Desktop Screen Readers Survival Guide - Basic Keyboard Shortcuts

Desktop Screen Readers Survival Guide - Basic Keyboard Shortcuts

Screen Reader Keyboard Shortcuts and Gestures > Desktop Screen Readers Survival Guide - Basic Keyboard Shortcuts

Also available in a single-page printer-friendly PDF version.

Screen readers work best when paired with the browsers with which they are most compatible:

  • JAWS works well with Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
    JAWS + Chrome, JAWS + Edge, JAWS + Firefox, JAWS + Internet Explorer
    • Historically, JAWS has worked best with Internet Explorer, and that combination still works well, but Internet Explorer is old and will never be updated with new features, so it is best to migrate to newer browsers.
  • NVDA works well with Firefox, Chrome, and Edge.
    NVDA + Firefox, NVDA + Chrome, NVDA + Edge
  • Narrator works best with Microsoft Edge.
    Windows Narrator + Edge
  • VoiceOver works best with Safari.
    VoiceOver + Safari


  • Insert is the default NVDA modifier key, but Caps Lock can be set as a duplicate modifier key (so that it can be used in place of Insert).
  • The Narrator key, Caps Lock (or Insert can be used in its place), can be locked so it doesn’t need to be pressed with every command by pressing Caps Lock + Z (or Insert + Z) (only when not in Scan Mode).
  • VO is an abbreviation for VoiceOver keys Control + Option. The VO keys can be locked so that they don’t need to be pressed to perform VoiceOver commands by pressing VO + ;.

Shortcut Keys

Desktop Screen Readers Basic Keyboard Commands for Reading and Navigating Web Content




Turn screen reader on Not available Control + Alt + N Windows logo + Control + Enter Command + F5
Turn screen reader off Insert + F4 Insert + Q Windows logo + Control + Enter or Caps Lock + Escape Command + F5
Stop reading Control Control Control Control
Read next item Down Arrow Down Arrow Caps Lock + Right Arrow* VO + Right Arrow
Read previous item Up Arrow Up Arrow Caps Lock + Left Arrow* VO + Left Arrow
Read next focusable item (e.g. link, button) Tab Tab Tab Tab
Activate link Enter Enter Caps Lock + Enter or
Enter** or Space Bar**
VO + Space Bar or Enter
Activate button Enter or Space Bar Enter or Space Bar Caps Lock + Enter or
Enter or Space Bar
VO + Space Bar or
Enter or Space Bar
Start reading continuously from this point on Insert + Down Arrow Insert + Down Arrow
or Numpad Plus
Caps Lock + Down Arrow
or Caps Lock + Control + R
VO + A
Go to next heading H H H** VO + Command + H
Show list of all headings Insert + F6 Insert + F7 Caps Lock + F6 VO + U (Rotor), then Left/Right Arrow Keys
Go to next heading of level [1-6] 1-6 1-6 1-6** Not available
Go to next landmark/region R (JAWS 16+)
; (JAWS 15)
D D** Not available
Go to the main content landmark Q Not available Caps Lock + N Not available
Open Elements List or Rotor Insert + F3 Insert + F7 Caps Lock + [F6 or F7], then Tab (twice) to the Scoping drop-down list VO + U
Go to next table T T T** VO + Command + T
Navigate table cells Control + Alt + Arrow Keys Control + Alt + Arrow Keys Control + Alt + Arrow Keys VO + Arrow Keys
Go to next list L L Not available VO + Command + X
Go to next list item I I Not available Not available
Go to next graphic G G Not available VO + Command + G
Show list of all links Insert + F7 Insert + F7 Caps Lock + F7 VO + U (Rotor), then Left/Right Arrow Keys
Go to next link Not available K K** VO + Command + L
Go to next unvisited link U U Not available Not available
Go to next visited link V V Not available VO + Command + V
Go to next form element F F F VO + Command + J
Go back to previous heading, landmark, table, focusable item, etc. Shift + [H, R, T, Tab, etc.] Shift + [H, D, T, Tab, etc.] Shift + [H**, D**, T**, Tab, etc.] VO + Shift + Command + [H, T, Tab, etc.]
Toggle screen reader mode Forms Mode: (On) (Automatic when in form element), (Off) Numpad Plus Browse/Focus Mode: Insert + Space Bar
Forms Mode^: Insert + Space Bar
Scan Mode: Caps Lock + Space Bar Not available
Interact with (go into/out of) objects (like iframes, menus, application regions, etc.) Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable VO + Shift + Down/Up Arrows
Toggle between: Radio buttons, <select> list items, Tabs (ARIA widget), Tree view items (ARIA widget), Menu items (ARIA widget) Arrow Keys Arrow Keys Arrow Keys Arrow Keys, then [VO + Space Bar or Space Bar]
Toggle Virtual PC Cursor Insert + Z Not available Not available Not available

* Cycle between element types with Caps Lock + Page Up or Caps Lock + Page Down (or Caps Lock + Control + Up Arrow or Caps Lock + Control + Down Arrow), then advance through those page elements one at a time.

** Scan Mode only.

^ When in a form element.