Settings + personalization

Use Narrator on my phone

Narrator (beta version) is a screen reader that reads text aloud to allow users who are visually impaired, blind, or otherwise have trouble reading to use a Windows Phone. Once Narrator is turned on, you'll need to use Narrator-specific gestures to navigate your phone. See the full list of gestures in the following table.

Note

This feature is only available on Windows Phone 8.1, and only in the United States at this time. Check to see which software version you have and find out if an update is available.

To turn on Narrator

Turn on Narrator by doing one of the following on your phone:

  • In the App list, tap Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, and then turn on Narrator Toggle on icon.
  • If Narrator quick launch is turned on, press and hold the Volume Up button, and then press the Start Start button button. (If Narrator quick launch is turned off, this button combo won't turn on Narrator. This is to prevent Narrator from being turned on accidentally.)

Tip

You'll know Narrator has started when your phone starts speaking to you and a yellow box appears wherever you tap your phone's screen.

Turn on Narrator on Windows Phone

To turn on Narrator quick launch

  1. In the App list, tap Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, and then turn on Narrator Toggle on icon.

  2. Under Narrator quick launch, double-tap to turn it on or off Toggle on icon.

Note

This option is only available when Narrator is turned on.

To turn off Narrator

Turn off Narrator at any time by pressing and holding the Volume Up button, and then pressing the Start Start button button. Don't release the Volume Up button until Narrator tells you that it's turning off.

Tip

This button combo will turn off Narrator even if Narrator quick launch is turned off.

To change the Narrator voice

  1. In the App list, tap Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, and then turn on Narrator Toggle on icon.

  2. Under Voice, tap Female with one finger to select the picker box.

  3. Double-tap with one finger to open the voice options.

  4. Swipe right with one finger to select the Male voice as your screen reader, and swipe left to return to Female.

  5. Double-tap with one finger to confirm your choice.

Note

This option is only available when Narrator is turned on.

To change the talking speed

  1. In the App list, tap Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, and then turn on Narrator Toggle on icon.

  2. Under Speed, double-tap to increase the talking speed by 5%, or triple-tap to decrease the talking speed by 5%.

Note

This option is only available when Narrator is turned on.

To use touch typing

Touch typing, lets you activate the keys on the touch keyboard simply by lifting your finger off the keyboard.

  1. In the App list, tap Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, and then turn on Narrator Toggle on icon.

  2. Tap Touch typing to place the yellow Narrator box around the Touch typing option, and then double-tap it to turn it on or off Toggle on icon.

To use Narrator to read hints for controls and buttons

Narrator can read hints for using the controls and buttons on your phone.

  1. In the App list, tap Settings Settings icon > Ease of access, and then turn on Narrator Toggle on icon.

  2. Tap Read hints for controls and buttons to place the yellow Narrator box around the Read hints for controls and buttons option, and then double-tap it to turn it on or off Toggle on icon.

Narrator gestures on Windows Phone 8.1

Gesture What it does

Swipe left/right with one finger

Move to next or previous item

Swipe up/down with one finger

Change navigation mode (for more info, see below)

Tap or drag a single finger

Read what's under your finger

Double-tap with one finger, or

Hold with one finger and tap with a second

Activate primary action

Triple-tap with one finger, or

Hold with one finger and double-tap with a second

Activate secondary action

Swipe left/right/up/down with two fingers

Scroll

Tap with two fingers

Stop Narrator from reading

Double-tap with two fingers

Show context menu

Swipe up with three fingers

Read from top

Swipe down with three fingers

Start reading explorable text

Navigation modes

Navigation modes refer to the different chunks of content you can select to have read to you. Here's a full list of navigation modes: items, containers, headings, links, characters, words, lines, and paragraphs. Most of the time, you'll only cycle between two navigation modes: items and containers. The other navigation modes listed above will become available when you're editing text or reading web pages.

Items and containers

Everywhere outside of editing text and reading web pages, you'll switch between two navigation modes: items and containers. Items mode will let you move through each individual item on a screen, such as navigating down through your email inbox to find an email you're looking for. Containers mode lets you jump to different sections on a screen—letting you skip over a long list of emails so you can go straight to Folders or Search to find an email located in a different folder.

Editing text and reading web pages

Whether you're spicing up a noun by adding an adjective before it or deleting an entire line of text between paragraphs, you need the ability to move anywhere on the screen, down to the letter. The links, characters, words, lines, and paragraphs modes give you more control and detail where and when you need it.

Restarting Narrator if it's unresponsive

If Narrator is unresponsive and you can't navigate your phone, you may need to restart the phone. To do so, press and hold the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time for 10–15 seconds. When you feel a vibration, release the Volume Down and Power buttons immediately. This will restart your phone with Narrator already turned on. (Sometimes your phone will vibrate right away when you press the Volume Down and Power buttons—this is probably due to your ringer changing to Vibrate. Wait to release the buttons until a second vibration after 10–15 seconds.)

Tips

  • Narrator will restart automatically, but your volume settings may not—press Volume Up until you can hear Narrator again.
  • If you don't let go of the Volume Down and Power buttons right after the vibration at 10–15 seconds, your phone may show a black screen and not restart normally. If this happens, just repeat the button combo to try again.

Note

Not all phones support the ability to restart your phone this way, so check with your phone's manufacturer to find out how to force a restart.

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