Image showing VoiceOver icon. icon is a grey gradient to white with a universal access symbol and a speaker with sound waves going to the right.

#macOS: How to Change VoiceOver’s Grouping Behavior


I’ve been using VoiceOver for a while now. I use VoiceOver on both Mac and iOS. The more I use VoiceOver on iOS, the more I would think “I wish I didn’t have to interact so much on the Mac. Some apps take it to extremes.” You can! Actually, you’ve been able to do this with the introduction of El Capitan, but it was broken. You would get stuck in certain web tables, like the table found in the “Purchases” category in the App Store. So how do you to it? Read on to find out.

Instructions

  1. Press Command + F 8 to open the VoiceOver utility.
  2. Arrow dow to the “Navigation” category.
  3. Press VO + Right until VoiceOver announces “Grouping behavior”
  4. Press VO + Right again and you should hear “Standard, popup button.”
    Note: The other options are Bookend groups, Announce groups, and Ignore groups.

Before you change anything, let’s talk a bit more about what each option means.

Standard

This is the default setting VoiceOver uses. VoiceOver will announce a group (such as “Web content,”) and you will then have to interact with it to see everything inside.

Bookend Groups

Like the “Standard” option, VoiceOver will announce groups, but you can VO + Right to see the content inside them. Once you reach the end of the group, VoiceOver will announce something like “End of web content.” If the app had more than just the web content, you would then VO + Right to see everything else.

Announce Groups

VoiceOver will read the group title to you and the number of items it has in a lower pitch when you land on the first option that would normally be inside it with the “Standard” setting, but it will read the content first.

Ignore Groups

Like the title suggests, VoiceOver won’t tell you when you’re on a group. Rather, it will just read the content.
For example: If you open System preferences, normally you would have to interact with the “Scroll area” to see the options you have, but with this setting, VoiceOver will just read them when you press VO + Right to get to them.

Notes

  • You will need to turn off cursor rapping for these options to work correctly.
  • With the Announce groups and Ignore groups settings, VoiceOver may still announce “Web content” when a page loads in Safari.
  • In Safari, VoiceOver will sometimes act as if you’re using the “Standard” setting and not let you see what’s inside the web content until you either interact with it, or VO + Left back to the splitter and VO + Right again. Once you do that, VO will respect your group setting.

Questions?

If you have any questions, let us know and we’ll be happy to answer them.


About Jason Earls (Member of iA Staff)

Hey there, thanks for stopping by. I hope you're enjoying all of the great content we have here. Things I love: Music? Check. Technology? Check. I started getting into technology a bit later than some. I started using Windows in 2003 or 2004, until 2010. After that, I ended up getting a Mac, and have been using OS 10/macOS ever since. I am also a member of Apple's public macOS and IOS beta programs. I’ve played with Ubuntu, but I haven't really delved into it. One of these days, I'm going to get a box, and start learning it for real. I've also used Android up to Kit-Kat. I love to learn and help people, and just have a good time.

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