Did you know you can use a screen reader and keyboard to navigate and read canvas objects or items in a mural? Objects include titles, text boxes, sticky notes, areas, groups, shapes, icons, files, drawings, comments, connector arrows, frameworks, and images.

This capability is available for Voice Over Assistive Technology for Mac and NVDA or JAWS on a PC.


Getting started

Before using the keyboard shortcuts below, be sure to press Alt + = to focus the keyboard on the canvas. Press Option instead of Alt if you’re on a Mac.

Canvas keyboard shortcuts will work only if the canvas has keyboard focus. If a shortcut isn’t working, or focus has been moved from the canvas, press Alt or Option + = to return focus.

Note: New to using MURAL? Learn everything you need to know about what MURAL is, MURAL vocabulary, and how to get started. Visit our Learning site to explore videos and lessons on using MURAL for meetings and workshops, strategic planning, and more.

Check out the "Accessibility best practices for MURAL facilitators" article and companion template for additional information on MURAL accessibility.

Change the reading order on a canvas

The first step to using keyboard shortcuts within a canvas is to choose which reading order you want the keyboard and screen reader to follow. Because a mural is a nonlinear experience, we developed two reading order filters to help you navigate and understand the content. We’ll create additional filters and modify existing ones as support evolves.

Alt or Option + R allows you to choose between:

  • A chronological or time-based reading order, which enables keyboards and screen readers to move between objects according to when they were added to the mural.

  • A location-based reading order. A keyboard and screen reader will move through objects starting with the one in the top left corner.

Navigate objects and change object types

Once a reading order is chosen, the following keys help you navigate between objects:

  • Alt (PC) or Option (Mac) + Arrow Right: Use this key to move forward to the next object on the canvas.

  • Alt or Option + Arrow Left: These keys move back to the previous object.

  • Alt or Option + Arrow Up: Switch to the previous type of object you want to navigate through in the list of object types. “Navigate by object type” will appear on the screen along with the type of object selected. A screen reader will read each choice.

  • Alt or Option + Arrow Down: This moves to the next type of object selected in the list.

    • Example: If a canvas includes areas, shapes, and icons, you can press Arrow Up or Arrow Down to choose “Navigate by object type: sticky notes selected” to navigate between sticky notes only.

Disclaimer: At this time, there is a known issue when using these shortcuts with JAWS. We expect to resolve this issue soon. Visit our Help Center for updates.

  • Alt + Home or Option+ Fn + Arrow Left: Use these keys to move to the first object on the canvas.

  • Alt + End or Option + Fn + Arrow Right: Press these to move to the last object on the canvas.

Navigate objects nested within areas or groups

To navigate content within areas or groups, you should first move to one of these objects. Area and group objects function as a way to frame information and help you organize content in a way that makes sense. Navigating within them helps you understand the content as it relates to the area or group (e.g. content of a similar theme).

  • Select Navigate by object type: areas selected (or groups selected) to move from area to area.

  • Select Alt or Option + H to navigate within an area or group. These keys allow a keyboard to enter an area, navigate objects within it, and provide more information about each object, including its color, type, and text.

Learn more information about a canvas and its objects

Screen reader features now have the ability to provide more information about a canvas and its objects.

Following the example above, if you move to an area, the screen reader will announce:

  • The title of the area (if there is one).

  • The number and types of objects.

  • Navigation instructions, and other information.

Again, by pressing Alt or Option + H, you can navigate within nested objects, which enables a screen reader to:

  • Enter an area, announcing that the screen reader is navigating between items.

  • Say the type, color, and text of the individual objects within the area. You can then navigate through each object by pressing Alt or Option + Arrow Right.

    • Example: If you move to an area with 7 objects you’ll hear the screen reader say, “This area has 7 objects contained within it.” If you select a pink sticky note within the area, the screen reader will say, “Light pink square sticky note,” and read any text present. The screen reader will also announce the x,y coordinates of the location on the screen and the last person to update the object.

Learn more information about objects on a canvas using the following keys:

  • Alt or Option + I: Hear an overview of all objects on a canvas. A screen reader will announce the number and types of objects on the screen, saying, for example, “The canvas contains 2 areas, 3 stickies, 1 shape, and 1 icon.”

  • Alt or Option + C: Hear information about the content of a selected object.

  • Alt or Option + D: Hear detailed information about the selected object.

Keyboard shortcuts

The following table presents keyboard shortcuts and the action each performs in a mural.

Keyboard shortcut

What it does

Windows: Alt + = (equal sign)

Mac: Option + = (equal sign)

Moves or returns keyboard focus to the canvas.

Windows: Alt + R

Mac: Option + R

Changes the reading order to a location-based order or chronological order.

Windows: Alt + Arrow Right

Mac: Option + Arrow Right

Moves to the next object of the selected object type.

Windows: Alt + Arrow Left

Mac: Option + Arrow Left

Moves to the previous object of the selected object type.

Windows: Alt + Home

Mac: Option + Fn + Arrow Left

Moves to the first object on the canvas, based on selected reading order.

Windows: Alt + End

Mac: Option + Fn + Arrow Right

Moves to the last object on the canvas, based on selected reading order.

Windows: Alt + Arrow Down

Mac: Option + Arrow Down

Changes object type to the previous type selected.

Windows: Alt + Arrow Up

Mac: Option + Arrow Up

Changes object type to the next type selected.

Windows: Alt + H

Mac: Option + H

Enters or exits nested navigation mode.

Windows: Alt + I

Mac: Option + I

Enables a screen reader to announce details about the canvas, including an overview of the number and types of objects and information about individual objects based on the type of object selected.

Windows: Alt + C

Mac: Option + C

Enables a screen reader to announce and repeat the content of the currently selected object.

Windows: Alt + D

Mac: Option + D

Enables a screen reader to announce additional details about the currently selected object.

Windows: CTRL + Enter

Mac: CMD + Enter

Open the context menu

Windows and Mac: Arrow Keys ←→↑↓

Navigate within the context menu

Windows and Mac: Esc

Close the context menu

To create more MURAL magic with a keyboard, refer to this handy list of keyboard shortcuts, which is also available within a mural by pressing Shift + ? (question mark).

New to using MURAL? If you have questions or feedback about these features, please contact accessibility@mural.co.

This article was originally written by Nicole Troxell.

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