Migrating from other screen readers to the NVDA screen reader

If you are coming from the Jaws screen reader or the Window Eyes screen reader to NVDA, you may find the following list of comparable hot keys useful.

Some reasons you might want to migrate to the NVDA screen reader

You can have as many copies of NVDA as you like, plus it will not time out after a period of time.

The upgrades to the next version are free and to every version after that (unlike some where you purchase the initial commercial screen reader package and then have to purchase the subsequent upgrades afterwards).

NVDA will work on computers, laptops and both 32 and 64 bit operating systems of Windows (starting from XP home right up to Windows 10). NVDA will also run on tablets running the x86 version of Windows, but will not work on tablets running Windows RT.  Please see the system requirements in the help section of the user manual for more information.

NVDA has been translated into over 48 languages so far besides English. Please see the section called Internationalization in the user manual for more information.

NVDA comes with the E speak synthesiser. If you want more synth packages, you can add them to NVDA (either for free or they can be bought). These can be both Sapi 4 and Sapi 5 packages.

Training material and phone support for NVDA from the NV Access online shop

Are you aware that NV Access have put together an online Shop where you can buy training material for the NVDA screen reader?
You can also get phone support.

Please stay tuned for more training material as it becomes available.
For more information please visit the NV Access Online Shop at the following link https://www.nvaccess.org/shop/

Find out about NVDA progress via the nvaccess In Process blog

To find out what is happening within the NVDA project, visit “In-Process” - the new NV Access blog, where you can be informed of happenings within the organisation, staff and of course, NVDA. http://www.nvaccess.org/category/in-process/

Click on any of the links in the table below, to visit other NVDA related webpages that may be of interest to you.

NVDA related webpages

NVDA tutorials

screen reader

NVDA road tested

NVDA tutorials
learning the basics

How to install
additional components

NVDA Guides

NVDA Addons

Accessible email client
Mozilla Thunderbird

NVDA tutorials

for Windows 10

NVDA audio tutorials

nvaccess home of the
NVDA screen reader

NVDA user statistics

NVDA community

Migrating to NVDA from
another screen reader

nvaccess facebook page

nvaccess on twitter

Connect with the
NVDA Community

NVDA tutorials
for other programs

NVDA screen reader related resources

For a variety of NVDA related resources from around the world, please visit the NVDA screen reader related resources page at the following link
NVDA screen reader related resources

Promotional video on the NVDA screen reader

If you are unsure what a screen reader is, please click on the following link to listen to a promotional video on the NVDA screen reader https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks7AwV_uxO0&feature=youtu.be   Please feel free to pass this information onto others that you think may be interested or who may want to find out more.

Obtaining a copy of NVDA and some shortcuts

To obtain a copy of the NVDA screen reader, you will need to go to the following website http://www.nvaccess.org Go to the download section to grab your copy of NVDA.

After the file has been clicked/entered on, NVDA will come up with a musical tune then start talking. You must agree to the documentation, then it will give you 3 options. In most cases, the first option will be to install NVDA to your computer. The other 2 options are to make a portable copy of NVDA on a USB stick; and also to run as a temporary copy.

Switching from JAWS to NVDA

For information on some of the things you may encounter when switching from the JAWS screen reader to the NVDA screen reader, please visit the NVDA community's WIKI article at the following link https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda-community/wiki/SwitchingFromJawsToNVDA

Switching from Window-Eyes to NVDA

For a tutorial on switching from Window-Eyes to NVDA (by Gene Asner) please visit the following nvda-community wiki link https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda-community/wiki/Switching-from-Window-Eyes-to-NVDA

Migrating to the NVDA screen reader (desktop tutorial or laptop tutorial)

The following tutorials are for both a desktop keyboard user (as found below) and a laptop keyboard user (as found below that). Please visit the following link to jump down to the laptop section by clicking or pressing Enter on it. Making the change coming from Window-Eyes to the NVDA screen reader.

