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For many people, there is no getting around computing as a vital part of 21st-century life. That said, devices such as Chromebooks can be more difficult to navigate by default for those who have a disability, whether they're visually impaired, are hard of hearing, or lack fine motor skills. The good news is that there are accessibility features in ChromeOS that can cut down on that hardship.

How to get to accessibility settings in ChromeOS

ChromeOS's accessibility settings.

In order to guide you through these settings, you have to get to them in the first place. Here's how to get there:

  1. From your desktop, go down to the shelf and select the time.
  2. Select the cog icon (⚙️) in the top-right corner of the Quick Settings panel to access the full system settings.
    • Alternately, you can press Alt + Shift + S to open the Quick Settings panel.
  3. Down along the left-hand side, navigate to the Accessibility tab.

From here, we'll go one by one with each group of settings.

Accessibility options in the Quick Settings panel

Users can reach ChromeOS's accessibility settings through the Quick Settings panel.

Flipping this toggle on allows you to get to these settings from your Quick Settings panel. Just select the time and then the Accessibility icon for the full list, and each is navigable from that panel.


There are two major features on ChromeOS that provide dictation for the text that's on-screen: ChromeVox, which is an active experience that follows wherever you select, and Select-to-speak, something that you activate after highlighting a selection.


These are the settings for ChromeVox, ChromeOS's full-scale dictation service for the visually impaired.

ChromeVox will dictate the text of whatever you're pointing at, as well as the function and state of any interactive elements. For example, if you've selected a drop-down menu, you'll be told how many options there are, which option is selected, and whether the menu is open or closed. By default, captions appear at the top of the screen. You can toggle ChromeVox with Ctrl + Alt + Z. The program can be closed just like any other by selecting the X in the top-right corner.

The feature can also convey information to refreshable Braille displays. You can connect them to your ChromeOS device by plugging it into a USB port or pairing it through Bluetooth — this should immediately start ChromeVox. You may need to configure some hardware settings or update your display's firmware before connecting for the first time.

Once you switch on ChromeVox, it gets to work immediately. You'll also see links to a tutorial on how to use ChromeVox and to specific feature settings such as how it should behave when reading numbers and punctuation or whether it should talk over audio playback. While we do pride ourselves on being completionists, this guide isn't really the place to go through ChromeVox's many and varied settings. We highly recommend taking the tutorial and referring to Google's help page for ChromeVox for more information.


Select-to-speak on ChromeOS lets users select the text they want to be read out. They can adjust read speed and navigate between different pieces of text with feature controls.

Select-to-speak is oriented more towards occasional use. After toggling it on, you can highlight text and then press Search + S to have it dictated.

You'll see a control bar that allows you to jump forwards or backward between sentences or entire elements and to control narration speed. Feature settings mostly concern which languages and system voices you'll want to use, including the use of a natural speech engine that's less robotic-sounding (this feature is performed through Google servers, so it requires an internet connection and presumes you're willing to let Google collect the text you're highlighting). You can also adjust how highlighted text appears as it is being read and toggle the playback control bar off or on.

In addition to feature-specific settings for ChromeVox and Select-to-speak, you can also adjust system-wide text-to-speech settings, which will affect both features including overarching read rate, pitch, and volume settings.

Reading Mode

Reading mode in ChromeOS describing a webpage

This is not an accessibility setting per se, but it's a feature that does make ChromeVox and Select-to-speak easier to use while browsing through articles.

After years of development and setbacks, Chrome has finally released a Reading Mode that's somewhat comparable to the ones on other browsers. It's supposed to be available to all users on version 114 and later, though at the time of writing, it was not immediately available for Stable channel users on 114. We have a guide on how to turn on this hidden feature as it currently stands.

Once it's widely available, you'll be able to head to the top-right corner of the browser window, select the side panel icon (◨) and, from the drop-down menu at the top of the pane, select Readlng mode. It will then display the main text of the current article or webpage you're on without any pictures or enhanced formatting — perfect for services such as ChromeVox or for distraction-free reading if you're literally anyone.

Display and magnification

ChromeOS's Docked Magnifier splits the screen to show a zoomed-in view of what your mouse cursor is pointing at.

We consider ChromeOS to be somewhat under-equipped when it comes to visual adjustment settings. However, if you find that these toggles help, feel free to use them.

Color inversion

Flip this toggle or press Ctrl + Search + H to invert color output on your display. This turns black to white, blue to yellow or orange, red to green, and vice versa.

Full-screen magnifier

Flip this toggle or press Ctrl + Search + M to enter a full-screen, zoomed-in view of what you're looking at. You can scroll your view by pushing your cursor to the edges of the screen. The magnifier will follow along with your cursor when you are editing text.

Docked magnifier

Flip this toggle or press Ctrl + Search + D to enter into a vertical split-screen view. The top portion of the screen shows an inset view of wherever your cursor is. Pulling on the divisor allows you to adjust the windows' sizes.

Besides these settings, ChromeOS links to display and font settings that allow you to make user interface elements and text larger or smaller or to heighten your screen's contrast. There's also a toggle for Night Light, which pushes the white balance to a warmer setting for when you're in darker ambient conditions.

