How to enable VoiceOver on Mac

How do I turn on VoiceOver on Mac?

VoiceOver is a visual accessibility feature that allows you to operate your Mac using just your keyboard while having items on the screen read out to you. It's an exceptionally handy tool for the visually impaired and it comes complete with training so that you can learn to use it to its fullest.

How to enable VoiceOver

  1. Click the Apple menu button () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility. It's on the very bottom right of the System Preferences pane.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click VoiceOver.
  5. Click the checkbox next to Enable VoiceOver. If you have never enabled VoiceOver before, a narrator will welcome you to VoiceOver and tell you to press the V key on your keyboard if you've used VoiceOver before or press the Spacebar if you haven't.

    Click VoiceOver, click the checkbox

Alternatively, you can press Command-F5 to enable VoiceOver.

How to use VoiceOver Training

VoiceOver on Mac takes some getting used to. Yes, you use your keyboard, but keys don't always do what you'd expect them to do. For instance, the arrow keys don't move you around the screen like you'd think they would. Here's how to go through VoiceOver Training:

  1. Click the Apple menu button () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility. It's on the very bottom right of the System Preferences pane.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click VoiceOver.
  5. Click Open VoiceOver Training…
  6. Press the right arrow key through the tutorial and practise the various VoiceOver controls as instructed. Alternatively, you can click Continue.

    Click VoiceOver, click Open VoiceOver Training...

How to change the VoiceOver voice

If you find the VoiceOver voice a bit difficult to understand or you'd just prefer a different voice, you can change it up in System Preferences.

  1. Click the Apple menu button () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.

    Click the Apple menu button, click System Preferences

  3. Click Accessibility.
  4. Click Speech.

    Click Accessibility, click Speech

  5. Click the dropdown menu next to System Voice.
  6. Click a voice.

    Click the dropdown menu, click a voice

  7. Click the Play button to preview the voice.
  8. Click and drag the slider next to Speaking Rate to speed up or slow down VoiceOver.

    Click the Play button to preview the voice, click and drag the slider next to Speaking Rate to change the speaking rate

How to use VoiceOver Utility

The VoiceOver Utility is where you can control certain aspects of VoiceOver, like the greeting when you turn on your Mac, the modifier key, and more.

  1. Click the Apple menu button () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility. It's on the very bottom right of the System Preferences pane.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click VoiceOver.
  5. Click Open VoiceOver Utility…

    Click VoiceOver, click Open VoiceOver Utility

  6. Click in the dialog box and type in a new greeting if you want to change it from the default.
  7. Click the checkbox next to Display welcome dialog when VoiceOver starts if you want to enable it.

    Type a new greeting, click the checkbox to display the welcome dialog when VoiceOver starts

  8. Click the dropdown menu next to Keys to use as the VoiceOver modifier if you'd like to change them from the defaults (caps lock and control-option). You can set the keys to be just Caps Lock, just Control-Option, or both.
  9. Click the checkbox next to Allow VoiceOver to be controlled with AppleScript if you'd like to enable the feature.

    Click the dropdown menu to choose modifier keeys, click the checkbox to allow VoiceOver to be controlled by AppleScript

How to set up VoiceOver Portable Preferences

You can set your preferences for VoiceOver and then take them with you wherever you go using a removable drive.

  1. Click the Apple menu button () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility. It's on the very bottom right of the System Preferences pane.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click VoiceOver.
  5. Click Open VoiceOver Utility…

    Click VoiceOver, click Open VoiceOver Utility

  6. Click Set Up… next to Portable Preferences.
  7. Click your portable drive in the list.
  8. Click OK.

    Click Set Up next to Portable Preferences, click your portable drive, click OK

How to enable Descriptions

You can enable voice description of visual content so that, when available, you'll hear descriptions of the video you're watching.

  1. Click the Apple menu button () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Accessibility. It's on the very bottom right of the System Preferences pane.

    Click System Preferences, click Accessibility

  4. Click Descriptions in the menu on the left.
  5. Click the checkbox next to Play audio descriptions when available to enable descriptions by default. They'll always play if they're available.

    Click Descriptions, click the checkbox to enable descriptions whenever they are available

Questions?

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