Now I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: 1 of 2. Living Blindfully podcast replying to @frog67 and @Kernsac. Welcome to you both. I just happened to have selected this post to reply to as part of my Living Blindfully Mona tutorial. 2 replies. 19 hours ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: That is the post I just sent in the tutorial, but thanks to the magic of time travel, I actually sent it 19 hours ago because I took a break from recording this. [laughs]

We’ve got some replies, as you can hear. So if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: 2 of 2. Clare Page. Replying to @podcast and @Kernsac looking forward to hearing the Mona tutorial. I plan to buy it when it’s released next week. Seven hours ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: That is Claire’s reply to my post.

It said there were two replies, but I’m only seeing one. And the reason for that is the status of the reply that Peggy Kern sent to me. Never fear. We will get to that reply in due course.

So what does all this mean in practical terms? Well, let’s say that you see a post on Mastodon about a topic that interests you and you want to see who has replied to that post. You want to view the conversation in its entirety. Double tapping the message that interests you will take you into the thread viewer. You will then have access to all the posts that are publicly visible to you, even if you are not following the people who are sending them.

At the bottom, we’ve got another reply field. So right from within this thread viewer, we can type our reply. And when we do, there will be a send button so that you can post your reply. I’m going to perform the 2-finger scrap gesture.

VoiceOver: Home. Clare Page. Replying to…

Jonathan: And now, we’re back on that very familiar post from Clare Page. We were touring the actions rotor pertaining to posts. So I’m going to flick down and continue to do that.

VoiceOver: View links. Reply.

Jonathan: And the next one,

VoiceOver: Reblog.

Jonathan: is Reblog. Now, there are two terms used for the same thing in Mastodon. Reblog seems to be in wider usage these days because it sounds like retweet and a reblog or a boost, which is the other term, is the same thing. It involves sharing a post with your followers.

When you reblog something or boost something, then your followers will see it unless they’ve taken action not to. And we’ll explain that a little bit later.

Reblogging is encouraged on Mastodon because of the fact that there are no algorithms boosting things, and searching for content is on the side of privacy. So content is not searchable unless you use hashtags. Plenty more on hashtags later.

But another way to tell people about some great content is to reblog it. If you reblog too much, (and there is a lot of debate on Mastodon about what constitutes reblogging too much), it is possible for people to hide your specific reblogs or for them to hide reblogs in general. If they want to catch up, just say with original content, some people will unfollow you if you reblog too much.

But it’s a good etiquette thing to do to share other people’s posts, particularly as so many people are new and looking for new followers here. It’s a way of saying hey, this person’s content is interesting. You might want to follow them.

I’ll flick down.

VoiceOver: Favorite.

Jonathan: You can favorite the post, …

VoiceOver: Add bookmark, …

Jonathan: and you can add a bookmark.

VoiceOver: Translate.

Jonathan: If the post is in another language, you can use the translation functions.

VoiceOver: More.

Jonathan: And there is a more option here. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Select text button. Open in browser button. Copy text button. Copy link button. Share button. Mute button. View reblogs button. View favorites button.

Jonathan: So you’ll see that these are the same options that we got when we opened the thread.

VoiceOver: Report button.

Jonathan: Reporting a post on Mastodon is more likely to elicit some action because of the community moderation aspect of the platform.

When you report a post on one of the larger social networks, (in the days when Twitter actually did have a large team looking at these sorts of things), then they may or may not get around to taking a look.

You are likely to get some action on a well-run instance if you need to report a post.

VoiceOver: View author button.

Jonathan: Viewing the author is a very important feature in parts of Mona. It perhaps, isn’t so important with somebody that you’re already following because presumably, you know enough about the person to have followed them in the first place. But if you’re browsing somewhere else on Mastodon and you come across a post from someone and you think, “This is an interesting post. Who is this person?”, you can view the author.

I’m going to double tap.

VoiceOver: Clare Page. @frog67. Follows you. I am trilingual, (English, French, and German), and like music, reading, radio, laughter, audio gaming, and keeping in touch with friends. Country France. Joined the 25th of November, 2022. 2147 posts. 176 following. 182 followers. Actions available.

Jonathan: It’s important to stress that all that was spoken automatically after I double tapped. So it gives you the information you need to know.

A couple of things of importance here. The first is that this is a very good example of a Mastodon bio. It’s clear. It tells you who you would be following if you follow this person. One of the reasons why people don’t get followers on Mastodon is that they don’t take the time to complete their bio. If I see somebody who follows me on Mastodon and I have no clue who they are because their bio field is empty, then what’s the incentive for me to follow them? I have no clue what kind of posts I’d be putting in my timeline.

So the very first thing you should do when you’re up and running on Mastodon is to complete your bio. Tell people what interests you. Give us an indication of the kinds of things that you’re likely to post about.

We’ll cover amending your profile a little bit later.

The second thing of importance is that Mona said actions available. And let’s flick down and see what the actions are when you’ve got focus here.

VoiceOver: 176 following.

Jonathan: That immediately tells me how many people are following Clare. If I double tap, it will take me into a followers list.

But there’s one big caveat with this, and I think it is a current weakness of Mastodon. You will only see followers on the same instance as you. You do not get a full list of everybody who is following someone right across the Fediverse.

This can make discovery of new people more difficult than, in my view, it ought to be. The logic of social networking is that if you are interested in the posts that someone is sending, chances are that you might be interested in the posts of those who are also interested in the posts of the person you’re following. But you can’t do that easily in Mastodon at the moment.

If I flick down, …

VoiceOver: 182 followers.

Jonathan: And you get the follower count there. You can similarly double tap.

VoiceOver: Activate. Default.

Jonathan: And if I double tap the activate button, which is the default, …

VoiceOver: Unfollow button.

Jonathan: There’s an unfollow button, and I wouldn’t want to do that. But if you’re not following the person you’re viewing, it will be a follow button. And you can double tap that button. And depending on how Mona is set up, and if you have multiple accounts, you may get the option to follow from the various accounts that you have.

VoiceOver: Send post to @frog67 button.

Jonathan: If I double tap on this, then the composer will open, Clare’s name will be filled in, and I’ll be able to send her a post.

VoiceOver: Load from remote server button. Open in browser button. View followers button. View profile photo button. Translate name and bio button. Copy button. Share link button. Edit notes button.

Jonathan: This is an interesting feature of Mona, because it kind of turns it into like a customer relationship management system where you can add specific notes that no one else sees except you about an individual. And it may be, “Why did I follow this person? How did we get to know each other? What’s the significance of me following this person?”

If you want to add a note, just double tap.

VoiceOver: Pin to tab bar button.

Jonathan: You can also pin an individual to the tab bar. This is how powerful this app is. So if there’s someone whose post you never want to miss, you can pin their posts to the tab bar. And then, their name will be one of the options on that long list of tabs at the bottom of the screen.

Double tap and you’ll instantly be able to view their posts.

VoiceOver: Add to Siri button.

Jonathan: If you double tap this option, you can add a Siri shortcut for this user. What that means is that using the voice phrase that you specify, (which by default is the name of the user), you can invoke the shortcut with Siri. Then Mona will open up and put you on that person’s profile page so you can check their most recent posts.

VoiceOver: Add/remove from lists button.

Jonathan: Add them and remove them from a list. We discussed Mastodon lists before.

VoiceOver: Turn off reblogs button.

Jonathan: Now if somebody is overzealously reblogging, then you can turn them off for an individual. This means that you don’t have to unfollow them and miss out on any interesting original content. But if they’re just a wee bit OTT with the reblogs, then you can stop seeing those.

VoiceOver: Turn on notifications button.

Jonathan: You can also turn on notifications so that the moment someone sends a post, you will get a push notification on your device. You want to be careful how many people you do this for.

But I have a couple of services where if there’s an outage, for example, with our Mastodon hosting company that hosts the Living Blindfully instance and the Mushroom FM instance, I actually want to know that. So for that account, I have push notifications enabled. I get a push the moment they send something.

VoiceOver: Remove from home button.

Jonathan: There are 2 ways that you might use this feature. One is if you’ve added someone to a list, you can remove them from home so that you only see their posts when you actively investigate the list that you’ve created.

There is another more political reason, and that is if you just feel like you need to follow somebody because it will create more drama if you don’t, (and that’s very sad if you find yourself in that position for whatever reason), but you’re really not interested in what they’re posting, you can remove them from home and keep the following relationship.

VoiceOver: Mute @frog67 button collapsed.

Jonathan: Mona quite handily says that this is a collapsed button. That means that if I double tap it, there will be options under here. Let’s see what they are.

VoiceOver: Mute @frog67 button. Expanded. Today button. 1 hour button. 24 hours button. 3 days button. Seven days button. 15 days button. 30 days button. Forever button. Dismiss context menu.

Jonathan: I’m going to leave it at that for the time. There are other mute options available as well, (which we will discuss later), but I’ll dismiss this because I don’t want to mute Clare. That would be terrible.

VoiceOver: Profile. Posts. Clare Page. @frog67.

Jonathan: Now in the process, I have been popped out of that little menu, so I’ll double tap it again.

VoiceOver: Unfollow button. Block button.

Jonathan: Now we’re back to the next option which is the block button. If you press this, then you will force an unfollow. They will not be able to see your posts. You won’t see theirs. It’s an extreme way to make sure that you’re not bothered by a specific individual on social media. But sometimes, it is necessary to do that.

VoiceOver: Report button.

Jonathan: And there’s the report option once again.

VoiceOver: Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: And dismiss the context menu.

So there’s a lot of information here pertaining to an individual, and this is particularly helpful as you start to follow people. So if you discover somebody who’s interesting to you, then you can investigate their bio, you can follow them from the screen, and take other actions. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Profile. Posts. Clare Page. @frog67.

