Using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC with the NVDA screen reader

There are two tutorials on this page. One is Lanie Molinar. To quickly get to her tutorial please click on the following link
Reading Large Documents in Adobe Reader with Screen Readers by Lanie Molinar

What does Adobe Acrobat Reader DC do?

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software is the free, trusted standard for viewing, printing, signing, and annotating PDFs. It's the only PDF viewer that can open and interact with all types of PDF content – including forms and multimedia; and now, it’s connected to Adobe Document Cloud – so you can work with PDFs on computers and mobile devices.

With Acrobat Reader DC, you can also unlock premium features to do more with PDFs when you purchase a subscription to Adobe PDF Pack, Adobe Export PDF, Adobe Send & Track, or Adobe Sign.

Where can I get Adobe Acrobat Reader DC from?

You can obtain a copy of it from the following website at

Setting Adobe Acrobat Reader DC as your default PDF viewer

If you notice when you go to open up a PDF document that it opens in another program (such as Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 or Mozilla Firefox) and you do not want it to open in another program, you can set Adobe Acrobat Reader as your default. You will need to locate a PDF document on your computer then use the applications key. If there is no applications key, you can use the Shift key + the F10 key (to bring up the context menu). When the context menu comes up, arrow until you get to the menu called open with, then press the Enter key. A sub menu will come up and give you some options. Locate the menu called choose another app, then press the Enter key. NVDA might land on the ok button. If so, tab to the list just below it. Locate the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC program from the menu. Tab again and it will give you the option to open it with it every time. Make sure the check box is checked. Then, tab down to the ok button and press the Enter key. Now when you go to open a PDF document it will open in the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC program every time.

When Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is opened

When you open up this program it will have the good old style menus that go from left to right, and the menus that drop down. These can be easily navigated with your arrow keys.

Some useful shortcut keys that can be used with NVDA

When you are browsing a PDF document, you can use some of NVDA’s quick navigation keys to navigate the document - if it has been formatted correctly. These are usually H for headings, K for links and G for graphics.

Use the NVDA key + down arrow key to read the page.

Some useful shortcut keys

Go To Page... Shift + Ctrl + N

Previous View… Alt + Left Arrow

Next View… Alt + Right Arrow

To obtain a full list of shortcuts for this program please go to

With NVDA… to go to the top of the document you can use the Ctrl + Home keys

To go to the very bottom of the document you can use the Ctrl +End keys

To go to the previous page you can use the Ctrl + Page up keys or the Alt + left arrow keys

To go to the next page you can use the Ctrl + Page down keys or the Alt + right arrow keys

Page display

This can be set to one page, 2 pages or continuously.

There are a few different options to choose from; for example single page view, enable scrolling, two page view, two page scrolling, show gaps between pages, show cover page in two page view and automatically scroll.

Saving your PDF file as a txt file

There may be cases where you have a PDF file and want to save it as a txt file. This might be so you can review the txt file by sentence, word or letter; and having it as a txt file means you can edit it as well.


When you have your PDF file loaded in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, to save your PDF file as a txt file, press the Alt key (until the File menu comes up) then arrow down until you hear NVDA say Save as other. A submenu will come up. Press the Enter key on the txt menu. A save as dialogue will now appear. NVDA will default to the file name. Name it something easy to remember if you are changing the file name. If you do not it will call it the name of the file it was called with a txt file extension on it.

Next, tab until you hear a location for the file to be saved in (for example the desktop or my documents). You might have to change the location to where you want it; and you should hear NVDA say the name of it. After a location has been chosen, Shift/Tab a few times until you get back to the save button, then press the Enter key. Now, your PDF file will be converted to a txt file, where you can read it using a supported word processor.

Have your PDF document read out aloud to you

In the case where a person is using a screen reader, when the PDF document is opened, the screen reader is used to read out the document. In some cases, it might not be able to if it is a scanned image of a document.

In the case where someone might not use a screen reader (and still has some vision) you can have the PDF document read out to you. To do this, press the Alt key + the letter V. Arrow down to the Read Out Loud menu.  A submenu will come up giving you some options. These will be:

Activate Read Out Loud Shift + Ctrl + Read

This Page Only Shift + Ctrl + V

Read To End of Document Shift + Ctrl + B

Pause Shift + Ctrl + C

Stop Shift + Ctrl + E

To get it to read the document, you will need to tell it first how much of the document you want it to read; then activate it for it to start reading the document. After the document has been read, it can then be deactivated. The readout aloud feature uses the inbuilt Sapi voice within the program.

Accessibility section of this program

When you go to read a PDF document and you are using a type of adaptive technology, it should bring up the accessibility section (where you will have to go through some sections answering some questions). If this section does not come up you can then press the Alt + E key to bring up the Edit menu. Next, arrow down to the section that says accessibility.  A submenu will come up and give you two options. One will be to change reading options and the other is setup assistant. If you choose the reading options, press the Enter key. You will now be given some options to go through with your adaptive technology. Depending on how you set this section, it will determine how it is read (for example: the page could be being viewed one page at a time or continually as in the entire document).

If you choose the second option called setup assistant, press the Enter key and you will be given 2 different options. One will be for a person using magnification, and one will be for a screen reader user. Choose the option that suits you and your adaptive technology and answer the questions given to suit your adaptive technology preferences.

Please note

With the PDF document you are viewing you can also use the arrow keys to review it letter by letter or add the Ctrl key + right or left arrow key to review it word by word. This will not edit the document.

You can also use NVDAs review text commands. These are found in the user manual and let you read the PDF document by line (previous line Numpad 7, current line - where the review cursor is Numpad 8, and the next line Numpad 9); by word ( the previous word Numpad 4, current word Numpad 5, and next word Numpad 6); and character (the previous character Numpad 1, current character Numpad 2 and next character Numpad 3). These commands will only review the document but will not edit it.  Please note: this is done on the numeric keypad and the Num Lock key must be turned off.

For more information on the commands needed for both a desktop user and laptop user, please see the user manual and the section called reviewing text.

Reading Large Documents in Adobe Reader with Screen Readers

by Lanie Molinar

Many people, including me until recently, have had problems with Adobe Reader for Windows jumping to a different page when trying to read large documents with screen readers. This can be very frustrating. It led me to look for an alternative, as I am in college and a course I am taking provides the textbook in PDF format. None of the alternatives I found, including reading the textbook in my browser, were as feature-rich as Adobe, so I explored the settings and the Internet to try and find a way to keep it from jumping around. I finally found the right combination of settings, so I wanted to share this to help others. Here are the settings you need to change and how to find them.

Note: Feel free to change other options that are not listed here. I will only discuss those you should change before reading a large document.

1.    If this is your first time using Adobe Reader, it will tell you that an assistive technology like a screen reader was detected on your computer and take you to the accessibility setup assistant. If you have used it before, you will need to launch the assistant by pressing Alt + E for the Edit menu, pressing Y or arrowing to the accessibility submenu, and then pressing S or arrowing to the setup assistant option. From here the process is the same for first-time users and those who have used Adobe Reader before.

2.    The first page asks what assistive technology you are using. You can set all options, those for screen magnifiers, those for screen readers, or use recommended settings and skip the setup. For this tutorial, we will select the option for screen readers. Tab to the next button or press Alt + N to go to the next page.

3.    This page does not have any settings that need to be changed to make viewing large documents easier, so change what you want or just skip to the next page.

4.    On this page, set Adobe Reader to only read the visible pages in large documents. Otherwise, it will take a long time to load the document, and Adobe Reader may stop responding.

5.    Also on this page, check the box to override the page layout style, and choose the single page option in the following combo box.

6.    Also check the override document zoom box and make sure the combo box is set to 1x. Then go to the next page.

7.    Here, check the box to disable document autosave. I also have the option to reopen documents to the last viewed page checked, but this is a personal preference and will not cause problems when reading. Click the done button to close the assistant.

These steps should help you read large documents without the frustration you may have experienced before. They definitely helped me! Please feel free to let me know if my directions are not clear enough or if I should add something. Click this link to generate a new email message with my email address in the to: field and the subject “Adobe Reader Tutorial Feedback: