iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone between an oversized speaker and microphone resembling Apple icons.

Switch Off VoiceOver: When Your iPhone or iPad Won’t Stop Talking

VoiceOver for iOS is a very helpful assistive technology for blind iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users. Unlike screen readers for many other situations, which cost hundreds of dollars, it’s built right into iOS. Unfortunately for sighted users, occasionally people turn in on without meaning to and the results can be confusing …

It’s probably VoiceOver if your iDevice won’t stop reading what’s on-screen in a computer-generated background voice, and you see a black line around what you touch like this:

My iPhone lock screen - note the black VoiceOver outline around the time display at the top.
My iPhone lock screen – note the black VoiceOver outline around the time display at the top.

The good news is that turning VoiceOver on and off isn’t too hard! There are a few different ways though, so read on until you find one that will work for your situation.

Shortcut: The Home Button

It may or may not be set up for your device, but the first thing to try is to triple-click your home button. This has to be done quite fast so you may need to try it several times before it’s recognised – I always have a bit of trouble with it.

If you hear “VoiceOver off” then you’ve done it!

If this does work, be aware that the triple-click works to turn VoiceOver on as well as off. To disable it, check Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and uncheck everything there – that will stop VoiceOver from being triple-clicked on next time.

Shortcut 2: Use Siri

Hold down your home button until Siri is triggered, then say “Turn off VoiceOver” or similar.

If Siri says “OK, I turned off VoiceOver” then you’re all set.

Turning Off VoiceOver With iTunes

If you have a computer running iTunes handy that’s definitely the easiest way to turn off VoiceOver – plug in your device and click on “Configure Accessibility…” at the bottom of the device pane in iTunes:

iTunes device pane showing accessibility button
iTunes device pane showing accessibility button

You should now see the accessibility configuration window – make sure that “Neither” is selected for seeing, as shown here:

iTunes device accessibility settings. The radio button shown needs to be set to "neither" to turn VoiceOver and Zoom off.
iTunes device accessibility settings. The radio button shown needs to be set to “neither” to turn VoiceOver and Zoom off.

Then click “OK” to close the accessibility pane and synchronise your device as normal.

Once the synchronisation has finished, your device will have VoiceOver switched off.

Turning Off VoiceOver From Your Device

If you don’t have a computer running iTunes handy, you’ll have to turn off VoiceOver by navigating through the device to find it. This isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, luckily!

There are only a few things you need to know about VoiceOver, really:

  • You can ignore everything it VoiceOver says while doing this – no need to listen to the voice at all.
  • Your ‘Home’ button will still work normally, so use that to get back to somewhere you recognise if you get stuck or go into the wrong thing.
  • When you would normally tap or touch anything to open it, do just the same: you need to tap it once – you’ll see the black box surround the thing you want – and the double tap to activate it.
  • If you need to scroll, use three fingers side by side instead of just one. Your scrolling will go in very small increments but it will work.

You need to get to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver and switch the toggle to “off” to turn off VoiceOver.

I’ll walk you through the exact sequence of movements you’ll need to do that starting right from your locked iPhone, following the rules above:

Turn the device on. Tap the ‘swipe to unlock’ bar and then double tap the same spot to unlock your phone:

iPhone lock screen and black VoiceOver outline around the unlock button. Tap then double-tap where the black unlock screen is.
iPhone lock screen and black VoiceOver outline around the unlock button. Tap then double-tap where the black unlock screen is.

If you have a passcode, single then double-tap each number or letter in turn. Your phone should now be unlocked.

If you aren’t already on your home screen, press your home button until you get back there.

If you need to go to a second page, for example if your Settings app isn’t on your first home screen page, use three fingers to swipe towards the left instead of just one like you would normally use. Find the right page now.

Swipe left with three fingers to move to the next screen of your home section using VoiceOver.
Swipe left with three fingers to move to the next screen of your home section using VoiceOver.

