Chrome browser extension that provides support for activating links and other elements by voice commands
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Click by Voice

This Chrome browser extension provides support for activating links and other HTML elements using voice commands. It displays small numbers next to each activatable element called hints and provides mechanisms to activate these elements using the hint numbers. This allows creating voice commands (via other software) that lets users activate links by saying their hint numbers.

Using Click by Voice manually

Click by Voice provides two keyboard shortcuts, which are bound by default to {ctrl+shift+space} (pop up command dialog box) and {ctrl+shift+,} (blur). You can rebind these as desired using the keyboard shortcuts link at the bottom of the Chrome extensions page, chrome://extensions.

The blur shortcut removes keyboard focus from an element, returning it to the overall webpage. This can be useful, for example, when you want to page the website up and down but an input element like a text field has focus.

Activating hints

The pop-up command shortcut pops up a small dialog box in the upper right asking for the hint number that should be activated. At its simplest, typing the number displayed next to an element then pressing enter will dismiss the dialog box then click or focus that element as appropriate. (Click by Voice uses heuristics to attempt to determine whether an element should be clicked or focused if you don't specify which to do.)

To specify that something different be done with the element, add a colon then an operation code. For example, 153:t opens the link with hint number 153 in a new tab. Many different operations on hinted elements are available, including copying the destination URL for a link and copying the text of an element; see the list of available operations for more.

Instead of providing a hint number, you can provide a CSS selector that specifies which element you wish to activate. For example, ${button.go}:c clicks the first element that is both a button and of class go. This feature is useful for programmatically activating elements.

You can dismiss the command dialog box without activating anything by typing {escape}.

Displaying hints

You can change how hints are displayed for the current tab by using a show hints command. The simplest such commands are:

  • :+ shows standard hints
  • :++ is similar but displays more hints, attempting to hint every element that might be clickable or focusable, however unlikely that might be
  • :- shows no hints

To use these commands, just enter them into the hint number popup instead of a hint number.

Click by Voice normally remembers the last such command you have given (in any tab) and automatically uses it when a new page is loaded or the current tab is reloaded. If you want to only temporarily change how hints are displayed for a tab, add once after the colon; for example, :once- turns off hints for the current tab until it is refreshed and does not affect future loads of other tabs.

The hinting system is highly flexible, with these commands taking many optional switches. For details, including how to change startup defaults, see displaying hints in detail.

Hint numbers are not shown when printing but will show up when you copy from a hinted webpage.

Using Click by Voice with voice commands

This extension by itself provides no voice functionality; procurement of the needed voice commands is the user's responsibility. One recommended means of doing this is to use Vocola ( to create the needed voice commands.

Writing voice commands to use Click by Voice should be straightforward. As an example, here are some Vocola 2 commands that provide access to much of the Click by Voice functionality:

CbV(command) := Clipboard.Set($command!!! Clipboard.Get("")) {ctrl+shift+.};

blur me = "{ctrl+shift+,}";

<once> := (once);
<mode> := (inline=i | overlay=o | hybrid=h | contrasting=c);
show      [<mode>] hints [<once>] = CbV(:$2+$1);
show more [<mode>] hints [<once>] = CbV(:$2++$1);
hide               hints [<once>] = CbV(:$1-);

<pick> 0..9 [0..9 [0..9 [0..9]]] = CbV($2$3$4$5:$1);

<pick> := (        pick = ""    # guess whether to click or focus
          | go     pick = f
          | click  pick = c
          | push   pick = b     # stay but open new tab w/ link or iframe
          | tab    pick = t
          | window pick = w
          | hover  pick = h
          | link   pick = k     # copy link destination address
          | copy   pick = s

These commands take advantage of another Click by Voice keyboard shortcut, {ctrl+shift+.} by default, which makes Click by Voice accept a command from the clipboard rather than via the pop-up dialog box. For more on how this shortcut works, see on making voice commands.

Known issues (4/2018)

Selection of elements to hint

  • Elements inside of iframes are missed
    • iframes themselves are now hinted and can be focused or opened in a new tab or window
  • Elements added after a page is first loaded can take a while to get hinted
    • to keep performance reasonable, Click by Voice only automatically refreshes hints every three seconds
    • CbV will automatically refresh a page's hints shortly after you activate a hint to quickly handle cases where activating a hint reveals new elements (e.g., a drop-down menu)
  • Normal hint level (:+) does not find elements that are only clickable because of event listeners
    • hopefully, :++ should find most of these.
  • Some invisible elements are still hinted

Hint activation

  • Some elements can be difficult to select even using CSS selectors
    • e.g., multiple elements that differ only by their contained text
  • Some hint activations do not work properly due to insufficient fidelity of the synthetically generated events
    • e.g., the generated mouse events do not include coordinates and hover does not simulate moving the mouse over all the parent elements to the target element

Hint display

  • The default hinting mode, hybrid, disrupts the flow of some webpages and its hints can be clipped
    • switching to the overlay mode (:+o) should not disturb the flow at all at the cost of making text hard to read
  • Sometime hints are too hard to read due to inadequate contrast between foreground and background colors
    • Adding the high contrast hints switch (e.g, :+c) should make the hints stand out more and be easier to read at the cost of making them more distracting
  • Webpages changing an element after the initial page load can make that element's hint disappear
    • usually refreshing hints will make the hint reappear

Other issues

  • Click by Voice, like any Chrome extension, is unable to run on chrome:// URLs like the settings and extensions pages or in built-in dialog boxes like the "add bookmarks" dialog box
    • ditto URLs (e.g., the developer dashboard)
  • Some applications actually read out data from the browser webpage representation (DOM) and can become confused by the hints
    • this unfortunately appears to include Dragon's Chrome extension
      • Dragon may think the name of a link includes the hint number at the end
      • a simple workaround is to either include the hint number or only use a prefix of the link name; e.g., say click submit or click submit form twelve for a link named Submit Form with hint number 12.


  • 4/2018: New major version 0.19 released.
    • default mode is now hybrid (was inline; use :+i to get previous behavior)
    • different basic modes and switching between them is no longer experimental
    • documentation now covers various features introduced recently
      • sending commands by clipboard, nonpersistent show hints commands


Please address questions and issues to this KnowBrainer thread.