rough draft of a laptop tutorial for migrating from window eyes to NVDA
someone asked for a followup piece covering migrating from window eyes to NVDA using a laptop.
I've accepted the challenge and have prepared something that I think will work. However, this is a rough draft, and I want to hear from you about it. You'll be able to read it after my signature. Hope this will help some of you out there.
Making the change
coming from window eyes to NVDA with a laptop
If you have decided that you're going to make the switch from Window eyes to NVDA and you're using a laptop, as with anything you may catch a case of the jitters. Hey, with something new, who doesn't? Here's a guide that hopefully will not only rest those jitters, but will have you working with NVDA.
Let's get things started:
Setting up NVDA:
The first thing you will want to do if you do not have screen reading software installed on your laptop is to start up narrator. To do this, press Windows+enter.
This is a toggle that turns narrator on and off.
To get NVDA, there are 2 places, that you can go. The first is the NV access website,
https://www.nvaccess.org once there you can get your copy of nvda from the downloads page.
Once you've downloaded the file from here, go to the location where you saved it, and hit enter on it. When prompted allow the program to run and in a few seconds you'll hear a musical chord. After this the E speak voice will welcome you to the NVDA installer program. At this point you will want to shut down the narrator so that only one voice will be speaking.
Follow the prompts until you have successfully installed NVDA and when the finish button comes up hit it. NVDA Will close out for a second or two then restart with the fully installed version that you put on your laptop.
If you have a bit of computer savvy, You can get an automatic installer for NVDA at WWW.ninite.com.
Once you have downloaded the file to your hard drive, go to the
location where you saved it, press enter and after allowing it to run, sit back relax, and let ninite do its thing. Once it's complete, NVDA will be installed and ready to go
Changing the voice
Before I go any further let me say that laptops come in various keyboard designs and layouts. Some of them have numeric keypads and some of them don't. However, with this section you shouldn't have any trouble with setting things up.
To get into the NVDA menu hit insert-n. You can use any one of three modifier keys: The capslock, and both insert keys can be used in combination with any letter that NVDA designates as a shortcut key.
Once the menu is up, arrow down to the preferences sub menu, hit the right arrow to open it and arrow down twice until NVDA says synthesizer and press enter on it. Once the dialog box comes up tab over to the synthesizer combo box and down arrow to choose microsoft Sapi version 5. then, when it begins to speak tab to the OK button and press enter. Once you have this done, you probably will want to keep the voice you have selected. To do this press the NVDA+Control+C keyboard shortcut. This will save the current configuration, so that when you restart your system, the voice you selected will always come on.
Navigating and creating documents
If you are familiar with the windows commands, then you have pretty much got the game won. Nothing has changed, the arrows do as they have always done, and when combined with the control and shift keys is still very much the same. However, there are some keyboard commands that you should be aware of in NVDA. Here are some of those:
brings up the NVDA menu to allow you to access preferences, tools, help, etc.
Input Help Mode
Pressing any key in this mode will report the key, and the description of any NVDA command associated with it
Pass next key through
Tells NVDA to pass the next key press straight through to the active application, even if it is normally treated as an NVDA key command
Pressing once reports the current time, pressing twice reports the date
Report battery status
Reports the battery status i.e. whether AC power is in use or the current charge percentage.
Report clipboard text
Reports the Text in the clipboard if there is any.
Report current focus
announces the current object or control that has the System focus. Pressing twice will spell the information
Reports the title of the currently active window. Pressing twice will spell the information. Pressing three times will copy it to the clipboard
Read active window
reads all the controls in the currently active window (Very useful for working in dialog boxes)
Report Status Bar
Reports the Status Bar if NVDA finds one. It also moves the navigator object to this location. Pressing twice will spell the information
Starts reading from the current position of the system caret, moving it along as it goes
Read current line
Reads the line where the system caret is currently situated. Pressing twice spells the line.
Read current text selection
Reads any currently selected text
These are just a few of the keyboard shortcuts that are available to you. In the help menu of NVDA you can find a list of all of the NVDA keyboard shortcuts, and any other information that you may want to check out is in the user guide which is also in this menu.
