Setup your computer with Magnification or a Screen Reader

So you have a new computer that you need to get up and running? Let’s do it together. This guide will walk you through getting your computer ready to use. The best part is that you will be able to do this with either magnification or a screen reader. This guide will assume that you are using a laptop, sometimes referred to as a notebook. Now, with that introduction out of the way, let’s start your computer!


Obviously, you will need to turn on your computer initially, but you really didn’t need me to tell you that, right? 😁 The tricky part is that the power button isn’t in the same place. Sometimes it will be on the top left, sometimes on the top right, and sometimes on the left or right side of the laptop. Once you turn it on, you may not notice that it’s on, especially if you cannot see the screen or do not have light perception. If you don’t have usable vision, you can either wait until you hear the voice of Cortana, the digital assistant that ships with windows 10, or you can use something like Aira or Seeing AI to read the screen.

Hey Cortana!

Now we get to the cool part… The actual setup process. If you would like a video with audio description, check it out below. Otherwise, keep going for text all the way! Note that the below video is geared toward educational use but the setup screens are very similar to what you will see when you first unbox your PC.

You will eventually hear Cortana welcoming you to windows. Nowadays, most laptops come with a decent microphone for basic voice recognition. When Cortana asks if you are in the United states, just say “Yes”, right after you hear the little blip.

Next, Cortana will ask you if you are using the United States keyboard layout. If so, just say “Yes”, after the little blip sound. Note that if you want to use something other than English U.S. for the above questions, you will need to say “No”, and then choose the language and/or keyboard layout that you would like to use. In this case, you would use the UP/DOWN ARROWS to select the desired options, then press ENTER or TAB to the “Next” button and press the SPACEBAR. In order to do this, you will need to either activate Windows Magnifier with WINDOWS+EQUALS, or activate Narrator by pressing CONTROL+WINDOWS+ENTER. More about these options and how to use them later in this walkthrough.

Next, Cortana will ask if you want to use a second keyboard layout. If you are happy with your keyboard selections and don’t need to switch keyboard languages or use a different keyboard layout other than QWERTY, just say “No” here.

Let’s Connect You to a Network!

At this point, I would recommend activating either Magnifier by pressing WINDOWS+EQUALS, or Narrator if you rely on speech output, by pressing CONTROL+WINDOWS+ENTER.

For Magnifier, increase magnification by pressing WINDOWS+EQUALS, and decrease magnification by pressing WINDOWS+DASH.

For Narrator, change the rate of speech by pressing CAPS LOCK+EQUALS or decrease it by pressing CAPS LOCK+DASH.

Now that you have your Magnifier or Narrator settings configured, we can continue with Windows setup.

For magnification users, just click the wireless network that you want to connect to, then click “Next”. For screen reader users, arrow up or down until you get to the network you want to connect to, then press ENTER. If your network is a hidden network, go all the way to the bottom of the list and choose the “Hidden Network” option.

Next, type the wireless network key and press ENTER.

License Agreement

Well, as Cortana will remind you, if you don’t agree to the terms… “No Windows.” Mouse users can click on “Agree”. Screen reader users can tab to the “Agree” button and press the SPACEBAR.

Account Setup

Now it’s time to select what type of user account you will have. You can either login with your existing Microsoft account, create a Microsoft account if you don’t have one, or skip it and create a local account that will not be connected to an online profile. Mouse users can click on the option they would like, and keyboard users can tab through, then press SPACEBAR on the option they want. In either case, you will need to enter a password. You will also be asked if you would like to setup a pin if you have decided to go with a Microsoft account. Creating a pin is nice, because when the windows login screen pops up you can just type in the pin and not type a long password.

Link Your Phone to Your PC

This is optional, and allows you to connect your pc to your phone. It can be used to enable something called dynamic lock. If you connect your phone and turn this feature on in settings, it will automatically lock your pc when you walk away from it, once you get to about 30 feet from it, assuming you have your phone with you. If you don’t want to do this now, activate the “Do It Later” button. Otherwise, hit “Next” and follow the prompts.

Protect Your Files with OneDrive

Now, windows wants to know if you would like to keep your files backed up to OneDrive. This is an online storage space controlled by Microsoft, similar to other services such as dropbox, iCloud, and so on. If you do not want to do this, hit “Save Files to This PC” and continue to the next step. If you do want to turn on OneDrive, hit “Next”.

Make Cortana Your Personal Assistant?

If you want to allow Cortana to pop up reminders to help you, or if you want to be able to simply say, “Hey Cortana” to ask a question, you can do that here. To enable this, just say “Yes”.

Privacy Settings

If you activate the “Accept” button, you turn on the privacy settings that Microsoft thinks are the best for most people. If you go with the default option here, you can always change your settings later. You can see all of the settings here if you’d like.

Get a Drink of Your Choice!

You made it through! That was the last set of questions. Windows will eventually show the desktop once it applies your settings. If you had Magnifier running during the setup process, it should start automatically. If you had Narrator running, you will hear ”Starting Narrator”. At this point, you’ll be ready to truly make your pc yours. However, this guide ends here.

If you would like assistance setting up your pc, get in touch, and I will be glad to walk you through it, or do it all for you. As the Klingons would say, Qapla!

2 thoughts on “Setup your computer with Magnification or a Screen Reader”

  1. Dude, this is AWESOME! I’m totally gonna try this next time I’m due for a new PC. I’ve never been a huge fan of Cortana in general, but this is one feature I gotta try. You can’t beat that. I’ve set up more PCs than I care to remember, but this sounds like the best thing since Windows 7.

    Oh, and by the way, I’m not fluent in Klingon (I skate the fine line between geek and nerd, but I haven’t gone that far over it yet lol). So please correct me if I’m wrong, but for those of you who don’t know Star Trek, I found out “qapla” means “success”, and is also a goodbye. So what a fitting way to end a post so full of web-friendly goodness! Yes, Casey, Qapla!

    PS: Of course now I’m gonna have to look up “Mountain Dew” in Klingon too :)

  2. Hey , just read this, on a Greyhound bus of all places, and I just gotta say this is awesome! I’ve never used Cortana for setting up a PC before, but that’s great news for people who are blind or vision impaired! How amazing is that, just turn it on, answer her questions and grab a… what’s Klingon for Mountain Dew? 😋

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