Welcome to the new Standard keyboard layout for Narrator

We have made some changes to the way you interact with Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader. We wanted to make it easier for you to learn and use Narrator, so we’re building on the knowledge you may have acquired using other screen readers. In this release, we’re introducing the new Standard keyboard layout for Narrator. When you're using Narrator, your keyboard will default to the Standard layout.

This article is just the starting point in telling you all about the changes. All our screen reader content is going to be updated over time, but that's going to take a little while. This article should tide you over until then.

Tip: It's possible to switch back to the old Narrator keyboard layout if you find yourself preferring it. To change back, press the Windows logo key+Ctrl+N. Press the Tab key until you hear: "Select keyboard layout, Standard." To change the layout to Legacy, press the Down arrow key once. You hear: "Legacy, selected." The new Narrator commands will not be available in the Legacy keyboard layout if keystrokes for legacy commands conflict with those used in new Narrator features.

Here are some highlights:

  • Narrator now lets you use either the Caps lock or Insert keys as your Narrator modifier key. So, from now on, we’ll refer to these modifier keys as the "SR key".

  • The Change View commands have been updated. They are now mapped to the SR key+Page up and Page down keys. You can also use Change View by pressing the SR key+Ctrl+Up and Down arrow keys. Move Next and Move Previous haven’t changed.

  • The Primary and Secondary Action commands in scan mode have changed. Primary Action can be executed by pressing Enter or Spacebar. You can complete Secondary Action by simply adding a Shift key to each of those keys (Shift+Enter or Shift+Spacebar). You’ll see this change regardless of the keyboard layout you select.

  • Narrator’s page, paragraph, line, word, and character commands have been changed in our new Standard keyboard layout. In addition, many of Narrator’s commands have been changed to be more mnemonic. Some have also been changed to align to keystrokes that are more familiar to screen reader users.

  • You can now use the numeric keypad to issue Narrator commands. We’ll talk more about this below.

  • We’ve added a few new commands for Narrator, including List of Links, List of Headings, List of Landmarks, and Narrator Find.

  • Several new scan mode keyboard commands for selecting text have been added.

  • Several of Narrator’s keyboard commands for moving to Links, Headings, and Tables have been deprecated from the Standard keyboard layout. These commands are still available in scan mode and Change View. We’ve also deprecated the ”Move to last item in containing area” command.

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 can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

In this topic

The upgrade experience

When you upgrade to this version of Windows and switch on Narrator, a dialog pops up that displays information about the changes we’ve made to the Narrator keyboard layout. To turn this off, check the Do not show this again box.

The SR key

We’ve made some changes to the Narrator modifier key. We’ll refer to it as the "SR key" throughout Narrator settings and in future documentation.

By default, the Caps lock and Insert keys will be available as your SR key. If you’re using a 106 Japanese keyboard, then the NonConvert and Insert keys can be used as your SR key. This is a change from prior releases where the Ctrl and Alt keys were used as Narrator’s modifier keys.

Narrator settings changes

We’ve added a new heading in Narrator settings called Choose keyboard settings. You can get to it in scan mode by using the H key to move to the heading. You’ll find the following settings there:

Select keyboard layout

This setting allows you to select your Narrator keyboard layout. By default, the Standard keyboard layout is selected. If you want to return to the keyboard layout from the April 2018 release, select the Legacy layout.

Select Narrator modifier key

This setting allows you to determine the keys used as Narrator’s modifier key (the SR key). The following options are available:

  • Caps lock and Insert (the default setting)

  • Insert

  • Caps lock

If you’re using a 106 Japanese keyboard, the settings are as follows:

  • NonConvert and Insert (the default setting)

  • Convert

  • Insert

  • NonConvert

New Narrator keyboard shortcuts

Several new features have been added to Narrator in this release. Some of these commands only work in scan mode, while others work anytime you’re using Narrator.

Note: When describing keystrokes for commands in the tables shown throughout this document, we’ll refer to the Narrator modifier key as the SR key. You’ll also notice this in the SR key+F1 dialog that shows all of Narrator’s commands.

