Google Guide

A guide for users of the Jaws screen reader, written by David Bailes. More guides are available on the Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.

Contents

Introduction

A search engine is a program for searching the web for pages and occasionally files which are relevant to a set of search terms. There are lots of search engines available, but Google is usually considered to be the best general purpose search engine, and its web address is www.google.com.

This guide assumes that you're using Internet explorer 8 or later, or alternatively the current versions of Firefox or Chrome.

Google Instant

Google instant is an option which immediately shows and updates the search results as you type in your search terms. This can be useful for sighted users, but doesn't have any advantages for users of screen readers. It's disadvantages include that the option of increasing the number of search results on a page is not available with the Google Instant option, and that the option makes Jaws more sluggish when typing in search terms.

When the Google Instant on, the first link on any page of Google's website is a link to turn the option off. Note that the option can also be turned on and off in the Search settings.

It's recommended that this option is turned off, and the rest of this guide assumes that this is the case.

Landmark regions

To aid navigation, Google's result pages contain landmark regions. If you're using Jaws 15 or later, then to move to the next or previous landmark region press R or Shift + R respectively. Otherwise, press Semicolon or Shift + Semicolon respectively. Landmark regions are described in more detail in the Landmark regions section of the separate HTML Page Navigation Guide.

Outline

This is an outline of searching using Google:

  1. Enter one or more search terms. This can be done either on Google's website or in a web browser's search box, as described in the next section. Often the search terms are simply one or more words, but more advanced options are available, as described in the Search terms section.
  2. After you've entered the search terms and pressed Enter, you're taken to the first page of the results. Here you can browse through the results and open a link to any you're interested in.
  3. Optionally, from the results page you can customize and filter the search results. For example, you may be only interested in pages published in the country where you live, or pages which have been published in the last week. This is described in the Type of content and Search tools sections.

An example

As a simple example of a search, assuming that you've set your browser's home page to be the Google website, then to search for the freedom scientific website:

  1. Press Alt + Home to move to your home page, which you've set to be the Google web site (www.google.com).
  2. The initial focus is the edit box for your search terms. If necessary press Enter to go into Forms mode, type in the words freedom and scientific, and then press Enter.
  3. You're taken to the first page of the results. To move to the beginning of the list of results, press Ctrl to stop Jaws reading the page, and then if you're using Jaws 15 or latter, press R until you get to the main landmark region, otherwise press SemiColon until you get to the main landmark region. As an alternative to using landmark regions, press 2 until you get to the level 2 heading Search results.
  4. Then press H to move through the results until you think you may have found what you want. Open the link.

Help

To access Google's help pages, open the Search Help link on any results page.

Entering your search terms

You can enter your search terms either on Google's home page, or in a web browser's search box, and these are described in the next two sections. Once you've done a search and are on one of the results pages, you can also enter some new search terms there, as described in the search results section.

Using Google's home page

  1. Go to Google's Home page which has the address www.google.com. You can either press Alt + D to move to the address bar, and type in this address followed by Enter, or if you've set Google to be your web browser's home page, you can just press Alt + Home.
  2. The initial focus is the edit box for your search terms. If you're using Jaws 10 or later and have auto-forms mode enabled, then you're automatically taken into Forms mode. For earlier versions of Jaws, press Enter to go into forms mode. Type in your search terms, and then press Enter.
  3. You're taken to the first page of the results of the search, which is described in the Search results section below.

Using the Search box in your web browser

You can also enter your search terms in the Search box in Internet Explorer 8, or in Firefox, or in the Address bar in Internet Explorer 9 or later, or Chrome. Provided that the search provider in the browser has been set to Google, then:

  1. Press Ctrl + E to move to the Search edit box, or the Address bar, depending on which browser you've using.
  2. Type in your search terms and press Enter.
  3. You're taken to the the first page of the search results, which is described in the next section.

Using the Search box in Internet Explorer 8, and managing its search providers is described in detail in the Search box section of the separate Internet Explorer 8 guide.

