Use Google Drive with a screen reader

Store, share, and collaborate on files and folders from a mobile device, tablet, or computer with Google Drive.

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Recommended browsers & screen readers

Google Drive recommends Chrome and:

  • NVDA or JAWS on Windows
  • ChromeVox on ChromeOS
  • VoiceOver on MacOS

Getting started with Google Drive using a screen reader

In this video, you’ll learn how to get started with Google Drive using NVDA with Firefox.

Automatically sync Drive for desktop

You can automatically sync Drive files on your computer with Drive files on the web.

After you install Drive for desktop, navigate through the Google Drive folder on your computer. Use your usual screen reader keystrokes.

To jump to that file or folder:

  1. Enter the first letter of a file or folder name.
  2. Cut and paste files between folders.

Learn how to install Drive for desktop.

Google Docs, Sheets & Slides

To get started with Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms, learn how to use Docs editors with a screen reader.

Screen readers that work with Google Drive on Android

You can use Drive on your Android device with accessibility features like TalkBack, BrailleBack, and Switch Access.

If you use a USB or Bluetooth keyboard with your Android device, you can use keyboard shortcuts. Learn about keyboard shortcuts with Drive.

If you use TalkBack:

  • To open a file in Drive:
    1. Tap or swipe to focus the file.
    2. Double-tap to open it.
  • To take other actions like rename or move files:
    1. Tap or swipe to focus the file.
    2. Double-tap and hold to select.
    3. On the toolbar, open More actions.
    4. Choose an option.

Learn more at Android Accessibility Help.

Screen readers that work with Google Drive on iOS

You can use Drive on your iPhone or iPad with the screen reader VoiceOver.

To turn VoiceOver on:

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open Settings.
  2. Tap General and then Accessibility and then VoiceOver.
  3. Turn on VoiceOver.

To learn more, visit Apple accessibility on iPhone.

Use Google Drive as a web application

We recommend that you set up your screen reader to navigate Google Drive as aweb application” instead of awebpage.”

When you use Google Drive as a web application, you can use Google Drive keyboard shortcuts to navigate Google Drive more easily. For example, you can enter:

  • To open the new menu to create items, press alt + n.
  • To begin a Drive search, press slash.
  • To move to the file navigation area, press alt + g then n.

Set up your screen reader for use with Google Drive

To set up your screen reader, follow the steps below:

  • JAWS: To turn off the virtual cursor, press JAWS + z until the virtual cursor is off.
  • NVDA: To switch to focus mode, press NVDA + space.
  • ChromeVox: Make sure sticky mode is off. To turn off sticky mode, press the search key twice.
  • VoiceOver: Make sure the QuickNav is off. Press the left and right arrow keys until VoiceOver says “QuickNav Off.”

Open Google Drive

On your browser, go to drive.google.com.

Set the start page

The Home start page in Google Drive now shows you a list of files based on your recent activity. To use the steps below, you'll need 'My Drive' as your start page. To make "My Drive" your start page :

  1. Select an option:
    • On Windows  and Chrome OS, press ctrl + shift + s.
    • On MacOS, press command + shift + s.
  2. On the Settings menu item, press enter.
  3. Press tab multiple times until you get to the Start page group.
  4. Press down arrow to the “My drive,” radio button.
  5. Press shift + tab to the “Go back” button and press enter.

Description of the Google Drive interface

To navigate to each of the regions below in Google Drive:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + F6.
  • On MacOS, press command + F6

To navigate back to the previous region:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS, press shift + ctrl + F6.
  • On MacOS, press shift + command + F6

After each navigation, to move into the region, press tab.

  • File and folder table: This is the main region that receives initial focus and contains a list of folders and files. The left navigation region controls the content of the list.
    • Important: The objects can be presented as a grid or list.
  • Navigation side panel: Upon expansion, this region provides access to other Google apps, such as Keep, Tasks, and Contacts, in a pane inside the browser tab.
  • Navigation pane with:
    • Skip to main content button
    • Keyboard shortcuts button
    • Accessibility feedback button
  • Banner/Search pane with: This region has controls for:
    • Search Drive for folders or files
    • Support menu
    • Settings menu
    • Open Google applications button
    • Change the active account button
    • Create new folders and files button
  • Navigation tree: This region changes the main view to:
    • Home: A view list of file suggestions based on your activity.
    • Activity: All prioritized or recently updated objects.
    • Workspaces: You created or added from others.
    • My Drive: Your drive that contains files objects (files, folders and shortcuts) that you created or added from others.
    • Shared drives: Files and folders owned by an organization and stored in a team drive.
    • Computers: Access local files and folders if you sync folders on your computer.
    • Shared with me: A view list of files and folders shared with you.
    • Recent: A view list of files recently accessed.
    • Starred: A view list of files and folders you starred.
    • Spam: A view list of files that may be harmful.
    • Trash: A view list of files and folders you deleted.
    • Storage: A view list of files and file size. This also includes access to Backups.

