Troubleshooting NVDA screen reader problems

How to get to Task Manager quickly

On a Windows machine, you can press the following keys to get to the Task Manager menu.
Press Windows + x, followed by t, and t again.
You can also use Ctrl + Shift + Esc to go straight into Task Manager.
When the task manager comes up, leave it a couple of seconds, then either use first letter navigation keys - or arrow down to the item you want to stop the task on. Tab a couple of times until you hear NVDA say end task. Press the Spacebar. Now the task will end. Use Alt + F4 to close the screen.

NVDA remote add-on not connecting

If you go to connect to another NVDA user's machine (and if both of you are using the NVDA screen reader along with the NVDA remote add-on)... when you access tools, remote, connect... it closes and says desktop instead of the connect options. You might have to do the following:

Bring up the Windows Run dialogue command by pressing the following: Windows key + letter R then type in the following %appdata%\nvda and delete remote.ini.

Then, go back and reinstall the add-on making sure you have the latest version of it.

Locating the nvda.old log in Windows

In some cases, you might be surfing a website or using a program and NVDA might stop talking. If you restart NVDA with the Alt key + Ctrl key + the letter N an nvda.old log will be generated - hopefully catching the cause of the problem.

The nvda.old log can be found by doing the following... Press the Windows key + the letter R to bring up the run dialogue, then type in %temp% then press the Enter key.
When the next screen comes up, use the letter N to get to the log. You are looking for a file called nvda-old.log
This file can be copied and pasted to your desktop. You can then copy and paste the contents of the file into an email and report it to NVaccess. You can not add an attachment as part of your email, so the contents of the log will have to be pasted into it. It can be reported as an issue to be fixed. When reporting an issue, please give all steps used, and how to reproduce the bug (for example which version of Windows you were using at the time, which programme and which version of NVDA that you were using at the time the problem happened).  You can send any logs to info@nvaccess.org (along with a description so they know what it's about) or report it as an issue to be fixed.

The basics of making a ticket for NVACCESS

If and when you discover a bug in NVDA, you can create a ticket and have it looked into. For a written tutorial on the basics of making a ticket for NVACCESS please visit the following link The basics of making a ticket for NVACCESS

Some things to check if NVDA does not start
In some cases, when you go to use either a USB stick or a CD with NVDA on it, NVDA may not start. Here are some things you can check:

How to completely uninstall NVDA from your computer

Sometimes there may be cases where you need to completely uninstall NVDA from your computer. This may be in the case where you have tried reverting to a saved configuration back a few steps; or reset configuration to factory defaults and the problem is still not fixed.

You would only really do this if NVDA was not running correctly.  You would only uninstall NVDA fully if the above steps did not fix the problem.

To completely uninstall NVDA from your computer, you will need to do the following steps.

You might need another screen reader such as Narrator - which is found on all Windows 7, 8 and 10 computers - to be started and used while you remove NVDA, as of course NVDA cannot be used to remove itself.

Older versions of Narrator could be started with the Windows key + Enter key where much newer versions use the Caps lock key + Windows key + the Enter key. Narrator can also be found under the Ease of access center.

Some people might even have a copy of NVDA (on a USB stick) that is not corrupted and may be able to use it to completely uninstall the installed copy of NVDA from their computer. They can then reinstall it from that good copy of NVDA.

Press the Windows key, and in the search box type the words “control panel”. Windows will come up with a list of search results and one of them should be the control panel. Press the Enter key on it, and you will be taken into the control panel itself.

On a Windows 10 machine, you will need to locate the program and features icon, then press the Enter key to go into it. In older versions of Windows, you might be looking for an add/remove programs icon. The screen reader then should land on a list of programs on your computer. Locate the reference to NVDA and you should hear the following A; Publisher: NV Access; Installed On: 6/18/2018; Version: 2018.2.1. The version number of NVDA will depend on what you have installed.

Next, use the applications key (while still on the NVDA reference) and a context menu will come up. It will then give you the option to uninstall/change. Press the Enter key on this menu and NVDA will be uninstalled from your computer.

