Use a screen reader to read pages in OneNote

This article is for people with visual or cognitive impairments who use a screen reader program such as Microsoft’s Narrator, JAWS, or NVDA with Microsoft 365 products. This article is part of the Microsoft 365 screen reader support content set where you can find more accessibility information on our apps. For general help, visit Microsoft Support home.

Use OneNote with your keyboard and a screen reader to read OneNote pages. We have tested it with Narrator, JAWS, and NVDA, but it might work with other screen readers as long as they follow common accessibility standards and techniques. With a screen reader, you can easily recognize lists and headings. You can also check the descriptions of graphics in alt texts (if available).

Notes: 

In this topic

Read a page in OneNote

Your screen reader reads aloud through a page in OneNote, announcing pictures, lists and list items, table cell contents, headings, and hyperlinks.

  1. To switch to the full-screen mode for easier navigation, press F11.

  2. Navigate to the page you want to read, and then do one of the following:

    • With Narrator, if you do not hear "Content block," followed by the number of the content block and then "Editing," when you open the page, press Alt+Down arrow key until you do. Use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one. If Narrator does not read the current line automatically, press the SR key+I.

    • With JAWS, if you hear "Page title," press Alt+Down arrow key to go to the first content block on the page. Then press Insert+Down arrow key to hear the whole page. Alternatively, use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one. For other JAWS reading commands, refer to JAWS Reading Commands.

    • With NVDA, if you hear the title of the page, press Alt+Down arrow key to go to the first content block on the page. Then press the SR key+Down arrow key to hear the whole page. Alternatively, use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one.

  3. To stop the reading at any time, press Ctrl or give any other command.

Read the alternative text of images

If your OneNote page has images with alternative text (alt text) titles and descriptions, your screen reader reads the description when you navigate to the image with the arrow keys. If you use the continuous reading mode with JAWS or NVDA, you hear the picture object and the alt text description with JAWS, but not with NVDA. Narrator does not read in the continuous reading mode, so use the arrow keys instead.

If your image has both the description and the title, you can read the title as follows:

  1. Navigate to the graphic, and press Shift+F10 or the Windows Menu key. The context menu opens.

  2. Press the Down arrow key until you hear: “Alt text.” Then press Enter. With Narrator, you hear “Alternative Text window, Title, edit box,” followed by the title text.

    With JAWS, you hear “Leaving menus, Alternative Text dialog, Alternative Text," followed by the title text, and "Title, edit.” 

    With NVDA, you hear “Alternative Text dialog," followed by a description of the purpose of alt text.

  3. With NVDA, to hear the alternative text title, press the Tab key until you hear “Title, edit, selected,” followed by the title text. 

  4. To exit the Alternative Text window, press the Tab key until you hear: “OK button.” Then press Enter.

Use the Narrator Scan Mode

If OneNote doesn’t support a command in the focused area, Narrator says: “Not an explorable text.” In this case, you can use Narrator Scan Mode to navigate and read text.

  1. To turn on Scan Mode, press the SR key+Spacebar. You hear: "Scan." For more info on Scan Mode, refer to Using scan mode.

Adjust the screen reader’s verbosity level

You can change the level of detail your screen reader provides on the text's characteristics of a OneNote page.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • To adjust Narrator verbosity, press the SR key+V until you hear the level you want. You can choose between five different levels, from hearing only the text to hearing detailed info on formatting. For more info on the Narrator verbosity levels, refer to Reading text.

    • To adjust JAWS verbosity, press the SR key+V. Then press the Down arrow key until you hear "User verbosity," followed by the current level. Press Spacebar until you hear the level you want. There are three levels of verbosity: The Beginner level provides the maximum amount of information spoken, while the other two levels, Intermediate and Advanced, provide fewer details. When done, press Enter to close the Quick Settings window.

    • To adjust NVDA verbosity, press the SR key+Control+D. Then press the Tab key to browse the different settings one by one, and press Spacebar to select or clear a checkbox. When done, press Enter to close the NVDA Settings window. For more info, refer to NVDA 2021.3.1 User Guide.