Use shortcuts in Google Drive

There are many shortcuts to help you navigate your Google Drive and perform tasks.

Show a full list of keyboard shortcuts

  • To display the Keyboard shortcuts dialog, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + slash.
    • On MacOS, press command + slash.
  • To explore all shortcuts, enter part of a command or leave the Search focus field blank. Then, to get to the shortcuts table, press tab.
  • To review, toggle the screen reader virtual cursor or browse mode on to use table navigation commands. 
    1. Navigate down the first column to review the commands.
    2. Navigate right to the columns with the new shortcut and the old shortcut. 
    3. When done, turn off virtual cursor or browse mode. 
    4. To dismiss the dialog, press escape.

If you prefer, in a new browser tab, you can open Keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive on the web.

Shortcut fundamentals

Most Google Drive shortcuts consist of one or more modifiers and characters. A modifier is a key, like the Shift key, that’s held down while you press a character key. 

Some examples of each type of shortcut:

  • Single key shortcuts: The slash key to perform a search.
  • Single modifier shortcuts: To display the keyboard shortcuts dialog:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + slash.
    • On MacOS, press command + slash.
  • Multiple modifier shortcuts: To display current folder actions:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + shift + a.
    • On MacOS, press control + shift + a.
  • A sequence of a modifier shortcut followed by a character: To move focus to the items in Drive:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + g then i.
    • On MacOS, press option + g then i.

Complete tasks in Google Drive with a screen reader

Open a file

  1. Open Drive in your browser with drive.google.com.
  2. To find the desired file, use first letters navigation or the arrow keys.
    • If you know the file name, type the first letter or letters to focus on items that start with that letter.
    • If the view is a list view, use the up and down arrow keys.
    • If the view is grid view, use the left and right arrow keys to navigate to each file. The use of up and down arrow keys can jump several files at a time based on window size and display density.
  3. To open the selected object, press enter.
    • Folders: Open a list of the files contained in the folder.
    • Files:
      • Workspace files such as Docs, Sheets, or Slides open in a new browser tab.
      • Other files open at the system level or in your preferred third-party application.
    • Media: Opens in a pop-up player in the same browser tab.

Tip: To go up one folder in the path:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + g then p.
  • On MacOS, press option + g then p.

Change the layout of the file list

Files and folders in the file list can be shown in list or grid view.

  • List view: One file is displayed per row. More attributes like last modifier and date are included.
  • Grid view: Multiple files are on each row. Only the name and type are included.

To change between the 2 views:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS press alt + v then l.
  • On MacOS press option + v then l.

Sort order:

  1. To go to the "reverse sort direction" button, press shift + tab.
  2. Press enter. Note that focus automatically returns back to the list of files or folders.

Sort field:

  1. To open the Sort menu, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + r.
    • On MacOS, press control + r.
  2. Use the up or down arrow keys to check whether to sort by file name or when files are modified.
  3. Press enter. Note that focus automatically returns back to the list of files or folders.

Play videos

  1. Select the media you want to play.
  2. Press enter.
  3. Once the media is open, the following options are available:

Feature

Action

Pause/Play

Use k with focus on the player window, or tab to the play button and press enter or space.
Playback speed

With focus on the player window:

  • Use shift + comma to decrease playback speed.
  • Use shift + period to increase playback speed.
Playback position

With focus on player window:

  • Use shift + left arrow to rewind 5 seconds.
  • Use shift + right arrow to fast forward 5 seconds.
  • Use 1 through 9 to set playback position at 10% through 90%.

Tab to the Seek slider:

  • Use shift + page down to rewind 1 minute.
  • Use shift + page up to fast forward 1 minute.
  • Use shift + home to position at start.
  • Use shift + end to position at end.

