2.1 Using the Orca Screen Reader

When enabled, the Orca screen reader speaks text as you move the focus of your cursor on-screen.

You can start Orca from the command line or the GNOME desktop. To learn more about Orca, go to https://help.gnome.org/users/orca/stable/.

Starting Orca From the Desktop

  • To start Orca from the GNOME Classic desktop:

    From the Applications menu, select Sundry, and then select Orca.

  • To start Orca from the GNOME desktop:

    1. In the top bar, click Activities to open the Activities overview.

    2. In the Type to search... field, start typing "orca", then click the Orca icon.

When the Orca screen reader starts, the Orca Screen Reader dialog is also displayed. Here, you can optionally customize preferences for Orca, get information about the Orca version that you are running, or quit Orca.

Customizing Preferences for Orca

When you start Orca by following the steps in Section 2.1, “Using the Orca Screen Reader”, the Orca Screen Reader dialog is also displayed. Here, you can configure preferences for the tool. Note that you can customize preferences for Orca that apply globally to all features, such as the key echo functionality, or you can configure Orca preferences for individual features.


If you started Orca manually by enabling the Screen Reader option in the Seeing section of the Universal Access settings panel, the screen reader starts with all of its preferences pre-configured. As such, you do not have the option to customize any of Orca's preferences after enabling the tool.

To customize Orca's preferences:

  1. In the Orca Screen Reader dialog, click Preferences.

  2. In the Preferences dialog, you can configure the following preferences:

    • General: Configure general preferences for how Orca behaves.

    • Voice: Configure preferences for the voice that Orca uses.

    • Speech: Configure preferences for what gets spoken.

    • Braille: Configure preferences for Orca braille display support.

    • Key Echo: Configure preferences for what is spoken while you type.

    • Key Bindings: Configure keyboard shortcuts for Orca.

    • Pronunciation: Configure preferences for how words are pronounced.

    • Text Attributes: Configure preferences for what formatting is presented.

  3. Click OK to save your changes and reload the new settings.

    To discard your changes and use Orca with the default configuration, click Cancel. Clicking Quit closes the Orca Screen Reader dialog box and also exits the tool.

For more information about customizing Orca, go to https://help.gnome.org/users/orca/stable/preferences.html.en.