The commands for navigating the internet are universal, and everything that you could do with your original screen reader can be done with NVDA. Nearly all of the single letter navigation keys perform in the same manner with a couple of exceptions. Again, you can use the command reference and the NVDA user guide to find out more information on it.
NVDA like window eyes does have a review cursor which you can use to navigate the screen. If you’re coming from window eyes, the PC cursor is called the system focus and the system caret. As for the window eyes cursor is a combination of things, 3 review modes which are document, object, and screen. The screen review part of this will probably be the mode you will be most comfortable with; and object navigation. The NVDA users guide explains all of this thoroughly. You can also find information on review and object navigation at the accessibility central and NVDA Korea-English websites. The web addresses will be posted in the NVDA resources section later on in this document.
Screen Review Commands
Move to previous line in review
Moves the review cursor to the previous line of text
Report current line in review
Announces the current line of text where the review cursor is positioned. Pressing twice spells the line. Pressing three times spells the line using character descriptions.
Move to next line in review
Move the review cursor to the next line of text
Move to previous word in review
Report current word in review
Announces the current word in the text where the review cursor is positioned. Pressing twice spells the word. Pressing three times spells the word using character descriptions.
Move to next word in review
Move the review cursor to the next word in the text
Move to previous character in review
Moves the review cursor to the previous character on the current line in the text
Report current character in review
Announces the current character on the line of text where the review cursor is positioned. Pressing twice reports a description or example of that character. Pressing three times reports the numeric value of the character in decimal and hexadecimal.
Move to next character in review
Move the review cursor to the next character on the current line of text
Observe the layout and patterns of the above keystrokes.
The arrow keys will give the previous and next characters, adding the control key to the arrow keys will give the previous and next words, and adding the shift key to the arrows will give the previous and next lines. This same concept hold strue for reading the current character word and line the only difference is that you’re using the period instead of the arrows.
Those are the main commands for reviewing text this next set however should be noted.
Move to top line in review
Move to bottom line in review
Move to start of line in review
Move to end of line in review
Observe the pattern of these shortcuts.
switch to next review mode
switches to the next available review mode
switch to previous review mode
switches to the previous available review mode
I believe that if you can Grasp these concepts, you will be well on your way to using NVDA with confidence, efficiently, and effectively. Good Luck!
Should you need any sort of help with NVDA there are loads of places on the internet to find it.
Perhaps the largest and most robust repository of information on the net about using NVDA. Go to
(Note: Though the information on this page is totally relevant, some of it goes back to earlier versions of NVDA and may not apply to what you are currently running) Keep in mind that as things in operating systems and programs change, things may have to change in NVDA also.) Here is what you'll find there.
For information regarding the NVDA screen reader itself
Installing additional components for NVDA
Here's a link to a page with information on installing additional components for NVDA
This page has a wealth of information. There are tutorials covering everything from working with NVDA to using NVDA with the internet, Microsoft
word, and Microsoft
excel. Check it all out at
Are you using Mozilla Thunderbird as your e-mail client, and you're looking for a tutorial for it? Well you can find it here.
If you can't afford the Microsoft office suite and need something to fill the bill, There are a couple of programs out there that will do it rather nicely; and they both support NVDA.
They are Open and Libre Office. For information on using these productivity suites with NVDA, Go to
Note: The versions covered here are for versions 4.10 of open office, and version 4.0 of libre office , and lots of things have been upgraded and fixed since 2014.
Sometimes you may need to grab a program and you are not exactly sure if it will work with NVDA. Here is a list of programs that are being road tested with nvda. Keep in mind here that nothing's guaranteed here and other factors such as which version of the windows operating system you are working with apply.
Windows 10 and NVDA
Looking for information about using windows 10 with NVDA? You can find it here.
The NVDA Korea – English website, Here you can find audio tutorials covering the use of the NVDA Screen reader in either language. The link to the English version of the website is
The NVDA community add ons website
This site hosts information and links to add-ons, plug-ins, and enhancements for NVDA. Check it out at
The NV access websites
Home to the NVDA screen reader
The NVDA.groups.ioo Email list
If you wish to connect to a community loaded with NVDA users that will help you answer any queries about NVDA you may have, Look no further then the NVDA users e-mail list. To get started there,
send a message to
and we will be glad to assist.