Jonathan: And now, I’m on Clare’s profile page. If I flick right, I can see posts that she’s recently sent. You can also filter and have a look at media that she may have attached, and various other options.

But I’m going to perform a two-finger scrub.

VoiceOver: Loading. Clare Page.

Jonathan: And now we’re back on the timeline.

So those are the default actions that are available from the actions roter when you first install Mona. There is much more that you can do, and we are going to have a lot of fun geeking out on how configurable Mona is a little bit later.

Filtering Content in Your Home Tab

While we’re still on the home tab, I want to go to the top of the screen now.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully Podcast button.

Jonathan: That button is important as we add more accounts later, (and I will get to that), but I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Home heading. Compose button.

Jonathan: There’s the Compose button. You may want to hide that eventually.

Why on earth would you want to hide the Compose button? Because another way to do the same thing is to perform the magic tap in VoiceOver – a 2-finger double tap. And when you’re on any of these main screens, that will cause the Compose window to pop up.

VoiceOver: Refresh button.

Jonathan: There’s a Refresh button there. So you can double tap that, or when you’re on the main list of posts here, you can also pull down with three fingers.

VoiceOver: Actions. No filters button.

Jonathan: There are various actions that you can perform, and this is a common button in these tabs. But on this particular screen, there are also filters.

Filters are very powerful, and they can be handy to make sure you get just the content you want. This is important if you find yourself with a lot of followers, or you haven’t had an opportunity to check into Mastodon for a while, and you just need to catch up with what is critical. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Find button.

Jonathan: You can find something in your timeline here by searching.

VoiceOver: Filter button.

Jonathan: But let’s have a look at this very powerful filter function.

VoiceOver: Done button. Filter. Selected. Categories button. Heading.

Jonathan: By default, everything in this screen is selected, and that means that it will be displayed on your home timeline. You can deselect as much or as little as you want. When something is deselected, it won’t appear on your home tab.

We’re first placed on the Categories heading. This governs the kind of content you will see in your timeline.

I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Selected. Original. 78 tweets button.

Jonathan: This is original content. In other words, someone has chosen the compose button, typed something, and pressed send.

VoiceOver: Selected. Threads. 4 tweets button.

Jonathan: I’m trying to think of a scenario where you would want to necessarily exclude threads.

But I can think of a scenario where you might want to include threads but exclude other content. Let’s say that you’ve got limited time to catch up with Mastodon. Maybe you haven’t done it for a while, and you’re interested in the big conversations. What are the things that everybody’s talking about? By deselecting some of these other options but leaving threads selected, you can see the discussions, the things that got everybody buzzing.

VoiceOver: Selected. Replies. 30 tweets button. Selected. Mentions. 0 tweets button.

Jonathan: What’s the difference between a reply and a mention? Well, a reply is where you choose the reply option and type in a response. A mention is where the username appears somewhere in the post, but it’s not actually a reply.

An example of this would be if I send a post from the Living Blindfully account, and I say if you want to follow my personal account, you’d be very welcome. Follow @JonathanMosen. That’s a mention because I’ve just pressed the compose button and typed that, but it’s not a reply.

VoiceOver: Selected. Reblogs. 120 tweets button.

Jonathan: If you are in a hurry, this is one of the quickest ways to catch up. You can double tap this button and it will deselect reblogs, and then you won’t see posts that other people have shared. And as you can see, there are a lot of them in my timeline. There tend to be a lot of them in everybody’s timeline because of the reblogging culture in Mastodon.

VoiceOver: Selected. Quote posts. 3 tweets button.

Jonathan: If you’re coming from Twitter, you may be perplexed to know that quoting posts is a controversial subject. And I’ll address this now.

When you choose the reblog option by default in Mastodon, you get two options. You can simply share the post, (which is common Mastodon practice), or you can quote it. If you want to, (and we’ll show you how to do this later), you can also separate the reblog function from the quote function so they’re both there on the actions rotor.

There are two things it’s really important to understand about quoting with Mona on Mastodon. And the first thing is that quoting is not part of the official Mastodon spec. And what that means is that if you quote, then other Mona users and perhaps an increasing number of clients that are implementing support for this unofficial workaround for the fact that there are no quotes in Mastodon will see it. But you are also going to annoy people who don’t have that support on other Mastodon clients because while they can go through some hoops to see the post you’re quoting, it is not intuitive like it is in Mona and the few other clients that have gone this way.

So why isn’t quoting officially supported in Mastodon? The feeling of Mastodon’s creators, (which is widely shared by old timers on Mastodon), is that quoting poisons discourse. Their logic for saying this is that quoting causes you to talk at someone or passing comment on something that someone has said without actually engaging with them.

Now, you may be saying this is bullsoup. You may strongly agree that quoting is often used as a kind of a passive aggressive thing. I’m not passing judgments at the moment on this. I’m simply telling you that quoting is controversial and that if you use it, you are likely to incur some grief for those two reasons – compatibility and culture.

I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Selected contents button heading.

Jonathan: Now we’re on to the kind of content that you might want to filter. So we’ve just looked at categories. Now we’re on to content.

VoiceOver: Selected. text only . 129 tweets button.

Jonathan: This is pretty self-explanatory. This pertains to posts that have nothing else attached. They are purely text.

VoiceOver: Selected images. 43 tweets button.

Jonathan: I should say that you are hearing some Twitter language creeping through here from the old spring code, and that may have been fixed by the time you see this in the app store. I’m using a near final build, though, so it may be something that you find.

If you want to, you can filter images. Although it may not be as necessary for your peace of mind to do that here than it was on Twitter, because, as I said earlier, there is so much great use of alt text on the platform.

And it was interesting because when there was a big influx of users in November, there were a lot of Twitter users who didn’t use alt text, and they really got pinged for it. I’m not saying everybody uses alt text on Mastodon, but a much higher percentage do.

VoiceOver: selected. Animated images. 1 tweet button. Selected. Videos. 2 tweets button.

Jonathan: This filter also covers audio posts. So let’s say that you’re catching up and you really like it when somebody posts video or audio content. You can turn all these other filters on so you can filter text posts, you can filter images away, and only show the videos so that you can enjoy that multimedia content if that’s what you like

VoiceOver: Selected links. 105 tweets button.

Jonathan: On the Living Blindfully account, I like to post a lot of links to news articles that might be of interest to Living Blindfully listeners. And this is a way to either see those, or not see them.

VoiceOver: Selected. Poll. 2 tweets button.

Jonathan: I like Mastodon polls. I like exercising my franchise and my democratic right. And we’ll show you how to compose one of it later.

VoiceOver: Selected content warning. 8 tweets button.

Jonathan: If you don’t want to see posts that have a content warning, you can filter them out.

VoiceOver: Selected sensitive content. 11 tweets button.

Jonathan: Similarly.

VoiceOver: Selected long post. 13 tweets button.

Jonathan: I presume that this will show you posts that go over the normal 500 character limit.

VoiceOver: Dismiss pop up window.

Jonathan: And those are the ways that you can filter content.

Now at the top of the screen, you’ve got a reset button. So you can play with these filters, see only the exact kind of content that you want for the particular occasion, but then press the reset button if you want to get your full timeline back. This is a very powerful feature of Mona that gives you a lot of control over the content that you see.

For now, I’m going to double tap the dismiss button.

VoiceOver: Home. Clare Page. And we’re back on that very familiar post now.

Viewing Your Notifications

I’m going to go to the tab bar at the bottom of the screen.

VoiceOver: Selected. Home, new content available tab. 1 of 14.

Jonathan: Let’s move on to the next tab, which is…

VoiceOver: Notifications. New content available tab. 2 of 14.

Jonathan: And I’ll double tap notifications.

VoiceOver: Selected. Notifications, new content available tab. 2 of 14.

Jonathan: I’ve been on Mastodon around about 6 months now. And when I first joined, the notifications tab of the clients back then were pretty basic. We’ve come a long way in a very short time. And what you tended to see then was a very simple chronological list of events that happened.

Mona has notifications on steroids. Notifications are grouped together, quite similarly in fact, to the way that the official Twitter app introduced this some time ago. This is so important if you happen to get a post that goes viral.

There are fewer people on Mastodon. Of course, significantly fewer people on Mastodon than there are on Twitter even now. Although I have to say, I think that the proportion of blind people who were on Twitter who are now on Mastodon is much higher because of the demise of third-party apps.

But chances are, it’s going to take time for you to build up a following on Mastodon. And for the time being, it may not ever get quite as high as it did when you were on Twitter. But what I have found is that engagement is much higher.

And other people have commented on this, too. On Twitter, the algorithm will do what it does, and not everybody was using third-party apps that tried to opt out of that algorithm.

And then there are cultural factors. People just seem to be willing to engage more on Mastodon and to discover new people. And we’re kind of all at a phase where we’re learning this together, and building something special.

As a result, I’ve had several posts that I’ve sent where they have had hundreds and hundreds of favorites and reblogs. And I’ve had one post that got into the thousands. If that ever happens to you, I tell you, you will be grateful for the way that Mona groups notifications together.

I’m going to go to the top of the screen, …

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully Podcast button.

Jonathan: and flick right.

VoiceOver: Notifications heading. Compose button, refresh button, actions button.

Jonathan: There is an actions button here, which is similar. It doesn’t have the filter functions that we saw on the timeline, but it does have some of the other items.

VoiceOver: Rob Bender followed you.

Jonathan: Hooray, a new follower. And I actually have already followed Rob back. But if I hadn’t done that already, what I would do is double tap on this notification.

It would bring me straight to his profile. The profile would have focus and Mona would speak it. And then, I double tap again and there’ll be a follow button there. It’s really that simple. Just keep double tapping when you get a follower notification and you will eventually get to the point where you can follow someone.

