VoiceOver Keyboard Shortcuts on a Mac

Screen reader keyboard shortcuts > VoiceOver on a Mac

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VoiceOver for macOS, first introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 in 2005, is a screen reader program that comes on new Mac computers. A variation of VoiceOver is also available on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

Note:

VoiceOver works best with Safari. If you try to use it with any other browser, it may work for some things, but not as consistently as with Safari.
VoiceOver + Safari

Keyboard Accessibility on a Mac

Keyboard accessibility is NOT enabled by default on a Mac. Your accessibility and screen reader test results will be inaccurate if you do not enable keyboard accessibility in the following two places:

  1. System Settings: Keyboard > Shortcuts > Full Keyboard Access > All controls
  2. Safari Settings: Advanced > Accessibility > Press Tab to highlight each item on a webpage.

The basics

Command + F5 starts the VoiceOver program. VoiceOver uses the Control and Option keys before each command. The combination is referred to as VO in the tables. The VO keys can be locked so that they do not need to be pressed to perform VoiceOver commands by pressing VO + ;.

Getting Started
Task Command
Start (or stop) VoiceOver Command + F5
VoiceOver Activation keys (or VO keys) Control + Option (referenced as VO)
Lock (or unlock) VO keys VO + ;
Open rotor (see explanation below) VO + U
Reading
Task Command
Start reading VO + A
Stop reading Control
Read next item VO + Right Arrow
Read previous item VO + Left Arrow
Read paragraph VO + P
Read sentence VO + S
Read word (press W multiple times to spell words alphabetically and phonetically) VO + W
Read from top to current location VO + B
Jump to top of page (using desktop keyboards) VO + Home
Jump to top of page (using laptop keyboards) VO + Fn + Left Arrow
Jump to bottom of page (using desktop keyboards) VO + End
Jump to bottom of page (using laptop keyboards) VO + Fn + Right Arrow
Navigate table cells VO + Arrow Keys (right arrow or down arrow or left arrow or up arrow)
Select speech setting option (speaking rate, voice, pitch, etc.) VO + Command +
Right Arrow / Left Arrow
Modify the selected speech setting VO + Command + Up Arrow / Down Arrow

Navigation

The following shortcuts will help you navigate common page elements. You can press the Shift key with these commands to move to the previous occurrence.

Page Elements
Task Command
Go to next/previous focusable item (link, button, input, etc.) Tab / Shift + Tab
Next link VO + Command + L
Next visited link VO + Command + V
Next heading VO + Command + H
Next form control VO + Command + J
Next table VO + Command + T
Next list VO + Command + X
Next graphic VO + Command + G
Activate a link or form control VO + Space Bar
Go to previous (heading, table, etc.) VO + Shift + Command + (H, T, etc.)
Interact with (go into/out of) objects (like iframes, menus, application regions, etc.) VO + Shift + Down Arrow / Up Arrow

The rotor

The VoiceOver "rotor" feature helps users to do some frequently performed navigation actions quickly and easily.

Open the rotor by pressing VO + U, then use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys to choose between Tables, Frames, Images, Headers (heading elements), Links, Auto Web Spots (automatically generated list of structural and significant items on the page), Form controls, Web spots (user-identified page areas), Visited links, and Non-visited links. Once a page element type is selected, use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow to select a particular element and Enter to activate it. Escape exits the rotor.

Within the rotor, you can begin typing to filter the available elements. For example, with the Headers rotor open, pressing "2" will filter to second level headings. Typing "nav" will filter to the headings that contain those characters.

Data tables

You can navigate tables in text areas by row and column, and sort by column.

Data Tables
Task Command
Read column header VO + C
Read row from VO cursor location to end of row VO + R
Read column from VO cursor location to bottom of column VO + R + C
Move up or down in a column Up Arrow or Down Arrow
Move across a row Left Arrow or Right Arrow

Additional resources

Apple provides VoiceOver user information at www.apple.com/voiceover/info/guide/.