Search results

After you've typed in your search terms and pressed Enter, as described in the previous section, you're taken to the first page of the results of the search. On this page you can browse through the results, and open the link to any results which you're interested in. Optionally, you can also start another search, and customize and filter the search results.

The number of results on a page is 10 by default, but you can set this to any value you want, as described in the Search settings section below. Normally, useful search results occur within the first 20 to 30 results, so setting the number of results per page to 30 saves you having to navigate between the results pages.

The title of a search results page is the search terms dash Google Search, and the page includes the following:

Navigating the search results

After pressing Ctrl to stop Jaws reading the entire page, quick ways of moving to the search results include:

To move through the search results, press H to move through the level 3 headings.

If you need to move to the next or previous search result page, then you can use the links list dialog (Insert + F7) to quickly find the Next or Previous link. Alternatively, to move to the groups of links for moving between pages press ; until you get to the content info landmark.

If Google has suggestions for corrections for any misspelled search terms these appear immediately before the main landmark region. So if you're unsure of your spelling and you want to check if there are any suggestions, then after you've navigated to the search results, just read up a line line or so.

Search result format

The format of search results vary, but they all include a level 3 heading which is also a link, and there are typical formats both for web pages and files.

The typical format for a result for a web page is:

And the typical format of a result for a file is:

You can use either of the two edit boxes on results pages to start a new search:

  1. Press E to move to one of the edit boxes.
  2. Press Enter to go into forms mode. The edit box contains your previous search terms, and the text is unselected. So if you want to overwrite this text, press Ctrl + A to select the text before typing in your new search terms, and then press Enter.
  3. You're taken to the first page of the search results.

Type of content

There are options for the type of content searched for. The default type of content is Web, which is everything on the web. To move to the type of content options, then if you're using Jaws 15 or later press R until you get to the navigation landmark region. Otherwise press Semicolon until you get to the navigation landmark region. The options are as follows:

Note that the settings of these options and the options described in the next section remain unchanged if you start another search using one of the edit boxes on a results page, but are reset to their default values if you use Google's home page, or your browser's search box.

Search tools

Note that if you're using Internet Explorer, the Search tools settings are only accessible if you're using Jaws 14.

After the controls for setting the type of content, which were described in the last section, there's a Search tools button. This shows/hides a number of settings, and these vary with the type of content searched. For searches of type Web, which is the default, then the settings include the following:

One way of getting to the Search tools button is to press Ctrl + Home to move to the top of the page, and then to press B until you get to the button. If you press the button then a number of menu buttons for the settings are displayed immediately after the button, and you're moved to the first of these menu buttons.

Search terms

The default treatment of search terms is as follows:

Google provides several options for making searches more precise, and some of the most useful are described in the following sections.

Exact phrase search

To find pages which include an exact phrase, put quotation marks around the phrase. Note that your search terms can include other terms in addition to the exact phrase. Examples:

Site search

To search a particular website, or websites whose addresses have a particular ending, you can use the site: operator. For example “site:www.bbc.co.uk history” searches the BBC website for history, and “site:edu history” searches all websites whose address ends in edu for history.

Negative terms

These can be useful if your search terms have more than one meaning. If you put a minus sign immediately before a term, then that term is avoided (You must leave a space before the minus sign). For example, “virus -computer” searches for virus but not computer.

Synonym search

To search for synonyms of a search term, rather than just the term, put a tilde (~) sign immediately in front of the term, and leave a space in front of the tilde sign.

Search settings

You can customize the search using the Search settings page. The following description assumes that you're using Jaws 12 or later. If you're using Jaws 11, see the next two sections for additional information.

To get to the Search settings page:

The Search settings page includes the following items:

With the search results tab selected, which it is by default, the page includes the following settings:

Note that for some combinations of versions of Internet explorer and Jaws you may find that Jaws can't change the setting of a control. Often you can work around this by pressing Insert + Z to switch the virtual PC cursor off, Tab to the control you want to change, change the setting, and then press Insert + Z to switch back to using the virtual PC cursor.

With the languages tab selected, the page includes the following settings:

Jaws 11

Using Jaws 11, there appears to be a problem of moving to to the Options button on the results page – using the navigation quick key B doesn't work.