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.

Basic keyboard navigation in Windows

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.

Function keys

Some keyboards also have function keys located above the number keys at the top of the keyboard. Function keys, like F1, can be used for navigation in some apps.

On certain keyboards, some function keys are programmed to do hardware-related actions, such as adjusting volume. If your keyboard has an Fn (function) key, you must press the Fn key and the function key together to use the function key for other actions.

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.

Explore your keyboard

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

Stop Narrator from reading

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

Make Narrator speak louder or faster

You can change the volume or how fast Narrator speaks. 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 (-).

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, see Keyboard shortcuts in Windows. For a list of keyboard shortcuts in Windows apps, see Keyboard shortcuts in apps. For a list of keyboard shortcuts in other Windows assistive technologies, see Windows keyboard shortcuts for accessibility.

Learn Narrator with QuickStart

QuickStart is a new learning experience in the latest version of Windows that teaches you the basics of using Narrator. It launches automatically when you start Narrator. To stop QuickStart from launching automatically, select the check box next to Don’t show this guide again. You can access the QuickStart guide anytime by selecting the Learn Narrator basics with QuickStart link in your Narrator settings.

Get around apps and webpages

For web browsing, Narrator works best with Microsoft Edge.

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.

Next: Chapter 3: Using scan mode

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