See also

Use a screen reader to organize notebooks, sections, and pages in OneNote

Use a screen reader to zoom in or out of notes in OneNote

Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote

Basic tasks using a screen reader with OneNote

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Microsoft 365

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate OneNote

Use OneNote for Mac with your keyboard and VoiceOver, the built-in macOS screen reader, to read OneNote pages. With a screen reader, you can easily recognize lists and hyperlinks. You can also check the descriptions for graphics and attached files by reading the alt texts (if available).

Notes: 

  • New Microsoft 365 features are released gradually to Microsoft 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in macOS screen reader, VoiceOver. To learn more about using VoiceOver, go to VoiceOver Getting Started Guide.

In this topic

Read a page

Your screen reader reads aloud through a page in OneNote for Mac, announcing texts, pictures and their alternative text descriptions (if available), table cell contents, list items, and hyperlinks. You can also hear if there are attached files on a page, and their alternative text descriptions (if available).

  1. To navigate to the page you want to read, press Control+Command+G. The focus moves to the list of pages. Press the Up or Down arrow key until you hear the title of the page you want.

  2. To move the focus to the editable content area of the page, press Return. You hear: "Content block," followed by the number of the content block and then "Edit text."

  3. Do one of the following:

    • To read the whole page starting from the beginning, press Control+Option+A.

      Note: VoiceOver skips the graphics when reading through the whole page.

    • To read the next line or item, press the Down arrow key. If VoiceOver does not automatically read the line, press Control+Option+L.

    • To read the previous line or item, press the Up arrow key. If VoiceOver does not automatically read the line, press Control+Option+L.

      Tip: To read everything visible in the window, for example, all elements and containers, press Control+Option+Shift+W.

  4. To stop the continuous reading at any time, press Control or give any other command.

Read the alternative text of images

If your OneNote page has images with alternative text (alt text), VoiceOver reads the alt text description or title when you navigate to the image with the arrow keys.

  1. To navigate to the page you want to read, press Control+Command+G. The focus moves to the list of pages. Press the Up or Down arrow key until you hear the title of the page you want.

  2. To move the focus to the editable content area of the page, press Return. You hear: "Content block," followed by the number of the content block and then "Edit text."

  3. Use the arrow keys to navigate to the image. You hear the alt text description or title, followed by "layout item." If no alt text is available, you hear the file name, followed by "layout item."

Adjust the screen reader's verbosity level

You can change the level of detail your screen reader provides on the text characteristics of a OneNote for Mac page. In VoiceOver, you can choose between three different levels, from hearing only the text to hearing detailed info on formatting.

  1. To adjust VoiceOver verbosity, press Control+Option+F8. You hear: "Opening VoiceOver Utility."

  2. Press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow key, and then press the Down arrow key once. You hear: "Verbosity."

  3. Press the Tab key once, and then press Control+Option+Left arrow key until you hear the current verbosity level, followed by "Default Speech Verbosity," and then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  4. Use the Down and Up arrow keys to browse the options, and then press Control+Option+Spacebar to select.

  5. To close the VoiceOver Utility window, press Command+Q.

For more information on customizing VoiceOver voice settings, refer to Customizing VoiceOver.

See also

Use a screen reader to organize notebooks, sections, and pages in OneNote

Use a screen reader to zoom in or out of notes in OneNote

Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote

Basic tasks using a screen reader with OneNote

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Microsoft 365

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate OneNote

Use OneNote for iOS with VoiceOver, the built-in iOS screen reader, to read OneNote pages. With a screen reader, you can easily recognize lists and headings. You can also check the descriptions for graphics by reading the alt texts (if available).

Notes: 

  • New Microsoft 365 features are released gradually to Microsoft 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in iOS screen reader, VoiceOver. To learn more about using VoiceOver, visit Apple accessibility.

In this topic

Read a page

Your screen reader reads aloud through a page in OneNote for iOS, announcing pictures, links, and list items.

  1. Open the page you want to read. Then swipe right until you hear "Page title," followed by the title text.

  2. Swipe down with two fingers to start reading the whole page from the title onwards. VoiceOver first reads through the textual content of the page, and announces the links and alt texts after this.

  3. To stop the reading at any time, tap once with two fingers.

Read the alternative text of images

If your OneNote for iOS page has images with an alternative text (alt text) description or title, VoiceOver announces the alt text when you encounter an image.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Read through the whole page as instructed in Read a page.