Keyboard and text input

If you can't fly around the keyboard with aplomb, you'll be able to do just as good or even better with these alternate input methods.

On-screen keyboard

ChromeOS's virtual keyboard is basically like Gboard on your phone. In this picture, it is in it's small, movable size.

With this setting turned on, you'll see a keyboard pop up on the screen whenever you're able to enter text. You can also pull up or put away the keyboard by selecting the newly-generated keyboard icon on your shelf, next to the date and time.

If you're familiar with using Google's Gboard app — which we consider to be the best among keyboards on Android — on your phone or tablet, this should provide you with almost exactly the same experience with easy access to emoji, keyboards for other languages, a clipboard for your copying and pasting, and more. It has full-screen and floating modes.


ChromeOS's dictation feature in action.

Toggling this feature on for the first time will trigger ChromeOS to download files to help with its speech recognition in the system language. Once those files are downloaded, you can select into a text field and then press Search + D to activate the dictation feature. Whatever you say will be logged into a buffer and then inserted into the field after a pause. You'll need to verbalize your punctuation and, with a clear buffer, say "Cancel" or select away from the text field to end dictation.

Here are a few commands you'll want to remember:

  • "Move to the next/previous word/sentence"
  • "Move to the start/end"
  • "Delete the previous character/word/sentence"
  • "Select the next/previous character/word"
  • "Select from [word or phrase] to [word or phrase]"
  • "Cut," "Copy," and "Paste"
  • "Undo" and "Redo"

Mind your cursor's positioning when issuing certain commands to make sure you're affecting the right text. Google has a full list of these commands.

Switch Access

Switch Access settings on ChromeOS.

ChromeOS accepts hardware inputs for those who use wired USB or wireless Bluetooth switches. These switches allow users with limited motor functions to move between and select from on-screen elements. When toggling this feature on, users will go through a setup wizard to get their hardware connected.

For single switch users, they will need to use Auto-scan mode. Pressing the switch once will begin a scan of the elements on the display. Pressing it again will select the highlighted element.

Those with multiple switches can opt for either Auto-scan or Manual scan. This allows different switches to be assigned functions including selection and moving forwards and backwards across the screen. Multi-switch users can also activate a feature of Auto-scan called Point scanning by doing the following:

  1. Press your assigned Select switch.
  2. In the action menu, press your Next switch until you reach Point scanning.
  3. Press your Select switch again to immediately begin a point scan.
  4. The cursor will begin scanning horizontally. Press the Select switch when the cursor has reached the area you want to select.
  5. Press the Select switch again to lock in your selection.
  6. The cursor then scans vertically. Press the Select switch when it lands on what you want to select.
  7. Press Select again to lock the positioning.
  8. In the action menu, move to left-click and then press the Select switch.

Users can adjust the scan speeds by heading to the Switch Access settings and looking under the Auto-scan subheader.

Other input settings

ChromeOS supports caret browsing. You can navigate most UIs through your arrow keys and use the Enter key to select.

They may not come under a fancy subheading, but these toggles work great in tandem with each other.

  • Sticky keys allows users to press keys in a shortcut sequence one at a time instead of all at once.
  • Highlight item with keyboard focus puts a highlight on an item whenever your focus is changed. You can select a different item or press Tab to move the highlight.
  • Highlight text cursor puts a highlight on the cursor when it's editing text — whether you've selected the text field or are typing.
  • Navigate with text cursor (caret browsing) allows you to browse anything (not just text fields) using a text cursor. Select by hitting Enter.

Cursor and touchpad

If you don't have a mouse and your trackpad is a little broken, you might find these settings helpful.

  • Automatic clicking will perform a left-click once you have stopped moving the cursor and after a short delay. Sub-settings can control how long that delay is, whether minor cursor movements will trigger a click, the size of the cursor delay clock, and whether auto-click reverts to a left-click after an action is performed.
  • Show large mouse cursor does exactly what you think it does, but you can set it to a particular size between Default and Large.
  • You can select a cursor color that isn't just black for better visibility. Options include Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, Magenta, and Pink.
  • Highlight the mouse cursor when it's moving.
  • Show navigation buttons in tablet mode will pop up an Android-esque button navigation interface if your Chromebook supports tablet mode. You can press buttons to navigate home, back, or to switch apps. This setting is automatically enabled when ChromeVox or Automatic clicking is turned on.

Audio and captions

ChromeOS's Live Caption feature in action. It generates captions for audio playback from Chrome.

There are only a handful of settings in this category, but Live Caption will be the big one here.

  • Mono audio compresses multi-channel sound into single-channel output.
  • Play sound on device startup exists because ChromeOS does not play a startup sound by default.
  • Live Caption can take any spoken words in English playing from Chrome and generate captions on-screen. This is a feature from Google that is also available on Android. The company does not collect audio and caption data; everything is processed locally. You can adjust the following sub-settings:
    • Text size
    • Text font
    • Text color
    • Text opacity
    • Text shadow
    • Background color
    • Background opacity

There is always more that Google could be doing to increase access on all the terrific Chromebooks out in use whether that's supporting more dedicated hardware or working with experts to calibrate different settings so that they're easier overall to turn on and use. We hope, though, that you might've picked up something handy with our guide — even if you don't have a disability that these settings address.