Enable Narrator Character Phonetic Reading in Windows 10

How to enable Narrator Character Phonetic Reading in Windows 10

As you may already know, Narrator is a screen-reading app built into Windows 10. Narrator lets users with vision issues to use PC and complete common tasks. The user can enable the Character Phonetic Reading feature to restore the original Narrator behavior which was enabled by default prior to Windows 10 Build 18282.

Microsoft describes the Narrator feature as follows:

Narrator lets you use your PC without a display or mouse to complete common tasks if you’re blind or have low vision. It reads and interacts with things on the screen, like text and buttons. Use Narrator to read and write email, browse the Internet, and work with documents.

Specific commands let you navigate Windows, the web, and apps, as well as get info about the area of the PC you're in. Navigation is available using headings, links, landmarks, and more. You can read text (including punctuation) by page, paragraph, line, word, and character as well as determine characteristics like font and text color. Efficiently review tables with row and column navigation.

Narrator also has a navigation and reading mode called Scan Mode. Use it to get around Windows 10 using just the up and down arrows on your keyboard. You can also use a braille display to navigate your PC and read text.

Windows 10 allows to customize options for Narrator. You can change its keyboard shortcuts, personalize Narrator's voice, enable Caps Lock warnings, and more. You can choose the voice for Narrator, adjust the speaking rate, pitch, and volume.

Windows 10 1903 Narrator Page

The Narrator supports Scan mode that lets you navigate apps, email, and webpages using the arrow keys. You’ll also be able to use common keyboard shortcuts to read text and jump directly to headings, links, tables, and landmarks.

To launch certain Narrator features, you can use its keyboard shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts include a special modifier key, which is set to both Caps Lock and Insert by default. You can change the modifier keys.

Also, you can turn on special Lock Mode for the modifier key of Narrator. When it is enabled, you do not have to press the Narrator key to launch a Narrator feature.

Narrator comes with support for reading characters phonetically. That is, reading out “a Alfa, b Bravo, c Charlie” while navigating “abc” by character.

According to Microsoft, users don’t want to hear the phonetic information announced automatically. Instead, this should be an on-demand feature, to be called upon only when the user needed it. Starting in build 18282, Narrator doesn't announce the phonetic information automatically. As you navigate by characters, this information will be omitted. If you need the phonetic information to disambiguate characters, you can issue a command to hear the phonetics. Use the keyboard command of Narrator key + Comma twice quickly. If, for example, you are using the Standard Keyboard layout with the default Narrator key setting of “Caps Lock or Insert”, you would issue the command of Caps Lock + Comma (or Insert + Comma), where the Comma key is pressed twice quickly while depressing the Caps Lock (or Insert) key.

If you need to hear phonetics for a string of characters in a sustained fashion, the phonetics can be read out continuously as you move forward or backward through a range of characters with the Read Next Character command (Narrator key + Period) or Read Previous Character command (Narrator key + M). However, in this mode, you will only hear the phonetics announced and not the characters themselves (e.g., “Alfa Bravo Charlie”). To stop hearing the phonetics, press any other command (e.g., Left arrow, Right Arrow, Tab, etc.) or re-issue the Read Current Character command (Narrator key + Comma). Subsequent reading of next and previous characters via Narrator key + Period or Narrator key + M will return to reading just the characters, without phonetic information.

If you prefer the original character phonetic reading behavior, here's how to enable the automatic reading of phonetics.

To Enable Narrator Character Phonetic Reading in Windows 10, do the following.

  1. Open the Settings app.Windows 10 Creators Update Settings 15019
  2. Go to Ease of Access -> Narrator.Windows 10 1903 Narrator Page
  3. On the right, enable Narrator if required.
  4. Scroll down to the Change what you hear when reading and interacting section.
  5. Turn on the option Hear phonetics as you read by character on the right side.Hear Phonetics As You Read By Character

You are done. The option can be disabled at any moment of time.

Alternatively, you can apply a Registry tweak.

Enable Narrator Character Phonetic Reading in Registry

  1. Open the Registry Editor app.
  2. Go to the following Registry key.
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Narrator\NoRoam

    See how to go to a Registry key with one click.

  3. On the right, modify or create a new 32-Bit DWORD value ReadCharactersPhonetically .
    Note: Even if you are running 64-bit Windows you must still create a 32-bit DWORD value.Hear Phonetics As You Read By Character Tweak
  4. Set its value data to one of the following values:
    • 0 - Disabled (Used by default)
    • 1 - Enabled
  5. You are done.

To save your time, you can download the following Registry files:

Download Registry Files

The ZIP archive includes the undo tweak.

That's it.

More Narrator tips:

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