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Use YouTube with a screen reader


The following information will be helpful for people using screen readers as it explains the steps for using YouTube with screen readers. A screen reader is a software application that identifies and interprets what is being displayed on the computer screen. This information is then presented to a blind user as speech or Braille if a Braille display is connected to screen reader. This article provides step-by-step instructions for using YouTube, making it easier for a new user to explore YouTube.

Read on to learn more about using YouTube with a screen reader and discover which keyboard shortcuts are available for the site.

If you're using the new desktop experience, you must click the video player before using keyboard shortcuts. To return to the classic desktop experience, go to the account icon and click Restore classic YouTube.

Create a Google Account

With a Google Account, you can access many YouTube features, including Like, Subscribe, Watch Later and Watch History. YouTube can also recommend videos based on what you've watched, liked and subscribed to. Reference step-by-step instructions for creating a Google Account.


Search YouTube and search results


Search results

  1. Search for YouTube videos

    • Go to

    • Go to the search edit box at the top of the page by hitting the / keyboard key. 

    • Type a search term and press Enter.

  2. Search results

    The search results page has a 'did you mean' section which suggests proper words if you misspelled any word(s). Each of the search results has the following information:
    • The title of the video – activating it will play the video. 
    • The name of the channel that posted the video.
    • How long ago the video was uploaded and how many times it has been viewed.
    • A snippet from the description of the video.


Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcut Function
Spacebar Play/Pause when the seek bar is selected. Activate a button if a button has focus.
Play/Pause Media Key on keyboards Play/Pause.
K Play/Pause in the player.
Stop Media Key on keyboards Stop.
Next Track Media Key on keyboards Moves to the next track in a playlist.
Left/Right arrow on the seek bar Seek backwards/forwards 5 seconds.
J Seek backwards in the player.
L Seek forwards in the player.
Home/End on the seek bar Seek to the beginning/last seconds of the video.
Up/Down arrow on the seek bar Increase/Decrease volume 5%.
Numbers 1 to 9 on the seek bar (not on the numeric pad) Seek from 10% to 90% of the video.
Number 0 on the seek bar (not on the numeric pad) Seek to the beginning of the video.
Number 1 or Shift+1 Move between H1 headers.
Alt+C+H Go to the home page.
Alt+C+F or / Go to the search box.
F Activate full screen. If full screen mode is enabled, activate F again or press Escape to exit full screen mode. 
C Activate closed captions and subtitles if available. To hide captions and subtitles, activate C again. 
Shift+N Move to the next video (If you are using a playlist, this will go to the next video in the playlist. If you are not using a playlist, it will move to the next YouTube suggested video)
Shift+P Move to the previous video. Note that this shortcut only works when you are using a playlist. 


The YouTube Player

Once you activate one of the search results, the player will load and the video will start playing automatically. Here are the components and layout of the player:

Section headers

  • H1 for the title of a video

The player has the following components:

  • Seek slider: The seek slider is used to fast forward or rewind the video. To use the seek slider, first turn off virtual cursor then tab to the slider. Use the left/right or up/down arrow keys to fast forward/rewind the video.
  • Play/pause: The button text toggles based on the current status of the video. To replay the video, activate the 'play' or K button after the video stops playing.
  • Next: This button allows you to skip to the next video. If you do not have media buttons, you can also skip to the next video using Shift+N. 
  • Mute/unmute: This button toggles depending on whether the video is muted or not muted.
  • Volume slider: Use the left/right or up/down arrow keys to increase/decrease volume.
  • Time elapsed/total duration: This section shows the total time elapsed over the total duration of the video. It shows you how much of the video has played already and how much there's still left to play. 
  • CC (Subtitles): If a video has subtitles, you can activate them using the 'C' shortcut.   The subtitles appear at the bottom of the video. To disable subtitles, activate the 'C' shortcut again.

  • Settings: This button opens up a settings menu that allows you to make the following changes:

    • Autoplay: Toggle autoplay on or off.
    • Annotations: Toggle annotations on or off.
    • Speed: Choose the speed of the video, either normal or sped up or slowed down.
    • Subtitle: Toggle subtitles on or off. You can also choose the language of the subtitles here, or choose auto-translation.
    • Quality: Choose the pixel quality of the video that you are currently watching. The available resolutions are dependent on how the video was uploaded and your Internet speed. We recommend leaving this option on Auto so that the video quality is chosen based on your Internet speed.
  • Cinema mode: Activate the Cinema mode icon to expand the player. Activate the icon again to go back to the original player size.

  • Full screen: Activating the full screen icon maximises the player to the size of your screen and removes all of the content that is outside the player. Use the Escape button to exit full-screen mode.

    lightbulb icon The full screen icon is also useful for screen reader users who might want to get rid of all the extra elements in the HTML page around the player and be left just with the player on its own.
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