Windows Narrator is a built-in screen-reader and text-to-speak tool which helps people to complete common tasks. While it was designed for visually impaired people, anyone can use Narrator as it has a large number of configuration options.
How to Turn On Narrator
By default, Narrator is turned off since the majority of people don’t plan on using it. So if you want to turn it on, follow these steps:
- Click Start, then head to Settings > Ease of Access.
- From the left-hand menu, select Narrator.
- Turn on the toggle below Use Narrator.
If you check Allow the shortcut key to start Narrator, you can use the Win + Ctrl + Enter to turn it on and off.
If it’s your first time using Narrator, click Open Narrator Home to access the Welcome to Narrator menu. Using it, you can access the settings and learn more about its features. We recommend opening QuickStart and going through the guide to gain a solid grasp of its features.
Also, you can check Narrator guide, which will take you to a web page containing complete info on using this feature.
How to Configure Narrator’s Settings
Let’s take a look at the available settings and how you can change them to improve the Narrator using experience.
You can decide when Windows 10 should start Narrator for you and for other users and how your system manages Narrator when you are using it.
By default, when Narrator is turned on, Caps Lock and Insert are recognized by Windows 10 as the Narrator key. So when you see a keyboard shortcut including the Narrator key, it’s actually Caps Lock or Insert.
Personalize Narrator’s Voice
- Choose a voice. Use the drop-down menu under Choose a voice to select a voice that you like. If none of them suits your preferences, you can add more voices to Narrator.
- Change voice speed. You can use the slider or the Narrator + + (the plus key on your keyboard) and Narrator + – (the minus key on your keyboard) to increase and decrease its voice speed.
- Change voice pitch. Use the slider to control it.
- Change voice volume. You can use the slider or the Narrator + Ctrl + +(plus) and Narrator + Ctrl + – (minus) keyboard shortcuts to control its voice volume.
For Narrator to work better, you should check Lower the volume of other apps when Narrator is speaking and select where you want to hear Narrator’s voice if you are using a Bluetooth speaker, headset, or other audio devices.
Change What You Hear When Reading and Interacting
- Change the level of details Narrator provides about text and controls. You can use the drop-down menu to set it or use the Narrator + V keyboard shortcut.
If you select the first level, Narrator will read the text without mentioning any details about the text. It will not announce links or describe text formatting, so it’s a good choice if you plan on reading articles or books.
On level 5, Narrator gives you complete details about the text. It will mention font type, size, list type, bullet shape, and more. This level is useful if you want to edit or proofread a document.
By default, Narrator is set to level 3.
- Change how capitalized text is read. You can use the drop-down menu or the Narrator + 4 keyboard shortcut to decide how Narrator reads capitalized texts. Also, there are additional settings you can use, such as having Narrator emphasizes formatted text or read advanced details such as help text on buttons.
You can also decide how much context Narrator provides for buttons and other controls, why you can’t perform a certain action, or when he should provide details about them.
Change What You Hear When Typing
You can decide which keys you want to hear as you type, such as if Narrator should read letters, numbers, words, navigation keys, function keys, toggle keys, and modifier keys as you are typing.
Choose Keyboard Settings
You can select the keyboard layout and the Narrator key. If you plan on using Narrator for typing, you should set it to Insert so you don’t accidentally use a keyboard shortcut when pressing Caps Lock.
You can select Create your own keyboard command to configure Narrator keyboard settings further.
Use Narrator cursor
Make sure the Show the Narrator cursor option is enabled to know which part of the text Narrator is reading. You can experiment with the other options and see what works better for you.
Windows 10 provided Narrator with a lot of configuring options to offer users a powerful tool. You can even use your braille display with Narrator.
How to Make Narrator Read for You
Once you have turned Narrator on, you can use it at any time. You just need to enable the function when inside a file, document, or web page. Place your cursor on the area that you want Narrator to start reading and press Caps Lock + R. When you want to stop it from reading, press Ctrl.
How to Use Scan Mode
With scan mode, you can read through documents or web pages faster. To turn it on, press Narrator + Space. Then, use the Up and Down keys to read a webpage or app’s content. When you come across an item you want to use, such as a link or a button in an app, press Enter or Spacebar.
Scan mode turns off in edit fields allowing you to type. Once you finish typing, press Up or Down to leave the edit field and continue using Scan mode.
When you use Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Mail, or Outlook, Scan mode turns on automatically.
Scan mode has a lot of keyboard shortcuts that you can check on Microsoft’s site.
Get Started With Narrator
Our guide will show you how to use Narrator, starting from its basic features to some of the more complicated ones. Narrator is constantly updated by Microsoft to improve user experience, so you can give Microsoft feedback by pressing Narrator + Alt + F while Narrator is running.
If you don’t fancy reading your Kindle books, you can task Alexa with the job of narration instead. Here’s how.
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