Chapter 2: Narrator basics

Applies to: Windows 10

This chapter explains Narrator keyboard navigation. This includes how to get around the screen, find and open apps, and change what Narrator reads. It also explains the basic details of adjusting Narrator speech rate, volume, and how to stop speech.

Scan mode gives you even more navigation options. We’ll cover that in Chapter 3: Using scan mode.

Learn Narrator with QuickStart

QuickStart is a tutorial that'll guide you through the basics of using Narrator. It shows you how to do things like navigate headings and landmarks, and there's even a sample webpage to help you get comfortable with using Narrator online. Get to QuickStart anytime from Narrator Home, which launches by default when you turn on Narrator.

Tab, arrow, and Enter keys

In Windows, use the Tab or arrow keys to move around apps and webpages. When you get to something you want to use, like a link, press Enter. You can also use the Tab, arrow, and Enter keys to move between and interact with things like check boxes and buttons.

Narrator key

You can choose what modifier key you want to use 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. The Narrator key is referred to as simply “Narrator” in commands. You can change your Narrator key in Narrator settings.

Note: If you’re using a Japanese 106 keyboard, Insert and NonConvert are your default Narrator keys.

Explore your keyboard

Input learning tells you what keys you’re pressing on your keyboard, and the Narrator command associated with them. Turn input learning on or off by pressing Narrator + 1 (the number 1 key).

Stop Narrator from reading

To stop Narrator from reading at any time, press the Ctrl key.

Make Narrator speak louder or faster

To change Narrator volume, press:

  • Narrator + Ctrl + Plus sign (+) or Narrator + Ctrl + Add (numeric keypad) to increase volume

  • Narrator + Ctrl + Minus sign (-) or Narrator + Ctrl + Subtract (numeric keypad) to decrease volume

To change the rate at which Narrator speaks, press:

  • Narrator + Plus sign (+) or Narrator + Minus sign (-).

Note: The commands that include plus (+) and minus (-) refer to the physical key and don’t require Shift as a modifier. Unless explicitly called out, it isn’t necessary to include Shift before the equal key to make it the plus sign as you would when typing the plus sign. Using the Narrator volume command above as an example, Narrator + Ctrl + equal (=) is the literal command, not Narrator + Ctrl + Shift + equal (=).

Windows keyboard shortcuts

Windows and Windows apps have keyboard shortcuts that you can use alongside Narrator commands. For example, press the Windows logo key  to open the Start menu, or, to open action center, press the Windows logo key  + A.

For a list of the keyboard shortcuts you can use in Windows, refer to Keyboard shortcuts in Windows. For a list of keyboard shortcuts in Windows apps, refer to Keyboard shortcuts in apps. For a list of keyboard shortcuts in other Windows assistive technologies, refer to Windows keyboard shortcuts for accessibility.

Get around apps and webpages

Find and open apps

To quickly find an app in Windows 10, press the Windows logo key  on your keyboard to open the Start menu and place focus in the search box. Then, type the name of the app that you’re looking for, use the arrow keys to select it in the list of search results, and press the Enter key to open it.

Switch between apps

To switch between open apps on your PC, hold down the Alt key and then press the Tab key. Narrator will speak the name of open apps as you cycle through them. When you find the app that you want to use, release both keys.

Anytime you want to know which app or Window has focus, press Narrator + T to read the title of the window that has focus. To read the title and contents of the window that has focus, press Narrator + W

Find out the time, day of the week, and date

To find out the time, day of the week, and date at any time, press Narrator + F12.

Let Narrator grab info from the web

When connected to the internet, Narrator can give you more context for images, links, and webpages by sending them to Microsoft.

Note: To turn off these services, go to Manage your data and services in Narrator settings.

Hyperlinks

If you would like to know where a hyperlink will take you, press Narrator + Ctrl + D and Narrator can tell you the page title where the link will take you to. This works well in web and mail applications.

Image descriptions

If you come across an image you’d like described, press Narrator + Ctrl + D. Narrator will send the image to Microsoft, and then read a description of the image.

Webpage summary

Hear a webpage summary that includes the number of links, landmarks, and headings by pressing Narrator + S.

Popular links and full webpage summary

Press Narrator + S twice quickly to pull up a dialog box on the screen with the following info : the number of links, landmarks, and headings on a page, and a list of popular links for a page (popular links are the links on the page that get the most clicks).

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Next: Chapter 3: Using scan mode

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