Use a screen reader with Google Drive

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

This article has a lot of content, so to quickly go to a specific section in this article, select an option:

  • Get started
  • Complete common tasks in Google Drive with a screen reader
    • Open a file 
    • Change the layout of the list view 
    • Play media 
    • Use suggested files 
    • Change what's in the list view
    • Search for files
    • Quick ways to locate files
    • Create files and folders
    • Organise files and folders
    • Share files and folders 
    • Manage settings 
    • Get help

Get started

Recommended browsers and screen readers

On your computer, Google Drive works best with these browsers and screen readers:

Platform

Browser

Screen reader

Chrome OS

Chrome

ChromeVox

Windows

Chrome (recommended)

Firefox

JAWS or NVDA

Mac

Chrome (recommended)

Safari

VoiceOver

Use Google Drive as a web application 

We recommend that you set up your screen reader to navigate Google Drive as a 'web application' instead of a 'web page'. 

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:

  • c to open the new menu to create items.
  • / to begin a Drive search.
  • g and then n to move to the file navigation area.

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 Insert + z until the virtual cursor is off.
  • NVDA: To switch to focus mode, press Insert + Space.
  • ChromeVox: Make sure that sticky mode is off. To turn off sticky mode, press the search key twice.
  • VoiceOver: Make sure that 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.

Description of the Google Drive interface

In Google Drive, there are seven main areas:

  • Top of screen: This area has controls for:
    • Search Drive for folders or files
    • Get support
    • Open other applications 
    • Change the active account
    • Create files and folders
  • Accessibility menu with:
    • Skip to main content button 
    • Keyboard shortcuts button 
    • Accessibility feedback button 
  • Left navigation: This area changes the main view to:
    • Priority: All prioritised or recently updated objects.
    • My drive: Your drive that contains file objects (files, folders and shortcuts) that you created or added from others.
    • Shared drives: Files and folders owned by an organisation and stored in a team drive.
    • Computers: Access local files and folders if you sync folders on your computer.
    • Shared with me: A list view of files and folders shared with you.
    • Recent: A list view of files recently accessed.
    • Starred: A list view of files and folders that you have starred.
    • Bin: A list view of files and folders that you have deleted.
    • Storage: A list view of files and file size. This also includes access to backups.
  • File and folder list: This is the main area and contains a list of folders and files. The content of the list is controlled by the left nav area.
    • Important: The objects can be presented as a grid or list. When in the My drive view, there's a section for suggested files.
  • Toolbar with buttons: This area is to change the view and other settings. 
  • View Details: This area has info about the currently selected folder or file. There are sections for Details and activity.
  • Right sidebar: When expanded, this area provides quick access to other Google apps, such as Keep, Tasks and Contacts.

Use shortcuts in Google Drive 

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

Here are a few of the available shortcuts:

 

To

Press

Access full list of shortcuts

Ctrl + / or CMD + /

Menus

To

Press

Open the create menu

c

Open the actions menu

a or Shift + F10

Open the settings menu

t

Open the My drive file and folder action menu

f

Navigate

To

Press

Navigate to file list

g and then l

Navigate to left navigation's folders or views

g and then n or g and then f

Toggle Details

d

Toggle activity

i

Toggle between list or grid view 

v

Create objects

To

Press

Create a Google Doc

Shift + t

Create a Google Sheet

Shift + s

Create a Google Presentation

Shift + p

Create a folder

Shift + f

Upload a folder

Shift + i

Upload a file

Shift + u

Shortcut fundamentals

  • Open a menu by the letter that's associated with the menu: 
    • a for actions.
    • c for create.
    • t for settings.
  • Navigate to an area with the shortcut g followed by another letter. For example, g and then l to go to the list of current files or folders.
  • To create an object quickly with the creation of a shortcut of its form, press: 
    • Shift + f for a folder.
    • Shift + t for text in Google Docs.
  • To open the actions menu with operating system shortcuts, press:
    • Shift + F10 or the application key on Windows.
    • Search + m on Chrome OS.
    • a on a Mac.

Complete tasks in Google Drive with a screen reader

Open a file

  1. Open Drive in your browser with drive.google.com.
  2. To locate the desired file, use the arrow keys.
    • If the view is a list view, use the up and down arrow keys.
    • If the view is grid view, use the up and down and left and right arrow keys.
  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 return to a parent folder, use one of these methods:

  • Windows and Chrome OS: Press Alt + left arrow.
  • All platforms: Press g and then p.

