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How to Use Apple VoiceOver: An All-Inclusive Tutorial for Your Apple Devices

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VoiceOver is an innovative screen reader built into Apple's operating system, providing accessibility support to individuals with visual impairments. It's...

VoiceOver is an innovative screen reader built into Apple's operating system, providing accessibility support to individuals with visual impairments. It's a comprehensive tool for all Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook, and even Apple Watch.

How Does Apple VoiceOver Work?

VoiceOver transmutes on-screen information into speech or braille, letting users control their devices without needing to see the screen. It includes the VoiceOver Utility, a comprehensive tool with additional customization options. VoiceOver also supports over 30 languages and refreshable braille displays for braille users.

How Do I Start Apple VoiceOver?

On an iOS or iPadOS device, you can turn VoiceOver on in the Settings. Go to "Accessibility" then select "VoiceOver." On a MacOS device, navigate to "System Preferences," choose "Accessibility," then "VoiceOver." Alternatively, pressing Command-F5 or, with the function keys enabled, Control + Option + F5, will start VoiceOver on MacOS devices. For an Apple Watch, go to "Settings," select "Accessibility," and then "VoiceOver."

How Do I Use Apple VoiceOver Utility?

Apple VoiceOver Utility enables users to modify and customize their VoiceOver experience. Here, you can change verbosity, or the amount of detail provided in VoiceOver descriptions, set the speaking rate, adjust the VoiceOver cursor's size, and more. This utility tool is only available on MacOS.

How Do I Control My iPhone with VoiceOver?

VoiceOver gestures allow you to navigate your iPhone by touching the screen. For instance, a single-tap reads the item under your finger, while a double-tap activates it. Two fingers' swipe down reads all from the top, and a two-finger rotation adjusts the rotor control. Siri can also turn VoiceOver on or off with a simple voice command.

How Do I Use Apple VoiceOver on Mac?

VoiceOver on Mac utilizes keyboard commands in combination with the Control + Option "VoiceOver modifier." For example, using the modifier with the left or right arrow keys moves the VoiceOver cursor. If you have a Trackpad, you can enable "Trackpad Commander" for gesture control. For webpages in Safari, VoiceOver offers specific commands, like Control + Option + U to open the Web Rotor.

What Is the Difference Between VoiceOver and Voice Control?

While both are accessibility features, VoiceOver is a screen reader for people with visual impairments, whereas Voice Control is a feature that allows users with physical motor limitations to operate their devices through voice commands.

How Do I Use VoiceOver with the Keyboard?

VoiceOver users can use various keyboard shortcuts. For instance, to navigate, use the arrow keys with the Control + Option modifier. VoiceOver commands, including pressing Command to pause or resume speech, enable a smoother user experience.

How Do I Change the VoiceOver Language?

You can adjust the VoiceOver language via the "Language and Region" option within the "System Preferences" on a Mac or in "General" and then "Language & Region" on iOS devices.

Top 8 Software and Apps to Enhance Your Apple VoiceOver Experience

  1. Seeing AI: A free app from Microsoft that narrates the world around you, recognizing text, products, and people.
  2. Voice Dream Reader: An accessible reading tool for iOS that supports text-to-speech.
  3. BARD Mobile: Provides access to braille and talking books for individuals with visual impairments.
  4. KNFB Reader: Converts printed text into high-quality speech.
  5. BeSpecular: Connects visually impaired individuals with volunteers who can assist them remotely.
  6. Envision AI: Uses AI to describe visual scenes and recognize text and objects.
  7. LookTel Money Reader: Identifies currency denominations using the device's camera.
  8. Aira: Connects visually impaired individuals with trained professionals who can assist with navigation and tasks.

Remember, as a first-time VoiceOver user, it might take a bit of practice to become fluent. But once you're comfortable, you'll be able to fully use your Apple device despite visual impairments. Remember to use the "Screen Curtain" feature for privacy, especially when entering passwords or personal information. Although Apple's VoiceOver doesn't directly support Android, Google's operating system has similar accessibility features available.

By familiarizing yourself with this tutorial and with practice, you'll become a proficient Apple VoiceOver user, effortlessly navigating your device, controlling apps, and even receiving notifications with a few simple gestures or keyboard shortcuts.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.