Hear text read aloud with Narrator (Windows 8)

Hear text read aloud with Narrator


  • For the source of this information, and to view a great video overview of using Narrator for Windows 8, please click here.

Starting Narrator

There are different ways to start Narrator. These are the three shortcuts many people prefer:

  • On a keyboard, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key+Enter.
  • On a tablet, press the Windows logo button Windows logo key and Volume Up button together.
  • On the sign-in screen, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key+U or click the Ease of access Ease of Access button button in the lower-left corner and choose Narrator.


  • If you want to quickly exit Narrator, press Caps Lock+Esc.

Another way to get to Narrator is to use search:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then clickSearch.)

  2. Enter Narrator in the search box, tap or click Apps, and then tap or click Narrator.


  • If you want to get started right away, after you open Narrator, press the Caps Lock key+F1. This keyboard combination will show you all of the Narrator commands.

  • If you want to use Caps Lock to capitalize letters while you're using Narrator, press the Caps Lock key twice in quick succession.

New touch gestures

Windows 8 and Windows RT have new actions and new locations for common commands. Here are a few important gestures to get you started.

Use this touch gestureTo do this

Swipe in from the right edge with one finger

Open the charms (Search, Share, Start, Devices, Settings)

Swipe in from the left edge with one finger

Switch apps, snap them to the side, and close them

Swipe in from the top or bottom edge with one finger

Show app commands like Save, Edit, and Delete


  • The press and hold gesture isn't supported in Narrator.

New keyboard shortcuts

Windows 8 and Windows RT have new keyboard shortcuts too. Here are a few helpful ones. To find the rest, go to Keyboard shortcuts.

Use this keyboard shortcutTo do this
Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+C

Open the charms (Search, Share, Start, Devices, Settings)

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+Z

Show app commands like Save, Edit, and Delete

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+period

Snap apps to the side

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+Tab or Alt+Tab

Switch apps

Narrator settings

Here are some of the main settings you might want to use:


  • Lock the Narrator key so you don’t have to press it for each command (Caps Lock). When you choose this option, you won’t have to use the Caps Lock key with the Narrator keys. For example, instead of pressing Caps Lock key+F1, you can simply press F1.


    • On a 106 keyboard, Ctrl+Alt+Z won't lock the Narrator key.

  • Start Narrator minimized. This option keeps the Narrator window out of your way.

  • Echo keyboard keystrokes while typing. You can choose whether or not Narrator reads each key you type.

  • Read out voiced Narrator errors. Choose this option if you want Narrator to read the actual error in addition to playing an error tone.

  • Enable visual highlighting of Narrator cursor. This option lets you show or hide the box that highlights where Narrator is on your screen.

  • Play audio cues. This option lets you turn on or off the extra sounds that Narrator plays when you do certain actions.

  • Read hints for common items. This option controls whether Narrator will read hints about how to interact with common items such as buttons, links, list items, and sliders.

  • Lower the volume of other apps when Narrator is running. This option makes other apps quieter so it's easier to hear Narrator.

  • Retain notifications to be read for. This drop-down menu lets you control how long notifications will be retained for being read by Narrator.

  • Control whether Narrator starts automatically. This link takes you to the Ease of Access Center where you can choose to have Narrator on automatically.


  • Read and interact with the screen using the mouse. This option controls whether Narrator mouse mode is on. When mouse mode is on, Narrator will read what’s currently under your mouse cursor.

  • Activate keys on the touch keyboard when you lift your finger. If touch mode is on, you can turn on this setting so you can type faster using the touch keyboard. With this setting, you can drag to find the item you're looking for and lift your finger to press the key.

  • Enable the Narrator cursor to follow the keyboard focus. This adds a blue box to your screen that moves with the keyboard focus, so that if you tab through items the Narrator cursor will follow.


  • Select the speed, volume, or pitch of the voice. You can customize the voice with these three sliders.

  • Select a different voice for Narrator. With this drop-down menu you can select different types of voices in Narrator, if they are available in your language.


  • Click this option to see a list of existing shortcut keys for Narrator. You can always change these shortcuts if you like. The most important keyboard shortcut to know is Caps Lock+F1. Pressing this keyboard combination will show all Narrator commands. For reference, the following table lists the commands too.