If your computer does not have an applications key, you can use the Shift and F10 keys to bring up this context menu.

Now, to completely uninstall NVDA settings altogether, press the Windows key + the letter R. When the run dialogue comes up, type in the following %appdata% then press the Enter key. You should hear the following when you go into this section:  Roaming Window. Here it will give you a list of folders. Locate the folder that refers to NVDA, then delete it from that section. Use the Alt key + F4 key to close this window.

Please note:

When you go to reinstall NVDA to your computer, make sure that the copy of NVDA you are using is not corrupted. It is advisable to grab a new copy of NVDA from NVACCESS first, and download it to your computer then install it from that copy.

Addon troubleshooting

There may be times when an add on might cause problems with NVDA. It could be the last add on you have installed that is causing the problem; or it may be one that was passed onto you. There are a couple of ways to troubleshoot to see if it is an add on causing it.

You could disable one add on at a time, or do them all at once.

To disable all the add ons at once (while NVDA is running) use the NVDA key + letter Q. A dialogue will come up and NVDA will default to the exit option. It is a combo box. Next, arrow down until you hear NVDA say “Restart with add-ons disabled”,  then tab to the OK button, then press the Enter key. Now all your add ons are disabled.

To re-enable your add ons one by one, (to try and track down the add-on causing the problem), while NVDA is running, press the NVDA key + letter N. Next, arrow down to the tools menu and a sub menu will come off it. Arrow down again until you hear NVDA say manage add ons, then press the Enter key. The add on manager will appear and NVDA will default to the very first add on you have there. As you arrow down this list you will hear they have been disabled. You can then re-enable one add on at a time, testing to see which one caused the problem.

To re-enable one add on at a time, locate the add on, then tab to the enable add on button and press the Enter key. After you have found the add on causing the problem, you can then remove it. Locate the remove button then follow the directions to remove the add on. Make sure that after you have finished in the add on manager, that you tab to the close button (to close the add on manager) then press the Enter key.

This will restart NVDA.

Always check for the latest add-on as it may have been fixed in an update.

Disabling sound enhancements in Windows

Sometimes when there is an update for Windows, you may hear a buzzing sound (and other strange noises) from the computer while using NVDA.

If this is the case, you will need to turn off sound enhancements in Windows for your sound card. The steps to turn it off may be similar for other Windows 10 computers.

Press the Windows key, and in the search box type sound settings. When it comes up with this result, press the Enter key. The first option might say Choose your output device Speakers (High Definition Audio Device). Next, tab once to device properties, then press the Enter key. The next screen that comes up will say home. If you tab about 7 times you will then hear NVDA say Additional device properties. Press the enter key.

The next screen should come up with speaker properties. Shift tab back once or twice - until you hear NVDA say General. There are 5 tabs there. Use your right arrow key to get to the enhancements tab, then tab a couple of times until you hear NVDA say Disable all enhancements. This should be a check box. Please note, in some cases, after you tab once (after the enhancements tab) you might need to arrow down or tab to locate the disable all enhancements checkbox. You will hear other stuff for the sound card being spoken out, but they can be left unchecked. You will need to tab to hear the "disable enhancements" checkbox if you arrowed down the list of enhancements and check the checkbox with the Spacebar. You will then need to apply and ok your changes with the Spacebar.

Now, those weird buzzing sounds etcetera should be gone!

How to access safe mode in Windows and exit it with the NVDA screen reader by Hareth and co

What is safe mode?

Safe mode is a troubleshooting option for Windows that starts your computer in a limited state. Only the basic files and drivers necessary to run Windows are started. Safe mode is useful for troubleshooting problems with programs and drivers that might not start correctly or that might prevent Windows from starting correctly.

To use NVDA in safe mode

You will need to install a registry patch first. This file can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/s/jr72u3sk7p0za2r/Activate_Sound_in_Win10_Safe_Mode.zip?dl=0

After it has been installed it will allow you to use NVDA in safe mode. This has been tested on a Windows 7 and Windows 10 machine and with quite a few different sound cards.

Directions to go into and out of safe mode in Windows

You can reboot in to safe mode by doing the following:

Press Windows plus R and type msconfig and hit Enter

Press Ctrl plus Tab to get to the "boot tab"

Tab to "safe boot" and check the check mark/check box.

Tab to "base video" and check it as well.
Tab to the apply button. Press Enter (or spacebar).

Tab to the OK button and press it. You should get a prompt to restart the computer to apply the changes.

If you select "restart now" your PC should restart into safe mode.

 

Please note: When the registry patch has been installed, when you go into safe mode,  you will have sound and be able to use the NVDA screen reader.

Message you will get while in safe mode


To confirm you are in safe mode, you can use the NVDA key + letter B. Below is the type of message you will get as an example on a Windows 10 machine.

Safe Mode Microsoft (R) Windows (R) (Build 16299.rs3_release.170928-1534) Safe Mode

After finishing your PC job with safe mode, do the same steps above, but this time uncheck the two check boxes above for both safe boot, and base video. Tab to apply and press Enter. Tab to OK and press Enter (or spacebar) and restart. Your PC will restart to the normal mode.

Troubleshooting - Using Narrator to get NVDA up and running when autoplay menus are not enabled

An audio tutorial on How to start NVDA using Narrator in Windows 7 can be found at the following link
https://www.dropbox.com/s/dtgu7trb47x2e0t/how%20to%20start%20nvda%20using%20narrator%20in%20windows%207.MP3?dl=0
An audio tutorial on How to start NVDA using Narrator in Windows 8 can be found at the following link
https://www.dropbox.com/s/6wr0iytcxpjbfqs/how%20to%20start%20nvda%20using%20narrator%20in%20windows%208.MP3?dl=0
If for some reason NVDA doesn't start from your USB stick (or run automatically from your CD) as mentioned in the audio tutorials, you can also try starting NVDA with narrator (which comes with Windows).

Windows Narrator can be launched when the autoplay menu (needed to run NVDA from a CD) is not enabled in Windows. This could be from either a CD or a USB stick. You may find it a lot easier to get your copy of NVDA up and running this way. Even though Windows Narrator is a very basic screen reader, it is however useful in some cases. One of these cases is starting Windows Narrator so you can get a copy of NVDA running from a USB stick or CD. Launching Windows Narrator is also a good way to see what is happening on your computer screen via audible feedback, until you get NVDA up and running from whichever media you are using.

There are a couple of different ways to start a copy of Windows Narrator. One of these ways is to start Windows Narrator through the ease of access centre. The ease of access centre is found on Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 computers. To launch the ease of access centre in Windows (once Windows has started up fully), and the desktop is showing; Press the Windows key and the letter U. This will bring up the ease of access centre. Arrow down once to the first option. This is the Windows Narrator option. Press the Enter key and Windows Narrator will begin talking. You may like to make some adjustments if they are needed (such as the speed of the voice).

The other alternatives on a Windows 7 machine, are when you press the Windows key (to bring up the start menu);  in the search box type in the word Narrator, then press the Enter key. A couple of seconds later Windows Narrator should come up running.

You can also get Windows Narrator up and running on a Windows 8 and 8.1 machine as well. When you press the Windows key (to bring up the Windows 8 metro screen), type in the word Narrator, then press the Enter key. This will bring up a copy of Windows Narrator as well.  Again, if you need to make any adjustments to Windows narrator, you can do this at this point (for example the speed of the voice etcetera).

Next, minimize Windows Narrator (with the Windows key and the letter M). This will minimize all windows on the computer. Next, insert either your USB stick (with a copy of NVDA on it), or your CD (that didn't autorun when inserted). If there are no autoplay menus that come up, you will need to navigate to the section where your drives are. For example C: drive D: drive and so on. The naming of this section may vary from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. (For example it is called "computer" on Windows 7, and " this pc" on Windows 8.1). On most computers, there is a shortcut to the relevant section.  The Windows key and the letter E should quickly get you into this section on your computer as well.

Once you have located this section, arrow down to the "devices with removable storage" section and locate your drive. (For example the D:\ could be your CD/DVD rom if you inserted a disc, or the E:\ , F:\ , or G:\ drive etcetera might be your USB stick. Once it is found, press the Enter key. This will take you inside the drive. Remember to label your USB stick or CD something relevant, so that it is easy to find when you need it.

If for example you only had the one file on your USB stick, and it was called NVDA 2014.3.exe, then it would be a matter of finding it (making sure it is highlighted) and pressing the Enter key on it to start a copy of NVDA; (where it gives you the 3 options as follows: 1 to install to your computer, 2 to make a portable copy or 3 to run as a temporary copy).

Depending upon which media you use, and which way you set up your USB stick or CD, will depend on which way you start it. (For example if only the NVDA_2014.3.exe file was used, then you would click on that file. If a folder was used called NVDA, then it would be the nvda.exe file you would click on). It may depend if a start.bat file was used and so on, and how it was set up either on your USB stick or CD.

Once NVDA is up and running , then just do a quick Alt/Tab to bring up the Windows Narrator programme and turn it off.

Please also see my other NVDA tutorials on starting NVDA from a USB stick or CD to discover other ways of getting NVDA to start.

Troubleshooting - How to revert changes in NVDA

From time to time you might get yourself into trouble. This may be something as simple as accidentally changing your language from your preferred language to another one you don't understand (for example changing it from English to a foreign language). The menus may still be in English but you will hear NVDA speak in the other language.

This tutorial will cover (using a couple of different ways) the basics of changing the voice back to your default language (for example back to English from the other language). It will also cover going back a configuration or 2, as well as resetting NVDA to the factory default (should you need to do this). To listen to the audio tutorial please go to https://www.dropbox.com/s/u00624n22hlfxwu/How%20to%20revert%20changes%20in%20NVDA.MP3?dl=0

Troubleshooting - How to reset your language settings in NVDA

Once in a blue moon you may accidentally change your default language to another that you don't understand. When this happens and the language is changed from English to another (under the language settings in the general settings section in NVDA) this will also change the menus from English to that language. It is hard enough hearing another language you do not understand, but also having the menus in that language makes it even harder to work out what to do.

If this ever happens to you, you could always try the following. While NVDA is running, press the Insert key + Ctrl key + the letter G (altogether). This will bring up the general settings section in NVDA. NVDA will default to the language combo box. Press the letter U (until you hopefully hear the words User defaults), and once you do, tab down to the OK button, and press the Enter key. A dialogue box will appear. You need to tab to the OK button, and press Enter again on this and NVDA will  restart (so that the language reverts back to your user default language).

If you do not hear the words "user defaults" (because they are being spoken in a foreign language) there are only 2 other languages starting with the letter U and user defaults makes it 3. Press the letter U until it lands on one starting with the letter U. One of them will be the user defaults one. You may have to repeat the process up to 3 times before you find the user defaults language, Tab to the OK button, and then press the Enter key to revert it back. This may not be spoken in English when you are doing this. NVDA will have to be restarted. Just say yes to this (by pressing the OK button and pressing Enter) and you should be good to go again.

This is the easiest way to do it (via the general settings/language combo box). The same idea could be used to find your preferred language (for example English). You would simply press the first letter of your language (for example E for English,  F for French, D for Dutch and so on).

Please note, that once you have changed the language to another, the user default may appear as an option in the other language (but you may not be able to locate if you are not fluent in that other language). To listen to the audio tutorial please go to https://www.dropbox.com/s/ldayzqv8qiqsdte/How%20to%20reset%20your%20language%20settings%20in%20NVDA.MP3?dl=0

Troubleshooting - Some things to try if you have no speech from NVDA in Windows

In some cases, you might ask someone to do some work on your computer. In a lot of cases, the person helping might mute the sound coming out of the computer. This is usually done through the notification area under the speaker volume section (by checking the checkbox to mute the master volume sound). Some multimedia keyboards also have a mute button on the keyboard, and when pressed will mute the sound. Pressing this button again will unmute the sound, so it may be a good idea to mark the button just in case it is also accidently hit.

In some cases, they might simply turn off the speakers, or turn down the volume on the speakers. Check the on/off button first to see if they are turned off; next adjust the volume by turning it to the right to try and get sound out of them.

Try also the mute button on the keyboard if you are aware of it.

If for any reason NVDA starts up without speech, it may be because a trial version of a synthesiser package has ended, and may have put NVDA into a no speech mode. If this happens, press the NVDA key + Ctrl key + the letter S. This will bring up the synthesiser settings menu. Next, press the letter E, so NVDA lands on the E speak synthesiser package. Tab twice to the ok button, then press the Enter key and NVDA should change to that package. You could also try toggling NVDA, just in case the person set NVDA to speech mode off. Use the NVDA key + the letter S to try and toggle it back until you hear NVDA say speech mode talk. If for any reason NVDA crashes and you find NVDA is no longer talking, press the Alt key + Ctrl key + the letter N. This will restart NVDA from the crash.

You could even ask the person helping you to just turn off NVDA (with the NVDA key + the letter Q), so all you have to do is start NVDA again when he/she is finished.

If the steps above don’t work, then try using the step below to see if it works.

Press the Windows key + the letter R to bring up the Windows run dialogue box.

Next, type in sndvol, then press the Enter key.

This will bring up the volume control speakers panel. For example: Volume Mixer - Speakers (High Definition Audio Device).

NVDA will land on the volume slider. Tab once; this should land NVDA on the mute check box. Press the space bar once, and the checkbox should be unmuted. You should hear NVDA start speaking again.

Unmuting the speakers in the last step worked on a Windows 7 machine, as well as a Windows 10 machine. This might work on other versions of Windows.

To listen to a brief audio tutorial on some things to try if you have no speech from NVDA please go to the following link https://www.dropbox.com/s/uwstpzu7jjz8ygg/Some%20things%20to%20try%20if%20you%20have%20no%20speech%20from%20NVDA%20in%20Windows.MP3?dl=0

Troubleshooting - NVDA says “unknown” or “pane” in all of your browsers, Mozilla Thunderbird email client and other places

If for some reason you have problems with NVDA saying “unknown” or “pane” check for the following symptoms:

It might be a good idea to do the following:

Please note: If you are hearing “unknown” or “pane” (as discussed above) NVDA might seem like it is still working properly but it may not be completely in Windows and other programmes.

You could try the following solution which will allow you to re-register your dll files in case they are causing the problem.

Press the Windows key then type the following into the search box. Type in “command prompt”. Once you have located command prompt, in the search results, press the Applications key to bring up the context menu. Arrow down to select “run as administrator” and press the Enter key. This will take you to a command prompt window. This will not be spoken out. You may need sighted assistance for this.

Type in the following command/s:

Old NVDA, Pre 2019.3
import comtypes,ctypes;p=comtypes.typeinfo.LoadTypeLibEx(r"c:\windows\syswow64\oleacc.dll");ctypes.windll.oleaut32.RegisterTypeLib(p,ur"c:\windows\syswow64\oleacc.dll", None)
 
Current NVDA 2019.3 onward
import comtypes,ctypes;p=comtypes.typeinfo.LoadTypeLibEx(r"c:\windows\syswow64\oleacc.dll");ctypes.windll.oleaut32.RegisterTypeLib(p,r"c:\windows\syswow64\oleacc.dll", None)

This should re-register all components in the system32 folder.

When it is finished, you can close the command prompt window with the Alt + F4 key. You should notice now where NVDA was saying “unknown” as in some examples given, NVDA should now read the icons in the running applications area of Windows, speak the content of the webpage and menus, and also in Mozilla Thunderbird and other places in Windows including the Windows applications context menu.

Run COM Registration Fixing tool

If you are getting any of the following problems below - with Windows unregistering some of the files needed by NVDA - the following tool section in NVDA will get you out of trouble. To access this tool press the NVDA key + letter N while NVDA is running. Arrow down to the tools menu. A submenu will come up. Arrow down to the menu called Run COM Registration Fixing tool... then press the Enter key.  It should register the files needed by NVDA.



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