If your Settings app is in a folder, open the folder by tapping once on it, then double tapping.

Open the Settings app also by touching it once, then double tapping.

iPhone settings app opened, with black VoiceOver cursor highlighting the word "Settings" at the top.
iPhone settings app opened, with black VoiceOver cursor highlighting the word “Settings” at the top.

Scroll down using three fingers until you can see the “General” heading, then open that by touching and then double tapping it.

In the iPhone Settings up, swipe up with three fingers until the "General" heading is visible.
In the iPhone Settings up, swipe up with three fingers until the “General” heading is visible.

Open the “Accessibility” heading by again touching and then double tapping it.

Touch the VoiceOver heading and then double tap to open.

Your screen should now look like this:

VoiceOver settings are now open, you're nearly done!
VoiceOver settings are now open, you’re nearly done!

Tap the line near the top which says “VoiceOver” and has the toggle switch, then double-tap it to toggle the setting to the off position.

You’ve done it, VoiceOver should now be off. Give yourself a pat on the back and go have a coffee to celebrate!

– Ricky

95 thoughts on “Switch Off VoiceOver: When Your iPhone or iPad Won’t Stop Talking”

  1. I am stuck with a voiceover that won’t quit.

    My iTunes on my computer is asking me to respond to let the computer access the iPad and that I need to respond on the iPad, but I don’t know how to respond from the lock screen.

    When I try to unlock the iPad (single tap to get black box works), The double tap on that bar does not seem to open it. I believe I have tried everything I could possibly tap.

    Help! What am I doing wrong?

    • Yvonne: That sounds very frustrating! What happens when you single tap then double tap on the black bar – does the screen change at all or is there any spoken feedback that you can hear?

      • Hi Ricky-I couldn’t make your method work because I could not get past the lock screen. Went to an Apple Genius Bar. They clicked the home button quickly 3 times and VoiceOver was off. I could enter my code to get off the lock screen, then go into accessibility and turn VoiceOver off. So glad to know this shortcut now and thought I would share it. Yvonne

    • Thank You Ricki, I would never have figured it out if it wasn’t for you and your detailed instructions! My IPad was stuck, but if you listen to voiceover it is telling you what to do, I was too aggravated to listen. it wasn’t easy doing the 3 finger scroll…patience and perseverance pays off!! I think I will buy a voice application for my non verbal child!

  2. I did it with Siri. I said “turn voice over off” and she turned it of! Ugh such an easy way. I was afraid I would never be able to use my I phone again!

  3. Hi.
    We tested this:

    “Your screen should now look like this: “Pic of the voiseover switch on/off”
    VoiceOver settings are now open, you’re nearly done!
    Tap the line near the top which says “VoiceOver” and has the toggle switch, then double-tap it to toggle the setting to the off position.

    You’ve done it, VoiceOver should now be off.”

    …but, the Iphone switches it back to on automaticly..
    So even if we turn voice over off, it turns on right away..

    Have you any idea why?

    Lars

    • Lars: Have you tested the Siri and triple-click methods too? What happens then?

      I’ve never seen VO turning itself on without being turned on by some means (triple click, iTunes, Siri, or iPhone Settings) – it definitely shouldn’t be doing that! If you live in a country which has Apple Stores, I suggest you take your phone over to one of those and let them look at it.

      • I experienced the same problem. I will have voiceover on and go to access to turn voiceover off. I tap on the off/on icon, then double tap to toggle voiceover off and immediately the switch toggles off and right back on. It was like there is no way to get out of voice over until I thought to try Siri. I have been having the same type of issue trying to sing back on to my iPad when voice over is on. It takes forever to get my password entered. I will try triple clicking the home button to try to turn voice over off. At over 70 years of age maybe I just can’t double click fast enough for the iPad. I will say that the forums and help are not as helpful for iOS as they are for Windows. Maybe Ijust don’t know the apple code language because I can never find anything helpful until after I have figure out the solution on my own.

