Microsoft has bundled a basic but impressive text to speech software in Windows Vista. This software or utility is called as Microsoft Narrator and is intended to help visually impaired users. Narrator speaks loud what actions you take from your keyboard or which key you press. It also dictates what is written in several windows as you go through them using your keyboard. It is also capable in reading text from several applications like Notepad. Narrator has a predefined set of key combinations using which user can listen to the information regarding the screen they work in. Narrator is limited to features but it was purposely meant to be simple and easy to be used. What is the need to for too many options and settings if one can’t see and navigate through them.
Windows Narrator can be started by clicking on Start and then to the control panel. When control panel opens, click on Ease of Access and then on Ease of Access Center. Under the box Quick access to common tools select Start Narrator. These actions were to open the Narrator using the Mouse, but if you wish to reach to the same Windows using keyboard shortcut then just press Windows key along with letter ‘u’(Win+U). This will also open the same screen from where you can start the narrator.
Starting Narrator is simple but some people find difficult in turning it OFF or disabling it. To disable the Narrator press Windows + U to open the Ease of Access Center window. Once this window appears in the list given below the first option says “Use the Computer without Display”. Click on this option to open another window and there you will find the option to turn off the narrator.
Given below are some key combinations which works in Narrator and several important actions can be voice out by your computer using these keys.
CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER give information about the current item, CTRL+SHIFT+SPACEBAR reads all the contents of the selected window, CTRL+ALT+SPACEBAR reads the layout of selected window, ALT+HOME give information about current item, ALT+END gives the summary of current item, INSERT+SHIFT+G give a description of dependent elements of the currently selected element, INSERT+CTRL+G gives description of the non-dependent elements adjacent to the currently selected element, INSERT+CTRL+HOME makes the user to enter Virtual Menu navigation mode, which allows the user to access Narrator commands without switching from the program which you are currently working with, CTRL stops the narrator from reading, INSERT+Q moves text selection to the start of the previous text pattern, INSERT+W moves the text selection to the beginning of the next text pattern, INSERT+E moves the text selection to the beginning of the current text pattern, INSERT+R Moves the text selection to the finish of the current text pattern, INSERT+F2 Select all of the text with the current text pattern, INSERT+F3 gives the current character, INSERT+F4 gives the current word, INSERT+F5 gives the current line, INSERT+F6 gives the current paragraph, INSERT+F7 gives the current page, INSERT+F8 gives the current document.