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Use a screen reader to select and read text boxes and images in Word

Use a screen reader to select and read text boxes and images in Word

Read out loud symbol with the label Screen reader content. This topic is about using a screen reader with Office

This article is for people who use a screen reader program with the Office products and is part of the Office Accessibility content set. For more general help, see Office Support home.

Use Word 2016 with your keyboard and Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to select and read images, shapes, and text boxes in Word 2016 documents.

Using the Selection pane in Word 2016, you can display all the images, shapes, and text boxes within the document as a list. You can read the list with Narrator, and select list items to read the alt texts or to edit them.

Notes: 

In this topic

Access text inside text boxes

When screen readers read the body text, they cannot find text boxes that float above the document’s text layer. To access text inside a text box, use the Selection pane.

  1. In the document, press Alt+H to open the Home tab.

  2. To open the Selection pane, type SL, and then P. Narrator announces “Show All button”. The text boxes, images, and shapes appear in a list.

    Note: If there are multiple pages in your document, the Selection pane lists only the items on the current page.

  3. Use the arrow keys to move up and down the list. Narrator announces the list items as you move.

  4. To select a text box, press Spacebar.

  5. To open the context menu, press Shift+F10. Narrator announces: “Cut menu item”.

  6. In Narrator, use the arrow keys to move to the Edit Text item, and press Enter. Press any key to place the cursor inside the text box.

    In JAWS, you need to place the text box in line with the document text first. To set the text box in line with the text, move to Wrap Text, and use the Right or Left arrow key to go to In Line with Text, and press Enter. Press Esc to return to the body of the document.

  7. Narrator can now read the text inside the text box. To start reading, press Caps Lock+M. To return to the body of the document afterwards, press Esc twice.

    To read the text box contents in JAWS, press Alt+Num Pad 5.

Access images using the Selection pane

Images that are not inline images may be inaccessible to screen readers. To access all images in a document, use the Selection pane.

  1. In the document, press Alt+H to open the Home tab.

  2. To open the Selection pane, type SL, and then P. The images, shapes, and text boxes appear in a list.

    Note: If there are multiple pages in your document, the Selection pane lists only the items on the current page.

  3. Use the arrow keys to move up and down the list. Narrator announces the list items as you move.

  4. To select an image, press Spacebar.

  5. To go back to the document body, press Esc. Narrator announces the file name of the document.

  6. Narrator can now read the image alt text, if there is one. To start reading, press Caps Lock+M.

    In JAWS, press Ctrl+Num Pad 5.

Access floating objects without using the Selection pane

You can quickly move the focus between floating objects without using the Selection pane.

  1. To move focus to the first floating object in the document, press Ctrl+Alt+5.

  2. Press the Tab key to cycle through the floating objects in the document.

  3. To return to the normal navigation, press Esc.

Access inline objects without using the Selection pane

You can work on the inline objects as you read a document, without using the Selection pane.

  1. Narrator announces the objects when it reads through a document. To stop on an object, press the Ctrl key.

    Tip: If you miss the right spot and need to go back or forward in the document one word at a time, press the Left or Right arrow key until you hear Narrator announce the object you want.

  2. To select the object, press Shift+Right arrow.

  3. You can now work on the object. For example, to open the context menu, press Shift+F10.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert a picture or image in Word

Use a screen reader to check spelling and grammar in Word

Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word on Windows

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

Use Word 2016 for Mac with your keyboard and VoiceOver, the built-in Mac OS screen reader, to select and read images, shapes, and text boxes in Word 2016 for Mac documents.

Using the Selection Pane in Word 2016 for Mac, you can display all the images, shapes, and text boxes within the document as a list. You can read the list with VoiceOver, and select list items to read the alt texts or to edit them.

Notes: 

In topic

Access text inside text boxes

As text boxes float above the document’s text layer, VoiceOver cannot find them while reading the body text. To access text inside a text box, use the Selection Pane.

  1. In the document, press F6 until you hear "<Current tab>, selected, tab," and then press the Right arrow key until you hear: "Layout, tab." Press Control+Option+Spacebar to open the Layout tab.

  2. To open the Selection Pane, press the Tab key until you hear "Selection pane, unchecked checkbox," and then press Control+Option+Spacebar. VoiceOver announces: “Check, Selection pane, checkbox." The text boxes, images, and shapes appear on a list.

    Note: If there are breaks (such as page and section breaks) in your document, the Selection Pane lists only the items up to the next break.

  3. Press the Tab key until you hear "Table" and the first item on the list.

  4. Use the Up or Down arrow key to move up and down the list. VoiceOver announces the list items as you move. Text boxes are announced as: "Text box <number>." When on the item you want to access, press F6 until VoiceOver announces the item and "Edit text, contents selected, <text>, you are currently on a text area."

  5. To edit the text, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow key, and type the text you want.

  6. After editing the text, do one if the following.

    • To move back to the Selection Pane, press F6 until you hear: "Selection pane, tab."

    • To go back to the document body, press Esc.

Access images using the Selection pane

Images that are not inline images may be inaccessible to VoiceOver. To access all images in a document, use the Selection Pane.

  1. In the document, press F6 until you hear "<Current tab>, selected, tab," and then press the Right arrow key until you hear: "Layout, tab." Press Control+Option+Spacebar to open the Layout tab.

  2. To open the Selection Pane, press the Tab key until you hear "Selection pane, unchecked checkbox," and then press Control+Option+Spacebar. VoiceOver announces “Check, Selection pane, checkbox." The text boxes, images, and shapes appear on a list.