New general shortcuts

These shortcuts work whether scan mode is on or off:

Command

Key

Read selection

SR key+Shift+Down arrow key

Spell selection

SR key+Shift+Down arrow key twice quickly

List of Links

SR key+F7

List of Headings

SR key+F6

List of Landmarks

SR key+F5

Narrator Find

SR key+Ctrl+F

Continue Find Next

SR key+F3

Continue Find Previous

SR key+Shift+F3

New scan mode shortcuts

In this release, you can select content while in scan mode and copy it to the Windows clipboard. The following shortcuts work while you’re using scan mode:

Command

Key

Select or deselect character at Narrator focus

Shift+Left or Right arrow key

Select or deselect word at Narrator focus

Ctrl+Shift+Left or Right arrow key

Select or deselect line at Narrator focus

Shift+Up or Down arrow key

Select or deselect paragraph at Narrator focus

Ctrl+Shift+Up or Down arrow key

Select to beginning or end of current line

Shift+Home or End

Select to beginning or end of document

Ctrl+Shift+Home or End

Select or deselect page

Shift+Page up or Page down

Mark block

F9

Select block

F10

Select all

Ctrl+A

Read selection

SR key+Shift+Down arrow key

Spell selection

SR key+Shift+Down arrow key twice quickly

Copy selection to clipboard

Ctrl+C

Paste selection

Ctrl+V

Cut selection

Ctrl+X

Using the numeric keypad with Narrator

The new Standard keyboard layout allows use of the numeric keypad for executing Narrator commands. We designed the numeric keypad to allow you to get to any object using one hand. All Narrator commands require the use of the SR key (most likely the Insert key when using the numeric keypad). The Up, Down, Left, Right arrow keys as well as Home, End, Page up and Page down keys act as they would when the SR key is not held down. Those keys are simply passed to your application. A full description of the numeric keypad layout is shown below:

Command

Key

Move to first item in window

SR key+Home

Move to last item in window

SR key+End

Read current line

SR key+Up arrow key

Read from cursor

SR key+Down arrow key

Read current selection

SR key+Shift+Down arrow key

Spell current selection

SR key+Shift+Down arrow key twice quickly

Change View

SR key+Page up

Change View

SR key+Page down

Move to previous item

SR key+Left arrow key

Move to next item

SR key+Right arrow key

Read current character

Numeric keypad 5

Read previous word

SR key+Ctrl+Left arrow key

Read next word

SR key+Ctrl+Right arrow key

Read item

SR key+Ctrl+numeric keypad 5

Read item spelled out

SR key+Ctrl+numeric keypad 5 twice quickly

Move Narrator cursor to system cursor

SR key+numeric keypad Minus (-)

Set focus to item

Numeric keypad Plus (+)

Read which row and column Narrator is in

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+numeric keypad 5

The Standard keyboard layout

The following sections tell you more about how Narrator’s new Standard keyboard layout differs from the previous keyboard layout (now called Legacy). We’ll review the most common keys used in Narrator throughout these sections.

Input learning mode in Narrator

Input learning mode helps you get to know the Standard keyboard layout. Press SR key+1 to turn on input learning mode. From here, you can try keys on the keyboard to learn their new functions. 

Providing feedback changed

The new keystroke to provide feedback is SR key+Alt+F. This will work both in the Standard and Legacy layouts.

Change View commands changed

The new ones are as follows:

Press these keys

To do this

SR key+Page up or Page down
SR key+Ctrl+Up or Down arrow key

Change View

Some laptop keyboards position the Page up and Page down keys in awkward areas, so we’re providing an alternate method of changing Narrator’s view with the use of the Up and Down arrow keys.

Note: When changing Narrator’s view to either characters, words, lines or paragraphs the Read Current Item command will read the text of that specific view type more reliably.

