What is Windows Narrator and how should I use it on my PC?

By ivan.diskin | November 5, 2018 |

greater than 7 minutes

One of the good things about Microsoft is that they made the Windows operating system for everyone to be able to use. The accessibility options help users who have difficulty navigating through Windows or using the normal functions of their computer. These features are not only important for those with disabilities. Even those without disabilities can find many uses for the Windows Narrator feature.

What Is the Windows Narrator Feature?

The Windows Narrator is a built-in screen-reading tool for the Windows operating system. It is able to read all the text and interface elements on your computer screen. This feature also helps you to interact with buttons and links and gives descriptions to images. It is available in 35 languages, which makes it possible for people from different countries to take advantage of this feature.

The Windows Narrator is not a new feature in the Windows operating system. It has been around since the days of Windows 7. In the new Windows 10 version, Microsoft has made some improvement on the low vision accessibility options like Windows Magnifier, high contrast, color filter, Windows Narrator, etc.

In this article, we are going to be concentrating on the Windows Narrator feature. We will show youhow to use the Windows Narrator tool. Microsoft has made a few significant changes to the latest version of the Windows 10 Narrator.

When you start the Narrator for the first time, you will be assisted by a wizard that will help you set the tool up and walk you through some of the new commands and changes. They have not made lots of changes to the commands.

This is good because veteran users will not find it difficult to adapt to the new changes:

  • If you are familiar with the old version of Windows 10, you know that to start the Narrator, you needed to press the Windows logo key + Enter. Now, you have to press the Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter. This will open the Narrator QuickStart window, where you will get a general idea of what the Narrator does and how to turn it on and off. Click the Start guide button to proceed.
  • On the next page, the guide will show you how to explore your keyboard. Here, you will learn about some keyboard shortcuts used in the Narrator. You will also learn how to turn keyboard help on or off.
  • The next page will teach you about the Scan mode. It is a feature that will show you how to navigate when you are using the Narrator. You do not have to hold down lots of keys to move around. Now, click Next to proceed.
  • The next page shows you how to read words and characters. To read word by word, press Ctrl + the right or left arrow keys. Note that these commands are not specific to the Narrator. They are limited to the one line and cannot move to another line.
  • In the Next page, you will learn about Headings. You can move from one line to another using the up and down arrow keys. Also, you can use the H key to move from one heading to another. To move to the previous heading, you need to press the Shift + H keys.
  • The next page will teach you about Landmarks. Landmarks are a group of text in an app or page. The main landmark is the app or page content. The navigation landmark helps you to move through different pages like the Back and Forward button. The Search landmark takes you to search boxes found on the page. Landmarks can be a great navigation option to quickly move through your page and also to skip content you are not interested in. Press the Shift + D shortcut to navigate through landmarks.
  • The next page is about entering text. Text boxes permit you to enter your own text on a page or in an app. Once you are in a textbox, the scan mode automatically turns off.
  • The next window shows you how to navigate through checkboxes, buttons, and other controls. You can move through them using the up and down keys. Tab or Shift + Tab can also help you to move faster. Note that this keyboard command can be used even when you are not using the Narrator. You can use it on web pages or in apps.
  • The next page introduces you to the Narrator key. The Caps lock button is also known as the Narrator key.
  • The next page gives you information on important Narrator commands. Here, you will find many useful commands like to increase or decrease voice speed, etc.
  • In the next page, you will have the chance to practice what you have learned in the previous pages. You will also learn how to switch between apps. You can do this by pressing the Alt + Tab keys. Also, to search for an app, you need to press the Windows logo key, then type the name of the app you want and press Enter. To close an app, you need to press the Alt + F4 keys. These commands will also work even when you are not using the Narrator.
  • Once you finish with the guide, you can close it and start using your Narrator.

Now, you can customize the way your Narrator functions from the Settings app.

Use the following steps to go to the Narrator settings:

  • Press the Windows logo key + I on your keyboard to open the Settings app.
  • Now, click Ease of Access among the list of options available.
  • On the left pane, go down and click Narrator. From the right pane, you will find several options on how to customize the Narrator. You are also able to enable or disable the Narrator from here. There, you can also check the box which allows you to use the shortcut key to enable the Narrator. You will also find a link where you can learn how to use the Narrator.
  • There are also options to choose when to start the Narrator. You can decide to start the Narrator before sign-in or after sign-in, or both.
  • You also have the option to choose which Narrator voice to use. There are about five different voices to choose from if you are using the US version of Windows 10. Below this option, you will find a link where you can learn how to add more voices. This is great if none of the voices provided above is pleasant to your ears.
  • The next options will let you change the voice speed, pitch, and volume. There, you will find three sliders which will aid you in the editing. To increase the speed, pitch, or volume, move the sliders to the right. To do the opposite, move the sliders to the left.
  • The next option allows the Narrator to emphasize formatted text. You can toggle it on or off. You can also toggle the intonation option on or off. This feature is available only for selected voices.
  • The next option is important because when it is enabled, the volume of other apps will be lowered when the Narrator is speaking. This prioritizes the Narrator’s voice over other app sounds.
  • You will also find an option where you can change the amount of context you hear. You can choose to hear the characters or words you type, Narrator errors, audio cues, or sounds when you interact with buttons. You can also adjust the amount of detail and context provided by the Narrator.
  • In the next option, you have the opportunity to choose between the Standard or Legacy keyboard layout. The Standard layout is usually set as default, and you are able to make changes to the keyboard commands. You can also modify the Narrator key in this layout (you can choose to use the Insert key instead of the Caps lock key).  The Legacy layout is what was used in the previous versions of Windows. You can visit the Microsoft support page to learn more about the different keyboard layouts. There is also another option where you can lock the Narrator key so that you do not have to press it whenever you want to make a command.
  • There is also an option for the Narrator Cursor. This Cursor provides you with the location on the page where the Narrator is currently reading. It is represented by a blue box over the word. The cursor can be enabled or disabled. You can also choose if you want the system cursor to move along with the Narrator cursor.
  • To use a braille display, you need to install some third-party apps. Click the Download and Install Braille button to download the app you need.
  • If you want to make the Narrator feature better, you can send feedback to Microsoft. Pressing the Caps Lock + Alt + F keys on your keyboard will open the submit feedback page. But first, you need to enable the option to send additional diagnostic and performance data to Microsoft.

Pro tip:

We have received many reports from users that their computers are becoming slower after some time of usage. This is a common phenomenon when you have installed lots of third-party apps on your PC. Also, this issue occurs when junk files have accumulated in your system and are taking up space in your hard drive. To fix this problem, we advise you to download and install Auslogics BoostSpeed. This tool will clear all the junk files from your system and disable all the unnecessary background apps that are draining your computer’s resources.

We hope that this article has shown you how to enable Windows Narrator. Share it with others who need such information.

We appreciate your ideas and comments, and we are ready to answer all your questions regarding the above topic.

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