Keyboard settings

Whether you have a desktop computer or a laptop, you can set your keyboard to use either the desktop keyboard layout or the laptop keyboard layout. You can also make other changes in this section.

To quickly get to the keyboard settings in NVDA, press the Ctrl key + NVDA key + the letter K. Here in this section you can select a keyboard layout, select a modifier key, speak typed characters, speak typed words and so on.

Please note

Please note, where I refer to the NVDA key this is a modifier key which can be the Insert key, the extended Insert key or the Caps Lock key. You would use one of these keys to do a task. For example, the Insert key + the letter N will get you into the preferences section of NVDA where you can find the user manual and so on. You can use the arrow keys to navigate the different menus.

Some shortcuts to get you started with NVDA

If you have installed NVDA to your computer, use the Ctrl + Alt + letter N keys to start your copy of NVDA.

To get into the preferences menu of NVDA (where you can make changes or view the user manual), use the NVDA key + letter N.

To quit your copy of NVDA, use the NVDA key + letter Q.

Useful Windows shortcut keys

To make your life a lot easier, it is wise to learn some of the Windows shortcut keys. This might be to copy and paste text, jump to the Windows notification area and much more. For shortcuts that can be used with Windows and some other useful programs, please go to the following link (which is linked to a Dropbox account) at https://www.dropbox.com/s/r0hc0ejv9whgsgs/Useful%20shortcuts.zip?dl=0

Learning some basic NVDA commands

It would be a good idea to read the following sections in the user manual called Basic NVDA commands and Reporting System Information. It would also be a good idea to read the sections on Navigating with the System Focus and Navigating with the System Caret.

Changing your synthesiser and voice settings in NVDA

When NVDA is running you can change the synthesiser that you are using. Press the Ctrl key +NVDA key + the letter S. Then, it is a matter of using the down or up arrow keys to navigate the other synthesisers there. Once a synthesiser has been selected, tab down to the OK button to make your selection.

Change your voice settings in NVDA

There may be cases where you want to adjust the speed of the voice being used, the pitch, punctuation / symbol or change the voice being used itself, and so on. To quickly get to the voice settings dialogue box in NVDA, use the Ctrl key + NVDA key + the letter V. When the dialogue box appears, you can tab down to make adjustments. Adjustments could include using the arrow keys on the slider to speed up or slow down the voice; the Spacebar to check or uncheck a check box; or the Alt key + down arrow key to open a Combo box and arrow keys to make your choice.

Please note

When you change the synthesiser to another one, you must go into the voice settings after this has been done to change the voice used, speed up or slow down the voice etc. This is more for new users of the NVDA screen reader.

 When it has been changed, tab to the ok button, then press the Enter key.

Extra voices for NVDA

NVDA comes packaged with the E speak synthesiser. If you do not like any of the variants/voices that come with NVDA, you can change to other synthesiser packages if they are bundled on your computer. Usually there is at least one on a Windows computer which is Sapi 5.You can also install other synthesiser packages such as Sapi 4 packages or have a look at the following webpage for either free or paid packages https://github.com/nvaccess/nvda/wiki/ExtraVoices  .  

Comparable hot keys

Miscellaneous hot keys

The Key Describer (known as Input help in NVDA)

If you are not sure what keys do what in NVDA (when coming from another screen reader) you can turn on input help.  When it is turned on, you can use any combination of keys to see what function that key combination performs in NVDA. This will not activate any keys to perform a function, but will give you a description of what it does. It can be turned on and off again by using the NVDA key + 1 on the main qwerty keyboard.

