Vista's Narrator, your head, and the wall

It’s a laudable idea. One of Vista’s “ease of access” features is something called the Narrator. Start->All Programs->Accessories->Ease of Access->Narrator. In theory, it can read your documents aloud to you. Nice, eh? If you’re blind or just tired, sit back and leave the reading to the Narrator.

Except that it doesn’t work with Word 2007 (or Word 2003 for that matter). Some useful shortcut keys that allow you to quickly make this determination are:

CTRL Stop Narrator from reading text
INSERT+F3 Read the current character
INSERT+F4 Read the current word
INSERT+F5 Read the current line
INSERT+F6 Read the current paragraph
INSERT+F7 Read the current page
INSERT+F8 Read the current document

In Word, any of the Insert+F key assignments tell you “Empty document,” “Empty page,” and so on. A feeble work-around is to copy the text into WordPad or Notepad, where Narrator works just fine. But, don’t waste a lot of time trying to get it to work for you in Word 2007 or 2003–or even in Internet Explorer. I’ve already wasted a bunch of time for you, so you don’t have to waste your own. It’s just one of the many services I’m more than happy to provide.

I’ll let you know when and if there is a fix.

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4 Responses to Vista's Narrator, your head, and the wall

  1. Savage says:

    Thank you very much and please let me know if they fix it.

  2. herbt3 says:

    Update: It’s still broken in Word 2010 and Windows 7, unfortunately. It doesn’t work in OpenOffice Writer, either. However, Notepad remains a feeble work-around.

  3. herbt3 says:

    PS Word 2010 has a new Speak command that you can add to the Quick Access Toolbar or Ribbon (see for how to add it to the QAT or assign to the keyboard). It speaks selected text!

  4. Narrator definitely does not work in Windows 7 in Firefox web pages and probably all the other programs above. It only reads randomly. It reads adn re-reads and re-reads its own narrot pop-up window.

    The clear and plain keystroke shortcuts may be useful–if you can ever get it to do the most simple task: how to get it to read a selected piece of text.

    I will try the Notepad workaround. Nope, it starts then gets “distracted” and reads something else and why it changes is unclear. Does not work even adequately. Nothing is clear as to WHY it is reading ro not reading nor is antyhign clear about WHERE it will read and not read.

    What is missing is a moveable cursor you place with the legend “Red this” with the behavior that it will start at this cursor and keep reading until you tell it to stop, even if the window is minimized. Nothing like that so not enuf tools to navigate easily.

    This is the first thing I have found broken beyond my curiosity level to learn “what were they thinking?” in Win 7. Even Libraries and the new serach function are tolerable now after eight months.

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