Talkback Gestures on Android

Screen reader shortcuts > Talkback

Talkback is a screen reader for Android devices.

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

Also available in a PDF with images depicting the gesture shortcuts.


  1. Talkback works best with Chrome, and also works well with Firefox. If you try to use it with any other browser, it may work for some things, but not as consistently.
    TalkBack + Chrome, TalkBack + Firefox
  2. Chrome is the recommended browser for current versions of Android. Prior to Android 7.0, Firefox is recommended.
  3. TalkBack varies depending on the version of Android and the web browser in use. Some options may be unavailable.
  4. Explore by touch enables users to drag one finger around the screen to announce items as you reach them.

Getting Started

Enabling TalkBack: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Talkback to turn on Talkback. To activate the Talkback shortcut, go to Settings > Accessibility and turn on the Volume Key Shortcut. You can then hold the volume keys for 3 seconds to activate or pause Talkback.

The local context menu (LCM): contains navigation options relevant to the current context. Options appear in a circular menu by default, but settings may be changed to display options in a list. To open the local context menu, swipe up, then right. Navigation options include: Default, Headings, Links, Controls, Characters, Words, Paragraphs, Lines.

The global context menu (GCM): contains commands that are relevant anywhere on your device. Options appear in a circle or a list depending on your settings, with additional settings in the corners of the screen. To open the global context menu, swipe down, then right.


This guide assumes that the context menus are set to circles.

Quick Navigation: In the GCM, one of the options that appears is Quick Navigation. This displays another circle on the screen, and allows the user to move their finger in a circle around the screen to scan through page contents.

Explore by touch: Talkback announces items as you reach them when you drag one finger around the screen.

The Basics

Topic Task Command
On/Off: Turn TalkBack on or off Hold volume buttons for three seconds
(When setting is enabled)
Menus: Global Context Menu (GCM) Swipe down, then right
Local Context Menu (LCM) Swipe up, then right
Reading: Stop reading Single tap
Start reading continuously from this point on GCM, Read from next item
Read next item Swipe right
Repeat last GCM: Repeat last utterance
Activate: Activate element (Link, button, etc.) Double tap
Headings: Go to next heading LCM: Headings
Landmarks: Go to next landmark/region LCM: Landmarks
Main: Go to main content region Use the “Skip to Main Content” link if present, explore by touch,
or use GCM Quick Nav to search for the desired section
Elements list: Show list of all elements onscreen GCM: Quick navigation
Tables: Navigate table cells Swipe left or right in default navigation mode.
or explore by touch.
Links: Go to next link LCM: link
Navigate: List all elements GCM Quick Navigation
Go to first item on page Swipe up, then down
Go to last item on page Swipe down, then up
Go to home screen Swipe up, then left
Go back Swipe down, then left
Recent apps Swipe left, then up
Notifications Swipe right, then down
Go backward: To previous heading, landmark, table, focusable item, etc. Swipe left

Reading Text

Topic Task Command
Line: Say prior line LCM: Line, swipe left
Say next line LCM: Line, swipe right
Say from cursor GCM: Read from next item
Character: Say prior character LCM: Character, swipe left
Say next character LCM: Character, Swipe right
Say character phonetically GCM > TalkBack Settings > Verbosity > Speak phonetic letters
Word: Say prior word LCM: Word, swipe left
Say next word LCM: Word, swipe right
Paragraph: Next paragraph LCM: Paragraph, swipe right
Spelling: Spell Word GCM: Spell last utterance


Topic Task Command
Cell: Cell to right LCM: default, swipe right
Cell to left LCM: default, swipe left
Cell below Explore by touch
Cell above Explore by touch


When you enter the table, Talkback will describe the dimensions of the table. It will identify table header cells. When it reads a table cell, it describes the associated header. When you move into a new row, it reads the row number.


Topic Task Command
Form elements: Next form element LCM: Controls
Checkboxes: Select and deselect Double tap
Combo boxes (<select>): Open combo box Double tap
Browse/select options Explore by touch or swipe
Select multiple options Double tap each option to select or deselect
Radio buttons: Toggle selection Double tap
Sliders: Adjust slider up or right: Swipe right then left
Adjust slider down or left Swipe left then right

Other Commands

Task Command
Search for a word or a phrase Swipe left then down
Typing When in a text editing field, virtual keyboard appears at bottom of screen;
Drag finger over letters, release when you hear the desired letter
Reformat documents for simpler viewing Chrome: go to Chrome settings > Accessibility > select "Simplified view for web pages." A button for simplified view will appear at the bottom of the screen, when supported.
Firefox: Reader View. When viewing an article, the button appears in the URL bar
Ignore TalkBack, report gesture to current application Use 2 or 3 fingers
Speak characters typed In TalkBack settings, enable “Keyboard echo”
Gesture Hints Activate in TalkBack settings