Use VoiceOver to interact with areas and groups on Mac
By default, you must interact with a content area (such as a scroll area or table) or other group (such as a toolbar) before you can navigate to its items. This behaviour gives you the choice of bypassing the content area or group or stopping to explore it. For example, in a Finder window, you can navigate past the sidebar to go to the view browser, or stop and interact with the sidebar to open folders and files.
Note: VO represents the VoiceOver modifier.
Start interacting: Press VO-Shift-Down Arrow, or flick right with two fingers on the trackpad. A sound effect indicates when there’s nothing more to interact with.
The VoiceOver cursor stays within the boundaries of an area you interact with; you can navigate only within the area.
Stop interacting: Press VO-Shift-Up Arrow, or flick left with two fingers on the trackpad.
To streamline navigation on some web pages, VoiceOver may interact with a group automatically. If you don’t want VoiceOver to automatically interact with a group, press VO-Shift-Right Arrow or Left Arrow. If Quick Nav is enabled, press Shift-Right Arrow or Left Arrow.
You can set an option so that VoiceOver navigates directly to the items in a group without having to interact with the group. Open VoiceOver Utility (press VO-F8 when VoiceOver is on), click the Navigation category, click “Grouping behaviour”, then choose a setting other than Standard (the default setting). To learn about the settings, click the Help button in the Navigation pane.
Note: Some areas (such as tables) always require interaction, regardless of the setting you choose. This prevents you from having to navigate potentially large numbers of items, such as thousands of items in a Mail inbox.
You can interact with any element that has a title or embedded text, such as a button or a Smart Address in Mail, to read the element by word or by character.