Skip to main content

How to enable your Mac’s VoiceOver screen reader

How to enable your Mac’s VoiceOver screen reader

/

An easier way for those with visual impairments to use computers

Share this story

A MacBook Pro running macOS Monterey sits on a table in front of a window. The screen displays the Quick note app on top of a pink and purple background.
VoiceOver has been part of every Mac since macOS X
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Starting with macOS X, Apple has included a native screen reader called VoiceOver on its Macs and MacBooks. The feature is designed to help low-vision or blind users navigate their computers — and the internet — more easily. It works by reading aloud text descriptions of everything that appears on the screen, as well as reading any displayed text. The technology also allows users to interact with elements on the screen.

While VoiceOver is primarily meant for those with visual impairments, it can be helpful in many different scenarios — for example, if you’re someone who has a learning disability and prefers to listen to text rather than read it.

Apple has a whole user guide that gets into the nitty-gritty of how to use VoiceOver with refreshable braille displays and trackpad gestures, as well as how to customize the feature to best suit your needs (e.g., reading speed, voice profile, enabling screen curtain for privacy, etc.). But if you’re just getting started, here are a few easy ways to turn on VoiceOver.

  • Open System Preferences and then select Accessibility. From the left-hand menu, in the Vision category, select VoiceOver. Click Enable VoiceOver. You can also click the Open VoiceOver Training button to access the Quick Start training menu. Clicking the Open VoiceOver Utility button will open a menu where you can customize features like reading speed and voice profiles.
A screenshot of the Welcome to VoiceOver window
The Learn More button gives you a quick walk-through of how to use the feature’s basic commands.
Screenshot: Victoria Song / The Verge
  • Press Command and the F5 button. This should also bring up a Welcome to VoiceOver window. Click the Use VoiceOver button. In the lower left-hand corner, there’s a Learn More button where you can get the gist of basic commands, learn how the feature works, and practice using it effectively. You can turn it off by pressing the same keys and then clicking the “Turn Off VoiceOver” button.
  • If you have Siri enabled on your Mac, you can ask it to “Turn VoiceOver on” or “Turn VoiceOver off.” If you don’t have Siri enabled, you go to the Apple Menu in the top bar, select System Preferences, and then click the Siri icon. Once there, check the Enable Ask Siri box.
  • Press Option + Command and F5 to bring up the Accessibility shortcut panel. Press the tab key until you hear the VoiceOver option. Then press the space bar.
  • There’s an alternate shortcut if you’re on macOS Big Sur or later and your Mac has a TouchID button. While holding the Command button, quickly press the TouchID button three times. This also works if your Magic Keyboard has a TouchID button.

You can also opt to have VoiceOver turn on whenever you log onto the computer. To do this:

Screenshot of Login Options window displaying Accessibility Options
You can also enable VoiceOver at login.
Screenshot: Victoria Song / The Verge
  • Go to System Preferences.
  • Select Users & Groups, then select the Login Options button at the bottom of the user list.
  • If the lock icon at the bottom left is closed, enter your administrator password.
  • Click the Accessibility Options button on the right-hand side of the window.
  • Check the VoiceOver box and then click Apply.

VoiceOver isn’t the only accessibility feature available on macOS. If you’re interested in exploring other options, check out our macOS accessibility guide here.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 26 minutes ago Better on the inside

R
TikTok
Richard Lawler26 minutes ago
TikTok politics.

Ahead of the midterm elections, TikTok made big changes to its rules for politicians and political fundraising on the platform, as Makena Kelly explains... on TikTok.


R
External Link
Richard Lawler46 minutes ago
The Twitter employee who testified about Trump and the January 6th attack has come forward.

This summer, a former Twitter employee who worked on platform and content moderation policies testified anonymously before the congressional committee investigating the violence at the US Capitol on January 6th.

While she remains under NDA and much of her testimony is still sealed,  Anika Collier Navaroli has identified herself, explaining a little about why she’s telling Congress her story of what happened inside Twitter — both before the attack, and after, when it banned Donald Trump.


R
Instagram
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
But how does it sound?