    • On the page you want to read, swipe right repeatedly until you hear the alt text description or title of the image. If no alt text is available, you hear the file name of the image.

See also

Use a screen reader to organize notebooks, sections, and pages in OneNote

Use a screen reader to zoom in or out of notes in OneNote

Basic tasks using a screen reader with OneNote

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Microsoft 365

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate OneNote

Use OneNote for Android with TalkBack, the built-in Android screen reader, to read OneNote pages. With a screen reader, you can easily recognize tables and links. You can also check the descriptions for graphics by reading the alt texts (if available).

Notes: 

  • New Microsoft 365 features are released gradually to Microsoft 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Android screen reader, TalkBack. To learn more about using TalkBack, go to Android accessibility.

  • Make sure you turn on TalkBack before launching OneNote for Android.

Read a page

Your screen reader reads aloud through a page in OneNote for Android, announcing pictures, links, and tables.

  1. Navigate to the page you want to read, and swipe right until you hear: "Page date and time."

  2. To read all textual content on a page, swipe right. You hear "Content block," and TalkBack starts reading the text on the page. 

    Tip: To stop the continuous reading, tap the screen with two fingers.

  3. To read other elements on the page, swipe right repeatedly. You hear the following:

    • For images, TalkBack announces the alternative text (alt text) description or alt text title, followed by "Image." If no alt text is available, you hear the file name, followed by "Image."

    • For links, TalkBack announces "Link," followed by the link text.

    • For tables, Talkback announces "Entering table," followed by the number of rows and columns and the cell contents.

See also

Use a screen reader to organize notebooks, sections, and pages in OneNote

Use a screen reader to zoom in or out of notes in OneNote

Use a screen reader to insert content to notebooks in OneNote

Basic tasks using a screen reader with OneNote

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Microsoft 365

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate OneNote

Use OneNote for Windows 10 with your keyboard and a screen reader to read OneNote pages. We have tested it with Narrator, JAWS, and NVDA, but it might work with other screen readers as long as they follow common accessibility standards and techniques.

With a screen reader, you can easily recognize lists and headings in OneNote. You'll also learn how to check the descriptions of graphics in alternative texts (if available).

Notes: 

In this topic

Read a page

Your screen reader reads aloud through a page in OneNote for Windows 10, announcing pictures, lists, and headings.

  1. Navigate to the page you want to read, and then do one of the following:

    • With Narrator, if you do not hear "Content block," followed by the number of the content block and then “Editing," when you open the page, press Alt+Down arrow key until you do. Then press the SR key+Ctrl+R. Narrator starts to read from your current location. Press the Down or Up arrow key to move to the next or previous line. If Narrator does not read the current line automatically, press the SR key+I.

      Note: If OneNote for Windows 10 doesn’t support a command in the focused area, Narrator says: “Not an explorable text”. In this case, you can use Narrator Scan Mode to navigate and read text. To turn on Scan Mode, press the SR key+Spacebar. You hear: "Scan."

    • With JAWS, if you hear "Page title," press Alt+Down arrow key to go to the first content block on the page. Then press Insert+Down arrow key to hear the whole page. Alternatively, use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one. For other JAWS reading commands, refer to JAWS Reading Commands.

    • With NVDA, if you hear the title of the page, press Alt+Down arrow key to go to the first content block on the page. Then press the SR key+Down arrow key to hear the whole page. Alternatively, use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one.

  2. To stop the reading at any time, press Ctrl or give any other command.

Read the alternative text of images

If your OneNote for Windows 10 page has images with alternative text (alt text), your screen reader reads the alt text title and description when you navigate to the image.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Use the arrow keys to navigate to the image. With Narrator, you hear the alt text title and description, followed by “Image." With JAWS and NVDA, you hear the alt text title and description, followed by “Graphic selected." If no alt text is available, you hear the file name of the image.

    • With JAWS, you can also use the continuous reading mode. Press Insert+Down arrow key to hear the whole page. JAWS announces the alt texts for images (if available).

      Note: NVDA and Narrator skip the images in the continuous reading mode.

