Use Windows 8 Narrator with Office 2013

When you work in Office 2013 on Windows 8, you can use the built-in screen reader, Narrator, to read and create Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets, OneNote notebooks, and Outlook email.

You can also use Narrator to describe every item on your screen or describe the layout of a web page. It can even read your email to you.

We recommend you first become familiar with Narrator on Windows 8, so you can use Narrator’s keyboard commands and touch gestures in Office 2013 programs.

Here are tips on how to use Narrator and Office 2013 on Windows 8.

Getting started with Narrator

The basics are easy enough—on a touch screen, drag your finger around the screen. Narrator speaks everything you touch, so you can get a feel for the layout. You can also tap to hear a single item identified. When Narrator is running, it takes two taps to open something instead of one.

To see the master cheat sheet of touch gestures in Narrator (and hear it read to you), tap the screen three times with four fingers.

If you’re using a keyboard, the Caps Lock key becomes dedicated to Narrator. Press Caps Lock + V, for example, to make Narrator repeat whatever it just said. Pressing Caps Lock + + (plus sign) or Caps Lock + - (minus sign) speeds up or down the voice. Pressing Caps Lock + Esc exits Narrator.

Start Narrator

  • On touch-only devices, press the Windows logo key + Volume Up.
  • On a keyboard, press the Windows logo key + Enter.
  • On the sign-in screen, press the Windows logo key + U or click the Ease of Access button in the lower-left corner and choose Narrator.

Or use Search to start Narrator

  1. Open Narrator by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, and then tapping Search. (If you’re using a keyboard and mouse, point to the upper right-corner of the screen, and then click Search).
  2. Enter Narrator in the search box, change the search filter to Apps, and then tap or click Narrator in the results.

To see all the available Narrator commands right away, press Caps Lock + F1.

Keyboard shortcuts

For the best experience with Narrator and Office 2013, become familiar with the keyboard shortcuts in Office. Here are a few links to get you started:

Getting Started with Office 2013 programs and Narrator 8

By program, here’s features in Office 2013 programs that work, work OK, and don’t work using Narrator 8.

You can get to the ribbon, Backstage, status bar, dialog boxes, and task panes using Narrator on Windows 8 for all Office programs. However accessing content (for example reading a Word document, or an Excel spreadsheet) within particular Office programs will be limited.

Narrator won’t be able to read content found in Publisher files, Visio drawings, Access databases, InfoPath, or Project.

Word

Almost everything is accessible using Narrator in touch and keyboard.

Content Type
Plain text Text in the document, tables, headers, footers and textboxes are fully accessible using keyboard or touch
Tables All the contents inside a table is accessible.
Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks in the document work, however, Narrator wouldn’t read the screen tip of the Hyperlink (Hypertext).

Hyperlinks on texts in shapes & textboxes are not working and won’t be read by Narrator

Rich Media Videos are indistinguishable from an image
Comments

Comments in pop out aren’t accessible, so using the comment pane is highly encouraged.

When the comments pane is visible, the only way to get access to the contents of the comment is by getting focus into the comment. You can move comment by comment using the comment pane but you can’t move to the text from the comment.

Comments in reading mode are entirely inaccessible, so use print layout for reading documents with comments.

Tips for using Narrator with Word using a keyboard

To do this Use this Narrator keyboard shortcut

Read from selected heading in Navigation Pane

  1. Select the heading.
  2. Caps + space
  3. Caps + G
  4. Caps + M
Read from search results in Navigation Pane
  1. Select the result that you are interested.
  2. Caps + space
  3. Caps + F2
  4. Choose set focus
  5. Caps + M
If your document only has one link or shape After the first time you moved to that item using the respective view. Please change back to some other view and move in the view so the single item to the previous view becomes accessible again.
Syncing Narrator cursor and the app cursor

If you want to sync the Narrator cursor and the app cursor, please use Caps + G

For example, while you are reading a document you might want to insert some text at the current place that Narrator just read.

Access images, charts, and shapes

You need to use item view to get access to this information

  • Caps + up/down arrow to change view
  • Caps + left/right arrow to move item by item in the view

Images, charts, and shapes are presented under illustration and grouped object so before getting to the actual shape or image you have to pass the illustration and group object in the item view.

Another way to access any objects inside the document is using selection pane.

Press Alt + H + SL + P to bring up the selection pane.

You can select the shape you’re interested.

Accessing text inside text boxes
  1. Press Alt + H + SL + P
  2. Choose the text box you want to read or edit.
  3. Press Caps + space to select the text box
  4. Press Shift + F10
  5. Select edit text from the context menu.
  6. Press any key to put cursor inside the text box (you have to remove the key using backspace after you got inside the text box).
  7. Read or edit the text inside the text box

To return to the main document, press Esc twice.

Tips for using Narrator and Word with touch

To do this Use this Narrator touch gesture
Read from selected heading in Navigation Pane
  1. Double tap the heading you’re interested in.
  2. 3 finger swipe down.
Read from search results in Navigation Pane
  1. Double tap the result you’re interested in.
  2. Three finger tap.
  3. Choose set focus.
  4. Three finger swipe down.
Accessing text inside text boxes
  1. Explore the document with your finger to find the text box you are interested in.
  2. Double tap to put cursor inside the text box.
  3. Three finger swipe down to read the text inside the text box.
If your document only has one link or shape After the first time you moved to that item using the respective view, change back to some other view and move in the view so the single item to the previous view becomes accessible again.

