Have you ever found yourself with an iPhone or iPad that is stuck in VoiceOver mode and as a result you can’t unlock the iPhone or iPad? When VoiceOver is active and the screen is locked, if you’re trying to unlock the device or enter a passcode you may instead find that whatever is on screen is instead spoken aloud, and it may be preventing you from unlocking your device. If this has happened to you accidentally and suddenly your device is talking to you when you touch stuff on the screen, we’ll show you how to unlock an iPhone or iPad when the screen is locked while VoiceOver is active. Additionally, we’ll show you how to disable VoiceOver from the locked screen so that you can enter the passcode or unlock the device as usual.
Stepping back for a moment, you may be wondering why your iPhone or iPad is randomly talking to you describing what is on the screen. And maybe you’re wondering what VoiceOver is in the first place. Well, VoiceOver is an excellent accessibility feature that reads the screen, this allows the iOS device to speak aloud whatever is on screen so that individuals who are visually impaired, or who prefer an auditory interface, can interact with and use the iPhone or iPad, without even seeing it. VoiceOver is fantastic for so many use cases, and countless numbers of people use VoiceOver with great success, but if you’re not accustomed to the Voiceover interface, and you find that VoiceOver has somehow turned itself on, then admittedly it can be confusing if suddenly your device is talking to you and describing screen elements rather than behaving as otherwise expected. Not to be concerned though, there’s nothing wrong with your iPhone or iPad, and it’s quite easy to disable the VoiceOver feature if you need to turn it off.
How to Disable VoiceOver from Lock Screen of iPhone or iPad
The simplest way to disable VoiceOver from the lock screen of an iPhone or iPad, to then be able to unlock the iPhone or iPad as you normally would, is to use Siri. This is possible because Siri can toggle certain iOS Settings switches, and VoiceOver is one of them. Thus, if your iPhone or iPad is stuck in VoiceOver at the lock screen and you can’t unlock the device as a result, here is what you’ll want to do:
- Summon Siri as usual on the iPhone or iPad
- Use “Hey Siri”
- Or, if the device has a Home button hold that until Siri responds
- Or, if there is no Home button then instead hold the Power button until Siri is active
You can now unlock your iPhone or iPad as you normally would, by entering in the passcode as usual.
You can use any method of getting Siri to become activated. Hey Siri or you can use the Home button / Power button activated Siri, either works and there is no right or wrong way to summon Siri.
Disabling VoiceOver with Accessibility Shortcut
Another possible way to disable VoiceOver is by using the Accessibility Shortcut on the iPhone or iPad.
Triple pressing the Home button brings up the Accessibility Shortcut if your iPhone or iPad has a Home button.
If the device has no Home button, then triple pressing the Power button brings up the Accessibility Shortcut.
This won’t always work however, particularly if you customized the Accessibility Shortcut and toggled the VoiceOver feature to be not available through the shortcut.
Some users may also have Accessibility as part of a customized Control Center in iOS, and you can toggle the feature off or on from there too.
The two methods above, using Siri to disable VoiceOver, or disabling VoiceOver by Accessibility Shortcut, are probably the two easiest methods of resolving this, so the next time you’re saying “Help! My iPhone / iPad is talking to me while on the lock screen, and I can’t unlock the device!” or “My iPhone / iPad is stuck in voice over mode and I can’t unlock the iPhone!” then try those methods, you’ll be able to deactivate the Voice Over feature on the locked screen and then use the device as normal. Of course you can also enter the passcode when VoiceOver is enabled, and you can turn it off in settings too, as we’ll discuss next.
How to Enter a Passcode When VoiceOver is Active on iPhone or iPad
While you can use Siri to disable VoiceOver, another option is to simply enter the passcode while VoiceOver is active on the iOS device. The passcode to unlock the iPhone or iPad will be the same, but how you enter it will be slightly different. Here are the steps for how to unlock a device an enter a passcode on the lock screen of an iPhone or iPad with VoiceOver active:
- Slide or swipe to unlock as usual, or fail to use Touch ID or Face ID to cause the passcode screen to come up
- At the unlock screen with pin entry, tap the first character of the passcode – this will read the character aloud
- Now double-tap on that same character to enter the character of the passcode
- Repeat the single-tap then double-tap process to enter the entire passcode and thereby unlock the iOS device
Once the iPhone or iPad is unlocked, VoiceOver is still active but you can repeat the tap and double-tap processes to turn off the feature if needed through Settings, or you can triple-click the Home button and toggle it off from there, or you can use Siri to disable VoiceOver as well.
Navigating with VoiceOver When Enabled on iPhone or iPad
Using VoiceOver is really worthy of an entirely separate article, but the basics of VoiceOver Navigation in iOS are as follows:
- Tap once to select an item (speaks the item)
- Double-tap to activate the selected item (for example, to press a button or flip a switch)
- Swipe with three fingers to scroll (for example, scrolling up and down in Settings, or in web pages)
- Swipe with one finger from the bottom of the screen until you feel a vibration to go “Home” (mimicking the home button press)
There is much more to VoiceOver, but if you’re simply trying to navigate with the setting enabled, either to turn it off or do some other action, those simple tricks should be sufficient to get started.
How to Turn Off VoiceOver in Settings on iPhone or iPad
Of course you might be wondering how to turn off VoiceOver through Settings too. This is necessary if the Accessibility Shortcut trick doesn’t work, or if Siri is not an option for whatever reason. Thus you can disable VoiceOver by going to the following location in iOS, but keep in mind the VoiceOver navigation tips discussed directly above this because if the feature is enabled you will find your usual taps and gestures are not going to be have as expected:
- Open the “Settings” app and then go to “General” and then to “Accessibility”
- Toggle the switch for “VoiceOver” to the OFF position
Once VoiceOver is off, the iPhone or iPad will respond to gestures and taps as normal, and the device will stop talking to you about what is on the screen, nor will it read aloud anything tapped.
As mentioned before, VoiceOver is really a wonderful feature and it’s one of the great accessibility innovations available for the iOS platform. But indeed, if you find VoiceOver is suddenly turned on accidentally, it can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with how it works. Hopefully the above tips will help to resolve whatever difficulties you had encountered with the feature, and you’ll be able to unlock your iPhone or iPad and disable VoiceOver if you’re in such a situation.
If you have any tips or thoughts about VoiceOver for iOS, share them with us in the comments!