Chapter 5. Navigating Content

VoiceOver provides numerous ways to navigate content and text. In this chapter, you’ll learn how to navigate content such as tables and text, and how to use navigation features such as Quick Nav, the Item Chooser, and hot spots, as well as the Tab key.

Navigating menus

The menu bar at the top of the screen contains three main areas: the Apple and application menus, status menus, and the Spotlight menu.

To navigate to the menu bar:

Press VO-M.

If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, double-tap with two fingers near the top edge of the trackpad.

To navigate in the menu bar:

To navigate a menu:
To close a menu:

To exit a menu without selecting an item, press Escape. If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, scrub back and forth with two fingers on the trackpad.

Shortcut menus give you quick access to commands so you don’t have to navigate to the menu bar. To open a shortcut menu for an item, press VO-Shift-M. If you’re using VoiceOver gestures, you can use the customized gesture Control-Trackpad click (you can change this default assignment and assign the command to a different gesture).

Many menu items have keyboard shortcuts you can use to bypass menus altogether. For example, to open the Print window, press Command-P, instead of navigating to File > Print.

Navigating tables

You can navigate tables in text areas by row and column, and sort by column.

Here are ways to navigate tables:

You can use the same text commands you would use for documents to read text in a table.

When you’re interacting with a table, VoiceOver doesn’t announce blank columns as you navigate using the arrow keys unless you have the verbosity level for tables set to High.

Navigating by finding text

You can navigate in a window by searching for specific text. For example, if you’re working in Mail and you want to go to the Send button, type Send in the VoiceOver search field and the VoiceOver cursor will move directly to that button.

To search text:
  1. Press VO-F.

    VoiceOver displays a search panel.

  2. In the search panel, type or paste (by pressing Command-V) the text you’re looking for, and then press Return.

    VoiceOver searches from the VoiceOver cursor to the end of the text area.

    • To find the next occurrence of the text in the window, press VO-G.
    • To find the previous occurrence of the text in the window, press VO-Shift-G.
  3. To review past searches, press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key. Before you repeat, delete, or enter a new search, press VO-F.
    • To repeat a previous search, press Command-A.
    • To delete a search, press Command-Delete.

Navigating by using text attributes

You can navigate in a document by searching for text attributes, such as a bold font or a change in font color.

Here are ways to navigate by using text attributes:

Navigating using cursor wrapping

When you use cursor wrapping, VoiceOver treats the items in a window as a continuous loop, so, for example, if you’re at the top and move back, you go to the last item in the window. You hear cues when you wrap to the next line, or wrap from top to bottom or from bottom to top.

You can set a preference in VoiceOver Utility to turn on cursor wrapping so that it’s always available. If you don’t set the preference, you can use commands that force cursor wrapping only when you need it.

To use cursor wrapping at any time:
  1. When VoiceOver is on, open VoiceOver Utility, click Navigation, and select the “Allow cursor wrapping” checkbox.
  2. To wrap from the bottom to the top of a window, press VO-Down Arrow. To wrap from the top to the bottom of a window, press VO-Up Arrow.
To use cursor wrapping when needed:
  1. To move the cursor to the lower-right corner or to the top of a window to prepare for wrapping, press VO-Command-End or VO-Command-Home.
  2. To wrap to the top or to the bottom, press VO-Command-Shift-arrow keys.

    For example, VO-Command-Shift-Left Arrow wraps from the first item in a window to the last item in the window.

Navigating with the Tab key

Mac OS X includes “full keyboard access,” where you can use the Tab and arrow keys to move the keyboard focus to text boxes, lists, radio buttons, checkboxes, and other controls.

Here are some points to keep in mind when you use the Tab key to navigate while VoiceOver is on:

You can navigate in reverse using Shift-Tab.

Navigating using Quick Nav

With Quick Nav, you can navigate webpages and applications using only the arrow keys.

To turn Quick Nav on or off:

Press the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys at the same time.

To navigate applications and webpages in Group mode:

To navigate webpages in DOM mode:

Navigating using the Item Chooser

You can use the Item Chooser to quickly go to any item on the screen or in a window. The Item Chooser menu lists text, controls, links, and graphics.

A screen shot of the Item Chooser. A panel with a black background and white text, titled Item Chooser. The menu includes these items, from top to bottom: close button, dimmed zoom button, minimize button, preference panes empty scroll area, Personal text, Appearance button, Desktop & Screen Saver button, Dock button, Expose & Spaces button, Language & Text button, Security button, Spotlight button, Hardware button, Hardware text, CDs & DVDs button, Displays button. The last item is preceded by a downward arrow indicating there are more items to scroll to.
To navigate to an item:
  1. Press VO-I to display the Item Chooser.
  2. Navigate the items in the list using the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key until you find the item you want.
    • If you know the name of an item, such as a Close button, type some letters of its name to narrow the list to only items that contain those letters. To list all the items again, press the Delete key.
    • If you don’t find the item you want, press the Escape key to exit the Item Chooser without making a selection.
  3. Press Return or the Space bar to select the item and go to it.

    The Item Chooser closes.

Monitoring items with hot spots

You can use hot spots to monitor up to ten items per window or to jump to those items later. After you set a hot spot for an item, you can use the hot spot until you close the window that contains the item. If you turn off VoiceOver and then later turn it on and open a window in which you previously set hot spots, your hot spots are still available.

To set a hot spot:

Navigate to the item and press VO-Shift-[number key].

If you assign a number that’s already being used in a hot spot, the new hot spot replaces the old one.

To remove a hot spot:

Press VO-Shift-[number key] on the hot spot.

For example, if you had set a hot spot on the first icon in the Dock (say, by pressing VO-Shift-5), you would press VO-5 to jump to that hot spot and then press VO-Shift-5. VoiceOver removes the hot spot from the icon.

To use hot spots:

When you jump to hot spots in tables, lists, or web areas, you can immediately interact with those items; you don’t need to enter a VoiceOver command to interact with them.

To use the Hot Spot Chooser to browse and jump to hot spots, press any hot spot key twice. For example, you might press VO-7-7 to display the Hot Spot Chooser. The Hot Spot Chooser lists all active and inactive (those in closed applications) hot spots.

You can use hot spots on some non-English keyboards.

You can assign hot spot commands to keys on the numeric keypad or keyboard, or on a braille display. If you’re using a Multi-Touch trackpad, you can assign the commands to VoiceOver gestures.