How to Turn off VoiceOver on a Mac

Give Apple's narrator a well-deserved rest

VoiceOver on Mac

 Apple Inc.

VoiceOver is a handy screen reader built into macOS for Apple desktop and laptop computers. It reads aloud the text of web pages and documents, which helps the visually challenged to navigate the internet and use their computers.

As helpful as VoiceOver is, you might turn it on by mistake, leaving you in a situation where you have to listen to a narrator constantly talk to you as you go about your web-based business. Even if you didn't switch it on by mistake, you might want to turn it off at the end of a session. You can turn it off with a keyboard shortcut or in the Mac's System Preferences.

Information in this article applies to Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15) through OS X Tiger (10.4).

How to Turn off VoiceOver on a Mac With a Keyboard Shortcut

The simplest way to turn off VoiceOver involves a two-button keyboard shortcut. Hold down the Command key and press F5.

The screen that shows you've enabled VoiceOver

Bear in mind that the Command+F5 shortcut also switches VoiceOver back on, so if you press it again by mistake, you reactivate the feature. Usually, this isn't a problem, since a window pops up and gives you the option of turning it back off immediately. However, this window also gives you the option of checking a box that says, "Do not show this message again." If you pressed that option in the past, you could end up turning on VoiceOver without receiving any immediately apparent notification other than the dulcet tones of the speaker.

How to Turn off VoiceOver on a Mac in System Preferences

A slightly more involved way of turning off VoiceOver involves going to System Preferences. It may take longer, but it is necessary if you ever turned off the Command+F5 shortcut, although it's hard to disable this by mistake.

Here's what you do:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen.

  2. Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu and click Accessibility in the System Preferences window.

    Mac System Preferences
  3. Select VoiceOver in the left pane.

    Accessibility settings screen
  4. Deselect the Enable VoiceOver box.

    The VoiceOver system preferences

How to Reenable the Keyboard Shortcut

That's it. If you switched off the Command+F5 keyboard shortcut for enabling and disabling VoiceOver, you can switch it back on by doing the following:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of the screen and click System Preferences.

  2. Click Keyboard in the System Preferences window.

    Mac System Preferences
  3. Choose the Shortcuts tab.

    Keyboard system preferences
  4. Click Accessibility in the left pane.

  5. Click the checkbox next to Turn VoiceOver on or off to reactivate the shortcut.

    Accessibility system preferences