VoiceOver: Tired Bunny and five others reblogged your post. Researchers developed new tactile technology that could enable a pop-up keyboard on a flat smartphone display.

Jonathan: This is where the Mona manner of grouping notifications is so handy. Because rather than see five individual notifications that someone has reblogged or boosted that post, I’ve got one that shows me that five people have reblogged it. If I double tap, …

VoiceOver: Reblogged. Living Blindfully podcast. Researchers developed new tactile technology that could enable a pop-up keyboard on a flat smartphone display.

Jonathan: And that’s the original post that I sent. If I flick right now, I can see who has reblogged it.

VoiceOver: Tired Bunny @untsuki. 4 posts, 135 following, 153 followers.

Jonathan: I’m going to stop that. If somebody’s reblogged your post, you can have a look at this, see who they are. If you’re not following them, double tap and you can follow them.

Who else has reblogged this?

VoiceOver: Devin Prater. 11,836 posts, 1227 following, 840 followers. Accessibility drives me. I use all the major operating systems in some way and find great things about all of them. I also enjoy reading, eating, relaxing, eating more, and chatting. I want to be a cat when I grow up. My opinions are my own and definitely do not reflect those of my employer. blog: HTTP…

Jonathan: And on we go. So this is a great way of also discovering new people to follow if they’re following you or somehow one reblog has led to another reblog.

VoiceOver: Ajtweddle. Eilidh Troup. @daisydaisy. Kay. @ChocolatePie. Jack Frostodon

Jonathan: Those are the people who have reblogged that post. I can perform a 2-finger scrub now.

VoiceOver: Notifications. Tired Bunny and… Kay reblogged your post. Clubhouse is laying off more than half of its workforce. Scott Rutkowski and 2 others reblogged your post. Windows 10 is finished. Microsoft confirms version 22H2 is the last.

Jonathan: So these are reblogs and favorites.

VoiceOver: Cleo9 and 2 others reblogged your post. Even Apple employees hates… Ryan Mann and Christopher Duffel reblogged your post. AT&T backed set… Lauren Le Fay (kink mode), and Amster favorited your post. Lauren LeFey (kink mode), and 3 others favorited your post. Researchers develop new tactile technology. Amster and 3 others reblogged your post. The next Forza will help blind players race by listening to beeps and boops. Doug Lawler, replying to @podcast. If Apple allows sideloading of apps, I predict this will be the main computer for a lot of people in the next couple of years. 5 hours ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: Now we’ve finally got someone who has replied to something that has come from the Living Blindfully account. And actions are available, which means I can flick down.

VoiceOver: View links. Reply. Reblog. Favorite. Add bookmark. Translate. More. Activate. View links.

Jonathan: Sound familiar? So those actions are available right from here when someone has replied to you or mentioned you, and it appears in the notification list. If you’re in a hurry, this is a good way to just quickly respond to people who have responded to you.

And if you’re interested in the other reply to that thread that we spent so much time on, here it is.

VoiceOver: Peggy Kern. Replying to @podcast and @frog67. Well, if you happen to be doing a demo of how its notifications work, which I don’t use, here’s a mention back to you. Lol! 19 hours ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: To make things more readable (and listenable, frankly) with VoiceOver, apps like Mona will often truncate the full Mastodon name. For example, in that mention, it said replying to podcast, and we know that the full Mastodon name is @podcast. So if you need the full Mastodon name, we’ll flick down.

VoiceOver: View links.

Jonathan: Choose view links. Peggy Kern button.

Jonathan: And then, we’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: @podcast Button.

Jonathan: And there it is. That’s the full Mastodon name. And that’s how, if somebody mentions another Mastodon account in a post, that’s how you get the full thing so that you can follow it. And in fact, if I double tap on it, it will get me to their profile so I can follow from there.

VoiceOver: @frog67 button. Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: So the notifications tab allows you to catch up on things that pertain to you.

And there’s one final handy little tip regarding notifications. And that is that if you really are in a hurry and you just want to answer right now people who have mentioned you. At the bottom of the notification screen, just above the tab bar, you’ll find a kind of a sub tab bar with two items. The first one (which is the default), is all. And the second one is mentions. So if you’re really in a hurry and you just want to answer people who are talking to you, double tap the mentions button, and that will filter all the other notifications away so you can concentrate on your conversations.

Connect With Other Instances Via the Communities Tab

Let’s look at the next item on the tab bar.

VoiceOver: Communities tab. 3 of 14.

Jonathan: As we’ve now well established, Mastodon is a federated group of independent instances.

There are 3 timelines by default on every Mastodon instance. There’s your home timeline, and that consists of people that you have followed. You’ve expressly opted in to receive posts from them. There’s also the federated timeline. On a busy instance, this is fast-moving because it consists of posts from all the other instances that your instance is federated with. It can be a bit chaotic, but it’s pretty fun for discovery if you have some time. And then, there is the local timeline – the posts from everyone on your instance.

But what if you wanted to go even further? Let’s say that you are happy with the instance that you’re on, but you’d also like to see what’s going on on other instances.

An example of this is that I’m on I like it there. It’s got people I’ve engaged with for many years. But I’m also interested in what’s going on locally in New Zealand.

When I first joined Mastodon, it was actually before was a thing, and I joined And if something happens locally of particular importance like our prime minister resigned earlier in the year, and I wanted to find out how people were responding to that. We had a very significant natural disaster a couple of months ago, and I wanted to keep tabs on the emergency response.

In cases like that, you may want to check in with a specific community. And without fail, when I’ve had cause to do that, (check in on another instance for some reason), I have found really interesting people, and I’ve followed them and added them to my timeline. So this is what the communities tab in Mona is all about.

I’m going to double tap.

VoiceOver: Selected. Communities tab. 3 of 14 communities. LivingBlindfully.Social button.

Jonathan: The first thing that you will have is a button for the instance that you are currently on. In my case, If I double tap, …

VoiceOver: Communities. Living Blindfully Podcast. Clubhouse is laying off more than half of its workforce. 1 reply, 2 reblogs, 3 favorites. 11 hours ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: What’s happened now is that I’m in what’s called my local timeline. These are posts that have been sent from members of And because this is a single person instance, it’s all just me.

But if we go to the bottom of the screen, there’s what I would describe as a sub tab group. It may be difficult to find by touch. So what I would do is put your finger on the main tab bar at the bottom, which is reasonably large.

VoiceOver: Home. New content available tab. 1 of 14.

Jonathan: And flick left.

VoiceOver: Federated button. 2 of 2. Selected local button. 1 of 2.

Jonathan: And from here, you can determine whether you’re viewing the home timeline for an instance or the instances federated timeline. So if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: Federated button.

Jonathan: And double tap.

VoiceOver: Selected. Federated.

Jonathan: Now I go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Community. Compose. Refresh. Actions. BookWolf. I had the title for a book pop into my head as I was getting ready for sleep. And now, I’m too wired and excited. 9 minutes ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: Now you can review the instances federated timeline, you may find interesting people to follow. And you can go through the procedures that we’ve already covered to follow anybody of interest that you want in your timeline in the future.

I’m going to perform a two finger scrub now.

VoiceOver: Communities.

Jonathan: Because you can also flick left here…

VoiceOver: Add community button.

Jonathan: and add a community. If you double tap, …

VoiceOver: Cancel button. Text field. Is editing. Character mode. Insertion point at start.

Jonathan: And again, is the default, but you can type something else here. For example, if you are not on and you want to have a look at blind people who are posting on, just type that address in and press add. I’ve actually done this with So I back out.

VoiceOver: Communities.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: button.

Jonathan: There we go. Double tap.

VoiceOver: Communities. Greg. Sometimes, you just have to know when it’s time to call it a day. I’m going to go and lie down on my bed and lose myself in either the , , , or .

Jonathan: Yes, there are definitely worse ways to spend time, I’m sure.

So now we are on local timeline. If I want to view its federated timeline, we can repeat the process that we did when we were looking at This is a fantastic way to discover new people to follow.

And also, if you’re looking at moving to another instance, it’s a way to check it out. Do your due diligence. Maybe you started with something fairly generic like, and you’re now looking for something that’s more home for you. Something that reflects your personal interests. And someone’s told you about an instance, you can add the instance under this communities tab, check out its local timeline, and find out what sort of people frequent it. Would you feel at home on this instance? It’s a great feature.

Hashtags. Why They Are Critical on Mastodon and How to Interact With Them in Mona

This is an exemplary mastodon post, actually, because it’s making very good use of hashtags.

So let’s talk about hashtags in a mastodon context and how you engage with them in Mona.

I’ll flick down.

VoiceOver: View links.

Jonathan: And this view links option is so critical in Mona. It does a lot.

So I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Greg button.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: button. button. button. button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick left.

VoiceOver: .

Jonathan: And we’ll double tap on the Star Wars hashtag and see what happens.

VoiceOver: Dismiss context menu. . . . . . One image. Star Wars COVID meme in 3 vertical panels. The top panel shows Darth Vader with his left hand in a chokehold around a rebel’s throat and holding him up off the ground. The text reads, pre-COVID chokehold. The second panel shows Darth Vader using the force to choke an Imperial officer a few feet away. The text reads, safe social distance chokehold. In the bottom panel, Vader is using the force to choke an Imperial officer over a telecommunications monitor. The text reads, working from home chokehold. Three weeks ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: That is an amazing example of good use of alt text. And you see this a lot on Mastodon. That was a very detailed description of the image. Also, because there is media here, there is a new item on the actions roter for this post.

VoiceOver: View media.

Jonathan: And I can choose view media, and we will do exactly that.

By invoking the links option in Mona and then choosing the button for , we’re now seeing posts containing that hashtag.

Hashtags are big on Mastodon. If you want your post to be discoverable, then please use a hashtag or it won’t be. For example, everything that we post about MushroomFM has the hashtag MushroomFM. And you simply write it by writing the number sign or hash symbol followed by whatever the hashtag is. That makes them searchable.