Change the layout of the list view 

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 the last modifier and date are included.
  • Grid view: Multiple files are on each row. Only the name and file type are included.

Change between the two views with one of these methods:

  • Press v.
  • Tab to the list view or grid view button and then press Enter.

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 go to the 'Sort by name' button menu, press Shift + Tab twice and then Enter.
  2. Use the up and down arrow keys to locate the desired sort criteria.
  3. Press Enter. Note that focus automatically returns back to the list of files or folders.

Tip: To quickly move focus to the sort field menu, press r.

Play media

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

Feature 

Action

Pause or play

Use k with focus on the player window or navigate to the play button then press the Enter key or space bar.

Mute 

Tab to the volume button and press the space bar or Enter key.

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

Navigate with the tab key to the closed caption button. Press the space bar or Enter key to activate.

Fullscreen

Press f or navigate with the tab to the fullscreen button.

 

For media settings, use the tab key to navigate to the settings 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 the left and right arrow keys to change speed. 

Subtitles or closed caption

Select subtitles with the down arrow key

 

Press Shift + Tab to select the options for more subtitle settings, such as:

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

Quality

To choose the quality of the video between 720p, 360p or auto, press the down arrow keyand thenEnter to select.

Picture-in-picture mode

Navigate with the Tab key to the picture-in-picture button and then press space or Enter to activate.

Use suggested files

When the list of files and folders view is for My drive, Google's helpful intelligence suggests files for you.

  1. Move focus to the suggested files region with one of these methods:
    • Press g and then q.
    • Press Shift + Tab from the list of files until you hear the suggested region list.
    • Use the left and right arrow keys to navigate the list of files.
  1. Press Enter to open the selected file.

Important: Suggested files appear only when the view is priority or My drive is the root folder.

Change what's in the list view

  1. Navigate to the left nav with one of these methods:
    • Press g and then n or g and then f.
    • Press Shift + Tab multiple times until you hear 'Folders and views tree view'.
  1. Use the up and down arrow keys to select one of the following:
    • Priority
    • My drive 
    • Shared drives
    • Shared with me 
    • Recent 
    • Starred
    • Bin 
    • Storage
  2. 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. Use the:
    • Right arrow key to expand the tree.
    • Left arrow key to collapse the tree.
  2. Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate the tree.

Search for files

There are three ways to search for files in Google Drive.

  • In the search field, enter the search criteria and press Enter. The file list is updated to contain files that match the search criteria.
  • In the search fields, enter the search criteria and then use the down arrow key to access results based on the search criteria.
  • Use the search dialogue to enter the search criteria. Navigate to the search button and press Enter. The file list is updated to contain files that match the search criteria. 

Use 'Search field' 

  1. To move focus to the search field, press / or Tab multiple times.
  2. Select an option:
    • In the search field, enter the criteria.
      • To access the results in the list of files:
        • Press Enter. The focus automatically moves to the list of files.
        • Use the arrow keys to review the search results.
      • To access results with the down arrow:
        • Press the down arrow key.
        • Press Enter to use the item.
 

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

Include terms such as:

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

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

Use 'Search dialogue'

  1. To focus on the search field, press /.
  2. Press to select the search options button and then press Enter.
  3. Press through the dialogue and populate the fields that you want to use for the search. 
  4. To action the dialogue, select an option:
    1. On Windows and Chrome OS, enter Ctrl + Enter.
    2. On a Mac, enter CMD + Enter.
    3. Tab to the search button and then press Enter.
  5. The list of files is updated with results.

File Details and activity

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, press g and then d.
  3. Focus is on a tab list with Details and activity. Choose between tabs with the left and right arrow keys. To access the information, press Tab.
    1. 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. 
    2. Activity:
      • Shows edit history for the document.

Tip: To consume Details and activity more easily, turn on the virtual cursor.

  • JAWS: Press Insert + z.
  • NVDA: Select an option:
    • To switch to browse mode, press Insert + Space.
  • ChromeVox: To turn off sticky mode, press the search key twice.
  • VoiceOver: To turn off QuickNav, press the left and right arrow keys until VoiceOver says 'QuickNav Off'.