        • Please Neil Lester Accept Greetings, i have experienced a similar problem on my iphone 4 please can you help me with a solution ? since you had same comfrontation and solved it. Please help me i am kind of confuse
          thanks

      • Hi! I had the same problem with a friend’s ipad, where the VO toggle switches back to on automatically and the triple-click Home option didn’t work. What I did was double tapped on the Triple-click Home in Accessibility, and double tapped the Toggle VoiceOver tab, then triple-clicked the home button afterwards. That solved it finally. Hope this helps. . .

  4. Thanks for the tip. Triple click on home button worked first time. I’d spent half an hour trying various combinations of button pressing but you’ve saved me a trip to the Apple store.Don’t know how voice recognition got switched on, unless I’d inadvertently triple-clicked. Thanks again

  5. Thanks for the advice! voiceover was making my phone extremely laggy and therefore the screen refused to work or turn on so tapping would not do anything. I used siri however, and was able to turn it off. Thanks a bunch!

    • Kat is right…You ROCK and Apple Sucks….thanks for the info…ridiculous that this can happen in your pocket…Somebody at Apple needs a boot in the butt…triple button push worked but I DIDN”T NOW YOU DOUBLE TAP…so I could not even unlock my phone…until I read this article BRAVO>>>>BRAVO>>>THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

  6. My voice control is on and I can not get it off. I can get clear the instructions to go to access ability in General and click then double click and the switch moves from our to off but right back to on

    • Carolyn: Have you tested the Siri and triple-click methods too? What happens then?

      I’ve never seen VO turning itself on without being turned on by some means (triple click, iTunes, Siri, or iPhone Settings) – it definitely shouldn’t be doing that! If you live in a country which has Apple Stores, I suggest you take your phone over to one of those and let them look at it.

  7. Thank you so much. I was using voice over to read a book from ibook- well when I went into the setting to toggle it off, it would not toggle off. it continued to stay on, I two button reset my phone-powered it off and back and continued to try again…..nothing worked. After reading this article I used Siri and it went right off- I cant believe I did not think about that!!!!!!! Thank you again!!!!!!

  8. Thank you SO much for this great article and help. The “3-time” Home button push worked just fine. Thank you for getting me away from the headache of a talking IPAD.

  9. Whew – big help – thank you – NEVER again will I hit THAT button – takes control of ur whole phone and couldn’t do anything!!!!

  10. My IPad is voiceover toggle switch is showing as off, but it will not stop talking. I’ve tried everything listed above and nothing works, even when I switch the voiceover toggle to on it switches to off on its own but still talks. HELP!

    • If none of these tips are working, you probably need to get on to Apple or take it to an Apple store and see what they say. If you feel confident, you could also restore from a backup and see if that helps?

  11. Thank you! I use VO to listen to my Kindle. I updated to Ios8 and when I double clicked it would turn off and then turn right back on again. Siri was the only thing that worked.

    • @Zakariya: You might have turned the screen curtain on. Try the steps in this article and see if they help.

      If your screen is still black after following all the steps, you should try the tips in Apple’s document for screen problems: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203039

      If both of those fail, you need to take your device back to Apple. Best of luck!

  12. Thank you so much for your instructions, the final method worked for me. I am confussed though as to how or why it got put on when it was off before?

  13. I have tried ALL of the options here aside from Sri since Sri isn’t on thus iPad and nothing is working???? Triple click on home button? Does nothing?

    • I pressed the home button three times and nothing happened then when I went to to turn it off in the setting the switch goes right back to on what’s going on?

  14. This happened to my wife’s phone. She tried to turn it on when it was near dead and triple tapped the home button. Went to Apple, they fixed it by doing a full reset. When I restored the contents from ICloud it came back.
    I found your help article and was able to fix it. The wife is happy!
    Happy wife, happy life.