  3. Press the Tab key until you hear "Table" and the first item on the list.

  4. Use the Up or Down arrow key to move up and down the list. VoiceOver announces the list items as you move. Images are announced as: "Picture <number>." When on the item you want to access, press F6 until VoiceOver announces the item as: "<alt text>, Image."

  5. To open the context menu, and access the options to format the picture, or add or change alt text, press Control+Option+Shift+M. To go back to the document body, press Esc.

Access inline images without using the Selection pane

If you want to work on inline images as you read a document, you don’t need to open the Selection Pane.

  1. VoiceOver announces the images when you move the cursor through the document. VoiceOver announces the inline images as: "<alt text>, Image, in line with text, layout item."

  2. To select the image, press Shift+Right arrow key.

  3. You can now work on the image. For example, to open the context menu, press Control+Option+Shift+M.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert a picture or image in Word

Use a screen reader to check spelling and grammar in Word

Keyboard shortcuts in Word for Mac

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

Use VoiceOver, the built-in iOS screen reader, to navigate to and read text boxes and images in Word documents on your phone.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in iOS screen reader, VoiceOver. To learn more about using VoiceOver, visit Apple accessibility.

  • This topic assumes that you are using an iPhone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an iPad.

In this topic

Read text inside text boxes

As text boxes float above the document's text layer, VoiceOver skips them while reading the page text but you can navigate to them separately.

  1. Open the Word document on your phone. Swipe right until you reach the document body text. VoiceOver starts reading the text.

  2. When VoiceOver has reached the end of the page, swipe right until VoiceOver announces the first text box and reads the contents.

  3. To move to the next text box on the page, swipe right.

    When you enter the page footer, all text boxes on the page have been read. To move to the next page, swipe right.

Access images within text

  1. Open the Word document on your phone. Swipe right until you reach the document body text. VoiceOver starts reading the text.

  2. When VoiceOver has reached the end of the page, swipe right. VoiceOver reads the alt text of the first image on the page. If the image has no alt text, you hear: "Image."

  3. To move to the next image on the page, swipe right.

    When you enter the page footer, you've navigated through all the images on the page. To move to the next page, swipe right.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert and change text in Word

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

Use TalkBack, the built-in Android screen reader, to navigate to and read text boxes and images in Word documents on your phone.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Android screen reader, TalkBack. To learn more about using TalkBack, go to Android accessibility.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with an Android phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an Android tablet.

In this topic

Read text inside text boxes

  1. Open the Word document on your phone. Swipe right until TalkBack starts to read the document text one paragraph at a time.

  2. To move to the next paragraph, swipe right. When you hear "Rectangle, text box," you've reached a text box within the document. TalkBack reads the text box contents. When done, swipe right to continue reading the document or to move to the next text box.

Access images within text

  1. Open the Word document on your phone. Swipe right until TalkBack starts to read the document text one paragraph at a time.

  2. To move to the next paragraph, swipe right. When you reach an image, TalkBack reads the image alt text, followed by "image." If the image has no alt text, you hear just "image." When done, swipe right to continue reading the document or to move to the next image.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert and change text in Word

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

Use Word Mobile with Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to select and read text boxes in Word documents.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Windows screen reader, Narrator. To learn more about using Narrator, go to Get started with Narrator.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with a Windows phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for a tablet or PC.

Read text inside text boxes

As text boxes float above the document’s text layer, Narrator doesn't read them while reading the body text, so you have navigate to them separately.

  1. Swipe up or down with one finger until you hear: “Items.”

  2. Swipe right until you hear "Rectangle."

  3. Narrator can now read the contents of the text box. To start reading, swipe down with three fingers. To move to the next text box, swipe right.

See also

Use a screen reader to check spelling and grammar in Word

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

Use Word Online with your keyboard and Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to select and read images in Word documents.

Notes: 

  • If you use Narrator with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you have to turn off scan mode in order to edit documents, spreadsheets, or presentations with Office Online. For more information, refer to Turn off virtual or browse mode in screen readers in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • For keyboard shortcuts, go to Keyboard shortcuts in Word Online.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Windows screen reader, Narrator. To learn more about using Narrator, go to Get started with Narrator.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with a PC. Some navigation and gestures might be different for a Windows phone or tablet.

  • When you use Word Online, we recommend that you use Microsoft Edge as your web browser. Because Word Online runs in your web browser, the keyboard shortcuts are different from those in the desktop program. For example, you’ll use Ctrl+F6 instead of F6 for jumping in and out of the commands. Also, common shortcuts like F1 (Help) and Ctrl+O (Open) apply to the web browser – not Word Online.

Access inline images

  1. After opening a document in Word Online, to start Narrator’s continuous reading mode, press Caps lock+M. Narrator announces all images when it reads through the document. To stop on an image, press the Ctrl key.

    Note: If you miss the right spot and need to go back or forward in the document a word at a time, press the Left or Right arrow key until you hear your screen reader announce the image

  2. To select the image, press Enter.

  3. You can now work on the image. For example, to access the picture tools, press Alt+Windows logo key, and then press the Tab key until you hear “Picture tools, non-selected, Format tab item,” and press Enter to open the Format tab.

  4. You can adjust image settings such as its size, style, and alt text. Press the Tab key until you hear the name of the setting you want, and then press Enter.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert a picture or an image in Word

Use a screen reader to check spelling and grammar in Word

Keyboard shortcuts in Word Online

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Learn how to navigate Word using accessible features

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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