When you enter this region your screen reader may switch you to a virtual cursor.

Quick ways to locate files

Use 'Recent' 

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

  1. Navigate to the left sidebar with one of these methods:
    • Press g and then n or g and then f.
    • Press Shift + Tab multiple times until you hear 'Folders and views'.
  1. Arrow to 'Recent files'.
  2. Press Enter. Note that the focus moves to the main area.

Use 'Starred'

To 'star' a file that you want to locate quickly, you must:

  1. Move to the desired file.
  2. Select an option:
    • Press s to star or unstar a file or folder.
    • To use the action menu, press a and then arrow to add to starred.

To access files that you have starred:

  1. Navigate to the left sidebar with one of these methods:
    • Press g and then n or g and then f.
    • Press Shift + Tab multiple times until you hear 'Folders and views'.
  2. Arrow to 'Starred'.
  3. Press Enter. The list of files is updated to contain files and folders that you have previously starred.

Use 'Priority'

The priority view drive contains documents that have been recently altered, moved and commented on. 

  1. In the left navigation bar, arrow up to 'Priority'.
  2. Press Enter
  3. Use the right arrow key to navigate to a file.
  4. To open the actions menu, press Tab. You get more options, such as:
    • Preview 
    • Open with
    • Share 
    • Get link
    • Add to Workspace 
    • Add shortcut to Drive 
    • Add to starred
    • Make a copy
    • Report abuse
    • Download

Create folders and files

Create folders

  1. Open the new menu with one of these methods:
    • Press c.
    • Press Shift + Tab until you hear the 'New button menu' and then Enter.
  2. Arrow to the folder menu item.
  3. Press Enter. A dialogue appears to name the folder.
  4. Enter the name of the folder.
  5. Press Enter

Tip: To create a folder quickly, press Shift + f.

Create files

  1. Navigate to the new button menu with one of these methods:
    • Press the c shortcut.
    • Press Shift + Tab until you hear the 'New button menu' and then Enter.
  2. Press the down arrow key to choose the type of file that you want to create.
  3. Press Enter or the arrow button to open the submenu.
  4. Use the arrow keys to choose the type.
  5. Press Enter. Note that the file is created in a new browser tab.

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

Type

Press 

File upload

Shift + u

Folder upload

Shift + i

Google Doc

Shift + t

Google Sheet

Shift +

Presentation

Shift +

Drawing 

Shift + d

Google Form

Shift + o

Upload files

  1. To navigate to the new button, press c or Shift + Tab until you hear the 'New button menu'.
  2. Use the down arrow key to navigate to the file upload button.
  3. Press Enter
  4. To upload a file, choose the file from your computer and then press Enter.

Upload folders

  1. To navigate to the new button, press c or Shift + Tab until you hear the 'New button menu'.
  2. Use the down arrow key to navigate to the folder upload button.
  3. Press Enter
  4. To upload a folder, choose the folder from your computer and then press Enter.

Organise folders and files

Move a file to another folder

  1. Select the file.
  2. Press a or Shift + F10 to open the actions menu.
  3. Arrow down to 'Move to'. 
  4. Press Enter.
    Tip: The move can be cancelled by pressing Escape at any point.
  5. (Optional) To move to another drive:
    1. Use the left arrow to navigate out of the drive that the file is currently stored in.
    2. Use the up or down arrow keys to move to one of the following options.
      • My drive
      • Shared drives
      • Shared with me
      • Starred
    3. Use the right arrow to navigate to the selected drive.
  6. Use the up or down arrow key to select the folder into which you want to move the file.
  7. Press Enter.
  8. (Optional) To create a new folder:
    1. Use the Tab key to navigate to the 'New folder' button.
    2. Press Enter.
    3. Name your new folder.
    4. Press Enter.
  9. Use the Tab key to navigate to the 'Move here' button to move your file to your selected folder.
  10. Press Enter.

Use the clipboard

You can now use the clipboard to copy or move files and folders:

  1. Select the file or folder.
  2. (Optional) Press Shift + the up or down arrow keys to select more than one.
  3. Press Ctrl + C to copy the selected files or folders or Press Ctrl + X to move them.
  4. Navigate to the destination that you want to copy or move them to.
  5. Press Ctrl + V to complete the copy or move.
  6. If the file or folder name already exists, the new file or folder name will start with 'Copy of…'

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 that you have made. 
  • 5,000 total shortcuts per file or folders that others have made.
  1. Select the file.
  2. Press a or Shift + F10 to open the actions menu.
  3. Press arrow down to 'Add shortcut to Drive'.
  4. Press Enter.
  5. Select the drive in which you want the shortcut to be located. Follow these instructions: 
    1. Press arrow left or navigate to the 'Back' button to navigate out of the drive that your shortcut is currently stored in.
    2. Navigate to the following drives to move the shortcut into one: 
      • My drive 
      • Shared drives 
    3. To expand the drive into which you want to move the shortcut, use the right arrow key.
    4. Tab to the 'Create' button.
    5. Press Enter.

Manage settings

  1. To navigate to 'Settings', select an option:
    • Press the 'Settings' button and then press Enter. 
    • Press t and then Enter.
  2. Select an option:
    • Settings
      i. With settings you can select from the following:
      • General settings, where you can change the following:
        • Convert upload settings
        • Language settings
        • Offline settings
        • Density
        • Suggestions settings
      • Notifications setting
      • Manage apps
    • Get Drive for desktop (Windows and Mac only) 
    • Keyboard shortcuts

Navigate the settings: General

  1. To navigate to settings, select an option:
    • Tab to the 'Settings' button and then press Enter. 
    • Press t and then Enter
  2. With the down arrow key, select the General tab.
  3. Press Tab.
  4. Use Tab to navigate to the following options.
    • Storage: View total used storage and manage storage for Google Drive. 
      • Tab to 'Manage storage'.
      • Press Enter to open Files with Drive storage data.
    • Convert uploads
      • Tab to the 'Convert uploads' tick box.
      • Press Space key to tick or untick the box to convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.
    • Language 
      • Tab to the 'Change language setting' link. 
      • Press Enter to select the 'Change language settings' button. This takes you to the Google Accounts language settings where you can change the language that applies to Google apps account wide.
    • Offline
      • Tab to the 'Offline' tick box.
      • Press Space key to tick or untick the tick box to create, open and edit your recent Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and files on your device whilst offline.
    • Density 
      • Tab to the 'Density list' collapsed submenu.
      • Press Enter.
      • Use the up and down arrows to select the menu items to change the density settings to the following:
        • Comfortable: More white space between the icons.
        • Cosy: More white space between the icons than Compact, but less than Comfortable.
        • Compact: Less white space between the icons.
      • Press Enter to choose the setting.
    • Suggestions:
      • Tab to the 'Suggestions' tick boxes.
        • Show suggested files in My drive and shared drives.
        • Show suggested files shared with me.
        • Make my homepage the priority default page.
      • Press Space to tick or untick the tick box.

Navigate the settings: Notifications

  1. To navigate to settings, select an option:
    • Tab to the 'Settings' button and then press Enter. 
    • Press t and then Enter
  2. With the down arrow key, select the Notifications tab.
  3. Press Tab.
  4. Use Tab to navigate to the menu items.
    • Browser
      1. Tab to the 'Browser' tick box.
      2. Press Space to tick or untick the tick box to get updates about Google Drive items in your browser.
    • Email
      1. Tab to the 'Email' tick box.
      2. Press Space to tick or untick the tick box to get updates about Google Drive items through your email.

Navigate the settings: Manage apps

  1. To navigate to settings, select an option:
    • Tab to the 'Settings' button and then press Enter.
    • Press t and then Enter
  2. With the down arrow key, select the Manage apps tab.
  3. Press Tab.
  4. Use Tab to navigate to the menu items.
    • Tab to the 'Use by default' tick box for each app.
    • Press Space to tick or untick the tick box to remove or set app usage for the app.

Get help

  1. Navigate to 'Settings' and then press Shift + Tab to the 'Support menu' button.
  2. Press Enter and then Enter again to open the 'Help' dialogue. 
  3. A dialogue appears. To activate, select the following and press Enter
    1. Search field: Text field to search for any questions that you have. 
    2. Popular help resources: A tabbable field in which you can select an answer that links you to another page.
    3. Browse all articles 
    4. Visit the Help forum 
    5. Send feedback 

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