Excel

Excel Feature Accessibility level with Narrator in Windows 8
Workbooks (Name) Works
Agaves Works
Sheets Works
Freeze Panes Works
Split Window Works
Grid: active cell Works
Cells: value and formula Works
Tables and Pivot Tables Works
Hyperlinks Works
Charts: chart type, alt text title and description Works OK
Slicers: alt text title and description Works OK
Conditional Formatting Works OK
Text Properties Works OK
Office art Works OK
Word art Works OK
Foreign currency symbols Works OK
Text formatting in general – bold/italics/underline/decimal places Works OK
Comments Not Work
Form Controls Not Work
ActiveX controls. I don’t know if this needs to be mentioned separately from Form controls Not Work
Textbox and Shapes Not Work
Macro sheets Not Work
Dialog sheets Not Work

Tips for using Narrator with Excel with keyboard

To do this Use this Narrator keyboard shortcut
Read contents of a cell Caps Lock + D
Navigate to the next item Caps Lock + Right
Navigate to the previous item Caps Lock + Left
Read Excel window properties Caps Lock + W
Find out more information Caps Lock + F
Navigate through accessible items in a workbook Caps Lock + A and navigation keyboard shortcuts
Do default command on the selected item Caps Lock + Enter

Outlook

Outlook content that is accessible with Narrator

Outlook Feature Accessibility level with Narrator in Windows 8

Message List

Subject, From, Info, Category, Attachment Status, Flag Status

Conversations

Works
Reading Pane and Quick Response forms in Reading Pane Works
Folder List Works
Module Navigation Bar Works
Peeks (pinned and unpinned) Works
Message Body in Reading Pane and Inspectors (WordMail, supports all Word Narrator-accessible objects) Works
Calendar View – Month, Week, Day and List View Works
Calendar Item Inspectors (appointment, meeting, propose new time, schedule assistant) Works
People View – Person Card and Editable Card Works
Tasks List Works
Message List View Pivots (e.g. All, Unread, Sort order) – use ribbon View tab as workaround Not Work
Some components of the Scheduling Assistant Not Work
Some very old or uncommon dialogs may not have their main text read by default Not Work

OneNote (desktop)

OneNote content that is very accessible with Narrator

OneNote Feature Accessibility level with Narrator in Windows 8

Navigation items and dialogs

  • Notebook list (dropdown & pinned views)
  • Sync status
  • Section/section group tabs
  • Page list
  • Search results pane (pinned view)
  • Send to OneNote tool
Works

Page surface items

  • Tags
  • Text
  • Ink (handwriting)
  • Document printouts and screen clippings (readable through machine-generated OCR)
  • Hyperlinks
Works

Navigation items and dialogs:

  • Insert Outlook meeting details (requires use of Caps Lock + arrows)
  • Search results pane (dropdown view)
  • InfoBar information area (difficult to discover)
  • Collapsed outlines (difficult to discover)
Works OK

Page surface items

  • Ordered lists (numbers are not read aloud)
  • Tables (difficult to know table’s dimensions)
  • Co-author highlighting (must use Shift + F10)
Works OK
Screen clipping tool Not Work
Equations Not Work
Ink (drawings) Not Work

Tips & tricks using Narrator with OneNote

  • When navigating the pinned notebook list or pinned search results pane, use Tab to switch between notebooks.
  • Press Alt + O after searching to pin the search pane, which should make navigating the results much easier.
  • When reaching a password protected section, press Enter to unlock it.
  • To see authoring information, press SHIFT + F10 and navigate to the bottom of the menu.
  • If you’re missing content on the page, it may be collapsed - press ALT + SHIFT + 0 to expand all levels.
  • If your content isn’t syncing, you might need to enter credentials—navigate to the InfoBar using F6 and CAPS LOCK + arrows to get there.

PowerPoint

PowerPoint content that is accessible with Narrator 8

PowerPoint Feature Accessibility level with Narrator in Windows 8
Textboxes, placeholders, and shapes with text Works
Tables Works
Speaker Notes Works
Slideshow view Works
Thumbnail pane and Slide Sorter View are supported as images Works
Outline View Works
Hyperlinks and bookmarks Works
Images

Works OK

Only shows object type and alt text

Charts

Works OK

Only shows object type and alt text

WordArt

Works OK

Only shows object type and alt text

SmartArt

Works OK

Only shows object type and alt text

Media (also told if that object is clickable)

Works OK

Only shows object type and alt text

Text formatting or table formatting Not Work
Sections Not Work
Content of images in thumbnail pane and Slide Sorter view Not Work
Comments Not Work
Animations & Transitions Not Work
Headers/Footers Not Work
Co-authoring information Not Work
Background images Not Work
Proofing errors Not Work

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Applies to:
Excel 2013, OneNote 2013, Outlook 2013, PowerPoint 2013, Word 2013