ZoomText Legacy: Reader

ZoomText logo

Using the Reader Functionality in ZoomText

While ZoomText 10 is primarily a magnification program, it does include some screen reader functionality. Screen readers are software applications that will attempt to identify, interpret, and read the information being presented on the computer’s screen. You might have heard of screen reading programs such as JAWS, NVDA, Window-Eyes, and Dolphin.
Using the reading functionality in ZoomText, you can have the text on the screen read to you by a synthesized voice. Some examples of synthesized voices you might be familiar with include Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, or possible good ol’ Microsoft Sam (the default text-to-speech voice from Windows 2000 and XP).

The ZoomText Reader Tab

The ZoomText Reader tab can be found in between the Magnifier and Tools tabs.
Using the Reader tab, users can change settings that control how the ZoomText speech sounds, when it talks, and how quickly it talks. The tab is also used to start the various reader functionalities. The tab has three sections: Speech, Echo, and Reading.



Activating the speech button will open a drop-down menu which allows users to disable or enable speech, change the speaker from a list of recently used voice profiles, and launch the Speech menu.
Keyboard shortcut to turn speech on and off: Alt + Shift + S
ZoomText Keyboard key to turn speech on and off: F12


Use the up and down arrow buttons to increase or decrease the speech rate.
Keyboard shortcut to increase speech rate: Ctrl + Numpad Plus
Keyboard shortcut to decrease speech rate: Ctrl + Numpad Minus
ZoomText Keyboard key to increase speech rate: F8
ZoomText Keyboard key to decrease speech rate: F7

The Speech Menu

The Speech Menu allows users to adjust a range of settings relating to the reader output of ZoomText including changing the voice profile and synthesizer, how the program should process text, and what extra information about formatting and the document the reader identify. The Speech menu has three tabs: Synthesizer, Text Processing, and Hints.
Synthesizer Tab This tab allows users to enable/ disable speech output, select a synthesizer and voice profile, adjust synthesizer settings for speech rate, pitch, and volume, and test out your synthesizer settings with text to speech sampler.
Text Processing This tab has three sections: Text, Numbers, and Punctuation. In the Text section, users can select whether or not they want the speaker to speak mixed case as separate words and whether or not they want the speaker to filter out repeated word after a customizable amount of repeats. In the Numbers section, users can choose the manner in which the reader deals with numbers. Finally, in the Punctuation section, users can choose how the reader deals with punctuation.
Hints The Hints tab lets users choose settings about whether or not the reader will give indication of changes in capitalization, the presence of hyperlinks, and the beginning and end of a document.


This section of the interface allows user to change echo settings. “Echo” refers to the reader speaking the input the program is receiving from the user via the keyboard (typing characters and words) and the mouse (what is clicked on or hovered over).


The Typing button will allow you to choose what the reader echoes back from the keyboard input. Users can have the reader repeat every character, every word, both keys and words, or turn keyboard echo off.
Selecting settings will open the Echo Settings menu in the Typing tab. This menu can also be used to choose the typing mode. If the user selects for the reader to echo keys or keys and words, this menu will allow them to choose whether to enable or disable echo on different types of keys.
Keyboard shortcut to change Typing Echo Mode: Alt + Shift + T


The Mouse button will open a drop-down menu that lets users select the mouse echo mode. Users can turn mouse echo completely off or have the reader echo whatever the pointer is moved over instantaneously or only after the mouse has hovered over an item for a specific amount of time.
Selecting Settings from the drop-down menu with launch the Echo Settings menu in the Mouse tab. In this menu, users can set how long of a hover will trigger an echo and the extent of reading that will occur.
Keyboard shortcut to change Mouse Echo Mode: Alt + Shift + M


The Verbos. (verbosity) button lets users choose settings related to how much the reader speaks. Users can choose between three verbosity mode: Beginner where the reader will speak text and detailed descriptions, Intermediate where the reader will speak text and brief descriptions, and Advanced where the speaker will simply speak the text on the screen.
Selecting Settings will open the Echo Settings menu in the Verbosity tab. In this menu, users can select their desired Verbosity mode. As well, under verbosity settings, there is an extensive list of verbosity options which can be toggled on and off.
Keyboard shortcut to change Verbosity Level: Alt + Shift + V

Echo Settings: Program

You might notice that there is fourth tab in the Echo Settings menu: the Program tab. This tab allows user to change settings related whether or not items are echoed when they become active (ex. Text cursor, alerts, menus), and what will be echoed as users move to a new line of text (the first word or the entire new line).



