This chapter outlines how to customize Narrator so it works best for you, including changing how Narrator starts, how much feedback you hear when typing, whether the audio from other apps is decreased when Narrator is running, and changing Narrator commands to keyboard shortcuts of your choice. This chapter also provides details about how to use third-party text-to-speech (TTS) software to add more voices to Narrator.
You can find most of these options in your Narrator settings by pressing Windows logo key + Ctrl + N. Some options are in legacy settings, which can be found by pressing Alt + Tab after Narrator launches and selecting the Narrator settings window.
General settings (Use Narrator)
- Turn on the shortcut to launch Narrator. Start and stop Narrator using the Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter on a keyboard, or the Windows button + Volume up button on a touch device.
Choose when to start Narrator
- Start Narrator after sign-in. Narrator will start automatically when you sign in to your PC.
- Start Narrator before sign-in for everyone. Narrator will run on your PC before anyone signs in.
Select the Use current settings before sign-in button if you want anyone who uses your PC to use your Narrator settings. This is recommended if you use a serial braille display.
Personalize Narrator's voice
- Choose a voice. Choose from different available Narrator voices in your language. Narrator voices average a maximum of approximately 400 words per minute. However, the English voices Microsoft David, Microsoft Zira, and Microsoft Mark offer a rate of approximately 800 words per minute.
- Learn how to add more 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. Third-party providers include Harpo Software, CereProc, NextUp, Eloquence, and Vocalizer Expressive. Learn more about adding voices in Appendix A: Supported languages and voices.
The options above are provided for informational purposes only. Microsoft does not endorse any particular third-party software, nor can it offer any support for their installation and use. For help with any of these products, please contact the original manufacturer.
- Speed. Control the speed at which Narrator speaks.
- Pitch. Adjust the pitch of Narrator voice.
- Volume. Adjust the volume at which Narrator speaks.
- Select Narrator audio output device. Narrator lets you choose your default audio device.
- Emphasize formatted text. Narrator’s voice will put more emphasis on formatted text.
- Turn on intonation pauses. Intonation pauses are punctuation pauses that make speech sound more natural. This is only available for some voices.
- Lower the volume of other apps. The audio volume from other apps is lowered so you can hear Narrator better.
Change how much content you hear
- Hear characters as you type. Characters are announced immediately after you type them. This setting can also be toggled by pressing Narrator + 2.
- Hear words you type. Typed words are announced immediately after you type them.
- Read out Narrator errors. Narrator announces errors such as “no next landmark” or “no next item.”
- Hear audio cues. Narrator plays a sound when you do things like perform a Narrator command or when suggestions are available.
- Hear interaction hints. Narrator announces how to interact with controls like buttons.
- Change the level of detail Narrator provides about text. Options include: Text only, Headers and errors, Basic formatting, Other annotations, Extended formatting, Layout and animation info
- Change the level of context Narrator provides for buttons and other controls. Options include: No context, Sounds only, Immediate context, Immediate context name and type, Full context of new control, and Full context of old and new controls.
- Adjust order of context reading for buttons and other controls. Choose if you want Narrator to read context either before or after the current item. You can also use the following keyboard shortcuts:
- To hear the current context at any time, press Narrator + forward slash (/).
- To change the level of context that’s read, press Narrator + Alt + forward slash (/).
- To change whether context is read before or after the current item, press Narrator + Ctrl + forward slash (/).
Choose keyboard settings
- Select keyboard layout. Narrator’s Standard layout is more like the keyboard layouts you may have experienced in other screen readers. If you want to use Narrator’s original keyboard layout, choose the Legacy keyboard. Learn the commands for each keyboard in Appendix B: Narrator keyboard layouts and touch gestures.
- Select Narrator modifier key. You can choose if you want to use Caps lock, Insert, or both keys in Narrator commands. Both the Caps lock and Insert keys serve as your Narrator key by default. You can use either of these keys in any command that uses the Narrator key.
If you’re using Narrator in Japanese with a non-Japanese device, the Caps lock and Insert keys are your default Narrator keys. If you’re using Narrator in Japanese with a Japanese device, NonConvert and Insert are your default Narrator keys.
- Lock the Narrator key. You don’t have to press the Narrator key (Caps lock or Insert) to enter a command. For example, to read the next word, press L instead of Narrator + L. You can also lock the Narrator key by pressing Narrator + Z.
- 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.
Customize a Narrator keyboard shortcut
Customize Narrator keyboard shortcuts to allow for improved control and usability:
- Choose the command to customize.
- Select Change command keyboard shortcut.
- 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. To find this setting, press Alt + Tab after Narrator launches, select the Narrator Settings window, and choose Commands.
Use Narrator cursor
- Show the Narrator cursor on the screen. The Narrator cursor is highlighted with a blue focus box.
- Have 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.
- Narrator cursor follows keyboard focus. When this is turned on, the Narrator cursor and the system cursor will be synchronized when possible.
- Read and interact with the screen using the mouse. When this is turned on, Narrator reads what is under the mouse cursor. Use the numeric keypad to move the mouse.
- 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. To find this setting, press Alt + Tab after Narrator launches, select the Narrator Settings window, and choose Navigation.
Use braille (preview)
To use a braille display with Narrator, select the Download and install braille button. Go to Appendix C: Supported braille displays for more info.
Help make Narrator better
Turn on the toggle to send diagnostic and performance data as you use Narrator. To give feedback on Narrator, press Narrator + Alt + F.
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