A selection of VoiceOver keyboard commands

One of the many great things about using a Mac as your development machine is VoiceOver, the screen reader that ships with every copy of Mac OS X. Testing your work in a screen reader is only a small part of building accessible websites, but it helps you understand the need for many accessibility guidelines.

To test your sites in VoiceOver you obviously need to know how to use it to navigate the Web. There are many, many keyboard shortcuts that can be used to control VoiceOver – way too many for me to learn them all by heart. So I’ve looked through Apple’s VoiceOver Getting Started guide and VoiceOver key-command chart (PDF file) and picked the commands I find most useful.

Keyboard Commands for VoiceOver in Mac OS X 10.6
Command Action
Control-Option-Left arrow Previous chunk of text.
Control-Option-Right arrow Next chunk of text.
Control-Option-A Read all. Reads the entire document.
Control-Option-Z Repeat last output.
Control-Option-U Web Item rotor. Lists all items (headers, links, form controls, etc.) of a certain type. Use the left and right arrows to change item type and the up and down arrows to choose an item.
Control-Option-Command-H Find next heading (any level)
Control-Option-Command-M Find next heading of same level
Control-Option-Command-L Find next link
Control-Option-Command-J Find next form control
Control-Option-Command-X Find next list

With all the “Find next” commands you can add the Shift key to find the previous item instead.

These are just a few basic commands for navigating web pages with VoiceOver, but they are the ones I find most useful. I hope this can at least get you started.

Posted on March 29, 2010 in Accessibility, Mac, Apple