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Narrator now provides a more succinct and efficient reading experience while in Excel. Announcements are prioritized based on information you need to skim a workbook and are customizable using convenient keyboard shortcuts. This article covers: 

  • How to access the new Narrator announcements in Excel.

  • How to customize announcements via new keyboard shortcuts.

  • Examples of changed announcements when using Excel.

How to access 

Windows installation requirements 

  • Your device must be running Windows 11.

  • Enroll your device into the Windows Insider Program by following the instructions found here. 

  • You must be on Build 23403.1001 or later. 

Microsoft 365 installation requirements 

  • Enroll your device into the Microsoft 365 Insider Program by following the instructions found here.

  • Enroll in the Current Channel (Preview) build for Microsoft 365. You’ll need to be on Build 16130.20394 or later.

Narrator extension installation steps 

  • After the device has been updated to the latest Windows Insider build and Excel build, log in and start Narrator using the keyboard shortcut Control + Windows + Enter. 

  • The updated experience will be available through the Microsoft Store, so it may take a few minutes to be available on your PC. You will be notified that the “NarratorExtension – Excel” has been successfully downloaded and installed.

  • Open Excel and begin navigating to hear the updated Narrator announcements.

How to customize announcements 

The following table shows you a set of new keyboard commands now available. Continue to subsequent sections to learn more about each shortcut. 

Note: The “Narrator Key” by default is either the Caps Lock or Insert key on your keyboard. Refer to the Narrator User Guide for more information on the use of the Narrator Key along with other features. 

Announcements are grouped into four categories:

  • Value, the information written in the cell. E.g., “test data” or “blank.”

  • Name, the cell reference. E.g., “A 1.”

  • Context, the information. E.g., “entering table” or announcing the header of a column you just entered.

  • Properties, the descriptive information about the contents of the cell. E.g., “formula” or “filtered.”




Toggle on and off optimized announcements

Narrator + Alt + O

Move context announcement (toggle first or third)

Narrator + Alt + C

Value > Name > Context > Properties (default)


Context > Value > Name > Properties

Swap name and value announcements

Narrator + Alt + N

Value > Name > Context > Properties (default)


Name > Value > Context > Properties

Also applies to range selection announcements.

Read current context (repeat context announcement and add all known context information)

Narrator + Shift + C


  • In a table, say size, where you are, and table name.

  • In Page Layout view, say page grid.

  • In split panes, say pane name.

Read ItemStatus information

Narrator + Shift + S

Read the information that is defined in the ItemStatus property in the last focused cell.

Read selection

Narrator + Shift + E

Read the current cell or range of cells that have been selected.

Toggle on and off optimized announcements 

By default, if you have the Narrator Excel extension installed then optimized messaging will be enabled. If you would like to disable the setting, press Narrator + Alt + O. Note: The state of this command is not saved, which means if Narrator is restarted then optimized messaging will default to on again. 

Move the context announcement 

By default, Narrator announces Value > Name > Context > Properties. For example, if you are entering a table called Table 1 with a Fruits column where A2 has a cell value of Apple, you would hear: “Apple, A2, entering Table 1, Fruits, filter dropdown.” 

If you would prefer instead to hear context first, press Narrator + Alt + C. This switches the announcement order to Context > Value > Name > Properties. For example, if you are entering a table called Table 1 with a Fruits column where A2 has a cell value of Apple, you would hear: “Entering Table 1, Fruits, apple, A2, filter dropdown.” 

Press Narrator + Alt + C again to toggle back to the original order of Value > Name > Context > Properties. 

Swap the name and value announcements 

By default, Narrator announces Value > Name > Context > Properties. For example: “First name, A1.” 

Press Narrator + Alt + N if you would prefer to hear the cell reference first, so Name > Value > Context > Properties. In this situation, you would hear: “A1, First name.” 

This setting also applies to range selection announcements. 

Read current context

Press Narrator + Shift + C to repeat the current context of where you are within Excel. 

Read ItemStatus information

ItemStatus is a cell property which contains a larger collection of attributes like formatting. To hear the ItemStatus property on demand, press Narrator + Shift + S. 

Read selection  

To read the currently selected cell or range of cells, press Narrator + Shift + E. 

Examples of changed announcements

Here are some examples of the changes you can expect to hear:

  • More succinct reading when navigating in the grid and selecting cells, both within tables and in spreadsheets that do not use tables.

  • Explicit announcements if a cell is blank.

  • Succinct, explicit announcements when cells contain non-text or unclear information like conditional formatting, data validation, and formulas.

  • Better handling of merged cells.

  • More information about collaborators as you interact with cells that someone else has selected or is editing.

Turn off Narrator

To turn off the Narrator screen reader, press the keyboard shortcut Control + Windows key + Enter. To toggle on and off optimized Narrator announcements, use the keyboard shortcut Narrator key + Alt + O.

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