How To: Using Narrator in Windows 8 to read text out loud

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Started ‎02-20-2013 by
Modified ‎04-24-2013 by

Narrator is a screen reader that reads text on the screen aloud and describes events like error messages so you can use your PC without a display.


For complete information about using Narrator as well as all available commands and options, go to the Start screen and type "Help". Under the search returns for "apps" select "Help and Support". When Help and Support opens, in the search box, type "Narrator". Select "Hear text read aloud with Narrator".



  • Narrator provides basic screen-reading capabilities so you can use Windows when you don't have a more comprehensive screen reader. Narrator isn't designed to read content in all apps. For more info about screen readers and other assistive technologies, go to the Microsoft Accessibility website.
  • TTS support in Narrator is available in English (United States and United Kingdom), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional), and Spanish.


Starting / Exiting Narrator




To start narrator, perform one of the following:


- Press the Windows key  +Enter to start the narrator. The Narrator Settings window will open when narrator starts.




-  At the Start screen type "Narrator". From the search results under "Apps" select "Narrator".




To exit the narrator, perform one of the following:


- Press Caps Lock + Esc. Select "Yes" when asked if you want to exit narrator.




- Select "Exit" from the "Narrator Settings" window. Select "Yes" when asked if you want to exit narrator.


Narrator Settings




  • Lock the Narrator key so you don’t have to press it for each command (Caps Lock). When you choose this option, you won’t have to use the Caps Lock key with the Narrator keys. For example, instead of pressing Caps Lock key+F1, you can simply press F1.

NOTE: On a 106 keyboard, Ctrl+Alt+Z won't lock the Narrator key.


  • Start Narrator minimized. This option keeps the Narrator window out of your way.
  • Echo keyboard keystrokes while typing. You can choose whether or not Narrator reads each key you type.
  • Read out voiced Narrator errors. Choose this option if you want Narrator to read the actual error in addition to playing an error tone.
  • Enable visual highlighting of Narrator cursor. This option lets you show or hide the box that highlights where Narrator is on your screen.
  • Play audio cues. This option lets you turn on or off the extra sounds that Narrator plays when you do certain actions.
  • Read hints for common items. This option controls whether Narrator will read hints about how to interact with common items such as buttons, links, list items, and sliders.
  • Lower the volume of other apps when Narrator is running. This option makes other apps quieter so it's easier to hear Narrator.
  • Retain notifications to be read for. This drop-down menu lets you control how long notifications will be retained for being read by Narrator.
  • Control whether Narrator starts automatically. This link takes you to the Ease of Access Center where you can choose to have Narrator on automatically.



  • Read and interact with the screen using the mouse. This option controls whether Narrator mouse mode is on. When mouse mode is on, Narrator will read what’s currently under your mouse cursor.
  • Activate keys on the touch keyboard when you lift your finger. If touch mode is on, you can turn on this setting so you can type faster using the touch keyboard. With this setting, you can drag to find the item you're looking for and lift your finger to press the key.
  • Enable the Narrator cursor to follow the keyboard focus. This adds a blue box to your screen that moves with the keyboard focus, so that if you tab through items the Narrator cursor will follow.



  • Select the speed, volume, or pitch of the voice. You can customize the voice with these three sliders.
  • Select a different voice for Narrator. With this drop-down menu you can select different types of voices in Narrator, if they are available in your language.



Click this option to see a list of existing shortcut keys for Narrator. You can always change these shortcuts if you like. The most important keyboard shortcut to know is Caps Lock+F1. Pressing this keyboard combination will show all Narrator commands. For reference, the following table lists the commands too.




Selecting this option minimizes the Narrator Settings window.




Selecting this option exits the Narrator.


Viewing Available Commands


To view available commands, perform on e of the following:


- After Narrator opens, press the Caps Lock key + F1. This keyboard combination will show you all of the Narrator commands.




- Select "Commands" from the "Narrator Settings" window.


New Narrator Commands Available in Windows 8


Narrator in Windows 8 operated similarly to previous narrator in previous Windows operating systems. Below are new commands included with Narrator for Windows 8.


New Keyboard Shortcuts


Use this keyboard shortcut

To do this

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+C

Open the charms (Search, Share, Start, Devices, Settings)

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+Z

Show app commands like Save, Edit, and Delete

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+period

Snap apps to the side

Windows logo key‌ Windows logo key+Tab or Alt+Tab

Switch apps



New Touch Gestures


NOTE: The press and hold gesture isn't supported in Narrator.


Use this touch gesture

To do this

Swipe in from the right edge with one finger

Open the charms (Search, Share, Start, Devices, Settings)

Swipe in from the left edge with one finger

Switch apps, snap them to the side, and close them

Swipe in from the top or bottom edge with one finger

Show app commands like Save, Edit, and Delete