How to turn on and off VoiceOver on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad

Accessibility 'Stick Man' Symbol

 by Joe Lonergan

Turn on and off VoiceOver on the Mac

In last week’s newsletter we covered how to launch different screen reader options on a windows machine. But what if you are a Mac owner or want to try out a Mac in a retail demo area? How do we turn on Apple’s screen reader called VoiceOver?

If it is your first time using the Mac, you can turn on VoiceOver using the keystroke Command + F5.

Repeat the keystroke to turn it off again. Note, it is important to turn it off if you’re not the sole user of the device. After you have performed the keystroke, a voice will greet you letting you know that VoiceOver has been turned on. At this stage you will also be offered the chance to open VoiceOver training where you can get familiar with VoiceOver keystrokes and gestures.

If you have a Mac with a Touch ID sensor you can press this three times to launch an accessibility quick settings menu. This has its own temporary screen reader, press tab once and enter to launch VoiceOver. Other accessibility options are available in this area such as Zoom and High Contrast.

Turn on and off VoiceOver on the iPhone and iPad

But what if you are an iPad or iPhone user or want to become one? How do you turn on VoiceOver? Well, there are a couple of ways.

When you take it out of the box you can press the home button three times and VoiceOver will come on. If you are using an iPad or iPhone with no home button you can press the side button three times to turn on VoiceOver. Repeat the step to turn it off.

Once the iPhone or iPad is set up you can ask Siri to turn on VoiceOver. You can also ask Siri to turn off VoiceOver. There is an area in Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver called VoiceOver Practice where you can practice VoiceOver gestures.