You can also follow hashtags on Mastodon. You could not do that on Twitter. You can search on hashtags and save the search, but you couldn’t actually follow them.

If you follow a hashtag on Mastodon, it means that any post containing that hashtag will appear in your home timeline. It is brilliant.

We’ll go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Mastodon.NZ. Back button.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: heading. Compose button. Refresh button. Follow button.

Jonathan: And right there is the magic button to follow . If I were to press this button, then every post with the Star Wars hashtag would appear in my home timeline, and the force would well and truly be with me.

One of the more esoteric debates that I’ve seen on Mastodon is: should you group all the hashtags at the end of your post, or should you just use them in context? My personal preference is to use them in context.

So for example, I might say, “I am on later today.” So you just use the hashtag where it makes sense to do it.

Others have a different view. So I suppose, there’s no right or wrong way to do that.

Just as in Twitter, there is one other very important reason to make use of hashtags, and that is etiquette and consideration. You remember that when we reviewed the More menu before on the timeline, there was a mute button? And when we looked at Clare’s post, you could only mute Clare herself for a period of time because there were no hashtags in that particular post. But if there is a hashtag, the mute button also allows you to mute that hashtag, either for a given period of time or forever.

For example, I’m really proud of the team at Mushroom FM and all the work that we’ve been doing over the years to entertain people. But I know full well that not everybody who follows me on Mastodon wants to see my MushroomFM-related posts.

By making sure that I always use the MushroomFM hashtag, people can follow me, but mute that hashtag if they want to. And that means that they won’t see anything I post relating to MushroomFM. They don’t need to unfollow me.

So if you’re going to post about a subject consistently, give it a hashtag and stick to that hashtag. It’s hard to prove, of course, but I promise you that it will result in you not losing some followers that you otherwise would have lost.

I have unfollowed people because they will not use hashtags on something that they are working on consistently that doesn’t interest me, even though the rest of their posts do.

Searching for People and Content

Let’s look at the next item on the tab bar.

VoiceOver: Search tab. 4 of 14.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap. We’ll go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Search posts or users. Search field.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Search field. Is editing.

Jonathan: If you type in a string that you have written, then it will search all of your posts for that string. But if you want to search for content, it’s best to use hashtags.

For example, I’ll type the word StarWars.

VoiceOver: StarWars.

Jonathan: And I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Clear text. Cancel. Search suggestions and history. Posts with StarWars button.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap. Now we’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: No search results.

Jonathan: No search results because I haven’t posted anything with StarWars in it. However, let’s go back.

VoiceOver: Posts with StarWars button.

Jonathan: And I’ll flick left.

VoiceOver: StarWars. Search field.

Jonathan: Now I’ll write hashtag, so the # sign and StarWars. And we’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Clear text. Cancel button. search suggestions and history. Posts with .

Jonathan: I’ll double tap, and flick right.

VoiceOver: Ghostly Ash. .

Jonathan: There is plenty here now because we’ve used the hashtag, and hashtags are searchable.

So this illustrates the importance of integrating hashtags into your Mastodon posting.

I’ll perform a 2-finger scrub now.

VoiceOver: Search suggestions and history. Posts with button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick left.

VoiceOver: . Search field.

VoiceOver: I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Search field. Is editing.

Jonathan: And we’ll just clear that search field. This time, I’m going to search for an individual, and I’m going to type in David Goldfield. And we’ll have a look at that.

VoiceOver: David Goldfield.

Jonathan: Right, that’s correct. So I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Clear text. Cancel. Search suggestions and history. Posts with David Goldfield button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right, …

VoiceOver: Users with David Goldfield button.

Jonathan: and double tap that.

VoiceOver: Loading. David Goldfield. @DavidGoldfield. 107 posts, 540 following, 78 followers. Pro-life. Practicing Catholic. Over 30 years of service in the assistive technology field. Visually impaired. Born Jewish and was received into the church in 2007. Hobbies include learning about, using and assisting others with assistive technology, reading and watching SF and learning more about my faith. Subscribe to the Tech-VI Announcement List to Receive News and Updates in the Blindness Assistive Technology Space: My personal website: Join the 18th of April, 2023. Actions available.

Jonathan: That is an excellent Mastodon bio because it’s very descriptive. It tells you exactly who you would be following.

And then, there are actions available.

Actually, there seem to be 2 accounts for David because if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: David Goldfield. DavidGoldfield@iAccessibility.Social. 141 posts, 117 following, 1 follower. Pro-life. Practicing Catholic.

Jonathan: And so it’s the same bio, I think, just at a different address. So maybe David moved instances, or something like that, and it would all redirect. But it is very easy in Mona to search for individuals. And it’s one of the features that I think they’ve implemented particularly well because it’s not always the case on other clients. So if you’re wanting to find out whether a certain person is on Mastodon or not, type their name in here, you may well get results.

If you don’t, it doesn’t mean that they’re not on Mastodon because Federation can sometimes cause those things to happen, but there’s a good chance you’ll discover them. Let’s say for example, that we’re looking for some news and I can type into this search field CNN and then flick right.

VoiceOver: Clear text. Cancel. Search suggestions and history. Posts with CNN. Users with CNN.

Jonathan: We want users with CNN, so I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: CNN breaking news @cnnbrk. 678 posts, 1 following, 13,100 followers. Working to bring CNN breaking news on Mastodon. Join the 8th of November, 2022.

Jonathan: There are some bots that are essentially taking feeds from elsewhere and bringing them to Mastodon and that is one. And if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: CNN news bot @CNN 3,041 posts, 2 following, 6,332 followers. Hi, I’m a bot. Join the 11th of January, 2021.

Jonathan: Welcome bot, you’ve been there for a while.

That’s how you do search. The key thing to remember is you can type in a name, you can type in a company, and then make sure that you choose search for users

If you’re looking for content, hashtags are key. Using hashtags in Mastodon is absolutely critical to discoverability.

The Profile Tab

Some of these items on the tab bar are pretty self-evident, or we’ve already talked about them as we’ve moved through Mona. The next thing I’d like to focus on, therefore, is …

VoiceOver: Profile tab. 8 of 14.

Jonathan: the profile tab. It’s important that your profile is comprehensive so people know who you are if you want to be discovered and find like-minded people. I’ll double tap this.

VoiceOver: Profile. Posts. Livin Blindfully Podcast @podcast, formerly Mosen at Large. This is a podcast all about living your best life with blindness or low vision. We cover everything from tech to travel, from self-care to sleep. You’ll hear many interesting guests and lively discussion from the Living Blindfully community.

Jonathan: And that’s the profile, and it also has a link to the Living Blindfully website. And the actions roter is available here, just as we saw when we reviewed another profile.

If I flick right, I can view my own posts. This is useful sometimes if you want to edit a post. Yes, you do have an edit button on Mastodon.

You can also pin a post to your profile, and this is good Mastodon etiquette as well.

You want to have a bio that’s descriptive. If you have your own website or other items of interest, you can link to it here.

But in addition, in good Mastodon etiquette, you should write an introductory post and then pin it to your timeline. Here’s mine, for example.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully podcast. Pinned post. . Welcome to the account for , the podcast about living your best life with or low vision. Formerly Mosen at Large, the podcast features tips, tricks, tech, interviews, news, debate, and plenty of feedback from our global community. The podcast is supported by members of our Living Blindfully plus community and our advertisers. Learn more at 3 replies, 49 reblogs, 37 favorites, 2 weeks ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: The combination of the info in the profile, as well as that pinned post gives you a really good view of what this account is all about. So when you’re setting up on Mastodon, write an introductory post.

You don’t have to do it right away. If you forget, write the post anytime you want, and then you can pin it to your profile.

If I flick down, …


Jonathan: Because this post has a link in it, it’s right there. if I double tap, it will open in the in-app browser. If you prefer that it open fully in Safari stand-alone, you can do that, too. We’ll show you that when we get to the settings.

I’ll flick left and get back on my profile.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully Podcast.

Jonathan: Normally, if you double tap here, you would get a follow button, but you obviously don’t want to follow yourself. That would probably break the universe, or the Fediverse. So what do you get instead?

VoiceOver: Edit profile button.

Jonathan: Sensible enough. You can edit your own profile.

Let’s take a look at what you can do.

VoiceOver: Cancel button. Update profile photo button.

Jonathan: There’s my photo. It’s a very good idea to have a photo in your bio. I have a standard social media picture that I use on all social media sites.

VoiceOver: Update banner photo button. Name, heading. Living Blindfully Podcast. Text field.

Jonathan: Occasionally, I do see people who don’t have anything in the name field, and I’m not clear about what has caused that to happen. So it’s a good idea to make sure that your name field is filled in.

VoiceOver: Clear text button. Bio, heading. Formally Mosen at Large.

Jonathan: That’s the bio that you’ve heard before, and you can change that here in the screen.

VoiceOver: Settings, heading. Suggest to others, recommended. Allow your account to be discovered by strangers through recommendations, trends, and other features. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I want this account to be as discoverable as possible, so I’m happy to leave that on.

VoiceOver: Require follow requests. Manually control who can follow you by approving follow requests. Switch button off.

Jonathan: This is what, on Twitter, we would have called protecting your account. If you switch this on, then you will get follower requests, and you will have to approve manually before anybody can follow you.

VoiceOver: Mark as bot account. Signal to others that your account mainly performs automated actions and might not be monitored. Switch button off.

Post presets, heading. Privacy level, public. Button, mark as sensitive. Switch button off.

Jonathan: If the subject of your account is sensitive, you may wish to mark every post as sensitive. We saw earlier that you can specify whether an individual post is sensitive or not. If you want the default to be so, then you can change it here.

