Literacy Software - How to Use Read&Write


Read&Write is a multi-platform literacy support toolbar to support implementation of the Universal Design for Learning framework within instructional environments. Use Read&Write to:

Read&Write can run on Windows, MacOS, as an Extension within Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge, and on mobile devices.

The Accessible Technologies group in Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies provides Read&Write to the Virginia Tech community. 



Read&Write Platforms and Features*

Read&Write Feature







Text to speech
Picture dictionary
Hover speech ✔     
PDF reader ✔  ✔     
Screenshot reader ✔  ✔     
Screen reader          
Screen masking ✔     
Spell check        
Translator - single word  
Speech input      
Speak as I type    

*Selected features; for a complete list, see Read&Write Feature Comparison Matrix.
** Instructions for mobile devices are not included here. Instead, see Read&Write resources below. 

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Installing Desktop Read&Write

Download from Texthelp Website
  1. Go to Texthelp: Read&Write.
  2. Scroll down and click the dropdown arrow for Try Read&Write and click on your operating system.
    Improve Reading and writing confidence section of website
  3. Follow the prompt to download the installer.
 Install & Register - Windows
  1. Open the download.
  2. Allow Read&Write to make changes to your computer.
  3. Click Install.
  4. Click Accept and Install.
    Accept and Install pop-up
  5. After installation, a desktop shortcut will appear. Open Read&Write.
  6. The Read&Write handle will appear at the top of your screen. Click on the Read&Write icon.
  7. If this is your first time installing the software, you'll go to the sign in page for Read&Write. Click Sign in with Google.
  8. Sign in with your Virginia Tech Google account.
    Image of the above
  9. If a firewall security alert appears, click Allow access
Install & Register - MacOS
  1. Click read&write.dmg
  2. In the popup, drag the Read&Write icon to the Applications folder. 
    Drag application pop-up
  3. In the Applications folder, open Read&Write.
  4. After Read&Write verifies, you'll get a pop up about Read&Write being an app downloaded from the Internet. Click Open in the popup
  5. Click on Open Privacy & Security to toggle the accessibility permission for Read&Write on, then navigate back to the popup and click Done
    Extra instructions pop-up
  6. Click I accept the User Terms, then OK.
    User terms pop-up
  7. Click Sign in with Google and sign into your Virginia Tech Google account. 
    Sign in option page
  8. The Read&Write tool bar will appear. 
Read&Write Voice Files

Additional Voices files for both Mac and Windows are available for download via Google Drive. Installation instructions can be found at on TextHelp's support website.

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Adding Read&Write Browser Extensions

Adding Google Chrome Read&Write Extension

  1. Go to Read&Write for Google Chrome™ and click Add to Chrome.
    Add to Chrome button in Read&Write page of Chrome Web store
  2. In the pop-up click Add extension.
    Add to Chrome pop-up
  3. The extension will download and install. If you're asked to log into your Virginia Tech Google account, do so and click Allow. Your information will remain private. 
  4. Click the purple puzzle piece on Chrome's toolbar to open Read&Write.
    Read&Write extension in chrome toolbar
  5. The Read&Write toolbar will appear. Move the toolbar using the drag-and-drop arrows (you can't move the Google Workspace for Education app version). 
    Chrome Read&Write toolbar in a website
  6. If you're using a Google Workspace for Education app, click the puzzle icon in the Doc, Sheet, or Slide to show the toolbar.  
    Chrome Read&Write toolbar in Google doc
  7. Access the Getting Started with Read&Write for Google Chrome guide for an overview on where and how to access the product once the extension is installed.

Adding Microsoft Edge Read&Write Extension

To use the Read&Write extension on your Microsoft Edge browser, please access the installation instructions on Texthelp's website for the step by step guide.

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Setting Read&Write Options

  1. Read&Write options are similar across platforms, so only instructions for the Google Chrome extension are detailed here. 
  2. On the Read&Write toolbar, click on the Settings icon.
    Extended menu for Read&Write toolbar
  3. Set options. By default, language is set to US English and all features are enabled. 