Window-Eyes, Insert key + 1 on the main qwerty keyboard

Jaws, Insert key + 1 on the main qwerty keyboard

NVDA, Insert key + 1 on the main qwerty keyboard

Read title bar

Window-Eyes: Control Shift + T

JAWS: Insert + T     

NVDA: NVDA key + T

Read status line

Window-Eyes: Ctrl Insert + S

JAWS: Insert + Num 3

NVDA: NVDA key + End

Read field data

Window-Eyes: Ctrl Shift + N

JAWS: Insert + Tab

NVDA: NVDA key + Tab

Read entry

Window-Eyes: Ctrl Shift + D

JAWS: Insert + Tab

NVDA: NVDA key + Tab

Read active window

Window-Eyes: Ctrl Shift + W

JAWS: Insert + B

NVDA: NVDA key + B

Read current time

Window-Eyes: Insert + T

JAWS: Insert + F12

NVDA: NVDA key + F12 (doing it twice will give you the date)

The Bypass key

Window-Eyes: Insert + B

JAWS: Insert + 3

NVDA: NVDA key + F2

Accessing the system tray in Windows

Window-Eyes: Insert + S

JAWS: Insert + F11

NVDA: No shortcut key, however the Windows key + B will do the same, or you can get an add on called systrayList

Open verbosity settings

Window-Eyes: Insert + V

JAWS: Insert + V

NVDA:  There is no setting for verbosity settings, but the reporting of links, tables, headings etcetera, can be turned off under the document formatting settings in NVDA and some other places.

Microsoft Word

When you are in a document, you can use the system caret to review the document. You can use the left and right arrow keys to navigate letter by letter; or the Ctrl key + right arrow key to go one word at a time to the right; or the Ctrl key + left arrow key to go one word at a time to the left. You can also delete out characters to the right, and backspace letters to the left.

Reviewing text in NVDA

With NVDA, you can leave the system caret at the top of the page (and without moving it) use the review text command to read the document character by character, word by word or line by line. The same commands can be used on a webpage while in browse mode and menus in Windows. You cannot use the review text commands to edit a document; but you can to read a document and review text that the system caret may not be able to get to.  The section you will need to look at in the user guide is called Reviewing Text.

The other 3 places you might find text review useful are: screen review mode, document review and object review mode. To go into screen review mode use the NVDA key + Num 7 (on the numeric keypad). Document review will only show if it can be used. To go into object navigation mode, use the Insert key + Num 1 (on the numeric keypad). For more information on these other modes, please see the NVDA user manual section called Review modes.

Read from current position down the page

Both in a word processor (such as Microsoft Word) and on a web page on the internet, you may want to read from the current position down the page.

Window Eyes: Ctrl + Shift +R

Jaws: Insert + down arrow

NVDA: NVDA key + down arrow

To stop NVDA from reading the document or webpage, press the Ctrl key.

Read current line

Window-Eyes: Ctrl + Num 5

JAWS: Insert + Num 8

NVDA: NVDA key + up arrow

Spell the current word

Window-Eyes: Ctrl + Num 6

JAWS: Insert + Num 5 twice quickly

NVDA: Num 5 twice

Spell the current word phonetically

Window-Eyes: Ctrl + Num 6 twice quickly

JAWS: Num 5 twice quickly, then Num 6 to move to the right, and Num 4 to move to the left by letter

NVDA: Num 5 (press 3 times)

Read by sentence

Window-Eyes: Ctrl Shift + page up or down

JAWS: Alt + down arrow

NVDA: Down arrow

Read character formatting

Window-Eyes: Insert + E

JAWS: Insert + F

NVDA: NVDA key + F

Pressing this key combo twice will bring up a little browse window, where you can use the arrow keys to review the formatting.

Read misspelled word in context

Window-Eyes: Alt + S

JAWS: Insert + C

Supported browsers for NVDA

The elements list will only work with supported browsers that work with NVDA.