VoiceOver: Profile metadata heading. The Living Blindfully website.

Jonathan: What we have now is the profile metadata where you can add websites and other items of relevance. So first, we have the Living Blindfully website.

VoiceOver: Clear text button. Text field.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Clear text button. Label. Text field.

Jonathan: That’s all I have right now for this profile metadata.

You can also use this metadata as a form of verification. And no, you don’t have to pay $8 or whatever the current going rate is for this verification. And it’s pretty genius, the way that it works.

If you run your own website, you can include some special data on that website that says, “Yes, this is me.” So when you link to it from your Mastodon profile, it serves as a form of verification.

I won’t go into how you put that link together in this tutorial because this is primarily a Mona tutorial, and not everybody has their own website.

But if you do have access to your own website and you want to build this link, do a search on Mastodon verification and you’ll find out how this system works.

I think that visually, someone can see when someone’s profile has been verified. But I have not found that VoiceOver speaks that data in Mona at the moment.

If you made changes to your profile (and you should definitely please include a decent bio in here), then you can save it. But I’m going to back out because I’ve made no change.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully Podcast.

Jonathan: And that’s a look at the profile tab.

Check out what’s trending

Another way to discover new content is by using the trending tab.

VoiceOver: Trending tab.

Jonathan: When you go in here, you will see hashtags that are trending on your particular instance. This is another reason why it’s a really good idea to get into the habit of using hashtags on Mastodon.

So when there’s a major current event going on, you may want to check the trending tab to see if people are talking about it and what hashtag is being used to discuss it.

You can follow that hashtag if you want, or just track it for the moment and participate in the conversation.

Working With Multiple Accounts

If you have Mona Pro or Mona Pro Max, then you can add other accounts. You can add quite a few accounts. I don’t know whether there’s a limit. I’ve got, I think, 4 accounts in my main Mona installation.

I’m going to, at this point, add a second account. So I’ll go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully Podcast button.

Jonathan: I’m going to double tap that button.

VoiceOver: Close button. Living Blindfully Podcast. @podcast button. Actions available.

Jonathan: What are those actions?

VoiceOver: Remove. View profile. Activate.

Jonathan: This is another way to get at your profile.

And if you want to, you can remove an account. I did this, for example, when we moved from Mosen at Large, which was hosted on, to Living Blindfully, which is on its own instance. And after I completed the official process for moving from one Mastodon account to another, I deleted my Mosen at Large account because it was effectively no longer active.

VoiceOver: Add account. Button.

Jonathan: Now we want to add a second account. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Settings button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Need help? button. Mona Beta. Sign in button.

Jonathan: And there’s the sign in button. So this is that first initial screen back again, essentially. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Text field. Cancel button. Server. Text field. Is editing. Word mode. Insertion point at start.

Jonathan: This time, I’m going to type in and press enter.

VoiceOver: Settings button. Text field. Is editing. Cancel button. Address. 12% TweeseCake.Social.

Jonathan: That’s loading And it will then ask me to sign in because I’ve not signed in to on this device before.

We’ve been through this process, so I’m going to complete it again and pause the recording while I do.

I’m signed in. Now I’m ready to hit the authorize app button.

VoiceOver: Authorize. Settings button.

Jonathan: That’s all there is to it. We now have a second account added.

I’ll go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Dismiss pop up window.

Jonathan: And we’ll dismiss this.

Here’s the interesting thing. Let’s go back to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Jonathan Mosen button. Actions available.

Jonathan: Not only is it a button, but there are also actions available. Why is this? Because this is a very slick way to switch between multiple accounts if you have them in Mona. All I have to do is flick down.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully Podcast.

Jonathan: So I’m currently on the new account that I added, which is my Jonathan Mosen account. And if I want to change to the Living Blindfully Podcast, I can flick down, choose Living Blindfully Podcast and double tap it. And it’s that easy to switch from one account to another.

Creating and voting in polls

I wanted to set up a second account before we review settings because there are a number that pertains to multiple accounts.

But before we go there, I’m going to set up a poll and I’m going to do it on my Jonathan Mosen account because runs hometown, which gives you a 2000 character limit. So I have a few more characters to play with to make this poll a bit of fun. Who doesn’t like exercising their democratic rights and expressing their opinion on things?

Polls are a lot of fun on Mastodon. One thing I would say is that at the time of recording, I don’t think either of the Windows blindness-specific clients for Mastodon fully support polls. So sometimes you’ll find that people looking at the poll on those platforms, because they can’t actually vote in the official way, simply reply with their responses, which kind of breaks the poll. So hopefully polls will be fully supported by those apps in due time. Mona has brilliant poll support.

As we saw before a long time ago when we were looking at the settings in the compose screen, you can specify whether the polls are multiple choice or single choice. We’ve got single choice by default, and that’s fine for the poll that I’m thinking of setting up. I’m just going to perform the magic tap to bring up the compose screen.

VoiceOver: What’s happening?

Jonathan Mosen. Text field is editing. Insertion point at start.

Jonathan: It tells me the account, which is handy when you have multiple accounts. So it’s clear that I’m going to be posting with the Jonathan Mosen account. And if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: public button. characters remaining: 2000.

Jonathan: When I was posting from the Living Blindfully account, the characters remaining in a blank post were 500. Now, we have 2000 characters to play with. I’ll flick left.

VoiceOver: Public button.

What’s happening? Jonathan Mosen. Text field. is editing. Character mode. insertion point at start.

Jonathan: I need to post some introductory text about this poll. “I am recording a tutorial about and am demonstrating the poll functionality. Feel free to vote using a compatible app.” I’ll press enter to insert a blank line.

And now, I’ll type my question. “Do you speed up your podcasts?” And now, I will flick right.

VoiceOver: Public button. Characters remaining: 1844. Add image or video button. Add animated image button. add poll button.

Jonathan: Add poll is what we want. So I will double tap.

VoiceOver: Text field. Is editing. Choice 1. Character mode. Insertion point at start. Actions available.

Jonathan: We’ll have a look at those actions in just a moment, but let’s type in our first choice, which is “Yes, time is precious”. I’ll now press tab.

VoiceOver: Text field. Is editing. choice two insertion point at start.

Jonathan: You don’t have many characters to play within these poll answers. So I need to be concise. I’ll type “Yes, through smart speed in my podcast app.”

And I’ll just check how many characters I have left.

VoiceOver: Characters remaining: eight. Whew! text field. Is Editing. Yes, through smart speed in my podcast app. insertion point at end. Actions available.

Jonathan: I only have 2 choices by default in a poll, but you can add more. And this is where the actions rotor comes in.

I’ll flick down.

VoiceOver: Move up. Add choice.

Jonathan: There’s add choice. So I’ll double tap. Nothing has appeared to happen, but it actually has. So if I flick right, …

VoiceOver: Characters remaining: 8. Choice 3. Optional. Text field.

Jonathan: There’s choice 3. And I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Insertion point at end.

Jonathan: And I will type “No, speeding them up is yucky.” There we go.

So we have our 3 choices now. Let’s just review.

VoiceOver: Close. send button. Jonathan Mosen @JonathanMosen button, I am recording a tutorial about and am demonstrating the poll functionality. Feel free to vote using the compatible app. Do you speed up your podcasts? Text field.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Public. Characters remaining: 1,844. Poll editor. Yes, time is precious. Text field. Yes, through SmartSpeed in my podcast app. Text field. Is editing. No, speeding them up is yucky.

Jonathan: Those are the three choices. Now flick right.

VoiceOver: Poll length: 1 day button. Actions available.

Jonathan: Those actions pertain to what we’ve already seen. So you can add additional choices, but in this case, I just want to double tap the button and see what the poll length can be.

VoiceOver: Selected poll length: 1 day. Picker item, adjustable. 2 of 31.

Jonathan: Well, you can go quite a long way up in terms of how long the poll lasts.

I’ll flick up to …

VoiceOver: 2 days. 3 days. 4 days. 5 days. 6 days. 7 days. 8 of 31.

Jonathan: And that means that if you are listening to this tutorial early, you may well be able to follow me @JonathanMosen and vote in this poll about whether you speed your podcasts up or not.

VoiceOver: 0 hours, picker item, zero minutes, picker item. Add image or video, dimmed.

Jonathan: So you can also specify the hours and minutes, but 7 days, zero hours, zero minutes is fine for me.

And we’re ready to go now. So I’m going to go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Close. Send button.

Jonathan: And double tap the send button. Sending, Jonathan Mosen. Your post is sent.

Now let’s have a look at this poll and how it works from an end user’s point of view. The best way to do that is to take a look at your own profile tab.

And this illustrates another very nice feature of Mona. You’ll recall that when I set up the new account, I was in the profile tab showing you what was going on on the account. I then set up a new account and we saw this button slash action option at the top that lets you easily navigate between accounts. When you do that, you remain in the tab that you were in.

Why is that handy? Well, let’s say that you have 4 or 5 Mastodon accounts. And in the morning you are checking any notifications that have come in overnight. You can choose the notification tab on the accounts that you start with. And then simply flick up and down through the accounts using that control at the top of the screen and check notifications in all of them quite efficiently.

So I am still on the profile tab. But this time, for the Jonathan Mosen account. I’ll go to the top of the screen…

VoiceOver: Jonathan Mosen button.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: Profile. Compose. Refresh button, actions. No filter. Profile. posts. Jonathan Mosen. I’m recording a tutorial about and I’m demonstrating the poll functionality. Feel free to vote using the compatible app. Do you speed up your podcasts? 0 votes. Yes, time is precious. 0%, yes, through SmartSpeed in my podcast app. 0%, no, speeding them up is yucky. 0%. 2 minutes ago. Actions available.

Jonathan: Because I initiated the poll, I’m seeing the results, and nobody has voted at this point. I’m relaxed about that. I’m sure we’ll get some votes eventually.

