Most smart devices such as Windows PCs, Mac, and Android have certain features to aid accessibility for all types of users. An example is Windows Narrator, a screen reader describing a screen’s content to users. The information described, in turn, helps the user to navigate their device. Mac also has something similar named VoiceOver.

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Now, the premise of utilizing a screen reader relies on the content of the screen having descriptions. This is why images often have Alt text. Where an image lacks a description, Google Chrome has introduced a feature to help get one. Here’s how to turn on the image descriptions on your Chrome for PC and Android

Note: The setting to turn on image descriptions isn’t available on Chrome for iPhone.

How to Turn on Image Descriptions on Google Chrome for PC

Using the turn-on image descriptions feature, images are sent to Google to help create one. Where Google cannot do so, the screen reader would read No description available. There are two ways to turn on image descriptions on Google Chrome for PC. They include:

Using the Context Menu

If you are on a page and want to get an image’s description as quickly as possible, this is where the context menu comes in. Chrome’s context menu can be used to customize your browsing experience. You need to know the shortcut to open the context menu and turn on the feature. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: On your PC, click on the Start menu and search for Chrome.

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Step 2: Click on Open to launch the Chrome app from the results.

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Step 3: Input the web page address containing the image without a description.

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Step 4: On your keyboard, tap the Shift + F10 keys simultaneously to launch the context menu. You can also right-click on Chrome to bring up the context menu.

Step 5: Click on the drop-down beside ‘Get image descriptions from Google’ option. Choose between the options Always and Just Once for the frequency of the image descriptions.

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Step 6: Click ‘Yes I’m in’ to confirm retrieval of image descriptions by Google.

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After you activate the setting, your screen reader should have no issues in describing an image unless Chrome cannot provide a description.

Using Chrome Settings

Most Chrome features are accessible via the Settings menu. Here are the steps to follow to turn on image descriptions from Settings on Windows 11.

Step 1: On your PC, click on the Start menu and search for Chrome.

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Step 2: Click on Open to launch the Chrome app from the results.

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Step 3: Input the web page address containing the image without a description.

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Step 4: Navigate your cursor to the top right of the browser and click on the vertical ellipsis to ‘Customize and control Google Chrome.’

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Step 5: Click on Settings from the options.

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Step 6: On the new page, click on Accessibility.

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Step 7: At the right of the page, tap the toggle beside ‘Get image descriptions from Google.’

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Step 8: Click ‘Yes, I’m in’ to confirm retrieval of image descriptions by Google.

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Image descriptions will not appear visually but only be spoken through screen readers.

How to Turn on Image Descriptions on Google Chrome for Android Using Settings

To turn on image descriptions from a page you are on in Chrome, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Launch Chrome from your device’s home screen.

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Step 2: Tap on the horizontal ellipsis at the top of the page.

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Step 3: From the More menu, tap on Settings.

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Step 4: Scroll down to Advanced Settings and tap Accessibility.

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Step 5: Tap the toggle beside ‘Get image descriptions’ to turn it on.

For the image descriptions to work on Chrome for Android or to have the option to turn it on from Settings, ensure your device has a screen reader.  The screen reader also needs to be activated on your device. Without a screen reader, the option to turn on image descriptions will not be available to you.

Enabling Live Captions on Google Chrome

Another accessibility option on Google Chrome is the live captions. Where turning on image descriptions only focuses on retrieving the description of an image from Google and communicating via a screen reader, live captions work differently. With Chrome live captions, audio/video content is transcribed in real-time.

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