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Reading Text Aloud

Hover Over Text to Read it Aloud

  1. Click the Hover Speech icon.
    Image of the above instructions
  2. Hover your mouse point over onscreen text (other icons are grayed out when using Hover Speech). 
  3. Read&Write will read the text aloud and continue reading down the page until you hover over a different place. 
  4. The sentence will be highlighted in yellow, and the word being read in blue. 
    Image of the above instructions
  5. Click the Hover Speech icon again to exit Hover Speech mode. 

Select Text to Read Aloud

  1. Select text.
  2. Click the Play icon in the Read&Write toolbar. 
    Image of the above instructions
  3. Read&Write will read the text aloud, continuing down the page. 
  4. Click the Stop icon to exit Play mode. 

Read Screenshots Aloud

  1. In the Read&Write toolbar, click the screenshot reader icon. (The first time you click the screenshot reader icon, you'll be prompted to add the Screenshot reader extension to Chrome. Do so.)
    Image of the above instructions
  2. Draw a box around the section you want to read and click again when finished.
    Image of the above instructions
  3. The Screenshot Reader will begin to read the words. Don't click outside the box while it's reading or the reader might freeze. 
  4. Click X in the top right of the screenshot to close Screenshot Reader.
    Image of the above instructions

Create Audio Files From Text

  1. Highlight text and click the Audio Maker icon. 
    Image of the above instructions
  2. Read&Write will make a recording of the selected text read aloud and download it to your computer. 

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Screen Mask

  1. Screen Mask dulls your screen except for the row your cursor is in.
  2. Click the Screen Mask icon. 
    Image of the above instructions
  3. Move your cursor up and down the page.
  4. You can only use Read&Write tools in the masked area.
    Image of the above instructions
  5. Click Screen Mask icon again to exit masking mode. 

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Looking Up Words

Dictionary and Picture Dictionary

  1. Highlight a word with your cursor.
  2. Click the book icon to look up the formal definition or click the picture icon to see a picture.
    Image of the above instructions
  3. Dictionary or Picture Dictionary window will pop up with definitions or pictures. 
    Image of the above instructions
  4. Click the play icon next to the word or definition to hear it read aloud. 
  5. Click X to close the popup. 

Web search

  1. Highlight a word or term with your cursor.
  2. Click the web search icon.
    Image of the above instructions
  3. Google search results will appear in a new tab. 

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Translating Words

  1. Select a word to translate. 
  2. Click the translate icon. 
    Image of the above instructions
  3. A popup will appear with the translation.
  4. Change language in Options -> Speech next to Translation

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Highlighting Text & Collecting Highlights

  1. You can highlight text in different colors, then filter for highlighted text. 
  2. Select text:
  3. Click the highlight icons to highlight it.
    Image of the above instructions
  4. Click the Clear highlights icon to remove highlighting.
    Image of the above instructions
  5. Filter text: 
  6. Click the Collect Highlights icon to show all highlights or highlights by color. 
    Image of the above instructions

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Predict Words Based on What You Type

  1. Click the Prediction icon. 
    Image of the above instructions
  2. Begin typing. Prediction will show a list of predicted words based on what you typed.
    • Click a word to insert it. 
      Text prediction in google doc
  3. Click the Prediction icon again to exit Prediction mode. 

Convert Speech to Text

  1. Read&Write includes voice recognition - Talk&Type.
  2. Use Talk&Type to insert text in Google Workspace for Education. 
  3. Click the Talk&Type icon. Allow Read&Write to access your computer's microphone if you haven’t already.
    Image of the above instructions
  4. The Talk&Type tool will open in recording mode, and a microphone popup will appear on screen. 
    • Red microphone = recording
    • Black microphone = standby
  5. Speak. Talk&Type will recognize your speech and convert it into text. 
    • Say "period," "new line", etc. to enter punctuation. 
  6. Click the microphone to stop converting speech to text. 
    Speech recording
  7. Click the X on the microphone popup to exit Talk&Type.