But what if I want to vote? Well, I can do that, and you can do it, too.

Let’s just flick down.

VoiceOver: View poll.

Jonathan: Right there, we have view poll. So I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Cancel button. Selected. Yes, time is precious.

Jonathan: Choice 1 is selected by default.

And I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Yes, through SmartSpeed in my podcast app.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right again.

VoiceOver: No, speeding them up is yucky.

Jonathan: Now, I actually am going to choose the second choice. So I’ll flick left again to go back…

VoiceOver: Yes, through SmartSpeed in my podcast app.

Jonathan: And double tap.

VoiceOver: Selected. Yes, through SmartSpeed in my podcast app.

Jonathan: I’m ready to cast my vote. So I’ll flick left.

VoiceOver: Vote. Yes, through SmartSpeed in my podcast appButton.

Jonathan: And the button tells you that you can vote and it confirms the choice that you’re about to make when you cast your vote. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Vote.

Jonathan: And voting is as simple as that. Let’s see if that has registered. So I’ll flick right to get back to the poll result.

VoiceOver: Profile. Compose. Refresh button.

Jonathan: I’m going to press the refresh button actually, just to be sure.

VoiceOver: Refresh. Profile.

Jonathan: And we’ll get an update here.

VoiceOver: Jonathan Mosen. I am recording a tutorial about and I’m demonstrating the poll functionality. Feel free to vote using the compatible app. Do you speed up your podcasts? Six votes, yes. Time is precious, 33%. Yes, through smartspeed in my podcast app, 17%. No, speeding them up is yucky, 50%, five minutes ago.

Jonathan: There we go. So we’ve got some votes already pouring in on this contentious question. If you want to vote and you get to hear this quickly, you can follow me @JonathanMosen (all joined together ) and cast your vote.


Voiceover: If you’re a member of Living Blindfully plus, thanks for helping to keep the podcast viable.

If you haven’t yet subscribed, why not do it today?

Get access to episodes 3 full days ahead of their release to the public, you’ll get advanced notice of some of our interviews so you can have a say in what we ask, and you’ll help keep the podcast viable by helping to fund the team to do their work.

Our guarantee to you is that everyone who works on the podcast is blind or low vision, so we’re keeping it in the community.

Find out more. Visit That’s

Pay what you can. It all helps.

Thanks for your support of Living Blindfully plus!

Mona’s Extensive Settings

I am one of those nerds or geeks who, when I get a new app, go straight into the settings to find out how configurable this app is, because I find that the settings tell me a lot about the philosophy of the app and also actually, about any commitment that might be expressed to accessibility.

Well, I’ve got to tell you, the settings in Mona are a joy for people who like configurability and we’re going to spend a lot of time on them. We’ll go to the settings tab.

VoiceOver: Settings tab 14 of 14.

Jonathan: Which by default is at the bottom of the screen, and I’ll double tap. Now I’ll go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Jonathan Mosen button.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: Settings, heading. Compose button. Settings. Accessibility button.

Jonathan: And right at the top, the very first setting option pertains to accessibility. It is absolutely impressive what is in here. Let’s take a look.

VoiceOver: Accessibility, heading. accessibility, VoiceOver, heading.

Jonathan: Let’s get right into it. The VoiceOver heading is the first one.

VoiceOver: Filter out emoji characters from usernames. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I enable this with thanks. I’m sure many of us will have seen on social media usernames that are stacked with emoji characters, which means it takes a screen reader user a long time to actually get past the username and onto the content. If you switch this on, then it will filter emoji characters from usernames when voiceover is speaking.

VoiceOver: Duplicate link preview title, switch button on.

Jonathan: When you see a link in Mona, you will often hear the title of that link, which is a very nice feature because it means that right from within your timeline, you’re able to find out a bit about what the link does. But if somebody posts on Mastodon with the title of the link as the entire text of their post, then you may hear the link twice. If you switch this on, it seeks to avoid that.

VoiceOver: Prioritize reading of post date. Switch button off.

Jonathan: The time that something was posted is of secondary importance to me compared with the content. So I don’t want to prioritize the post date, but I realize that’s a subjective thing.

VoiceOver: Hide compose. Switch button off.

Jonathan: I’m going to switch this on because I don’t really see the need for the compose button to clutter up space on the screen and be one more element for me to flick through, when I know that I can perform a magic tap to get into the compose window.

VoiceOver: on.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: You can always open the post composer with VoiceOver magic tap gesture or keyboard shortcut command N.

Jonathan: Exactly, and we’ll talk about keyboard shortcuts a little bit later.

VoiceOver: Swipe options button.

Jonathan: It’s common for apps like this to have swipe options so that sighted people can easily get to functions that they use a lot. We have something like this through the actions router. So sometimes, the swipe options that are available to sighted people are not made accessible to VoiceOver users.

In this case, they have been. So we have the best of both worlds.

Let’s talk about where this is helpful. I’m going to double tap.

VoiceOver: Swipe left, none button.

Jonathan: The first option determines what happens if you perform a swipe left. Now, in the case of voiceover, this means performing a three finger flick left. Let’s have a look at what options exist for this.

VoiceOver: Swipe left primary. View media button. View links button. Reply button. Reblog button. Favorite button. Add bookmarkbutton. Translate button. Select text button. Open in browser button. Copy button. Share button. Mute button. View reblogs button. View favorites button. Report Button. Pin on profile button. Edit post button. Delete post button. View author button. View quoted post button. Open a new window button. Customize actions button. More button. Selected. None button.

Jonathan: None is the default.

I want to set a 3-finger swipe left so that whenever I do it, I get the links options. Remember that this is more than about links that go to the internet. It’s about links pertaining to the posts such as any users that are mentioned, any media that might be there. It’s a very handy feature, and I use it all the time. So I’ll go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Swipe left primary. View media button. View links button.

Jonathan: And set it to view links. I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Swipe options. Swipe left. View links button.

Jonathan: Now, I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Swipe right. None button.

Jonathan: And I set my swipe right, (that’s a 3-finger flick to the right), to reply, because I want to be able to reply easily to posts.

So I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Swipe right primary. View media. View links. Reply button. Swipe options. Swipe right. Reply button.

Jonathan: And that’s all set up.

You also have these options on the actions rotor, but you can delete them from the actions rotor, so that the actions rotor is less cluttered. And we’ll cover how to do that and to change the order of the actions rotor in just a moment.

VoiceOver: Perform a post action via three finger swipe gesture when using voiceover.

Jonathan: So there’s a handy hint there that explains how to use this feature.

And I’m going to go to the top of the screen.

VoiceOver: Accessibility. Back button.

Jonathan: And go back.

VoiceOver: Accessibility. Swipe options button. Perform a post action via 3-finger swipe gesture when using voiceover.

Social keyboard. Switch button on.

Jonathan: The social keyboard ensures that useful symbols like the @ sign are readily available without you having to go into another part of the keyboard.

VoiceOver: Show send button on top bar. Switch button On.

Jonathan: This was actually quite a lively discussion during the Mona Beta phase. Some people like the send button at the top. Other people like to have it where it is in iMessage, right above the P key. I am one of those people. I like the consistency of that.

So I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Off.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: Send message with return key. Switch button Off.

Jonathan: And an example of the extent to which the developer has really listened to VoiceOver users is if I flick right, you’ll get this very handy hint.

VoiceOver: This also enables you to send message via three finger swipe up gesture when using braille screen input.

Jonathan: That is amazing stuff.

I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Separate reblog and quote post actions. Switch button off.

Jonathan: I will enable this.

VoiceOver: On.

Jonathan: And what this means now is that on the actions roter, there is a separate item for reblog, and another one for quote. Otherwise, if you choose reblog, you’ll be asked every time whether you want to quote the post or not.

VoiceOver: Tap the reblog button to reblog or undo reblog right away instead of opening reblog menu.

VoiceOver: Hide quote post action. Switch button off.

Jonathan: And mindful that it is controversial. You can hide the quote post button if you want to. I am going to do that.

VoiceOver: On.

Auto play emoji animation Switch button off. Auto-play profile photo animation Switch button Off.

Jonathan: That’s all that’s on this screen, so we’ll go back.

VoiceOver: Settings. Accessibility button.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: General Button.

Jonathan: Great to see that accessibility settings are right at the top even before general. Let’s have a quick look at this.

VoiceOver: User display name. Name button. Text size. 100%. Button.

Jonathan: If you’re low vision, you may want to have a look at the text size options and see what suits you.

VoiceOver: Text spacing. Relaxed button. User display name. Name button.

Jonathan: You can display the name, the username, or both.

VoiceOver: Profile photo shape. Rounded square. Button. Profile photo size. Medium. Button. Profile photo position. Alongside. Button. Time format. Relative button.

Jonathan: This is something that some people may wish to change. If you want to know the exact time that something was posted rather than the relative time, you can change that here.

VoiceOver: Post display style. Default button.

Jonathan: I don’t believe that this has any impact on VoiceOver users, but it does have a visual impact to change this view.

VoiceOver: Thumbnails. Small. Button. Reblog end quote post appearance button. Badges button.

Jonathan: If you go in here, you can enable a badge that tells you when you’re viewing a protected account and when you’re viewing an account that has self-identified as a bot.

VoiceOver: Fonts, Heading. San Francisco semi-bold button.

Jonathan: This is great for accessibility for low vision users. You can change all sorts of font details here.

VoiceOver: Body text. San Francisco button. Display, Heading.

Jonathan: Let’s take a look at display settings briefly.

VoiceOver: Reading progress. Switch button Off. Number of posts. Dimmed. Switch button off. Post source labels. Switch button off.

Jonathan: You may want to enable post source labels. A caveat about this, post source labels do not transfer between instances. So if I’m on Tweesecake.Social and you are too, and I am reading a post from you, if I switch post source labels on, I will see the name of the client that you posted from. But if you post from another instance, then I won’t see that.

