This chapter outlines how to customize Narrator to best meet your needs, including changing how Narrator starts, how much feedback you hear when typing, whether the audio from other apps is decreased when Narrator is running, and changing Narrator commands to keyboard shortcuts of your choice. The chapter also provides details about how to use third-party text-to-speech (TTS) software to add more voices to Narrator.
Most options are in Narrator settings. To find them, open Narrator settings on the taskbar when Narrator is turned on.
Settings are separated into four categories: general settings, navigation settings, voice settings, and command settings.
- Some settings are also available in Windows 10 Settings—press the Windows logo key + Ctrl + N to see them.
- If you want everyone to use your settings before sign-in, press the Windows logo key + Ctrl + N to open Narrator settings and then select Use current settings before sign-in. This is recommended if you want to use a serial braille display before sign-in.
- Turn on the shortcut to launch Narrator. Start and stop Narrator using the Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter on a keyboard, or the Windows button + Volume up button on a touch device.
- Lock the Narrator key (Caps lock). You don’t have to press the Narrator key (Caps lock) to enter a command. For example, to move to the next link, press L instead of Caps lock + L.
- Hear characters as you type. Characters are announced immediately after you type them. This setting can be toggled by pressing Caps lock + F12.
- Hear words you type. Typed words are announced immediately after you type them.
- Read out voiced Narrator errors. Narrator announces errors such as “no next landmark” or “no next item.”
- Highlight cursor. The Narrator cursor is highlighted with a blue focus box.
- Play audio cues. Narrator plays a sound when you do things like perform a Narrator command or when suggestions are available.
- Read UI hints. Narrator announces how to interact with items.
- Lower the volume of other apps. The audio volume from other apps is lowered so that you can hear Narrator.
- Retain notifications. Notifications can be retained from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
- Read and interact with the screen using the mouse. When this is turned on, Narrator reads what is under the mouse cursor. Use Numeric keypad to move the mouse.
- Activate keys on the touch keyboard when you lift your finger. Characters are entered as soon as you lift your finger off the touch keyboard.
- Narrator cursor follows keyboard focus. When this is turned on, the Narrator cursor and the system cursor will be synchronized when possible.
- Enable the text insertion point to follow the Narrator cursor. When this is turned on, Narrator will move the text insertion point when navigating by views such as characters and words.
- Select the Narrator cursor movement mode. Two modes are available: normal and advanced. Normal mode allows Narrator to move between various items such as links, tables, and other elements. Advanced mode lets you use the four arrow keys to move the Narrator cursor through a programmatic representation of an application.
- Speed. Control the speed at which Narrator speaks.
- Volume. Adjust the volume at which Narrator speaks.
- Pitch. Adjust the pitch of Narrator voice.
- Select a different voice. Choose from different available Narrator voices in your language.
Narrator voices average a maximum of approximately 400 words per minute. However, the following voices offer a rate of approximately 800 words per minute:
- Microsoft David
- Microsoft Zira
- Microsoft Mark
Narrator can be used with SAPI 5-based speech synthesizers. Once installed, voices will appear in the list of voices for you to choose.
Here are some available options from third-party providers:
These options are provided for informational purposes only. Microsoft does not endorse any particular third-party software, nor can it offer any support for their installation and use. For help with any of these products, please contact the original manufacturer.
Narrator also lets you choose your audio output device. Press Windows logo key + Ctrl + N to open Narrator settings, and then choose your device under Select Narrator audio output device.
Customize Narrator keyboard shortcuts to allow for improved control and usability:
Customize a Narrator keyboard shortcut
- Choose the command to customize.
- Select Change command keyboard shortcut.
- In the Type a keyboard shortcut window, type the keyboard shortcut you want to use on your keyboard. Use any combination of modifier keys (Control, Shift, Alt, Caps lock, or the Windows logo key) together with a non-modifier key. Use function and numeric keypad keys without any modifiers.
Select Restore default to return all commands back to their default settings.
Hear different levels of context
Narrator can provide different levels of context as you navigate your PC. You control how much context is heard, and if context is read before or after the current item.
To change the amount of context you hear, and whether context is heard before or after the current item, select the Start button, then select Settings , select Ease of Access, and select Narrator. Under Amount of contextual reading for controls and buttons, choose from the following options:
- No context reading
- Play sounds only
- Read only immediate context
- Read immediate context name and type
- Read full context of new control
- Read full context of both the old control and the new control
Under Order of contextual reading for controls and buttons, choose whether you want to hear context before or after the current item.
You can also use the following keyboard shortcuts:
- To hear the current context at any time, press Caps lock + forward slash (/).
- To change the level of context that’s read, press Caps lock + Alt + forward slash (/).
- To change whether context is read before or after the current item, press Caps lock + Ctrl + forward slash (/).
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