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Cheat Sheet – Screen Reader Commands for JAWS, NVDA – PDF

The power of keyboard commands!

Keyboard commands or shortcuts are combination of two or more keys used to perform frequently used tasks of an application. For most users keyboard shortcuts are an alternate means of accessing the function whereas for those with visual impairments keyboard shortcuts are the only means of performing different tasks in an application.

Keyboard commands or shortcuts are present for most applications and it is no different for screen readers!

This post lists keyboard commands for two of the most widely used screen readers on the Windows operating system, JAWS and NVDA for accessing PDF documents.

Whether you are a screen reader user or an accessibility tester, use the cheat sheet of screen reader commands given below to access PDF documents with JAWS and NVDA!

Screen reader and PDF versions:

The commands listed below are applicable to JAWS and NVDA running on a Windows 10 computer:

Both JAWS & NVDA have commands for reading PDF documents as well as for interacting with PDF forms.

So let’s first go through the commands for reading PDF documents!

PDF Documents

The following table lists JAWS and NVDA commands for reading PDF documents:

Function JAWS command NVDA command
Read Document Title Insert + T Insert + T
Read Next Line Down Arrow Down Arrow
Read Previous Line Up Arrow Up Arrow
Read Next Paragraph P P
Read Previous Paragraph Shift + P Shift + P
Read continuously (Say All) Insert + Down Arrow Insert + Down Arrow
Go to a page Ctrl + Shift + N Ctrl + Shift + N
Go to Next page Ctrl + Page Down Ctrl + Page Down
Go to Previous page Ctrl + Page Up Ctrl + Page Up
Open the Find dialog Ctrl + Insert + F Ctrl + Insert + F
Open the Links list dialog (JAWS) or Elements List dialog (NVDA) Insert + F7 Insert + F7
Go to Next Link Tab Tab or K
Go to Previous Link Shift + Tab Shift + Tab or Shift + K
Open the Headings list dialog (JAWS) or Elements List dialog (NVDA) Insert + F6 Insert + F7 then Alt + H
Go to Next Heading H H
Go to Previous Heading Shift + H Shift + H
Go to Next Table T T
Go to Previous Table Shift + T Shift + T
Read current cell in a Table Ctrl + Alt + Numpad 5
Go to Next cell in a Table Ctrl + Alt + Right Arrow Ctrl + Alt + Right Arrow
Go to Previous cell in a Table Ctrl + Alt + Left Arrow Ctrl + Alt + Left Arrow
Go to Next Graphic G G
Go to Previous Graphic Shift + G Shift + G
Open the Select a Graphic dialog Ctrl + Insert + G
Go to Next List L L
Go to Previous List Shift + L Shift + L
Go to Next List Item I I
Go to Previous List Item Shift + I Shift + I

Tip: While reading large documents with JAWS, press Ctrl + Windows key+ K to add a temporary PlaceMarker!

Now let’s find out the commands for interacting with PDF forms!

PDF Forms

The following table lists JAWS and NVDA commands for reading PDF documents:

Function JAWS command NVDA command
Open the Forms list dialog Insert + F5
Turn on Forms Mode (JAWS) or Focus Mode (NVDA) Enter Insert + Spacebar
Turn off Forms Mode (JAWS) or Focus Mode (NVDA) Numpad Plus Insert + Spacebar
Go to Next Button B B
Go to Previous Button Shift + B Shift + B
Go to Next Combo box C C
Go to Previous Combo box Shift + C Shift + C
Go to Next Edit field E E
Go to Previous Edit field Shift + E Shift + E
Go to Next Form field F F
Go to Previous Form field Shift + F Shift + F
Go to Next Radio button R R
Go to Previous Radio button Shift + R Shift + R
Go to Next Checkbox X X
Go to Previous Checkbox Shift + X Shift + X

Enjoy reading PDF documents and do share your experiences of using the above commands!!

By Priti Rohra

Chief Accessibility Officer

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