How to Turn Off VoiceOver on a Mac

Give Apple's narrator a well-deserved rest

What to Know

  • Easiest for most Macs: Hold down the Command+F5 keys to turn off VoiceOver or to turn it back on.
  • Easiest for Macs with Touch ID: Press Command while quickly tapping the Touch ID sensor three times.
  • Using System Preferences: Select Accessibility > VoiceOver and deselect the Enable VoiceOver option.

This article explains three ways to turn off VoiceOver on a Mac, plus how to reenable the keyboard shortcut if you switched it off in the past. Instructions apply to macOS Big Sur (11.0) through OS X Tiger (10.4).

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

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 those with visual impairments navigate the internet and use their computers. If you turn it on by mistake or want to turn it off at the end of a session, you can turn it off with keyboard shortcuts or from System Preferences.

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

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 appears and gives you the option of turning it back off immediately.

The screen that shows you've enabled VoiceOver on macOS

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 hearing the speaker.

If your Mac has Touch ID, press Command while quickly tapping Touch ID three times. Use this sequence to turn VoiceOver off or on.

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's necessary if you ever turned off the Command+F5 shortcut.

Here's what you do.

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

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

    The Accessibility option from macOS System Preferences wit
  3. Select VoiceOver in the left pane.

    VoiceOver option from Accessibility settings on macOS
  4. Deselect the Enable VoiceOver box.

    The Enable VoiceOver checkbox from macOS Accessibility settings

    If you want faster access to Accessibility options, from Settings > Accessibility, check the box next to Show Accessibility status in menu bar. Alternatively, press Option+Command+F5 to reveal a shortcuts dialog box. Use Tab to toggle through the options.

How to Reenable the Keyboard Shortcut

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 upper-left corner of the screen and click System Preferences.

  2. Select Keyboard in the System Preferences window.

    Mac System Preferences with Keyboard highlighted
  3. Choose the Shortcuts tab.

    Keyboard preferences Shortcuts tab on macOS
  4. Click Accessibility in the left pane. Then select the check box next to Turn VoiceOver on or off to reactivate the shortcut.

    Keyboard Accessibility shortcut options for VoiceOver on macOS

Ask Siri to Help

If you already have VoiceOver enabled and use Siri on your Mac, asking Siri to disable it is another quick approach. Make a request such as, "Turn VoiceOver off."

VoiceOver is also available on iPhones and iPads from Settings > Accessibility. Learn more about the accessibility settings on the iPad and customizing accessibility options on iPhones.

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