I’m going to enable this though, because I like to know what people are using when it’s available to me.

VoiceOver: On.

Content warnings. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I’m going to turn this off. That’s just a personal preference.

VoiceOver: Off.

Sensitive content. Switch button off.

Show threads on timeline. Switch button off.

Jonathan: If you want to, you can see an entire thread on a timeline. I find that makes Mona very busy. What I like to see is the posts from people I’m following on my timeline. And if I want to drill down, I always have the option to do that. But you can try the setting if you like and see if it works for you.

VoiceOver: Reply bar. Switch button. On.

Jonathan: And that’s the very busy general settings. We’ll go out of this,

VoiceOver: Settings. General.

Jonathan: And move to the next item.

VoiceOver: Post actions button.

Jonathan: This is a highly configurable way to determine exactly what the actions rotor will do. So we’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Drag actions into the order you prefer. Heading.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: View media. Switch button. On. Actions available. Reorder view media button. View links. Switch button on.

Jonathan: You’ll remember that I made a decision that because view links is something I use a lot, I’ve assigned it to a 3-finger flick left. So it’s really easy for me to get to. It would be duplication for me to have it on the actions rotor as well. So I’m going to deselect it from the actions rotor.

VoiceOver: Off.

Jonathan: Now, it’s not going to appear there.

I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Reorder view links button.

Reply. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I also assigned reply to a three finger flick right. So I don’t need it on the actions rotor. I will double tap it to switch it off, …

VoiceOver: Off.

Jonathan: And flick right.

VoiceOver: Reorder reply Button. Reblog. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I’ll leave that.

VoiceOver: Reorder reblog button. Favorite. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I favorite a lot, and I want to be able to favorite easily. So I’m going to flick right.

Reorder favorite Button. Dragable. Actions available.

Jonathan: And I’m going to drag this to the top of the list. So I’ll double tap and hold towards the bottom of the screen. And now start moving up.

VoiceOver: Moved above reblog. Moved above view links. Moved above view media.

Jonathan: There we go. It’s at the top now. Let’s just verify that.

VoiceOver: Settings. Post actions. Drag actions into the order you prefer. Favorite. Switch button on.

Jonathan: That’s excellent. So it’s now going to be the first item on the actions rotor because quite often, I read something and I think, “I just want to show someone that I appreciate this.” And I can just flick down to favorite, double tap, and it’s done.

Let’s continue to look at what else is here. I’ll quickly skim past what we’ve seen.

VoiceOver: Add bookmark. Switch button on. Reorder add bookmark. Translate. Switch button on. Reorder translate. Select text switch button on. Open in browser. Switch button on. Copy. Switch button on. Reorder copy. Share. Switchbutton on. Mute. switch button on. View reblogs. Switch button on. View favorites. Switch button on. Reorder view favorites. Report. Switch button on. Reorder report. Pin on profile. Switch button on.

Jonathan: Some of these items won’t come up unless they’re relevant. For example, you wouldn’t see pin on profile unless you were viewing something of your own.

VoiceOver: Edit post. Switch button on.

Jonathan: Likewise with edit post.

VoiceOver: Reorder edit post. Delete post. Switch button on. View author. Switch button on. Reorder view author. View quoted post. Switch button on. Reorder View quoted post. Open in new window. Switch button on. Reorder Open in new window. Customize actions. Switch button on. Reorder. Post actions, heading. Number of actions: 8.

Jonathan: And if you’re keeping up, this is the answer to a question you may have had by now, which is that there are so many of these actions enabled. Why weren’t we seeing them all before when I was showing you the actions rotor? And the answer is that you only get the first, whatever this number is set to, showing in the actions rotor. We can increase it. So I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: Decrement button. Increment button.

Jonathan: Let’s see how far we can go.

VoiceOver: Increment.

Jonathan: So now we’re up to nine.

VoiceOver: Increment. Number of actions: 10. Decrement. Increment.

Jonathan: It does seem to change focus away.

VoiceOver: Increment. Swipe options button.

Jonathan: Yeah, it is changing focus every time I hit that increment button. So it’s a little bit fiddly, but I’m going to pause the recording and just see how high we can make this go.

It’s very high, actually. So I’ve stopped at about 25. And when we go back out, you’ll see a very busy actions rotor. So you’ve got to make sure that you don’t overload yourself because if the actions rotor becomes too cluttered, it’s just too time consuming.

VoiceOver: Post action buttons. Switch button on. Post statistics. Switch button on. Show number of replies, reblogs, and favorites alongside action buttons.

Jonathan: I like this. I like being able to hear how many people have reblogged or favorited a particular post, not just of mine, but other posts that I’m reading.

VoiceOver: Favorite confirmation. Switch button off. Avoid accidentally favoriting a post. If turned on, you can also choose to favorite a post with a different account.

Jonathan: I have this switched off because when I favorite, I just want it to be very quick. And that’s why I have favoriting at the top of my actions rotor.

Also, as the hint says, when you have confirmation switched on, you can choose to favorite from a different account. And when you have multiple accounts set up, this happens sometimes with certain functions. For example, when you choose follow, you can choose the account that you wish to follow from.

VoiceOver: Swipe options button.

Jonathan: This is another way to get into the smart options that we’ve already configured.

Now I’m going to back out of settings and just have a look at the effect of all of this. Let’s go to the home tab.

VoiceOver: Home. New content. Chris Nolson at Legal Social. Reblog. Molly Quell. I am incandescent with rage at being forced to do this much math on a Friday morning. But…

Jonathan: Oh dear. Now, if I flick down, …

VoiceOver: Favorite.

Jonathan: Favorite’s right at the top, just like we wanted.

VoiceOver: View media. Reblog. Add bookmark. Translate. Select text. Open in browser. Copy. Share. Mute. View reblogs. View favorites. Report. View author. View original post. Open a new window. Customize actions. Activate.

Jonathan: And now, we’re back at the top because those are all the actions available. Now that’s quite busy and you will want to learn, I think, about which actions are useful to have on this actions rotor.

Of course, if I do a 3-finger flick right, …

VoiceOver: Reply. Jonathan Mosen.

Jonathan: I’ve got that set up, and I’m just replying right there. Let’s get out of that, though.

VoiceOver: Double tap to dismiss Pop up window button.

Jonathan: And if I perform a 3-finger flick left…

VoiceOver: View links. Reblog post button. @ChrisNelson@Legal.Social. Button. Molly Quell button.

Jonathan: I can look at all the links there. It’s a very cool system.

Let’s go to settings.

VoiceOver: Selected. Settings.

Jonathan: And the next thing I want to show you is how to configure the tab bar.

VoiceOver: Tab bar button.

Jonathan: This is a very similar user interface to the actions that we’ve already seen. You will see each tab item in the tab bar. You can determine whether it’s selected or not. In other words, whether it appears on the tab bar or not and the order in which they appear. So I won’t go through this step by step because we’ve already seen this user interface in another context.

It’s important to note, though, that you can put all sorts of things on the tab bar. If you use a hashtag, for example, you can put that on the tab bar. On my default production installation of Mona, I have the mushroomFM hashtag on the tab bar so that I can quickly look at it at any time to see if people are posting with the mushroomFM hashtag.

If there’s a list that you view regularly, you can add that to the tab bar. And if there’s an individual that you really want to keep up with, you can put that on the tab bar. It is very flexible. All the things that you can do with the tab bar and these things are contextual. So if you bring up a hashtag or you bring up a user, for example, their profile and you look at the actions there, there’s normally an option to add the user or the hashtag or whatever it might be to the tab bar.

You can also add specific communities to the tab bar. So as well as having that general communities tab, if you add a community, say, like which I like to keep up with. I have that on my default tab bar as well. So I can just double tap and check in on ,any time I want.

Next in settings, …

VoiceOver: Accent color button.

Jonathan: you have accent color. You may wish to look at this if you’re low vision.

VoiceOver: Appearances and themes button.

Jonathan: Similarly with appearances and themes. These seem to have no impact on VoiceOver.

VoiceOver: Videos and animated images button.

Jonathan: One of the cool things about Mona is that there’s a speed control in this thing. So if you want to speed up your video or your audio playback, you can do that. You can even set a default speed if you want. If you’re always someone who likes to speed something up, you can go in here and change the default speed.

VoiceOver: Full screen mode button.

Jonathan: This is full screen mode. You can go in here and configure this if you wish.

VoiceOver: iCloud sync button.

Jonathan: If you have multiple devices, you’ll be grateful for iCloud sync. Let’s have a look at what this does.

VoiceOver: iCloud sync, operating normally dimmed button.

Jonathan: You get a status report there in case you think there might be any issue.

VoiceOver: Drafts dimmed switch button on. iCloud drafts sync is managed by Apple software, which can’t be turned off separately. Search history switch button on.

Jonathan: If you want your history to sync across devices, then leave this on.

VoiceOver: User notes. Switch button on. Muted items. Switch button on.

Jonathan: It’s very handy to have the mute items sync across devices.

VoiceOver: Accent colors. Switch button on. Custom themes. Switch button on. If turned off, content saved on this device will no longer be uploaded to iCloud. New content found on iCloud is always downloaded. Reading position. Switch button on.

Jonathan: This is so handy. Mona does a brilliant job of retaining your reading position in different accounts and different tabs. So if you have, for example, an iPhone, an iPad, and a Mac or any combination, your reading position is in sync.

VoiceOver: Recent upload: 29/4/2023 at [7:26:15] AM. recent download: 29/4/2023 at [6:31:56] AM.

Jonathan: So some useful status info and debugging info there.

VoiceOver: Settings backup. Switch button on. Backup files are located in the Mona for mastodon folder of iCloud drive.