Mute/Unmute

Use m with focus on the player window, or tab to the volume button and press enter.

Volume

Tab to the volume button to:

  • Increase the volume, use the up arrow key.
  • Decrease the volume, use the down arrow key.

Closed Caption

Use c with focus on the player window, or tab to the Closed Caption button and press enter.

  • Increase caption size, use shift + equals.
  • Decrease caption size, use shift + hyphen.

Full screen

Use f with focus on the player window, or tab to the full screen button and press enter.

For media settings, use the tab key to navigate to the settings menu button. To activate the following settings, press enter or space:

Feature

Action

Playback speed

Variable speeds range from 0.25 to 2.

Use the arrow keys or shift + tab to go to the custom button and set a custom speed with the up and down arrow keys. Use up or down arrows to change speed.

Subtitles or Closed Caption

Select subtitles with the down arrow key.

Press shift + tab to the options for more subtitle settings such as:

  • Font family
  • Font color
  • Font size
  • Background color
  • Background opacity
  • Window color
  • Window opacity
  • Window edge style
  • Font opacity
  • The reset button

Quality

To choose the quality of the video between 720p, 360p, or auto, press down arrow and then enter.

Picture-in-Picture mode

Navigate with the tab key to the Picture-in-Picture button and then press enter.

Change what’s in the main file & folders view

  1. Navigate to the left nav, with one of these methods:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + g then n or alt + g then f
    • On MacOS, press option + g then n or option + g then f.
  2. Use the up and down arrow keys to select one of the following:
    • Home
    • Activity
    • Workspaces or Computers
    • My Drive
    • Shared drives
    • Shared with me
    • Recent
    • Starred
    • Spam
    • Trash
    • Storage
  3. Press enter.

The file list changes and focus moves back to the file list, unless the selected view is already the active view.

Tip: My Drive and Shared Drive items are trees.

  1. Select an option: 
    • To expand the tree to show folders, use right arrow.
    • To collapse the tree, use left arrow.
  2. To navigate the folders in the tree, use up or down arrow keys.

Search for files

To quickly find an item in the current folder, use first letters navigation. You can also perform a simple search in the search field or an advanced search with the search dialog.

Use first letters navigation

You can use the first letters navigation feature to move the focus within a folder to the first item that begins with the typed letters. If you pause and then press the same letters again, it navigates to the next item with those first letters. 

  • If a sound plays and moves focus, focus goes back to the first item in the folder.
  • If the same sound plays on the second press of the same letter, there’s only one item that starts with that letter.
  • If a different sound plays and doesn’t move focus, there’s no item that starts with that letter.

Tips: 

  • If you have a folder with more than 200 items, Drive may search through only a subset. It suggests the search when first letters navigation fails to find a match.
  • You can focus on the items with accented Latin characters when you press a non-accented character. You can’t use the accented character for this navigation.

Use Search field

  1. To move focus to the search field, press slash
  2. Enter the search terms.
  3. Press enter
    • The focus automatically moves to the list of files.
  4. To review the search results, use the arrow keys.

Important: The search criteria is dynamic and can be specific for any type of search to filter files or folders.

Include terms such as:

  • From:
    • Sent by a specific user or organization.
  • To:
    • Sent to a specific user or organization.
  • Owner:
    • Owned by a specific user or organization.
  • Shared:
    • Shared to a specific user or organization.

To learn more ways to filter for search terms, go to find files in Google Drive.

Use Search dialog

  1. To move focus to the search field, press the / key.
  2. Press tab to the “Advanced search” menu button and then press enter.
  3. Press tab through the dialog and enter fields that you want to use for the search.
  4. To perform the search, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + enter.
    • On MacOS, press command + enter.
    • Press tab to the “Search” button and then enter.
  5. The list of files is updated with results.

View file details & activity & approvals

Details about a file and file activity are available in a view that can be turned on or off.

  1. In the list of files, choose a file.
  2. To move focus to details, select an option: 
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + g then d.
    • On MacOS, press option + g then d.
  3. Focus is on the “Details” tab. Optionally, press the right arrow to select “Activity” or “Approvals” and press enter. To access the information, press tab.
    • Details:
      • A small window that shows a thumbnail of the document.
      • Those who have access to the document.
      • System properties that show the document type, size, location, and owner.
    • Activity:
      • Shows edit history for the document.
    • Approvals:
  4. To close the details pane, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + v then d.
    • On MacOS, press option + v then d.
    • Press shift + tab to the Close button and then press enter.
  5. To return focus to the file list, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + g then i.
    • On MacOS, press option + g then i.