Bring up links list view known as the elements list in NVDA

Window-Eyes: Insert + Tab

JAWS: Insert + F7

NVDA: NVDA key + F7

Turn Window-Eyes browse mode, or JAWS forms mode, or NVDA’S browse mode and focus modes on and off

Window-Eyes: Ctrl + Shift + A

JAWS: Enter to turn on, and Num + to turn off

NVDA: NVDA key + Spacebar

In the browse mode settings of NVDA, you can also (instead of hearing sounds when going into focus mode where you can type, and browse mode where you can use single letter navigation keys) change it under the browse mode settings in NVDA. Uncheck the box that says Audio indication of focus and browse modes. Save your settings with the Ctrl key + NVDA key + letter C. Now, you should hear NVDA say browse mode (for single letter navigation), and focus mode (where you can type information into a form when on a webpage or supported document).

Find a word on a current web page

Window-Eyes: Ctrl + Shift + F

JAWS: Ctrl + F

NVDA: NVDA key + Ctrl + F

Move to next block of text

Window-Eyes: X



Move to next paragraph

Window-Eyes and JAWS: P

NVDA: Ctrl key + down arrow key (only in Microsoft Word)

For a full list of single letter navigation keys in NVDA

For a full list of Single letter navigation keys, please see the section called Single Letter Navigation in the user manual.


Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA: letter B

Combo boxes

Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA: letter C


Window-Eyes and Jaws: Move to Next Landmark (formerly next Mouse Over Element):  semicolon

NVDA:  letter D

Radio buttons

Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA: letter R

Move to the next heading

Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA: the letter H

Move to the next visited link

Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA: the letter V

Move to a form field

Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA: the letter F

Move to the next table

Window-Eyes, JAWS, and NVDA:  the letter T

Navigating tables with Window-Eyes

Turn on table mode

Ctrl + Numpad plus

Turn off table mode

Ctrl + Numpad minus

Navigating tables with JAWS and NVDA

Navigating columns

Ctrl + Alt + left/right arrow

Navigating rows

Ctrl + Alt + up/down arrow

Is there something equivalent to JAWS cursor and other mouse commands in NVDA?

Yes. The screen review allows reading the contents of the current window. To switch to screen review, press NVDA + Numpad 7. Once you locate the position where you wish to perform mouse clicks, route the mouse by pressing NVDA + Numpad slash, then press Numpad slash for left mouse click or Numpad star for right mouse click. To switch to object review, press NVDA + Numpad 1.

Moving the physical mouse or using mouse commands

If you are a physical mouse user NVDA can read what is under the mouse. If mouse tracking is turned off it can be toggled back on with the NVDA key + letter M. When the physical mouse is moved around, it will speak what is under the mouse. If you want to get to the mouse settings dialogue box quickly (where you can make some changes to do with the mouse) press the Ctrl + NVDA + letter M key. For more information, please see the section in the user manual called Navigating with the Mouse.

Making the change coming from Window-Eyes to the NVDA screen reader

The following tutorial covers making the change coming from Window-Eyes to the NVDA screen reader when using a laptop computer.
This NVDA tutorial is courtesy of Tony Ballou.

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. Since there’s no way for me to know what system everyone has, there are still a couple of ways that will work no matter what version of Windows you are running. Press the Windows key to enter the search box and type Narrator, or if you are more comfortable with using the run dialog box, press the Windows key and R, and type the word Narrator, then press Enter.

To get NVDA, there are 2 places that you can go. The first is the NV access website (the link follows) https://www.nvaccess.org Once there, you can get your copy of NVDA from the downloads page.

Once you've downloaded the file from there, 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 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 synthesizer or 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 Caps Lock, and both Insert keys can be used in combination with any letter that NVDA designates as a shortcut key. (These can be located under the keyboard settings section).

Changing the synthesizer

Once the menu is up, arrow down to the preferences submenu. Hit the right arrow to open it, and arrow down twice until NVDA says synthesizer. Press Enter on it. Once the dialog box comes up, NVDA should default to the synthesizer combo box. Down arrow to choose Microsoft Sapi version 5. Then, when it begins to speak, tab to the OK button and press the Enter key. 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.

