VoiceOver basics

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Before you begin

Before getting started with VoiceOver, full keyboard accessibility needs to be enabled.

In the System Preferences, select Keyboard, and then Shortcuts. Under "Full Keyboard Access: In windows and dialogs, press Tab to move keyboard focus between:", select All controls.

In Safari:

  1. Open Preferences.
  2. Select Advanced.
  3. In "Accessibility:", check the box next to "Press Tab to highlight each item on a webpage".

To start (or stop) VoiceOver, press Command-F5.

To navigate with VoiceOver, a VoiceOver modifier key (VO) is used in combination with other keys. The default VO keys are Control-Option. To change the default VO keys:

  1. Select System Preferences > Accessibility > VoiceOver.
  2. Open the VoiceOver utility.
  3. In "General", under "Keys to use as the VoiceOver modifier", choose from Control + Option, Caps Lock, or the option that allows either Control-Option or Caps Lock to be used.

It's a good idea to turn on the caption panel, which allows you to see on screen what VoiceOver announces. To turn on the caption panel, open the VoiceOver utility. In Visuals > Panels and Menus, check the box for "Show caption panel".

Key combinations

There are many key combinations to use VoiceOver in a variety of applications. The following key combinations are useful for getting started:

General VoiceOver commands

  • Command-F5: Turn VoiceOver on or off
  • VO-H: Open the VoiceOver help menu
  • VO-F8: Open the VoiceOver utility to change settings

Reading commands

  • VO-A: Start reading from the current location
  • Control: Stop reading
  • VO-P: Read paragraph
  • Right or left arrow: Move element by element through the page
  • VO-Command-X: Find next list (VO-Command-Shift-X for previous list)
  • VO-Command-G: Find next graphic (VO-Command-Shift-G for previous graphic)
  • VO-Command-L: Find next link (VO-Command-Shift-L for previous link)
  • VO-Command-H: Find next heading (VO-Command-Shift-H for previous heading)

Interaction commands

  • VO-U: Open the rotor
  • Esc: Close rotor
  • Tab: Move to the next interactive element
  • VO-Spacebar: Perform the default action for an interactive item
  • VO-Return: Select a menu or list item
  • VO-Shift-down arrow: Interact with an item
  • VO-Shift-up arrow: Stop interacting with an item

Table commands

  • VO-R-R: Read a table row with headers
  • In a table, VO-arrow keys: Move row by row
  • In a table, arrow keys: Move cell by cell

For a full list of keyboard combinations, see VoiceOver Commands chart.

VoiceOver rotor

The VoiceOver rotor is a quick way to explore and navigate a web page. The rotor presents all items of a particular type in a list. For example, using the rotor is an easy way to hear all the links on a page. It can also be used to move quickly to a particular place on a website, such as a specific heading or landmark.

The types of items that appear in the rotor can be changed in the VoiceOver Utility > Web > Web Rotor.

This is document atgb in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2022-10-24 16:22:43.