Changing Narrator’s voice settings

The following changes have been made to control Narrator’s speech settings:

Command

Key 1

Key 2

Increase voice volume

SR key+Ctrl+Plus sign (+)

SR key+Ctrl+numeric keypad Plus (+)

Decrease voice volume

SR key+Ctrl+Minus sign (-)

SR key+Ctrl+numeric keypad Minus (-)

Increase verbosity mode

SR key+V

Decrease verbosity mode

SR key+Shift+V

Toggle character reading

SR key+2

Scan mode changes

We’ve changed scan mode’s Primary and Secondary Action commands to make them easier for you to use. These are the new keystrokes to use with these commands:

Command

Key 1

Key 2

Primary Action

Enter

Spacebar

Secondary Action

Shift+Enter

Shift+Spacebar

General purpose commands

The following changes have been made to these commands:

Command

Key 1

Key 2

Toggle Search Mode

SR key+Ctrl+Enter

Read Current Time and Date

SR key+F12

Describe Image Using an Online Service

SR key+Ctrl+D

Toggle Developer Mode

SR key+Ctrl+F12

Mouse Mode

SR key+Alt+M

Pass keys to application

SR key+3

Move Narrator Cursor to System Cursor

SR key+Open square bracket ([)

SR key+numeric keypad Minus (-)

Set Focus to Item

SR key+Single quote (')

SR key+numeric keypad Plus (+)

Jump to Linked Item

SR key+A

Jump to Annotated Content

SR key+Shift+A

Navigate to parent (when structural navigation is provided)

SR key+Alt+Up arrow key

Navigate to next sibling (when structural navigation is provided)

SR key+Alt+Right arrow key

Navigate to previous sibling (when structural navigation is provided)

SR key+Alt+Left arrow key

Navigate to first child (when structural navigation is provided)

SR key+Alt+Down arrow key

General reading commands

The following commands have changed:

Command

Key 1

Key 2

Read Item

SR key+Tab

SR key+numeric keypad 5

Read Item Spelled Out

SR key+Tab twice quickly

SR key+numeric keypad 5 twice quickly

Repeat Phrase

SR key+X

Start reading document

SR key+Down arrow key

SR key+Ctrl+R

Move to beginning of text

SR key+B

SR key+Ctrl+Home

Move to end of text

SR key+E

SR key+Ctrl+End

Read Document

SR key+C

Read text from start to cursor

SR key+Shift+J

SR key+Alt+Home

Character, Word, Line, Paragraph and Page Reading commands

Here are the command changes:

Command

Key 1

Key 2

Read Current Character

SR key+Comma (,)

Num pad 5

Read Previous Character

SR key+M

Left arrow key (when editing text)

Read Next Character

SR key+Period (.)

Right arrow key (when editing text)

Read Current Word

SR key+K

SR key+Ctrl+numeric keypad 5

Spell Current Word

SR key+K twice quickly

SR key+Ctrl+Left arrow key

Read Previous Word

SR key+J

SR key+Ctrl+End

Read Next Word

SR key+L

SR key+Ctrl+Right arrow key

Read Current Line

SR key+I

SR key+Up arrow key

Read Previous Line

SR key+U

Up arrow key (when editing text)

Read Next Line

SR key+O

Down arrow key (when editing text)

Read Current Paragraph

SR key+Ctrl+K

Read Previous Paragraph

SR key+Ctrl+J

Read Next Paragraph

SR key+Ctrl+L

Read Current Page

SR key+Ctrl+I

Read Previous Page

SR key+Ctrl+U

Read Next Page

SR key+Ctrl+O

Table-reading behavior

We are unifying the table-reading behavior experience. Here are the new keystrokes for reading tables when you’re not using scan mode:

Command

Key 1

Key 2

Jump to Next Cell in Current Row

Ctrl+Alt+Right arrow key

Jump to Previous Cell in Current Row

Ctrl+Alt+Left arrow key

Jump to Next Cell in Current Column

Ctrl+Alt+Down arrow key

Jump to Previous Cell in Current Column

Ctrl+Alt+Up arrow key

Jump to First Cell in Table

Ctrl+Alt+Home

Jump to Last Cell in Table

Ctrl+Alt+End

Read Current Row Header

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Left arrow key

Read Current Row

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Right arrow key

Read Current Column Header

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Up arrow key

Read Current Column

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Down arrow key

Read Which Row and Column Narrator is in

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Forward slash (/)

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+numeric keypad 5

Jump to Table Cell

Ctrl+Alt+Page up

Jump to Cell Contents

Ctrl+Alt+Page down

See also

Complete guide to Narrator

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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