How to Use Windows Text to Speech Feature

How to make Microsoft read text aloud

What to Know

  • Enable Narrator from Settings > Ease of Access > Narrator.
  • Select Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter to start Narrator.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts to navigate and read the screen.

This guide will answer this question and show you how to use Windows 10 have a text-to-speech feature.

Is There a Text-to-Speech Option in Windows 10?

The Windows 10 Text to Speech option is called Narrator. It's an Ease of Access feature you have to turn on from Settings or the Control Panel. 

Narrator is a screen reader designed for the visually impaired, but anyone can use it to give their eyes a rest. With the Text-to-Speech features, you can navigate Windows screens, apps, and web pages. For instance, the Text-to-Speech option can read entire web pages, spreadsheet tables, and describe formatting attributes like font types and font colors to help you work with any content. 

Key features of Narrator:

  • Change Narrator's voice and install other text-to-speech voices.
  • Personalize the speaking rate, pitch, and volume of the voice.
  •  Use Narrator's Scan mode to navigate apps and web pages faster with keyboard shortcuts and arrow keys.

How Do I Turn on Text-to-Speech on My Computer?

Narrator is switched off by default in Windows. Follow these steps to enable it.

  1. Select the Start button and choose Settings.

  2. Go to Settings > Ease of Access > Narrator

    Ease of Access in Windows Settings
  3. Enable Narrator by toggling the button to the On position. 

    The Turn on Narrator setting in Windows.
  4. A Narrator dialog box will appear on the screen explaining keyboard layout changes. The blue border around the text highlights the parts read by Narrator. 

    The Narrator Keyboard Changes dialog box.
  5. Select OK to stop the message narration and exit the dialog. Also, check the box next to “Don’t show again,” if you don’t want the box to appear every time Narrator starts.

  6. A "Welcome to Narrator" screen will appear when you start using Narrator for the first time. From here, you can learn how to use the screen reader and find related learning resources like the comprehensive Narrator guide available online. 

    Narrator Home Screen

How Do I Turn On Text-to-Speech on My Computer?

After you enable Narrator, you can quickly launch it to use text-to-speech for anything on the screen.

  1. Start Narrator's Text-to-Speech with two methods:

    • Select the Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter together to start Narrator. Press them again to stop Narrator.
    • Select the Windows logo key + Ctrl + N to open Narrator settings. Then enable the Use Narrator switch.
  2. Use the Ctrl key to stop Narrator from reading the screen.

  3. There are different keyboard shortcuts associated with navigating everything on the screen with Narrator. The keyboard shortcuts use the Narrator modifier key which by default are the Caps lock key or the Insert key. You can choose another modifier key in Narrator Settings. Some important Narrator shortcut keys are:

    • Narrator + Ctrl + Plus sign (+) to increase Text-to-Speech volume.
    • Narrator + Ctrl + Minus sign (-) to decrease Text-to-Speech volume.
    • Narrator + Plus sign (+) or Narrator + Minus sign (-) to speed up or slow down voice playback.

Note:

Microsoft Support's Chapter 2: Narrator basics online guide explains the fundamentals of navigating a screen or a web page with Narrator. The complete online guide is an important resource to learn how to use Text-to-Speech in Windows.

How Do I Use Text-to-Speech in Windows?

Read text from any location on the screen or page with modifier key combinations. Then, control what you want to read by page, paragraph, line, sentence, word, and character. Here are the main methods to navigate a screen with Narrator.

Reading Text on the Screen With Narrator

Narrator can read any text on the screen. Navigate across the content with the arrow keys or use the Scan Mode for more precise control over what you want to read. 

Use the Narrator modifier key with the correct shortcut to read text by page, paragraph, line, sentence, word, or character. For instance,

  • To read the current page: Narrator + Ctrl + I
  • To read text from the current location: Narrator + Tab
  • To read the current paragraph: Narrator + Ctrl + K
  • To read the current line: Narrator + I
  • To read the current sentence: Narrator + Ctrl + Comma
  • To read the current word: Narrator + K
  • To read the current character: Narrator + Comma
  • To stop reading: Ctrl
  • To navigate out of the content: Select the Tab key or use an application shortcut.

Basic Navigation With Tab Key, Arrow Keys, and Keyboard Shortcuts

With Tab and the arrow keys, you can jump between interactive controls like buttons, checkboxes, and links.

  • To open a hyperlink on a web page, go to it with the tab and arrow keys. Then, press Enter to open the page.
  • To find out more about a link, press Narrator + Ctrl + D and Narrator can tell you the page title behind the link.
  • To find out more about an image, press Narrator + Ctrl + D and Narrator will read a description of the image.

Advanced Navigation With Scan Mode

Scan Mode in Narrator will help you work through page content like paragraphs using just the Up and Down Arrow keys. Turn it on or off with Caps Lock + Space and then use keyboard commands like H to jump forward through headings, B for buttons, or D for landmarks.

There are many Scan Mode commands. Refer to the Microsoft Support's Narrator Guide to learn more about them.

Narrator has an exhaustive list of commands to help navigate a screen with the help of sound and shortcuts. Remember these two keyboard shortcuts

  • Narrator + F1: Display the entire commands list.
  • Narrator + F2: Display commands for the current item.
FAQ
  • How do I turn off Text to Speech in Windows 10?

    Select Settings > Ease of Access > Narrator > and move the toggle to the left (off position) under Turn on Narrator. Alternatively, use the Win+Ctrl+Enter keyboard combination.

  • How do I use the speech-to-text feature on Windows 10?

    If you want to dictate text instead of typing, turn on Windows Speech Recognition; go to Settings > Time & Language > Speech Microphone > Get Started. Say, "Start listening," or press Win+H to bring up the dictation toolbar. For help using voice recognition for dictation, browse this list of common Windows Speech Recognition commands.

  • How do I record text to speech in Windows 10?

    Try online text-to-audio file converters such as VirtualSpeech to create an MP3 file from a block of text. The Microsoft Store offers similar apps such as Any Text to Voice and Convert Text to Audio.

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