Changing the voice

To get into the NVDA menu hit Insert +N. Once the menu is up, arrow down to the preferences submenu. Hit the right arrow to open it, and arrow down twice until NVDA says voice settings. Press the Enter key. When the dialog box comes up it should default to voice (which is the language of the voice) and you will need to tab down to Variant. Here you can select the voice that you prefer.

A word about Keyboard layouts

If you are strictly using a laptop, you will have to set up NVDA for that. Here’s how:

Press NVDA + N to bring up the NVDA menu. Down arrow to the preferences sub menu and hit the right arrow once to open it. Press down arrow until NVDA says keyboard settings, and press Enter. The keyboard settings dialog box will come up, and NVDA should say keyboard settings dialog combo box keyboard layout; desktop collapsed Alt + K. This is the default choice. Press Alt + down arrow and NVDA says Laptop; then tab to the ok button and press Enter. Note: if your laptop does not have a numeric keypad and you are using an external keyboard, you can work with NVDA using the desktop layout.

Navigating and creating documents using NVDA keyboard commands

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 they are still very much the same. However, there are some keyboard commands that you should be aware of in NVDA. Here are some of those:

Start NVDA

Alt + Ctrl + N



Brings up the NVDA menu to allow you to access preferences, tools, help, etcetera.



Input Help Mode

NVDA + 1

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.

Report date/time

NVDA + F12

Pressing once reports the current time, pressing twice reports the date.

Report battery status

NVDA + Shift + B

Reports the battery status that is 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

NVDA + Tab

Announces the current object or control that has the System focus. Pressing twice will spell the information.

Report title


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

NVDA + Shift + End

Reports the status bar if NVDA finds one. It also moves the navigator object to this location. Pressing twice will spell the information.

Say all


Starts reading from the current position of the system caret, moving it along as it goes.

Read current line

NVDA + l

Reads the line where the system caret is currently situated. Pressing twice spells the line.

Read current text selection

NVDA + Shift + S

Reads any currently selected text.

These are just a few of the keyboard shortcuts that are available to you. In the help section of NVDA, you can find a list of all of the NVDA keyboard shortcuts. Any other information that you may want to check out is in the user guide which is also in this menu.

Browse Mode

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.

Reviewing text

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, it 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

NVDA + up Arrow

Moves the review cursor to the previous line of text

Report current line in review

NVDA + Shift + period

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

NVDA + down Arrow

Move the review cursor to the next line of text.

Move to previous word in review

NVDA + Control + left Arrow

Report current word in review

NVDA + Control + period

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

NVDA + Control + right Arrow

Move the review cursor to the next word in the text.

Move to previous character in review

NVDA + left Arrow

Moves the review cursor to the previous character on the current line in the text

Report current character in review

NVDA + period

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

NVDA + right Arrow

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 arrow keys will give the previous and next lines. This same concept holds true 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

NVDA + Control + Home

Move to bottom line in review

NVDA + Control + End

Move to start of line in review

NVDA + Home

Move to end of line in review

NVDA + End


Observe the pattern of these shortcuts.

Switch to next review mode

NVDA + Page Up

Switches to the next available review mode.

Switch to previous review mode

NVDA + Page Down

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!

NVDA Resources

Should you need any sort of help with NVDA, there are loads of places on the internet to find it.

Accessibility Central

Perhaps the largest and most robust repository of information on the net about using NVDA. Go to http://accessibilitycentral.net/

(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


NVDA Tutorials

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 http://accessibilitycentral.net/nvda%20tutorials.html

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 Office and Libre Office. For information on using these productivity suites with NVDA, go to:

Link for Open Office https://www.openoffice.org/

Link for Libre Office https://www.libreoffice.org/

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 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 https://addons.nvda-project.org/index.en.html

The NV access website

Home to the NVDA screen reader


The NVDA.groups.io 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 than the NVDA users e-mail list. To get started there, send a message to nvda+subscribe@nvda.groups.io and we will be glad to assist.