My first ever encounter with Talkback back in 2011 on my Samsung Galaxy S2 was a very panicky one. I had just switched to Android and in my zeal to explore my phone settings, I tapped the toggle to enable Talkback. Suddenly, my phone’s display started behaving abnormally and it gave voice feedback for every action. I desperately wanted to turn off Talkback on my Android device but no idea how I could disable it. You can disable Talkback or Screen Reader on your phone’s lock screen in 2 ways and we’ll check out both of them.
In this tutorial, we’ll be exploring all aspects of Talkback including its presence and importance on Android devices. Besides that, we will also see how we can disable the Talkback mode from your Android device’s Settings and also by using ADB commands without opening the device settings. You can also turn off Talkback on the lock screen of your Android device.
What’s Talkback or Screen Reader?
Talkback is an open-source screen reader for Android. It is also known as Screen Reader (on Samsung Galaxy devices), Voice Assistant, SoundBack, and KickBack, and is a very useful Android Accessibility feature to assist people with limited or no vision. When it is enabled, Talkback or Screen Reader provides spoken feedback and notifications to help blind people by describing what you touch, select, and activate on your Android device. While it is helpful for partially-sighted or blind people, normal people might find it pretty irritating.
Google’s developer blog has clear instructions for app developers to take care of Accessibility by adding meaningful textual labels in their apps. The Talkback mode or Screen Reader on Android has different accessibility permissions so that it can perform various tasks. It takes full control of your phone so that it can read the content on your phone’s screen including PINs and passwords and track your interactions with an app and hardware sensors on your behalf.
Google has recently developed a braille keyboard for Android that would soon be integrated into the Talkback mode to help blind people. This keyword will work only when the Talkback screen reader is turned on.
How to Enable Talkback
As I told above, Talkback or Screen Reader might prove very handy to visually impaired people. Enabling it is fairly simple but to use it, you’ll need a little training. You must learn some special finger gestures before you can make the best of its features.
- Open the Settings app on your Android device.
- Scroll down to find Accessibility. If you own a OnePlus phone, you’ll find Accessibility under Settings > System. On Xiaomi and Redmi phones, you should go to Settings > Additional settings > Accessibility > Talkback > Accessibility. The easiest way to find any item under device settings is to tap the Search icon or the Search bar and type your query word.
- Tap Accessibility and you should find Talkback or Screen Reader (on Samsung devices). On some Android devices, Talkback can be found with a different name (Voice Assistant, for instance).
- Tap the toggle button in front of the Talkback option.
- Your Android device will ask you to grant full Accessibility permissions to Talkback.
- Tap on Allow and the Talkback mode will be enabled.
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Talkback Gesture Controls
Now that you have enabled Talkback or Screen Reader on your device, you must use certain touch and finger gestures to control, navigate, select, input text, and activate or deactivate the on-screen options or items. Below is a list of touch and finger gestures that will help you use Talkback without any problem.
- Single tap: Tap with one finger to select an app, option, or on-screen item. The selected item is highlighted with an outline. When the keyboard app is active, you can type text using the single tap gesture.
- Double-tap: Tap with one finger for 2 times in a row to open an app, option, or select an on-screen item. When an audio or video app is running. you can stop or play or pause it by double-tapping anywhere on the screen.
- Swipe from right to left: Swipe with one finger from right to left on your phone’s screen to move up in a list of options.
- Swipe from left to right: To move down, you can swipe with one finger from the left side of your device’s screen to the right. You can use swiping with 2 fingers to clear the notifications.
- Swipe up and down: You can swipe up and down with 2 fingers to scroll up or down.
- Swipe up: You can swipe with 2 fingers from the bottom on the home screen to open the app drawer.
- Swipe down: Swipe down with 2 fingers from the status bar to open the notification shade and quick settings screen.
- Triple tap: To hear status bar info like the time, date, battery level, signal strength, etc. use the triple-tap gesture anywhere on the screen with 2 fingers.
Turn off Talkback or Screen Reader
Navigating through your device settings when the Talkback mode is enabled might be tricky. However, once you get familiar with the gestures that work in it, you’ll find it very easy to turn it off.
If the Talkback is enabled and your phone’s screen is locked, you must be wondering how you can turn off Talkback on the lock screen. Well, if you have already gone through the tap and swipe gesture controls mentioned above, you should have already figured out how to get past the lock screen and find your way to Accessibility > Talkback to disable it.
- If your smartphone or tablet has a fingerprint sensor, you can use it to unlock your device by placing your registered finger on the scanner.