Tip: To understand details and activity easily, temporarily configure your screen reader to navigate the content as a web page. Some screen readers automatically do this switch for you.

  • JAWS: To toggle ”Virtual cursor,” press JAWS + z.
  • NVDA: To toggle “Browse mode,” press NVDA + space.
  • ChromeVox: To toggle “Sticky mode,” press the search key twice.
  • VoiceOver: To toggle “QuickNav,” press the left and right arrow keys.

Additional ways to find files

Use the Navigation tree to find files:

  1. Navigate to the navigation tree with one of these methods:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, use the shortcut alt + g then n or alt + g then f.
    • On MacOS, use the shortcut option + g then n or option + g then f.
  2. To navigate to one of the following items, use the up or down arrow keys.
  3. To select the option and move focus to the main list of items, press enter.

Tip: To return focus to the main list of items, select an option:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + g then i.
  • On MacOS, press option + g then i.

Use Activity

Documents recently altered, moved, and commented on are listed under the Activity view and ordered by activity date.

Use Shared with me

Files that are shared with you are listed in order of when they were shared.

To find a file recently shared by a specific person, use the Filter bar:

  1. To move focus to the Filter bar, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + shift + f.
    • On MacOS, press command + shift + f.
  2. Press right arrow to “People.”
  3. To focus the “Search for people and groups” edit field, press enter.
  4. Type part of a name.
  5. To go to the menu of matches, press tab
  6. To go to the person or group of interest, press down arrow and then enter.
  7. To go to the list of items from that person, in order of when they were shared, press tab.

Use Recent

Files that you accessed recently are available in the recent view.

Use Starred

You can “star” files you want to find quickly.

Important: To toggle a “star” on a file, you must:

  1. Move to the desired file.
  2. To star or unstar a file or folder, select an option:
    1. On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + alt + s.
    2. On MacOS, press command + option + s.
    3.  Use the action menu:
      • Press Tab to the “More actions” button and press enter or press shift + F10.
      • Press down arrow to “Organize,” and press enter.
      • Press down arrow to “Add to starred” or “Remove from starred” and press enter.

Create folders & files

Create folders

  1. To open the New menu, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + n.
    • On MacOS, press control + n.
  2. Press down arrow to the Folder menu item.
  3. Press enter.
  4. A dialog appears so you can name the folder.
  5. Type the name of the folder.
  6. Press enter.

Tip: To create a folder without using the New menu:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + c then f.
  • On MacOS, press control + c then f.

Create files

  1. To open the New menu: 
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + n.
    • On MacOS, press control + n.
  2. Press down arrow to the type of file you want to create.
  3. To open the submenu, press enter or right arrow.
  4. To choose the type, use the arrow keys.
  5. Press enter
    • The file is created in a new browser tab.

Tip: To quickly create a file, use the shortcuts below:

  • To create a Google Doc:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + c then t.
    • On MacOS, press control + c then t.
  • To create a Google Sheet:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + c then s.
    • On MacOS, press control + c then s.
  • To create a Google Presentation:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + c then p.
    • On MacOS, press control + c then p.
  • To create a Google Drawing:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + c then d.
    • On MacOS, press control + c then d.
  • To create a Google Form:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + c then o.
    • On MacOS, press control + c then o.

Upload files

  1. To open the New menu, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt + n.
    • On MacOS, press control + n.
  2. To “File upload”, press the down arrow.
  3. Press enter.
  4. From your computer, select a file then press enter.

 Tip: To upload files, you can use the shortcut below:

  • On Windows and Chrome OS: alt + c  then u
  • On MacOS: control + c  then u.

Upload folders

  1. To open the New menu, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press alt +n.
    • On MacOS, press control + n.
  2. To “Folder upload”, press the down arrow.
  3. Press enter.
  4. From your computer, select a folder then press enter.

Tip: To upload folders, you can use the shortcut below: 

  • On Windows and Chrome OS: alt + c then i.
  • On MacOS: control + c then i.