Jonathan: Always handy to be able to back up your settings. Let’s back out of this.

VoiceOver: Settings. iCloud sync button. Refresh button.

Jonathan: This governs Mona’s refresh behavior and the default should be fine. But what you want to ensure is that when new posts come in, your existing position is retained. That is the default behavior. That is great. And so just make sure that somehow that hasn’t been switched off.

VoiceOver: Link preview button.

Jonathan: I’ve discussed link preview as we’ve moved through this tutorial. This is the little bit of information you get from a website without actually having to activate the link to find out what it does. It’s very handy.

But if you want to disable this entirely, or disable it for particular kinds of views, then you can go in here and configure exactly whether and when link preview happens.

VoiceOver: Web browser. Mona in-app Safari view button.

Jonathan: I prefer it when Safari loads a web page. That’s just a personal preference thing for me. So I’m going to go in and change this.

VoiceOver: Web browser. Open links in. Heading. Safari, or the default browser app you selected in the settings app.

Jonathan: I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Selected.

Jonathan: And now, we’ll back out of this.

This just means that I can use the app switcher or the appropriate gesture to look at something that I’ve recently viewed.

I’ll flick right. VoiceOver: Translate. English button.

Jonathan: This governs the translation feature of Mona. It’s set to English by default. You can go in here and change that if you wish. And other aspects of the translation feature.

VoiceOver: App icon button.

Jonathan: You can also change the app icon.

VoiceOver: Game controller button.

Jonathan: This could have accessibility benefits as well, actually. If you have a game controller that is connected to your device, you can configure it in here to perform Mona functions.

I’ll flick right.

VoiceOver: advanced settings button.

Jonathan: We want to geek out and talk about a couple of things in advanced settings. So I’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Export settings button.

Jonathan: You can export your settings and have them in a file somewhere, if you’d like to do that.

VoiceOver: Exported settings file doesn’t contain mute list and user notes.

Import settings button.

Jonathan: And you can obviously then import what you’ve previously exported.

VoiceOver: Imported settings file will overwrite your current settings, including custom tabs and colors.

VoiceOver: Autosave searches. Switch button off.

Jonathan: So if you want to enable the autosaving of searches, switch this on.

VoiceOver: Notch label. Switch button on.

Jonathan: I’m not clear what notch label is, but it’s on. So I’ll leave it on.

VoiceOver: Translate button. Invert threads on timeline. Switch button off.

Jonathan: This may be something that you’re interested in. Place newer posts before earlier posts in a post thread. This might be helpful if you browse timeline in inverse order from earlier posts to newer posts.

So if you do like me and browse from earlier posts to newer posts and you have the threads on in the timeline, you may want to switch this on.

VoiceOver: Reset all settings button.

Jonathan: And there’s a big magic button here to reset all your settings to default if you just want things to get back to the way they were when you installed the app. We’ll back out.

VoiceOver: Settings. Advanced settings button. System settings button.

Jonathan: These are the settings that you will find if you go into the settings app of your device and choose Mona from there.

VoiceOver: Mona shortcuts button.

Jonathan: It’s not surprising, given what a comprehensive configurable app this is, that Mona does have support for shortcuts. If you go in here without having configured anything, then you will just simply be taken to the shortcuts app and you will have seen that there are various parts of the app where you’re invited to add something to Siri and that effectively creates a shortcut. Let’s flick right now, though.

VoiceOver: Accounts button.

Jonathan: This is another way to configure accounts. We’ve seen that screen before.

VoiceOver: Push notifications button.

Jonathan: We definitely want to talk about push notifications. They can be overwhelming, but they can also be very useful and Mona gives you plenty of flexibility. If there’s one criticism I have of the push notifications right now, it’s that you can’t customize the sound.

I’d like to be able to do 2 things. First, have a push notification sound that is unique to Mona. But second, beyond that, I want to be able to have a push notification sound that’s unique to each Mastodon account.

There is a very good app called Toot with an exclamation mark at the end for Mastodon. That’s also a paid app that does this really well. And it’s kind of a pity that with so much customization visually (and with VoiceOver, for that matter), the auditory sounds have been missed and you just get the default iOS notification sound.

But let’s go in.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully podcast. @podcast button.

Jonathan: So first of all, you have to choose which account you’re talking about. So we’ll have a look at the Living Blindfully account. The push notifications are specific to each account because you may not want all push notifications on for each account that you have.

VoiceOver: Cancel button. Loading. Allow notifications from anyone button.

Jonathan: What are our choices here? We’ll double tap.

VoiceOver: Allow notifications from. Selected anyone button. People you follow button. Your followers button. Yourself button. Dismiss context menu button.

Jonathan: A few options there, but I’ll leave it at anyone.

VoiceOver: Mentions and replies. Switch button off.

Jonathan: Keep in mind that this is not my default device that I’m demonstrating this to you on, but on my default device for the Living Blindfully account. I definitely have mentions and replies on. So I get that the moment that they are made and I can tell you it is nice and quick. Very immediate.

VoiceOver: Reblogs switch button off.

Jonathan: On Twitter, I used to have retweet notifications enabled on Mastodon. I’ve turned it off because everybody’s just so engaged and so active. I wasn’t getting any peace. So you may want to think about whether you want reblogs and favorites for that matter on or not. You can switch them on and see how it goes. And if you find them too overwhelming, you can come and change the settings anytime.

VoiceOver: Favorites. Switch button off. New followers. switch button off.

Jonathan: I like knowing when somebody new follows me because I may want to follow them back.

VoiceOver: Follower requests. Switch button off.

Jonathan: If you choose to require follower requests, you probably want this on.

VoiceOver: Polls. Switch button off.

Jonathan: You’ll get notifications about polls. And I think this pertains to polls that you’ve participated in and polls that you are running.

VoiceOver: New posts. Switch button off.

Jonathan: If you’ve elected to receive notifications from people and we saw how you could do that from someone’s profile before, you will also need to have this new posts option enabled to get the notifications.

VoiceOver: Post edits. Switch button off.

Jonathan: If someone’s edited a post, you can get a notification to that effect.

And that’s what you can do with notifications. So it can be distracting. It can be overwhelming. So you may want to be judicious about what push notifications you enable.

We’ll go back.

VoiceOver: Living Blindfully podcast. @podcast button.

Jonathan: Now we can configure the other account if we want to as well.

VoiceOver: Jonathan Mosen @JonathanMosen.

Jonathan: So we’ll go back one more level.

VoiceOver: Push notifications button. User notes button.

Jonathan: And here, we can go in and configure and review any user notes that we’ve made along the way pertaining to people’s profiles.

VoiceOver: Mute items button.

Jonathan: If you don’t want mute items cluttering up the tab bar, you can go into settings at any time and look at mute items there. If you’ve accidentally muted someone or you’ve had second thoughts, maybe you’ve muted someone or a hashtag and you think, yeah, I’m actually ready to have a look at it again. You can undo what you’ve done here by going into the mute items option.

The remaining 2 items and settings are for the app store. So if you double tap that button, you will find everything by the developer on the app store. And there’s also an about button.

And that is the very comprehensive settings screen in Mona.

Mona’s Keyboard Shortcuts

Before we close, I do want to talk about keyboard shortcuts. If you have a Bluetooth keyboard connected to your iPhone or your iPad, and I presume similar keyboard shortcuts work on Mac, you do have a lot to play with.

If you press command with the numbers on your number row, you will get the different tabs in order that you’ve set them. For example, my home tab is the first one on my tab bar. So command 1 takes me to my home tab. Command 2 will take me to notifications because that’s the second tab on my tab bar. And this goes all the way through to command 0, which is the 10th item on my tab bar.

If you press command with the letter N for you, it does what you would expect and it will bring up the ability to post something new.

If you press the letter R on its own, you can reply to the current post that has focus. If you want to reblog something, you press the letter T.

To favorite something, press the letter L. You might like to think of it as liking something, which is really what a favorite is. So that’s the letter L.

To bookmark a post so that you can refer to it later, you can press the letter B.

If you want to view links, Press command L. This is that powerful option that gives you all of these features, not just going to a link on the Internet, but also Mastodon-related links. So command L to do that.

To view the author of a post, press the letter U. You might like to think of that as the user who sent the post.

To view the original of a post that has been quoted or reblogged, You can press the letter Q.

To view media, press the letter M.

And if you want to bring up the mute options for a particular user, or maybe you want to mute a hashtag that the user is using, you can push shift command and M for mute.

To open something in the browser, you can press shift command and O.

And to copy the text of the post to the clipboard, just press the letter C.

If you want to share a link to a post using the iOS share sheet, press command S.


Those are the highlights, believe it or not. There are some things you can still discover about Mona.

But I think what’s clear is that the release of this app is a significant breakthrough in terms of quality and functionality for Mastodon.

It’s wonderful that it’s been put together by a developer who’s so conscientious about making it accessible.

Hope to see you on Mastodon if you’re not there already. And I strongly encourage giving this developer your support. The effort that he has put into accessibility is absolutely exemplary.

You can find Mona, M-O-N-A, in the App Store starting on the 1st of May.


Advertisement: Transcripts of Living Blindfully are brought to you by Pneuma Solutions, a global leader in accessible cloud technologies. On the web at: That’s P-N-E-U-M-A solutions dot com.

Closing and Contact Info

now after that marathon effort, I hope you found it helpful. We’ll see you next week at the usual time.

And remember that when you’re out there working your guide dog, you’ve harnessed success. And with your cane, you’re able.

[music] Voiceover: If you’ve enjoyed this episode of Living Blindfully, please tell your friends and give us a 5 star review. That helps a lot.

If you’d like to submit a comment for possible inclusion in future episodes, be in touch via email,. Write it down, or send an audio attachment: Or phone us. The number in the United States is 864-60-Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.