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.
Scan mode purpose
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.
Toggle in scan mode
Name of mode
JAWS key (Caps Lock or Insert) + Z
NVDA key (Caps Lock or Insert) + Space
Narrator key (Caps Lock or Insert) + Space
Not able to be toggled
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