Scan mode is a state that your screen reader can be in so that you may navigate your computer more quickly by utilizing letters as navigation keys. This includes things like pressing the letter T to quickly navigate to a table or the letter B to navigate quickly to a button.

Scan mode stops the letters you press from going straight to the program you are in so that you may navigate quickly without accidentally typing things.

Should I always use scan mode?

Most screen readers automatically toggle scan mode while you are navigating a web page. Often you will hear a noise associated with it turning on and off. Scan mode should be turned off if you intend to type actual text into a program and should be turned on when you are trying to navigate a page. JAWS, NVDA, and Narrator allow you to toggle scan mode at will while Voiceover does not.

Turning on scan mode can be useful when you are trying to understand a page and its context. There are a range of navigation keys provided in screen readers to help you understand a page. You can read about a few of the most helpful ones in our article on navigating your webtext with a screen reader.

How to toggle scan mode

Screen reader

Command

Name of mode

JAWS

JAWS key (Caps Lock or Insert) + Z

forms mode

NVDA

NVDA key (Caps Lock or Insert) + Space

browse mode

Narrator

Narrator key (Caps Lock or Insert) + Space

scan mode

Voiceover

Not able to be toggled

edit mode


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