Drive app accessibility for Android phones and tablets

How to use Android’s accessibility features with the Google Drive app.

This article describes the latest version of the Drive app for Android. To get the latest version, download an update from the Play Store.

Google Drive works with Android’s accessibility features so that the blind and those with low vision can use the mobile app, eyes-free.

To use accessibility features with the Drive app, you’ll need to enable the accessibility settings on your device. Android devices running version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) have more accessibility features than older versions like 3.0 (Honeycomb). Here’s how to check your version:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select About phone or About tablet.
  3. Find your version number listed under "Android version."

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Turn on accessibility features for your Android 4.0 phone or tablet

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Tap TalkBack, which controls spoken feedback for visually impaired users.
  4. Tap Explore By Touch, which describes each item that your finger moves over on the screen.
  5. Tap Install web scripts and click Allow in the pop-up window.

Navigate the Drive app

After you’ve enabled your Android’s accessibility settings, your Drive app can read off your device screen as you move your finger over elements like the following:

  • Action buttons (describes their intent)
  • Pop-up messages and warnings
  • Your document selection’s name, time of last edit, and whether it’s starred

Double-tap your screen to select or click something. Use two fingers to scroll. See Explore By Touch instructions to scroll and open items on your phone or tablet screen. You can also navigate the app with a USB or Bluetooth keyboard. Connect your keyboard to your Android device and try these shortcuts:

Keyboard shortcut

Action

Enter Open a specific item in Drive or click a button
Up and Down arrows Scroll through your list of documents or within a specific document
Right arrow Open a document’s Quick Action menu
Esc Go back, close drop-down menus, navigate back through the Drive app
Tab Toggle between buttons on the toolbar as well as back and forth between documents listed in your Drive app
  • TalkBack reads a document’s name and whether it’s been starred, before returning you to the Quick Actions menu.
  • Enter opens the Quick Actions menu and stars or un-stars a document.

Read and edit documents

TalkBack and Explore By Touch help you read and edit Google documents from your Android 4.0 device.

When you open a document, TalkBack reads its contents. TalkBack reads the character or word immediately after your cursor. Interrupt the reading of a document by double-tapping the screen. Use your USB or Bluetooth keyboard to navigate to the parts of the document you want to read:

Reading mode shortcut

Action

Up and Down arrows Move between lines
Left and Right arrows Hear specific characters
Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right Hear specific words

To read your document with Explore By Touch, start hover mode by holding down your finger for a few seconds. Explore By Touch reads the word under your finger as your finger moves.

Use Tab on your USB or Bluetooth keyboard to navigate to the start of the document. To start editing, navigate into the document to set your cursor to the appropriate location, or tap your finger into the document.

When your document is in editing mode, you can edit within your Drive app.

Editing mode shortcut

Action

Up arrow Navigate to the document’s editing toolbar
Down arrow Move from the toolbar back to the document itself
Left and Right arrows Move between the toolbar’s action buttons
Tab Move between the toolbar’s action buttons
Esc Return to viewing mode after editing

TalkBack reads out each action button and indicates if it’s checked or not. It’ll also narrate actions you take while you edit your document, including characters you’ve typed or deleted. You can also use customary shortcuts on your USB or Bluetooth keyboard, like Ctrl+B to bold your text.

Learn more about editing for Google documents on Android.

Older versions of Android

Turn on accessibility features for your Android

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Tap TalkBack, which controls spoken feedback for visually impaired users.

Navigate the Drive app

After you’ve enabled your Android’s accessibility settings, your Drive app can read off your device screen as you move your finger over elements like the following:

  • Action buttons (describes their intent)
  • Pop-up messages and warnings
  • Your document selection’s name, time of last edit, and whether it’s starred

You can also navigate the app with a USB or Bluetooth keyboard. Connect your keyboard to your Android device and try these shortcuts:

Keyboard shortcut

Action

Enter Open a specific item in Drive or click a button
Up and Down arrows Scroll through your list of documents or within a specific document
Right arrow Open a document’s Quick Action menu
Esc Go back, close drop-down menus, navigate back through the Drive app
Tab Toggle between buttons on the toolbar as well as back and forth between documents listed in your Drive app
  • TalkBack reads a document’s name and whether it’s been starred, before returning you to the Quick Actions menu.
  • Enter opens the Quick Actions menu and stars or un-stars a document.

Read and edit documents

TalkBack helps you read and edit Google documents from your Android device.

When you open a document, TalkBack reads its contents. TalkBack reads the character or word immediately after your cursor. Interrupt the reading of your document by double-tapping the screen. Use your USB or Bluetooth keyboard to navigate to the parts of the document you want to read:

Reading mode shortcut

Action

Up and Down arrows Move between lines
Left and Right arrows Hear specific characters
Ctrl+Left and Ctrl+Right Hear specific words

Use Tab on your USB or Bluetooth keyboard to navigate to the start of the document. To start editing, navigate into the document to set your cursor to the appropriate location, or tap your finger into the document.

When your document is in editing mode, you can edit it with your Drive app.

Editing mode shortcut

Action

Up arrow Navigate to the document’s editing toolbar
Down arrow Move from the toolbar back to the document itself
Left and Right arrows Move between the toolbar’s action buttons
Tab Move between the toolbar’s action buttons
Esc Return to viewing mode after editing

TalkBack reads out each action button, and indicates if it’s checked or not. It’ll also narrate all actions you take while editing your document, including characters typed or deleted. You can also use customary shortcuts on your USB or Bluetooth keyboard, like Ctrl+B to bold your text.

Learn more about editing for Google documents on Android.

Accessibility: Android provides accessibility support for blind and low vision users with the TalkBack, BrailleBack applications, and special accessibility features. Visit the Android Accessibility help center to learn more.