Chapter 2: Learning Narrator basics

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.

Basic keyboard navigation in Windows

Tab, cursor, and function keys

In Windows, use the Tab key or the cursor keys (also known as arrow keys) to move around apps and web pages. Some keyboards also have function keys located above the number keys at the top of the keyboard. Function keys 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.

Caps lock key

When Narrator is turned on, press the Caps lock key (also known as the Narrator key) together with other keys to navigate and interact with things on the screen.

You can lock the Narrator key in Narrator settings so you don’t have to press the Caps lock key for each command. With Narrator turned on, open Narrator settings on the taskbar, select General, and then select Lock the Narrator key so you don’t have to press them for each command (Caps Lock).

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.

Narrator views

To go beyond basic keyboard commands using the Tab, cursor, and function keys, use Narrator views.

Narrator views let you to change how Narrator navigates apps and webpages, and includes the following: items, characters, words, lines, paragraphs, links, headings, tables, landmarks, and suggestions.

Items is the default view when you start Narrator. An item can be anything from a button in an app, a link, or text in a webpage. To move by item, press Caps lock + Left arrow or Caps lock + Right arrow. When you find an item that you want to activate, press Caps lock + Enter. To have Narrator read the current item press Caps lock + D. To have Narrator repeat the last phrase spoken, press Caps lock + V.

To change Narrator views, press Caps lock + Up arrow or Caps lock + Down arrow.


Suggestions are available when you enter information in a text box in some apps and parts of Windows. For example, when you enter text in the search box after pressing the Windows logo key, suggestions are provided as you type. When a suggestion is available, Narrator indicates it by playing a sound and voice message.

When a suggestion is available, press Caps lock + Down arrow to change to Suggestions view, and then Caps lock + Left arrow or Caps lock + Right arrow to move to the suggestion, and then Caps Lock + Enter to select it. Or, press the Up arrow key and Down arrow key to move through suggestions and press Enter to select one.


Landmarks are groups of items that are available in some apps and webpages. In Windows 10, the Windows Store and Weather apps also have landmarks. Some Windows features like the Start menu also have landmarks. To see if a landmark is available, press Caps lock + Up arrow to switch to landmarks view, and then use Caps lock + Left arrow or Caps lock + Right arrow to move through landmarks.

Get around apps and web pages

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. Type the name of the app that you’re looking for 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.

If at any time you need to know which app or Windows has focus, press Caps lock + W to read the title and contents of the Window that has focus.

Quickly explore content with Scan Mode

When you open an app or webpage, get a quick overview using Scan Mode, a reading and navigation mode in Narrator. To turn on Scan Mode, press Caps lock + Spacebar. Then use the following commands to move by heading, landmark or link.

 Press this key To do this
 H or Shift + H, and Alt + Down arrow or Alt + Up arrow Move to the next or previous heading
 D or Shift + D Move to the next or previous landmark
 K or Shift + K, and Alt + Right arrow or Alt + Left arrow Move to the next or previous link

To read content in more detail, use Up arrow key and the Down arrow key to move to the next or previous line of text. Alternatively, press Caps lock + M and Narrator will begin reading continuously from your current location.

For more info about how to use Scan Mode, including a list of additional commands, see Chapter 3: Using Scan Mode.

For more info on reading text, see Chapter 4: Reading text.

Change speech rate and volume

You can change the volume or how fast or slow Narrator speaks. To change Narrator volume, press Caps lock + Page up to increase the volume, or Caps lock + Page down to decrease the volume.

To change the rate at which Narrator speaks, press Caps lock + Plus (+) and Caps lock + Minus (-).

Stop Narrator from reading

To stop Narrator from reading at any time, press the Ctrl key or choose another command.

Give feedback

Your feedback helps make Narrator better. To give feedback, press Caps lock + E + E (press E twice) to enter comments about Narrator. Press Caps lock + E to let us know you are unhappy about what you are currently doing. You can also leave comments on the Microsoft Accessibility User Voice website. Additionally, for technical support for Narrator or other Microsoft assistive technology, contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk.

Next: Chapter 3: Using Scan Mode

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Article ID: 22808 - Last Review: 31-Aug-2016 - Revision: 37