This page is intended for sighted developers testing the accessibility of Web pages on a Mac. Information about iPhone commands can be found in external links list. Apple maintains a complete VoiceOver Tutorial for OS X.

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Apple’s screen reading utility VoiceOver comes standard with Mac OS X 10.4 and later. The information below is meant to help users begin to use VoiceOver’s functions.

For a comprehensive list of VoiceOver’s keyboard commands, as well as guides on getting started with VoiceOver and its newest features, see Apple Accessibility.

Note: These commands are optimized for the Safari browser. Some commands may work in other browsers.

Activate VoiceOver

To activate VoiceOver you can:

  1. Press Command + F5 keys to toggle VoiceOver on and off.
  2. VoiceOver can be toggled on and off from the Systems Preferences panel in the Accessibility settings.

Basic Commands

Note: The sequence of Control + Option (Mac keyborard) or Control + Alt (PC keyboard) is called the VoiceOver or "VO" key in other documentation.

Begin/Pause Reading
Function Keyboard Command
Enter Web Page Control + Option + Down Arrow
Exit Page Control + Option + Up Arrow
Read All Control + Option + A
Pause VoiceOver Control
Safari Address Bar Command + L
Previous Page in Safari Command + Left Arrow
Next Page Command + Right Arrow
Brower Menu Command + Option + M
Access "Right Click" Menu options Shift + Command + Option + M
Enter/Exit VoiceOver Command + F5

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Rotor Window

The "rotor" is a menu window in VoiceOver which presents lists of Web elements such as headings, links, images and other Web elements. It can be configured to add or remove Web page elements as well.

Rotor window - see details after image

Rotor window showing "Headings" on Accessibility Home page. The first is "2: Quick Links" indicating the presence of an H2 for Quicklinks.

Open and Browse Rotor

Rotor Commands
Function Keyboard Command
Open Rotor Control + Option + U
Close Rotor Escape
Next Window Right Arrow
Previous Window Left Arrow
One List Item Down Down Arrow
One List Item Up Up Arrow
Go to Item Enter or Return
Read After Item Control + Option + A

Configure Rotor Options

The rotor can be configured to display or disable different Web page elements. This is done in the VoiceOver Utility settings in the System Preferences. To open the VoiceOver Utility

  1. Open VoiceOver (Command + F5).
  2. Open the VoiceOver Utility by pressing Control + Option + F8.
  3. Look for the rotor settings options under the Web tab.
    Note: The location varies depending on operating system version.
  4. Check or uncheck the Web page elements as desired elements.
  5. Use arrow key commands to reorder elements into an appropriate sequence order.

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Navigate to Page Elements

You can navigate different Web elements without using the rotor with the keyboard commands below.

Navigating to Different Elements
Function Keyboard Command
Read Next Heading Control + Option + Command + H
Next Link Control + Option + Command + L
Next Image Control + Option + Command + I
Next Form Control Control + Option + Command + J
Next Frame Control + Option + Command + M
Next List Control + Option + Command + X


Navigate to Previous

To navigate to previous heading, link, image and so forth, add the Shift key to the command for the "Next" option.

For instance, if Next Heading is Control + Option + Command + H, then Previous Heading is Shift + Control + Option + Command + H

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Reading Text in Detail

These commands allow the user to specify exactly what type of content VoiceOver should read.

Keystrokes for Reading Text
Function Keyboard Command
Read Paragraph Control + Option + P
Read Sentence Control + Option + S
Read Line Control + Option + L
Previous Line Control + Option + Up Arrow
Next Line Control + Option + Down Arrow
Read Word Control + Option + W
Previous Word Control + Option + Left Arrow
Next Word Control + Option + Right Arrow
Read Character Control + Option + C
Previous Character Control + Option + Shift + Left Arrow
Next Character Control + Option + Shift + Right Arrow
Read Row in Table Control + Option + R
Read Column in Table Control + Option + Shift + C
Read Visible Window Control + Option + Shift + W

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ARIA Landmarks

VoiceOver users can navigate a page via Aria landmarks by choosing Landmarks in the Rotor.

Function Keyboard Command
Keystrokes for ARIA Landmarks
Start the web rotor Control + Alt + U
Navigate to list of landmarks Left/Right Arrow
Navigate through the list of landmarks Up/Down Arrow

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Reading Tables

Function Keyboard Command
Keystrokes for Tables
One Cell Forward (Begin Table) Control + Option + Right Arrow
One Cell Backwards Control + Option + Left Arrow
One Cell Down Control + Option + Down Arrow
One Cell Up Control + Option + Up Arrow
Read Row in Table Control + Option + R
Read Column Header Control + Option + C
Read Column in Table Control + Option + Shift + C

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A version of VoiceOver is also available for iPhone, iPad and iTouch and is based on finger gestures.

More information about VoiceOver on the iPhone is available in the external links list.

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