This post originally appeared on the Yahoo! Accessibility blog.
VoiceOver is a screen reading software built into the Mac OS and is available on every computer that runs this operating system. This means that any Mac user, accessibility tester or developer has access to the same screen reading functionality at no additional cost to them.
One of the difficulties that many VoiceOver beginners encounter when attempting to use this screen reader is learning many of its shortcut keys as well as understanding how to effectively navigate web pages or other parts of the Mac OS user interface.
In this tutorial you will learn about the less-known but very powerful feature of VoiceOver screen reader called "Quicknav Mode". With "Quicknav Mode" you can perform a lot of navigation actions without ever touching other VoiceOver shortcut keys. "Quicknav Mode" is especially handy when navigating web pages with VoiceOver screen reader. " Read on to learn all about it.
Let's get started…
- To toggle VoiceOver at any point during your Mac session, press COMMAND+F5.
- To turn the "Quicknav Mode" on or off, press LEFT and RIGHT arrows together. Each time you press this key combination, VoiceOver will announce "Quicknav On" or "Quicknav Off".
Please note, you will want to turn off the "Quicknav Mode" when typing inside text fields or performing other editing operations so that you can use arrow keys for navigating between characters and other units of text.
- To toggle "Quicknav Mode" on or off, press LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW at the same time.
- To change to the next navigation mode, for example, "words", "characters", "headings", "links", "form fields", etc, press RIGHT ARROW and DOWN ARROW together. Every time this combination is pressed, VoiceOver will announce the current navigation mode.
- To change to the previous navigation mode, press LEFT ARROW and UP ARROW together. Every time this combination is pressed, VoiceOver will announce the current navigation mode.".
- To navigate to the next item using the chosen navigation mode, for example, "headings", use DOWN ARROW.
- To navigate to the previous item using the chosen navigation mode, for example, "headings", use UP ARROW.
- To perform a click or activate an item under the VoiceOver cursor, press UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW at the same time.
- To begin interacting with an item under the VoiceOver cursor, for example, to inspect the link text or a list of items, press RIGHT ARROW and DOWN ARROW together.
- To stop interacting with an item under the VoiceOver cursor, for example, to inspect the text of the link or a list of items, press LEFT ARROW and UP ARROW together. Please note, you will have to use VoiceOver text navigation commands when interacting with items).
Browsing the web with VoiceOver in Lion has become easier than ever because of a much more enhanced "Quicknav Mode". To take advantage of the features (described below), do the following:
- Open VoiceOver Utility by pressing CONTROL+OPTION+F8.
- In the list of categories arrow to the "Commanders" option, then press the TAB key to land on the list of available commanders.
- Press RIGHT ARROW to land on the "Quicknav" tab and select it with the SPACE bar.
- Tab to the checkbox that says "Enable single-key webpage navigation when using Quick Nav and make sure it is checked.
- Close VoiceOver Utility window and open Safari browser.
From this point on, whenever you are in "Quicknav Mode", you can use single-letter navigation to browse web pages. For example,
- H and SHIFT+H to move between headings.
- F and SHIFT+F to move between text fields.
- L and SHIFT+L to move between links.
- B and SHIFT+B to move between buttons.
- G and SHIFT+G to move between images.
- And many many more...
To learn about other Quicknav keystrokes:
- Make sure the "Quicknav Mode" is on.
- Arrow down to "Commands Help" and expand it.
- Arrow down to the "Quicknav" option and expand it.
- Finally, use up and down arrows to review all available shortcut keys.
Press CONTROL+OPTION+H to launch VoiceOver Help.
Tip: you can also reassign these shortcut keys to your liking and even assign the new ones inside the VoiceOver Utility panel (CONTROL+OPTION+F8).
This is all there is to know about VoiceOver's "Quicknav Mode". If you ever get stuck, do the following:
Keyboard Help mode
- Press LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW together to turn on "Quicknav Mode".
- Press CONTROL+OPTIONS+K to turn on VoiceOver's "Keyboard Help".
- Start pressing various Quicknav arrow key combinations and listen to VoiceOver's descriptions of the keystrokes.
- Press ESCAPE key to exit "Keyboard Help".
- Press LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW again to turn off "Quicknav Mode".
Happy navigating with VoiceOver screen reader for the Mac!