Our review of Apple’s new AirPods Pro can tell you everything about the second-generation buds. To find out how you’ll sound talking to other people through them, just listen to Verge senior video producer Becca Farsace.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterTwo hours ago
Our list of the best entertainment of 2022 keeps getting bigger.

We just added some notable entries to our running list highlighting the best games, movies, and TV shows of the year, including Return to Monkey Island, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Sorry in advance for your free time.


The best entertainment of 2022

Everything to play and watch this year

Andrew WebsterTwo hours ago

The best instant cameras you can buy right now

We found the best cameras for your budget and needs

Sheena VasaniSep 22
R
The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 22
The Bootleg Ratio.

Policy Editor Russell Brandom digs into a phenomenon we’ve all seen on social media before:

I call it the Bootleg Ratio: the delicate balance between A) content created by users specifically for the platform and B) semi-anonymous clout-chasing accounts drafting off the audience. Any platform will have both, but as B starts to overtake A, users will have less and less reason to visit and creators will have less and less reason to post.

And now it’s coming for TikTok.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
D
Youtube
Dan SeifertSep 22
Here’s a look at a few Pixel Watch watchfaces.

Google is ramping up the marketing machine ahead of next month’s Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch event and has released a short video (via 9to5Google) highlighting the design and showcasing some of the watchfaces it will have. Most of them are quite simple, with just the time being displayed.

These videos always look great from a marketing perspective, but I think they poorly reflect how I actually use a smartwatch. I want the computer on my wrist to show me useful information like weather, calendar appointments, timers, etc, which means it’s never as sparse or simple looking as it is in these ads.


A
External Link
Please stop trying to order the Hummer EV.

GMC is closing the order books for the Hummer EV truck and SUV after receiving 90,000 reservations for the controversial electric vehicle, according to the Detroit Free Press. It just can’t seem to keep up with demand, so the GM-owned company has decided to stop taking orders until production picks up. Maybe if the Hummer’s battery wasn’t the same weight as a whole-ass Honda Civic, it would be easier to manufacture, but I digress.

GMC is the latest automaker to run into the problem of EV demand far outstripping supply. Ford also is having difficulty making enough F-150 Lightnings and Mustang Mach-Es to fill all its orders. Waitlists for most available EVs are longer than my arm. Things are going to be tight until the auto industry is able to bring more battery factories and assembly plants online, and unfortunately that could take a while.


A
External Link
Alex CranzSep 22
The Verge is hiring!

The Verge is almost always hiring, and right now we’re looking for a big Verge fan with big journalism ambition to join us as a fellow for the next year. We’re also hiring a Space Reporter to join our Science team, a Designer to work with our Art team, and a Senior Editor focused on Search. Come apply to work with us!


Fellow, The Verge

[boards.greenhouse.io]

A
Tesla recalls 1.1 million vehicles to prevent drivers from getting pinched by the windows.

The issue is that the windows would not recognize certain objects while closing, which could result in “a pinching injury to the occupant.” It’s a pretty enormous recall, covering some 2017-2022 Model 3, 2020-2021 Model Y, and 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles.

Tesla said it would issue a fix via an over-the-air software update. Notably, nobody has been been injured or killed by Tesla’s ravenous windows, but I wouldn’t recommend sticking your fingers in there just to see what happens.


A
External Link
Adi RobertsonSep 22
Congress is trying to make Google pay news outlets for links again.

The controversial Journalism Competition and Preservation Act — which would let news publishers negotiate payments for being linked by sites like Google — suffered a setback earlier this month thanks to a surprise Ted Cruz amendment trying to limit the platforms’ moderation options. After some negotiations between Cruz and sponsor Amy Klobuchar, it’s back for markup today, and it’s got critics even more worried than before.


A
External Link
Adi RobertsonSep 22
Twitter asks a court to make its whistleblower reveal if he contacted Elon Musk.

The Delaware Court of Chancery has issued another couple decisions in the fast-upcoming Twitter v. Musk trial. It’s letting Musk add allegations that Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko received a $7.75 million payout from the company. Meanwhile, it punted on a Twitter request for details about whether Musk or his associates knew about Zatko’s whistleblower claims before he took them public — Twitter and Musk’s lawyers will fight that out in a September 27th hearing.