Organize folders & files

Move a file to another folder

  1. Select the items to move.
  2. To open the actions menu, press shift + F10.
  3. Press down arrow to “Organize.”
  4. Press right arrow to “Move.”
  5. To open the Move dialog, press enter.
    • Tip: To cancel the move at any point, press escape.
  6. Initial focus is on the “Suggested” tab. If you prefer, you can press right arrow to “Starred” or “All locations.” 
  7. To choose a destination from the tab you select, press tab and then down arrow to the destination.
  8. To choose a folder in the current location, like another folder in “My drive,” press shift + tab and then enter. Focus moves to the folder in your current location.
    • Optional: To create a new folder:
  • To navigate to the "New folder" button, use the tab key.
  • Press enter.
  • Name your new folder.
  • Press enter.
  1. To navigate to the "Move” button, use the tab key.
  2. To move the file to the destination, press enter.

Use the clipboard to copy or move files & folders

  1. Select the items to copy or move.
    • To copy the selected items, select an option:
      • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + c.
      • On MacOS, press command + c.
    • To move the selected items, select an option:
      • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + x.
      • On MacOS, press command + x.
  2. Navigate to the destination drive and folder.
  3. To complete the copy or move, select an option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + v.
    • On MacOS, press command + v.

Tips: 

  • If the file or folder name already exists, the new file or folder name starts with “Copy of” followed by the file or folder name.
  • To rename a file that has focus, press F2. You can select the current name to edit or replace. When done, press enter.

Create shortcut

A shortcut is a link that references another file or folder. You can use shortcuts in your drive or a shared drive. Each item can have up to:

  • 500 shortcuts per file or folders you made.
  • 5,000 total shortcuts per file or folders others made.

To create a shortcut:

  1. Select the file or folder.
  2. To open the actions menu, press shift + F10.
  3. Press down arrow to “Organize”and then right arrow.
  4. Press down arrow to “Add shortcut.”
  5. To open the “Add shortcut” dialog, press enter.
  6. To select the destination for the shortcut, follow these instructions:
    1. To select between “Suggested,” “Starred,” or “All locations,” press right arrow and then enter.
    2. Press tab and then down arrow to the destination folder.
      • Optional: If the destination folder has subfolders, navigate to the subfolder. To expand and choose a destination, press enter.
    3. Press tab to the "Add" button.
To create the shortcut, press enter.

Manage Settings

  1. To expand the "Settings” menu button and focus the “Settings” menu option:
    • On Windows and Chrome OS: Press ctrl + shift + s.
    • On MacOS: Press command + shift + s.
  2. To open the Settings page, press enter.
  3. Initial focus is on the “General” list item. To choose “Notifications” or “Manage apps,” press down arrow and then enter.
  4. To navigate the Settings category, press tab.
  5. When done, press shift + tab to the “Go back” button and then enter.

Settings: General

Includes the following:

  • Storage
  • Start page
  • Workspaces
  • Appearance
  • Density
  • Uploads
  • Offline
  • File preview card
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Sounds
  • Sharing
  • Language
  • Privacy

Settings: Notifications

Includes the following:

  • Browser
  • Notify me about
  • Email
  • Google Chat

Settings: Manage apps

Includes the following:

  • Manage apps connected to Drive

Tip: The tab key moves focus to the checkbox to toggle each app connected to Drive. Some apps also have an “Options” menu button.

Sync Drive for desktop automatically

You can automatically sync Drive files on your computer with Drive files on the web.

To install Drive for desktop on Windows or MacOS:

  1. To expand the Settings menu button and focus the “Settings” menu option, select an option: 
    • On Windows and Chrome OS, press ctrl + shift + s.
    • On MacOS, press command + shift + s.
  2. To “Get drive for desktop,” press down arrow.
  3. Press enter and follow the installation instructions.

After you install Drive for desktop, navigate through the Google Drive folder on your computer. Use your usual desktop shortcuts to:

  • Navigate a file or folder name by its first letter.
  • Cut and paste files between folders.

Learn how to install Drive for desktop.

Get help

  1. Navigate to "Settings," then press shift + tab to the "Support” menu button.
  2. To open the "Help" dialog, press enter twice.
  3. A dialogue appears. To activate, press tab to one of the following:
    • Popular help resources: A field where you can select an answer that links to another page.
    • Visit the help forum.
    • Search field: A text field to search for any questions you have.
    • Ask the Help Community: Get answers from community experts.
    • Send feedback.
  4. Press enter.

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