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Disability Resources & Educational Services

Mac OS X: VoiceOver

Mac OS X Snow Leopard VoiceOver is a built-in screen reader for Mac OS X. VoiceOver will benefit users who are blind or low-vision to use a computer. The latest version of VoiceOver includes gesture support, braille display mirroring, and spoken hints, and many new web page support options.

Turning On VoiceOver

VoiceOver may be turned on by pressing pressing Command + F5. VoiceOver may also be turned on in the Universal Access panel of System Preferences:

  1. Chose Apple menu > System Preferences, and click Universal Access. (Alternatively, click on the System Preferences icon OS X System Preferences Icon in the dock.)
  2. Click on the Seeing tab.
  3. Check the radio button labeled On in the VoiceOver section (Figure 1).
  4. If desired, click on the Open VoiceOver Utility... button to configure VoiceOver options (See VoiceOver Options).

Screenshot showing OS X Universal Access Seeing options

Figure 1. OS X Universal Access Seeing options. Check the On radio button (circled above) to enable VoiceOver.

How To Know That VoiceOver is Working

By default, OS X will display an overlay window in the lower-left corner of the screen with the text indicating that VoiceOver is running (Figure 3). VoiceOver will read this text and, depending on the verbosity options, begin reading information from the currently focused window.

Screenshot showing VoiceOver Overlay window

Figure 2. VoiceOver Overlay window. Turning Off VoiceOver To turn off VoiceOver, check the Off radio button in the VoiceOver section of the Universal Access system preferences or by pressing Command + F5.

VoiceOver Options

VoiceOver is highly configurable. You may access the VoiceOver options from the Seeing tab of the Universal Access system preferences (Figure 4).

A discussion of the VoiceOver options is beyond the scope of this document. The reader is encouraged to click on one of the links in the More Information section below.

Screenshot showing VoiceOver options

Figure 3. VoiceOver options.


To read more about VoiceOver for OS X, click on the following links: