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This page lists concepts and commands for various screen readers in accomplishing various tasks, as well as providing a basic feature comparison.

The following screen readers are represented:

  • Narrator (Microsoft; Windows 10 build 16299)
  • NonVisual Desktop Access (NV Access; version 2017.3)
  • JAWS for Windows (VFO; 18.0.4350)

Note: features and commands change as screen reader developments progresses. Feel free to add or edit information presented on this page.


To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Install screen reader Preinstalled Download from Download from
License type Proprietary GPL V2 Proprietary
Cost Preinstalled Free At least $895 (U.S. Dollars)
Start screen reader Control+Windows+ENTER Control+Alt+N or type "nvda" at the Run dialog Assign a hotkey or type "jawsNN" (nn = version) into Run dialog
Exit screen reader Caps lock+ESC NvDA+Q JAWS Key+F4
Toggle screen reader Control+Windows+ENTER N/A N/A
Screen reader headquarters/menu Narrator Settings NVDA menu JAWS window or menu
Open screen reader interface N/A NVDA+N JAWS Key+J
Screen reader window always present Yes No Configurable
Context-sensitive help and tutor messages Yes No Yes
Learning commands Caps lock+1 NvDA+1 JAWS Key+1


  1. Narrator start/toggle command has changed in build 15002 to Control+Windows+ENTER.
  2. The cost for JAWS is $895 for Home or $1095 for Professional.

Reading text and status information

To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Stop speaking Control Control Control
Pause speaking N/A Shift N/A
Date and time Caps lock+C NvDA+F12 (once for time, twice for date) JAWS Key+F12 (once for time, twice for date)
Read document/say all Caps Lock+M NvDA+Down arrow JAWS Key+Down arrow
Text formatting if available Caps lock+F NvDA+F JAWS Key+F
Spell current item Caps lock+S NvDA+TAB twice JAWS Key+TAB twice
Restrict element review/mouse cursor movement N/A NvDA+Numpad Home/End JAWS Key+R
Punctuation level Alt+Caps lock+Equals or Hyphen NvDA+P N/A
Read clipboard text N/A NVDA+C Jaws Key + Spacebar then C

Writing text

To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Turn typed character announcement on or off Caps lock+F12 NvDA+2 JAWS Key+2
Turn typed word announcement on or off N/A NVDA+3 JAWS Key+2
Turn announcement of changed text on or off N/A NvDA+5 JAWS Key+S

Controls and screen elements

To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Window title Caps lock+T NvDA+T JAWS Key+T
Focused/current control Caps lock+D NVDA+TAB JAWS Key+TAB
Status bar N/A NVDA+End JAWS Key+Numpad page down
Read current window Caps lock+W NvDA+B JAWS Key+B
Navigating controls/tracker Item navigation Object navigation Touch cursor
Next control Caps lock+Right arrow NVDA+Numpad right arrow Touch cursor right arrow
Previous control Caps lock+Left arrow NVDA+Numpad left arrow Touch cursor left arrow
Parent/container control N/A NVDA+Numpad up arrow Touch cursor up arrow (advanced navigation active)
First child/contained control N/A NVDA+Numpad down arrow Touch cursor down arrow (advanced navigation active)
Activate item Caps lock+ENTER NVDA+Numpad ENTER ENTER
Item navigation mode Caps lock+up/down arrows N/A N/A
Recognize text in graphics No Yes Yes
Describe images Caps lock+Shift+D No No
Read console windows (Windows PowerShell and others) Yes Yes Yes

Mouse and touchscreen tracking

To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Toggle mouse tracking Caps lock+Numlock NvDA+M Configurable from Settings Center
Keyboard-based mouse tracking and manipulation toggle N/A N/A Numpad minus (JAWS cursor)/Numpad plus (PC cursor)
Left mouse click N/A Numpad divide Numpad divide
Right mouse click N/A Numpad multiply Numpad multiply
Route mouse or item navigation tracker to location of the cursor TBD NVDA+Numpad divide, then NVDA+Numpad minus JAWS Key+Numpad minus
Route cursor to mouse pointer or control tracked by item navigation tracker TBD NVDA+Shift+Numpad minus JAWS Key+Numpad plus
Next item via touch One finger flick right One finger flick right One finger flick right
Previous item via touch One finger flick left One finger flick left One finger flick left

Enhanced text navigation

To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Supports Internet Explorer Yes Yes Yes
Supports Microsoft Edge Yes Yes Yes
Read PDF documents Microsoft Edge Adobe Reader or Microsoft Edge Adobe Reader
Text navigation Scan mode Browse mode Virtual PC cursor
Toggle navigation modes Caps lock+SPACE NvDA+SPACE JAWS Key+Z
Web elements list N/A NVDA+F7 JAWS Key+F5 (form fields)/F6 (headings)/F7 (links)/F9 (frames), Control+JAWS Key+first letter of the element (e.g. B for buttons)
First letter navigation Yes Yes Yes
First letter elements Landmarks, form fields, headings, list items, tables Annotations, landmarks, form fields, graphics, headings, lists and items, links (all, visited, unvisited), frames, embedded objects, block quotes, separators, tables, non-link text Form fields, graphics, headings, lists and items, links (visited and unvisited), frames, paragraphs, block quotes, regions, separators, tables, divisions, non-link text
Exit out of containers (lists, tables, frames, block quotes) N/A Comma N/A
Dedicated forms mode N/A Focus mode \ Forms mode


To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Settings headquarters Narrator Settings or Settings/Ease of Access/Narrator Dialogs in Preferences menu Settings Center
Change command assignments Yes Yes Yes
Pronunciation dictionary No Yes Yes
Voice settings (pitch, rate, etc.) Yes Yes Yes
Quickly adjust voice rate Caps lock+Equals or Hyphen Control+NVDA+Up/down arrows (if synth settings ring is located at rate) Control+Alt+Page up/page down
Quickly adjust screen reader/voice volume Caps lock+Page up/page down Control+NVDA+Up/down arrow (if synth settings ring is located a volume) N/A
Lower volume of other audio when screen reader is speaking Yes Yes Yes
Custom labels for controls and graphics No No Yes
Progress bar output N/A Speech, tones or both Periodic announcement via speech
Different verbosity levels Yes No Yes
Change user interface language Yes (depends on Windows settings) Yes Yes (if language packs are installed)
Braille input and output Yes Yes Yes
Start after signing in Yes Yes Yes
Run from login screen and other places Yes Yes Yes

Advanced features

To do this Narrator NVDA JAWS
Pass next command to the active application Caps lock+X NVDA+F2 JAWS Key+3
Lock screen reader modifier Caps lock+Z No No
Extensions No add-ons scripts
Developer mode and tools Caps lock+Shift+F12 (screen curtain/item tracker) Control+NvDA+Z (Python Console) JAWS scripting utility
View what screen reader says No Speech viewer Speech viewer
Don't use screen reader while using an application for a while N/A NVDA+Shift+S Sleep mode (configurable via Settings Center)
Manual update check Yes (updates delivered as part of new Windows 10 builds) Yes Yes
Run from Windows setup media Yes No No