- In case you are not able to use the fingerprint sensor, you can use Face Unlock to unlock your device and go to the home screen.
- If you want to unlock your phone using a PIN or password, turn on the lock screen and swipe up with 2 fingers. Then tap the number or alphabet. On Samsung Galaxy devices, you can type your password with a single tap. On Xiaomi devices, however, you need to tap the alphabet or number button to select and then double-tap to input it.
- Anyway, now that you have already got past the lock screen, open the Settings app.
- To do so, you can open the Quick Settings by swiping down 2 fingers from the status bar and tap then double-tap the cog-wheel settings icon. Alternatively, you can open the app drawer by tapping then double-tapping the app drawer icon or by swiping with 2 fingers from the bottom of your home screen.
- Once you are on the Settings page, swipe up with 2 fingers to find Accessibility. On some Android devices, you may find Accessibility under System/Additional settings/More settings.
- Tap Accessibility once followed by double-tap to open it.
- Now, open Talkback using the same tap patterns.
- Finally, you need to tap the toggle button once and then twice to turn off Talkback on your Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi. Huawei or any other Android device.
On Samsung Galaxy devices
Screen Reader is the Samsung-branded name for Talkback. On Samsung Smart TVs, this accessibility feature is known as Voice Guide. If you own a Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy S10, Galaxy Note 9, Galaxy S9, Galaxy Tab, or any other Galaxy device, I have captured some screenshots on my Galaxy S20 Ultra to guide you.
Samsung devices: Settings > Accessibility > Screen reader > Voice Assistant.
On Xiaomi and Redmi Devices
Here are the screenshots from my Redmi K30 showing the steps to navigate to the Talkback option on Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones.
Xiaomi devices: Settings > Additional Settings > Talkback > Accessibility.
On OnePlus devices
If you own a OnePlus 8, OnePlus 7, OnePlus 6, or OnePlus 5, check out the screenshots below.
OnePlus devices: Settings > System > Accessibility > Talkback.
Toggle Talkback using ADB Commands
ADB Shell commands can come in handy in many ways. Using these commands, you perform a number of tasks and make changes to the system settings on your Android device. You can use a Shell command to easily enable or turn off Talkback without going to settings.
If you have already set up ADB and Fastboot on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, you probably already know how to execute the command to enable Talkback using a command. In case you are new to such things, download the latest SDK Platform-tools zip and set it up now.
- Unzip the Platform-tools zip file on your desktop.
- Make sure to enable USB debugging on your Android device.
- Connect your phone to your computer using a compatible USB cable.
- Now, open the extracted Platform-tools folder.
- Then type ‘cmd‘ in the folder address bar to launch the command prompt window. You can also launch the command window using the following steps.
- Place the mouse pointer at an empty place in the folder window.
- Press Shift on the keyboard and press the right-click button on the mouse.
- Select the Open PowerShell window here option.
- When the cmd window is launched, type the following command and hit the Enter key.
- Doing so will show you the list of your devices represented by an alphanumeric value on the command window. It shows that your device is properly connected. Keep your phone’s screen unlocked and allow USB debugging when prompted.
Enable Talkback via ADB
Finally, here is the quickest way to enable Talkback on Android smartphones and tablet devices by executing just one Shell command via the ADB interface on your computer. Go through Step-1-7 from above and then execute the following ADB Shell command.
adb shell settings put secure enabled_accessibility_services com.google.android.marvin.talkback/com.google.android.marvin.talkback.TalkBackService
Talkback mode or Screen Reader will be enabled on your Android device.
Turn Off Talkback Using ADB Command
To turn off Talkback without going to Settings, you can use the ADB Shell command mentioned below. This command lets you disable Talkback in no time.
Setup SDK Platform-tools as explained and do as instructed above (steps 1-7). Now, type the following command in the command windows and hit the Enter key on your keyboard. To save time and avoid typo mistakes, just copy the command using Ctrl+C and paste it into the CMD window using Ctrl+V.
adb shell settings put secure enabled_accessibility_services com.android.talkback/com.google.android.marvin.talkback.TalkBackService
Alternatively, you can also use the following command to force stop Talkback:
adb shell am force-stop com.google.android.marvin.talkback
As soon as the above command is executed, your phone will come out of Talkback and it would be disabled.
So, this was how we can turn off Talkback on the lock screen of Any Android smartphone or tablet device. Should you get stuck at any step mentioned in this tutorial or you have some confusion, don’t hesitate to ask.
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