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. 


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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 Choose your Platform.

    Improve Reading and writing confidence section of website

  3. Click which platform you are using then click Install.

    Platform options

  4. Choose your platform and version:
    • For Windows, click Read&Write for Windows - US and click Install and go to Install & register - Windows. Go to Install and register - Windows. 
    • For MacOS, click InstallRead&write.dmg will be downloaded. Go to Install and register - MacOS.

      Product options for Windows

 Install & Register - Windows

  1. Open the download.
  2. Allow Read&Write to make changes to your computer.
  3. Click Accept and Install.

    Accept and Install pop-up

  4. After installation, a desktop shortcut will appear. Open Read&Write. 

    Image of the above
  5. The Read&Write handle will appear at the top of your screen. Click to show/hide the toolbar. 

    Image of the above
  6. A registration window will appear. Click Sign in with Google.
  7. Sign in to your Virginia Tech Google Plus account. 
  8. 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, click Open in the popup. 
  5. Follow the installation instructions and click Continue

    Extra instructions pop-up

  6. View and accept the user terms.

    User terms pop-up

  7. If you see Read&Write would like to control this computer using accessibility features
    1. Click Open System Preferences.

      Open system preferences pop-up

    2. Click the padlock to unlock preferences.
    3. In the Privacy tab, check the box next to Read&Write.

      Security and Privacy pop-up

  8. Click Sign in with Google and sign into your Virginia Tech Google Plus account. 

    Sign in option page

  9. 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 [...]->Options.

    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.

  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. 
  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. 

  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.)

  2. Draw a box around the section you want to read and click again when finished. 

  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.

Create Audio Files From Text

  1. Highlight text and click the Audio Maker icon. 

  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. 

  3. Move your cursor up and down the page.
  4. You can only use Read&Write tools in the masked area.

  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.
    Click the picture icon to see a picture.

  3. Dictionary or Picture Dictionary window will pop up with definitions or pictures. 

  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.

  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. 

  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.

  4. Click the Clear highlights icon to remove highlighting.

  5. Filter text: 
  6. Click the Collect Highlights icon to show all highlights or highlights by color. 

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Predict Words Based on What You Type

  1. Click the Prediction icon. 

  2. Begin typing. Prediction will show a list of predicted words based on what you typed.
    • Hover over a word to hear it aloud. 
    • Hover over the list to hear them all aloud.
    • 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.

  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. 

  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.

  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. 

  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 Gold 6.0.6 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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