    Use this keyboard shortcutTo do this


    Stop reading

    Caps Lock+Esc

    Exit Narrator

    Caps Lock+Space

    Do primary action

    Caps Lock+Right arrow

    Move to next time

    Caps Lock+Left Arrow

    Move to previous item

    Caps Lock+Up arrow

    Change view

    Caps Lock+Down arrow

    Change view

    Caps Lock+F1

    Show commands list

    Caps Lock+F2

    Show commands for current item

    Caps Lock+F3

    Jump to next cell in row

    Caps Lock+Shift+F3

    Jump to previous cell in row

    Caps Lock+F4

    Jump to next cell in column

    Caps Lock+Shift+F4

    Jump to previous cell in column

    Caps Lock+F5

    Read which row and column Narrator is in

    Caps Lock+F6

    Jump to table cell

    Caps Lock+F7

    Read current column

    Caps Lock+F8

    Read current row

    Caps Lock+F9

    Read current column header

    Caps Lock+F10

    Read current row header

    Caps Lock+F11

    Toggle touch mode on/off

    Caps Lock+F12

    Toggle keystroke announcements

    Caps Lock+Z

    Lock Narrator Key

    Caps Lock+X

    Pass keys to app

    Caps Lock+V

    Repeat last phrase

    Caps Lock+Page Up

    Increase voice volume

    Caps Lock+Page Down

    Decrease voice volume

    Caps Lock+Plus

    Increase voice speed

    Caps Lock+Minus

    Decrease voice speed

    Caps Lock+D

    Read item

    Caps Lock+F

    Read item advanced

    Caps Lock+S

    Read item spelled out

    Caps Lock+W

    Read Window

    Caps Lock+R

    Read all items in containing area

    Caps Lock+Q

    Move to last item in containing area

    Caps Lock+G

    Move Narrator cursor to system cursor

    Caps Lock+T

    Move Narrator cursor to pointer

    Caps Lock+Tilde

    Set focus to item

    Caps Lock+Backspace

    Go back one item

    Caps Lock+Insert

    Jump to linked item

    Caps Lock+M

    Start reading

    Caps Lock+Close bracket

    Read text from start to cursor

    Caps Lock+O

    Read text attributes

    Caps Lock+H

    Read document

    Caps Lock+U

    Read next page

    Caps Lock+Ctrl+U

    Read current page

    Caps Lock+Shift+U

    Read previous page

    Caps Lock+I

    Read next paragraph

    Caps Lock+Ctrl+I

    Read current paragraph

    Caps Lock+Shift+I

    Read previous paragraph

    Caps Lock+O

    Read next line

    Caps Lock+Ctrl+O

    Read current line

    Caps Lock+Shift+O

    Read previous line

    Caps Lock+P

    Read next word

    Caps Lock+Ctrl+P

    Read current word

    Caps Lock+Shift+P

    Read previous word

    Caps Lock+Open bracket

    Read next character

    Caps Lock+Ctrl+Open bracket

    Read current character

    Caps Lock+Shift+Open bracket

    Read previous character

    Caps Lock+J

    Jump to next heading

    Caps Lock+Shift+J

    Jump to previous heading

    Caps Lock+K

    Jump to next table

    Caps Lock+Shift+K

    Jump to previous table

    Caps Lock+L

    Jump to next link

    Caps Lock+Shift+L

    Jump to previous link

    Caps Lock+Y

    Move to beginning of text

    Caps Lock+B

    Move to end of text

    Caps Lock+N

    Rewind while reading a document

    Caps Lock+Comma

    Fast-forward while reading a document

    Caps Lock+C

    Read current date/time

If you have a new PC that supports four or more contact points, you can use touch commands to control your PC.

Use this touch commandTo do this

Tap once with two fingers

Stop Narrator from reading

Tap three times with four fingers

Show all Narrator commands (including ones not in this list)

Double-tap or hold with one finger and tap anywhere with a second

Activate primary action

Triple-tap or hold with one finger and double-tap with a second

Activate secondary action

Hold with one finger and tap with two others

Start dragging or extra key options

Tap with three fingers

Show/hide Narrator settings window

Tap with four fingers

Show commands for current item

Tap or drag a single finger

Read what's under your finger

Double-tap with four fingers

Toggle search mode

Triple-tap with four fingers

Show Narrator commands list

Flick left/right with one finger

Move to next or previous item

Flick up/down with one finger

Change move increment

Swipe left/right/up/down with two fingers


Swipe left/right with three fingers

Tab forward and backward

Swipe down with three fingers

Start reading explorable text

Swipe up with three fingers

Read current window

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request


Powered by Zendesk