Adjust the screen reader’s verbosity level

You can change the level of detail your screen reader provides on the text's characteristics of a OneNote for Windows 10 page.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • To adjust Narrator verbosity, press the SR key+V until you hear the level you want. You can choose between five different levels, from hearing only the text to hearing detailed info on formatting. For more info on the Narrator verbosity levels, refer to Reading text.

    • To adjust JAWS verbosity, press the SR key+V. Then press the Down arrow key until you hear "User verbosity," followed by the current level. Press Spacebar until you hear the level you want. There are three levels of verbosity: The Beginner level provides the maximum amount of information spoken, while the other two levels, Intermediate and Advanced, provide fewer details. When done, press Enter to close the Quick Settings window.

    • To adjust NVDA verbosity, press the SR key+Control+D. Then press the Tab key to browse the different settings one by one, and press Spacebar to select or clear a checkbox. When done, press Enter to close the NVDA Settings window. For more info, refer to NVDA 2021.3.1 User Guide.

See also

Use a screen reader to share and collaborate on notebooks in OneNote

Use a screen reader to zoom in or out of notes in OneNote

Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote

Basic tasks using a screen reader with OneNote

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Microsoft 365

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate OneNote

Use OneNote for the web with your keyboard and a screen reader to read OneNote pages.  We have tested it with Narrator in Microsoft Edge and JAWS and NVDA in Chrome, but it might work with other screen readers and web browsers as long as they follow common accessibility standards and techniques. With a screen reader, you can recognize headings, links, and lists. You can also check the descriptions of graphics in alt texts (if available).

Notes: 

  • New Microsoft 365 features are released gradually to Microsoft 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • To learn more about screen readers, go to How screen readers work with Microsoft Office.

  • When you use OneNote for the web, we recommend that you use Microsoft Edge as your web browser. Because OneNote for the web runs in your web browser, the keyboard shortcuts are different from those in the desktop program. For example, you’ll use Ctrl+F6 instead of F6 for jumping in and out of the commands. Also, common shortcuts like F1 (Help) and Ctrl+O (Open) apply to the web browser – not OneNote for the web.

In this topic

Read a page

Your screen reader reads aloud through a page in OneNote for the web, announcing pictures, links, lists, and headings.

  1. Navigate to the page you want to read. When you open a page, you hear with Narrator "Page title," followed by the title of the page and then "Editing, Editing area."  With JAWS, you hear "Page contents, main region, Page title," followed by the title of the page and then "Edit." With NVDA, you hear "Page contents, main landmark," followed by the title of the page.

  2. Press the Tab key to move to the first content block. You hear: "Canvas area."

  3. Do one of the following:

    • With Narrator, press Ctrl+A three times to select all the page content, and then press the SR key+Down arrow key to start reading continuously. If you hear "No next item," press the SR key+Down arrow key again. Alternatively, press the Down or Up arrow key to move to the next or previous line, and then press the SR key+I to read the current line. If you hear "Command not available," press the SR key+I again.

    • With JAWS, press Insert+Down arrow key to hear the whole page. Alternatively, use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one.

    • With NVDA, use the arrow keys to navigate to readable elements one by one and then press the SR key+Down arrow key to hear the current element.

  4. To stop the reading at any time, press Ctrl or give any other command.

Read the alternative text of images

If your OneNote for the web page has images with alternative text (alt text) descriptions, your screen reader reads the description and says "Image" when you navigate to the image with the arrow keys, or when you use continuous reading mode.

Note: In OneNote and OneNote for Windows 10, you can add two kinds of alt text to an image: a title and a description. In OneNote for the web, your screen reader only reads the alt text description. If the image only has an alt text title, Narrator announces "Unlabeled graphic" in the continuous reading mode, and "Image" when you use the arrow keys. With JAWS  and NVDA, you hear: "Image."

Read lists and headings

If your OneNote for the web page has bulleted or numbered lists or headings, you hear the list or heading levels.

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Use the arrow keys to navigate to a list item or heading. You hear the list or heading level.

    • Use the continuous reading mode with Narrator or JAWS. With Narrator, you hear the list or heading levels. With JAWS, you hear the heading levels, but for list items JAWS announces: "Document."

See also

Use a screen reader to zoom in or out of notes in OneNote

Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote

Basic tasks using a screen reader with OneNote

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate OneNote

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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