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Testing the Windows screenreader NVDA on a Mac

How to test NVDA screen reader behaviour on a Mac:

  1. Download Microsoft Edge VM from
  2. Download Virtualbox and import the Edge VM image.

Then in the VM:

  1. Install guest addons in the VM
  2. Download & install latest NVDA from
  3. Download & install SharpKeys and use it to map left an alternative key (eg. Left Ctrl) to the Insert key. This is needed because Macs do not typically have an “Insert” key which is the prefix for many NVDA commands.
  4. Log out and log in again for SharpKeys changes to take effect. Pressing Ctrl+N should now launch NVDA.
  5. Configure NVDA to use “Laptop” keyboard layout in the NVDA menu (NVDA+n) => Preferences => Keyboard Settings since the desktop layout relies on many keys which do not exist on a standard Mac keyboard.
  6. Install the Focus Highlight addon for NVDA which makes it easier to see what object currently has each of NVDA’s different focus targets.
  7. Enable the “Speech Viewer” log window via NVDA Menu => Tools => Speech Viewer so you can see what NVDA is saying more easily.

When testing, you may want to try different browsers and in particular Firefox which has historically been the best supported browser by NVDA.


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@1Copenut 1Copenut commented Dec 14, 2017

NVDA recommends pairing with Firefox for best outcomes. The recommendation is over a year old on their Community wiki, but I've seen it provide the best results in my own screen reader testing on Win7 and 10 in virtual and full OS environments.


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@ptrin ptrin commented Jun 27, 2018


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@agileadam agileadam commented Apr 7, 2020

This worked beautifully. Thank you!


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@WestonThayer WestonThayer commented Nov 10, 2020

Shameless plug, but if you don't have time (or disk space) to deal with a VM, I built a cloud-based test lab so you can get started in a few seconds:

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