The AppRdr button will launch the AppReader which is a functionality that allows users to have large amounts of text read to them. When the AppReader is activated, the underlying application (where the text to be read is) will become active. The pointer will change from simply being an arrow to and arrow with a little page icon to the lower right. Simply click on text in the application and the AppReader will read the page from that point to the end of the document.
You’ll notice that when AppReader mode is enabled, your mouse pointer no longer functions normally. Left clicking will start the AppReader, and right clicking will take you back of AppReader mode. You can still move the pointer around in the screen in this mode.
Use the Ctrl button to pause the AppReader. When paused, press Enter to restart the reader from the current position or click elsewhere in the document to start the reader from a different position. Press Esc at any time to leave AppReader mode.
While the AppReader is reading, you can follow along as the focus moves from word to word. You’ll also notice that while the AppReader is reading you will be unable to do anything else with the computer. Your pointer disappears and the program follows the text to the bottom of the document.
From the ZoomText user interface, if you go to Reader and then select AppReader… from the drop-down menu, the Reading menu will open in the AppReader tab. In this menu, users can choose settings related to the AppReader. Users can choose whether or not they want to track and highlight words while the AppReader is running. They can also choose whether or not they want the AppReader to turn off automatically at the end of the document. Finally, users can use this menu to customize the appearance of the AppReader highlight.
Keyboard shortcut to start the AppReader: Alt + Shift + A
ZoomText Keyboard key to start the AppReader: F9


The DocRdr button will launch the DocReader which is a mode that is great for reading documents. The DocReader will open up a window that has pulled all the text from the underlying document and presented as plain text. Along the top of this window is a menu bar with options. The first option, Play will start the reader. As the reader moves through the document, the current word will be highlighted.
After the play button, users will find Rate and Power buttons. The Rate button will increase the speech rate of the reader. The power button will increase the font size of the DocReader font.
The next two options are Ticker and Prompter. These two buttons refer to the different modes the DocReader can be in. In Ticker mode, the DocReader window takes up approximately 1/3 of the screen is on top of actual document which occupies the remaining screen space below. The DocReader text is still visible but only a single line at a time can be displayed in this mode. When you start the reader, you’ll see both the DocReader Text and the actual text, and highlighting will follow along in both windows. In Prompter mode, the DocReader window occupies the entirety of the screen and multiple lines of the DocReader text are visible.
The Settings button will open up the Reader menu in the DocReader tab. Here users can change the appearance of the DocReader text, including font, style, text and background colors highlight shape, highlight thickness, highlight transparency, and highlight color.
The Speech button will launch the Speech menu in the Synthesizer tab (see above).
The Exit button will close the DocReader.
Keyboard shortcut to start the DocReader: Alt + Shift + D
ZoomText Keyboard key to start the DocReader: F10


Since the SpeakIt tool and Zones have related functionality, we’re going to discuss the SpeakIt tool first because it’s simpler. The SpeakIt tool lets user highlight a section of the screen to have ZoomText read it.
When you activate the SpeakIt tool, your pointer will change (similar to when we activated the AppReader). This time, our pointer gets a small speech bubble added to the lower right. Like we saw when using the AppReader, when the SpeakIt tool is activated, we lose some functionality in our mouse pointer.
In SpeakIt mode, you’ll simply left click and drag to highlight a section of the screen. Whatever if beneath your highlight, if it’s readable by ZoomText, it will be read. You’ll notice this doesn’t only work on text, but program controls, icons, images, and more.
Keyboard shortcut to start the SpeakIt Tool: Alt + Shift + I


Zones is a feature where you basically setup a SpeakIt Window on some part of the screen and ZoomText reads it. The difference is that zones will remain in that area of the screen and read whatever is underneath them. So, if I set up a zone in the middle of my screen in Word and trigger that zone to be read, it will read what is there in word. If I then switch to Excel and trigger the same zone, it will read what is there in Excel.
Zones are definitely an advanced feature in ZoomText. One possible application of this feature might be putting a zone over a calculated field in Word or Excel. As you change the data in other parts of the file, your calculated field may change. You can trigger the zoom window anytime you’d like it read.

Reading Zones Hotkeys

Edit reading zones Enters a mode where you can edit reading zones for the current application Alt + Ctrl + E
List reading zones Displays a list of reading zones for the current application Alt + Ctrl + L
Navigate reading zones Enters a mode where you can navigate through the reading zones for the current application Alt + Ctrl + V
New reading zone Enters a mode where you can create reading zones for the current application Alt + Ctrl + Z
Next reading zone Triggers the next reading zone for the current application Alt + Ctrl + N
Previous reading zone Triggers the previous reading zone for the current application Alt + Ctrl + P
Trigger zone 1 Triggers reading zone 1 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 1
Trigger zone 2 Triggers reading zone 2 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 2
Trigger zone 3 Triggers reading zone 3 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 3
Trigger zone 4 Triggers reading zone 4 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 4
Trigger zone 5 Triggers reading zone 5 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 5
Trigger zone 6 Triggers reading zone 6 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 6
Trigger zone 7 Triggers reading zone 7 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 7
Trigger zone 8 Triggers reading zone 8 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 8
Trigger zone 9 Triggers reading zone 9 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 9
Trigger zone 10 Triggers reading zone 10 for the current application Alt + Ctrl + 0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s