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Check Spelling and Grammar

  1. Check spelling in Google Workspace for Education applications. 
  2. Click the Check It icon. 
    Image of the above instructions
  3. Read&Write will underline spelling and grammar errors. 
  4. Click an underlined word to see:
    • Spelling errors and suggested correct spellings. Click to select a replacement word. 
    • Grammar errors, explanations, and editing suggestions.
      Image of the above instructions
  5. Click the Check It icon again to exit Check It mode. 

Make Spoken Comments

  1. Record comments up to one minute long.
  2. Insert comments in Google Workspace for Education documents. 
  3. Click the Voice Note icon. The Voice Note popup will appear. 
    Image of the above instructions
  4. Click the microphone to record a voice note; click again when done. 
  5. Click Insert to insert the voice comment. 
    Voice note in google doc
  6. Click X to exit Voice Note mode. 

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Reading PDFs

Texthelp has a new tool called OrbitNote that provides expanded capability with PDFs. Users of Read&Write desktop applications on both Mac and PC can still use the PDF button on the toolbar to open a PDF and get basic read aloud functionality. Please see PDF Annotation Tool - How to use OrbitNote for information on how to access and use this tool.

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Getting Error That Downloaded File is Damaged.

In MacOS, a security setting can prevent installation, giving the error Read&Write is damaged and can't be opened. You should move it to the trash. Change your security settings to allow it. Instructions vary by MacOS version: 

MacOS 10.11.6 El Capitan
  1. Make sure you're logged in as an administrator.
  2. Open System Preferences.
  3. Go to Security & Privacy.
  4. Click the lock icon and enter your password to make changes.
  5. On the General tab, under Allow application downloaded from, select Anywhere.
    General Security and privacy settings pop-up
  6. Click Allow From Anywhere and close the Security & Privacy window.
  7. Install Read&Write Gold.
  8. After you activate it Read&Write, you can your Security & Privacy settings for Allow applications downloaded from back to Mac App store and identified developers.
MacOS 10.12 Sierra & MacOS 10.13 High Sierra
  1. Make sure you're logged in as an administrator.
  2. Open Finder and go to Applications -> Utilities.
  3. In the Utilities folder, start Terminal.
  4. In Terminal type: sudo spctl --master-disable
  5. Enter your password.
  6. Open System Preferences.
  7. Go to Security & Privacy.
  8. Click the lock icon and enter your password to make changes.
  9. On the General tab under Allow application downloaded from select Anywhere.
  10. Click Allow from anywhere when prompted, then close the Security & Privacy window.
  11. Follow the installation instructions to install Read&Write.
  12. Open Finder and go to Applications > Utilities.
  13. In the Utilities folder, locate Terminal.
  14. In Terminal, type the following command: sudo spctl --master-enable
  15. This will reset Security & Privacy to the default.

Can't Read Online Text Aloud.

  1. Make sure you're using the Google Chrome extension. Desktop versions of Read&Write can't read online text. 
  2. Make sure the Google Chrome extension is registered and you're logged in to your Virginia Tech Google account. 
  3. Use the Hover Text tool or play the page instead of the screenshot reader, which is less stable. 

Google Chrome Read&Write Toolbar Won't Open.

  1. Make sure the Google Chrome extension is registered and you're logged in to your Virginia Tech Google account. 
  2. Refresh the page and/or click the puzzle icon again. 

Google Chrome Screenshot Reader Won't Process Text After Screenshot is Taken.

Google Chrome Screenshot Reader Stopped Working.

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Getting Help

Read&Write Training

Read&Write Resources

Read&Write Tech Support

Texthelp, the makers of Read&Write, support it. Contact their support team via: 

Read&Write Usage & Info

For an introduction to or help using Read&Write, contact Accessible Technologies: 


Printable quick reference cards and additional resources:

Video tutorials:

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