Chapter 6: Customizing Narrator

This chapter outlines how to customize Narrator to best fit your needs, including changing how Narrator starts, how much feedback you hear when typing, whether the audio from other apps is lowered when Narrator is running, and changing Narrator commands to keyboard shortcuts of your choice. The chapter also provides details on using third-party text-to-speech (TTS) software to add more voices to Narrator.

Most options are located in Narrator settings. To find them, open Narrator settings on the taskbar when Narrator is turned on.

Settings are separated into four categories: general settings, navigation settings, voice settings, and command settings.

General settings

  • Turn on the shortcut to launch Narrator. Start and stop Narrator using the Windows logo key + Enter on a keyboard, or the Windows button + Volume up button on a touch device.
  • Lock the Narrator key (Caps lock). You don’t have to press the Narrator key (Caps lock) to enter a command. For example, to move to the next link, press L instead of Caps lock + L.
  • Hear characters as you type. Characters are announced immediately after you type them. This can also be turned on by pressing Caps lock + F12.
  • Hear words you type. Typed words are announced immediately after you type them.
  • Read out voiced Narrator errors. Narrator announces errors such as “no next landmark” or “no next item.”
  • Highlight cursor. The cursor is highlighted with a blue focus box.
  • Play audio cues. Narrator plays a sound when you do things like switch windows, open the Start menu, or move forward or backward to different items.
  • Read UI hints. Narrator announces how to interact with items.
  • Lower the volume of other apps. The audio volume from other apps is lowered so that you can hear Narrator.
  • Retain notifications. Notifications can be retained from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.

Navigation settings

  • Read and interact with the screen using the mouse. When this is turned on, Narrator reads what is under the mouse cursor. Use Numeric keypad to move the mouse.
  • Activate keys on the touch keyboard when you lift your finger. Characters are entered as soon as you lift your finger off the touch keyboard.
  • Narrator cursor follows keyboard focus. When this is turned on, Narrator will follow keyboard focus when you use the Tab, cursor, or other keys for navigation.
  • Enable the text insertion point to follow the Narrator cursor. When this is turned on, Narrator will move the text insertion point when navigating by views such as characters and words.
  • Select the Narrator cursor movement mode. Two modes are available: normal and advanced. Normal mode allows Narrator to move between various items such as links, tables, and other elements. Advanced mode lets you use the four arrow keys to move the Narrator cursor through a programmatic representation of an application.

Voice settings

  • Speed. Control the speed at which Narrator speaks.
  • Volume. Adjust the volume at which Narrator speaks.
  • Pitch. Adjust the pitch of Narrator voice.
  • Select a different voice. Choose from different available Narrator voices in your language.

Faster voices

Narrator voices average a maximum or approximately 400 words per minute. However, the following voices offer a rate of approximately 800 words per minute:

  • Microsoft David Mobile
  • Microsoft Zira Mobile
  • Microsoft Mark Mobile

Additional voices

Narrator can be used with SAPI 5-based speech synthesizers. Once installed, voices will appear in the list of voices for you to choose.

Here are some available options from third-party providers:

Command settings

Customize Narrator keyboard shortcuts to allow for improved control and usability:

Customize a Narrator keyboard shortcut

  1. Choose the command to customize.
  2. Select Change command keyboard shortcut.
  3. In the Type a keyboard shortcut window, type the keyboard shortcut you want to use on your keyboard. Use any combination of modifier keys (Control, Shift, Alt, Caps lock, or the Windows logo key) together with a non-modifier key. Use function and numeric keypad keys without any modifiers.

Select Restore default to return all commands back to their default settings.

Next: Appendix A: Supported languages in Narrator

Go back to the Table of Contents


Article ID: 22818 - Last Review: Aug 31, 2016 - Revision: 19