Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mac OS X VoiceOver

Apple - Mac OS X - VoiceOver is a reasonably complex set of capabilities. I found it poking around the utilities folder. It can read the interface or text.

I need to play with this more. I know a few people it might be useful for.

For example:
To read the character where the VoiceOver cursor is focused, press Control-Option-C. Press C two times to hear the character spoken phonetically. Then press Control-Option-Shift-Right Arrow or Left Arrow to move the VoiceOver cursor to the next or previous character and read it.

To read a word at a time, press Control-Option-W. Press W two times to hear the word spelled, and three times to hear it spelled phonetically. Then press Control-Option-Left Arrow or Right Arrow to read the previous or next word.

To read a line at a time, press Control-Option-L. Then press Control-Option-Up Arrow or Down Arrow to read the previous or next lines.

To read a sentence at a time, press Control-Option-S. Then press Control-Option-Page Up or Page Down to read the previous or next sentence.

To read a paragraph at a time, press Control-Option-P. Then press Control-Option-Shift-Page Up or Page Down to read the previous or next paragraph.
It's not trivial to figure out, but with practice it makes sense. In VoiceOver mode there's a black selection box that appears over the part of the screen that's being inspected. It didn't work in a Firefox window, but it worked in TextEdit. I suspect it only works with Cocoa applications.

I wonder how it compares to commercial Windows screen readers.

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