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VoiceOver: screen reader for iOS

The built-in screen reader for Android devices is called VoiceOver. A screen reader makes it possible to use apps without sight. Gestures allow you to navigate through apps and perform actions. VoiceOver is available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Download our free ScreenReader app to learn VoiceOver gestures and actions.

Turn on VoiceOver

You can enable VoiceOver in the following ways:

Way 1: via settings

  1. Open the Settings app

  2. Tap Accessibility

  3. Tap VoiceOver

  4. Turn on the switch

Way 2: via Siri

  1. Activate Siri (“Hey Siri”)

  2. Say: “Turn on VoiceOver”

Way 3: Via Shortcut

  1. Open the Settings app

  2. Tap Accessibility

  3. Scroll to the bottom, tap Accessibility Shortcut

  4. Tap VoiceOver

  5. Press the side button or home button three times

Turn off VoiceOver

If you get confused with the gestures, the easiest way to turn off VoiceOver is via Siri: “Hey Siri, turn off VoiceOver”.

It is of course also possible to turn VoiceOver off again via the Settings app. However, you will have to navigate here via the VoiceOver gestures.

If you have set up a shortcut for VoiceOver, you can also turn it off again this way.

VoiceOver gestures

It's helpful to learn some basic gestures first. You will not be the first person to turn VoiceOver on, after which it will not be possible to turn it off again.

Swiping to the right takes you to the next element. Swipe left to go to the previous element.

Double tap to activate an element. These three gestures will get you a long way.

The main gestures to learn are:

  • Touch the screen with 1 finger to explore

  • Swipe right with 1 finger to go to the next element

  • Swipe left with 1 finger to go to the previous element

  • Tap the screen twice with 1 finger to activate an item

  • Swipe left, right, up, or down with 3 fingers to scroll in that direction

Note: it will often happen that you cannot fully control apps with VoiceOver.

Swipe with 1 finger

Gestures to control VoiceOver by swiping with 1 finger.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Select and read an item aloud

Swipe the screen with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 5GSoWj1Uo737xlcLIKzW4

Navigate to the next item

Swipe right with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 3CVqxiANlz5RaCDXF1KsMO

Navigate to the previous item

Swipe left with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 5OW0s2MWKUosK3eGZbDYcz

Increase setting

Swipe up with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 6W9baHavFz8bo9VJodowcU

Decrease setting

Swipe down with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 3O5ZJ8VtpvaZyHhoewKZga

Swipe with 2 fingers

Gestures to control VoiceOver by swiping with 2 fingers.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Have the entire screen read aloud

Swipe up with 2 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 3MbO2ZDjPRbgZh4M9uFV7B

Have the screen read aloud from the current item

Swipe down with 2 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 2f1dNM8H8OyEbVYEkpoddV

Swipe with 3 fingers

Gestures to control VoiceOver by swiping with 3 fingers.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Scroll up

Swipe up with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 4AbJJBaOz5VPyVbDkKqpfO

Scroll down

Swipe down with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 1b1Hu56142q8RjdY1N6ypW

Scroll right

Swipe right with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 1uFvXpD3DoC2MZa0Kfp5yy

Scroll left

Swipe left with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 7w6IqIiAOBb9EozxFm3cmR

Tap with 1 finger

Gestures to control VoiceOver by tapping with 1 finger.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Activate the selected item

Tap the screen twice with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 2Bxz6Te5WWizhCTcXJHzLe

Long press the selected item

Tap 2 times with 1 finger and hold

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 69OFAGy88qETb3IySlCWyh

Double-tap the selected item

Tap the screen 3 times with 1 finger

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 3wAkWHJUVzZvy6yPUDk3JX

Tap with 2 fingers

Gestures to control VoiceOver by tapping with 2 fingers.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Pause or resume reading

Tap the screen with 2 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: b8VZSSTOIpHvEDddUApmF

Start or stop the current operation

Tap the screen twice with 2 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: OIYEhwSQO2LtDmeUJNFKu

Change the label of a part

Tap 2 times with 2 fingers and hold

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 105TcFmTm0UDvfqU5ou7jD

Open the Item Chooser

Tap the screen 3 times with 2 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 6nfaNykJ6axJU2bfxLt1t1

Tap with 3 fingers

Gestures to control VoiceOver by tapping with 3 fingers.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Have additional information spoken

Tap the screen with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 155vMTJnnRHpIp8r8KYhsf

Mute or unmute VoiceOver

Tap the screen twice with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: cfRC6TiBsJ3iSoOBQeekU

Turn the screen curtain on or off

Tap the screen 3 times with 3 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 1YaH9Tn9strhK7u88wmzYl

Tap with 4 fingers

Gestures to control VoiceOver by tapping with 4 fingers.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Go to the first section

Tap with 4 fingers at the top of the screen

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 63yyWgMFsFaHzWVIB7Npx4

Go to the last section

Tap with 4 fingers at the bottom of the screen

type: embedded-entry-inline id: wIQgbc7fKKaoBjbnDHB1n

Shortcuts

Gestures to activate VoiceOver shortcuts.

Action

Explanation

Gesture

Choosing a rotor setting

Make a rotating movement with 2 fingers

type: embedded-entry-inline id: hK9y4KFiZjXmcId68SAJH

Close a notification or go back to the previous screen

Make a zigzagging movement with 2 fingers in the shape of the letter Z

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 2GPTAbmgfirgg71Wm461VX

Make direct touch

Tap the screen twice with 1 finger and hold until you hear three rising tones. Then move your finger across the screen.

type: embedded-entry-inline id: 55ugbJtte5EcGfK5bd2VO2

VoiceOver settings

You can set up VoiceOver exactly the way that works best for you. You can adjust the most important settings as follows:

Tap: Settings, tap Accessibility, tap VoiceOver. On this screen, you can adjust various settings, including the language, voice, and speed.

In addition, it is also possible to adjust certain settings from an app via the rotor. Swipe the screen with two fingers as if you were turning a dial. The first setting will be read aloud. Continue to rotate your fingers to navigate to the next setting. Swipe up or down with your finger to adjust the setting.

Learn VoiceOver

Want to learn even more about VoiceOver? Apple has written several guides:

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