What is Microsoft Narrator?

Microsoft Narrator

Microsoft Narrator is a screen reader which comes with Microsoft windows. The narrator was developed by Professor Paul Blenkhom in the year 2000 and it reads aloud the text on your PC screen using Microsoft Mobile Voices that are very easy to understand.

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The narrator also describes events such as notifications and calendar appointments which lets you use your PC without a display.Ever since the year 2000, the Microsoft Narrator screen reader has been built into every copy of windows installed on a PC.

The utility has made the windows operating system more accessible for the blind and visually impaired, making them view the Microsoft Narrator as a tool of last resort.

Get Started with Microsoft Narrator

To get started with Microsoft Narrator,

  • In Windows 10, press and hold the windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter on your keyboard. In earlier versions of windows, you may need to press and hold the Windows logo key + Enter on your keyboard.
  • To display all narrator commands, press and hold Caps lock + F1 on your keyboard after opening the narrator. If your device has a touchscreen, then you might need to tap it three times with your fingers.
  • To also display narrator settings, press and hold Ctrl + Windows logo key + N.
  • Press and hold the ctrl key to silence the narrator.

Ways of Using the Microsoft Narrator

The Microsoft Narrator can be used in different ways;

  • The traditional method which involves just the tab key, arrow keys and other keyboard shortcuts.
  • Item Navigation Mode, and
  • The scan mode
  • Item Navigation Mode

Using the navigation mode, the caps lock, plus the left and right arrow keys helps you move through different items. An item could be a group of texts, links, headings, an image etc.

The caps lock plus the left and right arrow keys helps you move through lines, paragraphs and characters.

The Scan Mode

The scan mode can be activated by pressing and holding the caps lock and the space bar.This allows you to use the Microsoft Narrator in a more conventional manner, especially on the web. It helps you navigate through paragraphs, headings, tables etc on a webpage.

For example, the letter H can be used to jump forward to a heading on a webpage, letter D for landmarks and the letter T takes you directly to a table on webpage if there is any.

Turning Off the Microsoft Narrator

Even with its enormous benefits to computer users, especially the visually impaired, there might come a time when one needs to perform other necessary tasks or someone else other than the PC owner might want to make use of the system and would not want the interference of the narrator.

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So how does one go about it? Below are ways of turning off the narrator.

  • Use the Shortcut Key Combination: If there is a keyboard shortcut enabled for narrator, then one can turn off narrator if it is turned on by pressing and holding simultaneously the following keys on the keyboard; Ctrl + Windows Logo Key + Enter Key. Once that has been done, you should hear the narrator voice say ‘Exiting Narrator’.
  • Exit the Narrator Window: If the narrator is enabled, you can exit by clicking on Exit Narrator at the bottom of the narrator window or by clicking the X in a red box at the top-right corner of the window.
  • Force-quit Narrator: If you are unable to perform any necessary task because of the narrator, you can force it to quit by following the below processes;
  • Press and hold Ctrl + Shift + Esc to bring up the task manager program.
  • On the task manager program, locate and click on the Screen Reader Option in the list of programs on the processess tab.
  • Double click End Task in the bottom right corner of the window.

Disabling the Narrator

  • Click on the Start Menu: If the narrator is in use, clicking on the start menu will cause the narrator to read the different options available on the menu.
  • Open the Ease of Access Centre: Type in Ease of Access and then click on the Ease of Access Centre at the top of the start window.
  • Click on the ‘use the computer without a display’ link which is directly under the ‘Explore all Settings’ in the middle of the page.
  • At the top of the window is the ‘Turn on Narrator’ box. Uncheck this box by clicking on it. Un-checking the box is an indication that you no longer want the Microsoft Narrator to come up whenever you sign in.
  • Click on the apply button at the bottom of the page to save the changes you have effected.

Microsoft Narrator should no longer come up when you log in to your computer if these outlined steps are followed.

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