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Edit documents with a screen reader

You can edit documents on your computer using a screen reader.

Note: Before following the steps below, make sure you've turned on Docs screen reader support.

Move around in your document

When you open a document, your focus is at the beginning of the main editing area. You'll hear spoken feedback as you type or move through the document.

Use keyboard shortcuts

Docs is different from a typical website, so some standard screen reader shortcuts don't apply. For the best experience, use Docs shortcuts while editing your document.

For example, to navigate quickly, you can use the Docs "Next" and "Previous" shortcuts:

  • "Next" shortcuts: These key combinations move your focus forward. Press Ctrl + Alt + n (Windows, Chrome OS) or Ctrl + ⌘ + n (Mac) followed by another key, such as h for headings or l for links. For example, to move to the next heading, hold Ctrl + Alt and press n then h.
  • "Previous" shortcuts: These key combinations move your focus backward. Press Ctrl + Alt + p (Windows, Chrome OS) or Ctrl + ⌘ + p (Mac) followed by another key. For example, to move to the previous heading, hold Ctrl + Alt and press p then h.

To open a list of shortcuts in your document, press Ctrl + / (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + / (Mac). You can search for actions such as insert or next. To return to your document, press Escape.

Take quick actions by searching the menus

  1. Press Alt + / (Windows, Chrome OS) or Option + / (Mac).
  2. Type a command, such as Rename or Insert
  3. Press the down arrow to hear search results. For example, if you type Insert, the options include adding an image, a comment, and other choices. 
  4. To choose an action, press Enter.

Use the menus, top-level buttons, and toolbar

Note: If there are no buttons and menus at the top, press Ctrl + Shift + f (Windows, Chrome OS, or Mac).

To browse the menus:

  1. Open the File menu using the shortcut key for your browser:
    • Windows with Chrome browser: Alt + f
    • Windows with other browsers: Alt + Shift + f
    • Chrome OS: Alt + f
    • Mac: First press the pass-through keys Ctrl + Option + Tab, then Ctrl + Option + f
  2. Press the right arrow to explore other menus, including Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Table, Add-ons, Help, and Accessibility.

Tip: To get help, open the Help menu and select Docs Help. Press Tab to reach the search box, then type your search, such as Images, and press Enter. The help opens in a box where you can read or navigate to other topics. To return to the document, press Escape.

From the menus, you can move to two other sets of controls:

  • Top-level buttons: These buttons are for document-level actions, such as renaming, starring, sharing, or moving the document to a different folder. From the menus, press Shift + Tab.
  • Toolbar: The toolbar has options for editing and formatting, such as heading styles, lists, and indentation. From the menus, press Tab.

Use the Accessibility menu to read or move around your document

  1. Open the Accessibility menu using the shortcut key for your browser:
    • Windows with Chrome browser: Alt + a
    • Windows with other browsers: Alt + Shift + a
    • Chrome OS: Alt + a
    • Mac: First press the pass-through keys Ctrl + Option + Tab, then Ctrl + Option + a 
  2. Press the down arrow to hear options, such as Speak, Comments, and more.
  3. Press the right arrow to open a sub-menu, and press the down arrow to explore options in the sub-menu.
  4. Press Enter to select an option.

Editing and formatting basics

In your document, you can add, edit, and delete text and images.

Add an image, table, footnote

  1. Place the cursor where you'd like to add an image, table, or footnote.
  2. Press Alt + / (Windows, Chrome OS) or Option + / (Mac) to search the menus.
  3. Type insert to get a list of items you can add.
  4. Use the arrow keys to explore the list.
  5. Press Enter to make your selection.

Announce or change formatting

To announce the text or paragraph formatting at your cursor's current location, press Ctrl + Alt + a then f (Windows, Chrome OS) or Ctrl + ⌘ + a then f (Mac). 

To explore the formatting styles that you can apply, open the Format menu in the menu bar:

  1. Open the Format menu using the shortcut key for your browser:
    • Windows with Chrome browser: Alt + o
    • Windows with other browsers: Alt + Shift + o 
    • Chrome OS: Alt + o
    • Mac: First press the pass-through keys Ctrl + Option + Tab, then Ctrl + Option + o 
  2. Press the down arrow to hear options, then press Enter to select.

Learn more about how to create, edit, and format documents.

Find and replace text

Do a quick search in your document

  1. Press Ctrl + f (Windows) or ⌘ + f (Mac). Results are found immediately as you type.
  2. Press Enter to continue searching through the document.

Find and replace text

  1. Press Ctrl + h (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + Shift + h (Mac).
  2. Enter the text you want to locate in the "Find" field.
  3. Enter the text you want to replace it with in the "Replace with" field.
  4. Use the Replace, Replace all, Previous, and Next buttons to find and replace text.
  5. To exit the dialog, press Escape.
  6. To resume your search, press Ctrl + h (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + Shift + h (Mac).

Spell-check a document

Docs automatically finds misspellings in your document.

  1. To go to the next misspelling, press Ctrl + apostrophe (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + apostrophe (Mac).
  2. To go to the previous misspelling, press Ctrl + semicolon (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + semicolon (Mac).
  3. To correct a misspelling, open the context menu by pressing Ctrl + Shift + x (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + Shift + x (Mac). From the context menu, select the correctly spelled suggestion, and press Enter.

Learn more about spell-check and automatic corrections.

Add alt text for an image or drawing

  1. Select the image or drawing.
  2. Open the Format menu using the shortcut key for your browser:
    • Windows with Chrome browser: Alt + o
    • Windows with other browsers: Alt + Shift + o 
    • Chrome OS: Alt + o
    • Mac: First press the pass-through keys Ctrl + Option + Tab, then Ctrl + Option + o
  3. Select Alt text.
  4. In the Alt text dialog, enter a description for the image or drawing, then select Enter.

Find suggested content in your document

  1. Open the Explore region in your document, press Ctrl + Alt + Shift + i (Windows, Chrome OS) or ⌘ + Option + Shift + i (Mac).
  2. To find images or information you can use in your document, use your screen reader keystrokes to navigate through the Explore region.
    • Tip: If there are no suggestions, add more content to your document.
  3. To search your documents and the web, enter a search in the search bar and press Enter.

Mary is a Docs & Drive expert and author of this help page. Leave her feedback below about the page.

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