  15. 10 year old daughter playing in settings. Turned off Siri. Inverted colors and turned on voiceover. Screen dark. I can get it to show for a few seconds by restarting to the apple icon. Screen goes dark but I can see the keypad. Trying to put in code. It says the numbers that I press. After the fourth digit “7” it says “word” and relocks. Why is it saying the letters “qprs”. how can I feel my way thru the passcode. Tried iTunes but without passcode I can’t even restore to factory settings.

  16. The iPad I was working with was stuck in Voice Over, without speech coming out, and taping/double tapping the toggle would briefly turn it off, but then it would slide back on. Your suggestion of using Siri was the spot-on trick I needed. Thanks!

  17. Thanks! I did the iTunes process and it worked slick, as none of the others did. I was ready to ring Siri’s neck

  18. Accidentally turned on Speak Screen while fiddling with my Google Map-absolutely drove me crazy: went on talking even when I had an incoming call, hang when I went to excel files in Numbers.
    Luckily, iPhone 6+ is unlocked by fingerprint.
    Reset the phone without deleting data & photos. The voice stopped but the scanning & blue box was still hopping around with all attendant system malfunctions.
    Took it to a Machines store & the guy there solved my problem in 2 ticks..
    Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch > Switch Control
    Toggle off
    Switch Control
    Auto Scanning
    Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech
    You’ll see
    Speech Selection
    Speak Screen
    Speak Auto-text
    Just toggle off everything
    This’s probably where my nightmare started: says “Swipe down with 2 fingers from the top of the screen to hear the content of the screen ”
    Must’ve accidentally done just that. Now, I off the accessibility shortcuts just to be on the safe side

    • Many thanks for invaluable advice. I thought I was in an inescapable loop having inadvertently tapped into VoiceOver. The instruction to, “Turn the device on. Tap the ‘swipe to unlock’ bar and then double tap the same spot to unlock your phone”, did the trick. I was then able to get back to settings and switch off the troublesome facility.

  19. thank you so much for this, took me ages with other links that did not work, my daughter put this on (dont now how).. life saver!!

  20. tapoed the home button 3x really fast and it turned voice over off. Had to do this many times before my phone finally picked it up and turned it off

  21. Oh please help- pls don’t TLDR me I am doubly locked out- iPhone 6, turned on dictation to see what happens. Then screen locked me out. Your perfect article via iPad actually got me to the passcode page! But I have 2 same numbers in a row and it kept saying WRONG & then somehow I enabled a screen veil (?) so now I have a black screen and still locked out from dictation. (s i g h)
    You’re my only hope…

    • I fixed it! Somehow I got the screen veil off, somehow… And when I got to the passcode, since I hadn’t been able to get past the set of 2 same numbers, I did the first number, then just touched a different number once for the black outline, and back to the 2nd same number and it outlined and double clicked through easily! Just had to take that break between. PHEW!!! Thanks a million, I could have possibly done it without this article.

  22. Ricky, what a lifesaver, thank you!
    The instructions you provided to:

    “If you have a passcode, single then double-tap each number or letter in turn. Your phone should now be unlocked.”

    was key! without that critical information, I was unable to unlock my phone. And I would have been uable to figure out that you need to single-then-double-tap to enter the passcode.

    After unlocking, I used Siri to turn off, as per your instructions.

    Whew!

    Thanks again.
    -John-

  23. Thanks a Ton Rikcy. I couldn’t use my phone for 1 full day. Followed your detailed instructions and here I am – off for coffee 😀

  24. Thanks Ricky your a star only thing is turned my voiceover off even Siri said it was off and the blooming thing started talking again when I’m texting or is this not called voiceover ? At least I got my phone unlocked

  25. I cant stand it with a voiceover. My iTunes on my computer is asking me to respond to let the computer access the iPhone and that I need to respond on the iPhone, but I don’t know how to respond from the lock screen and screen off. I cannot see anything, theres just dark screen and many sounds. The iPhone always said “screen lock, passcode failed” .Help me! What am I doing wrong?

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