Taskbar (10) 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

This is a guide to the taskbar on Windows 10, using Jaws 17.

The taskbar is a thin bar that normally runs across the bottom of the screen, and contains:

If the focus is the Desktop, or one of the components of the taskbar, then you can cycle round these by pressing Tab. However, in practice, you'll normally use the more specialized keystrokes to move to the items in the taskbar, and which are described in this guide.

Desktop apps and Windows store apps

In Windows 10, in addition to traditional desktop programs, there are also Windows store apps. These are also often referred to as Universal apps, or modern apps, and are different from traditional desktop programs in a number of ways, including:

Microsoft refer to traditional desktop programs as Desktop apps, and this name will normally be used in this guide.

Start menu

Using the Start menu, you can:

To open the Start menu, press Windows Key. If you select a menu item and press Enter, then the Start menu automatically closes, just like any other menu. However, if you want to close the menu without choosing an item, you can press Esc or Windows key, which closes the menu and returns the focus to wherever it was before you opened the menu.

Normally, after you've selected an item on the menu, you'll just want to open it by pressing Enter. However, unlike normal menus, the items on the Start menu have context menus. For apps, these include commands for pinning it to the Start menu and Taskbar, which will be referred to in the relevant sections, and a command for running the app with administrative privileges (Ctrl + Shift + Enter).

Structure

The Start menu opens immediately above the left hand end of the taskbar. It's made up a left hand and a right hand side, and these are described in the next two sections. When the Start menu is open, the Search box on the taskbar behaves as if it's part of the Start menu, and it's the initial focus.

Left hand side

The left hand side of the start menu contains a number of items which are arranged as a column:

You can customize the left hand side of the menu, as described in Customizing the start menu section. For example, you can include folders like your personal folder, and your documents folder in the places list.

Right hand side

The right hand side contains one or more groups of pinned items, which can include apps, folders, libraries and other objects.

Moving around the menu

After opening the Start menu, the Search box, which is at the bottom of the left hand side, is the initial focus. To move to other items, you can use the following keystrokes:

All apps list

The All apps list contains all the apps which have been installed on the computer, either by you or by the company who built the PC, together with some programs which are part of Windows.

The All apps list is opened by pressing the All apps button, which is immediately above the Search box on the left hand side of the menu. After opening the Start menu, you can move to this button by pressing either Shift + Tab or Up Arrow.

After pressing the All apps button, the items above the button are temporarily replaced by the All apps list, and the first item in the list becomes the focus. In addition, the All apps button is temporarily replaced by a Back button.

An item in the All apps list is either an individual app, or a folder, which contains a number of items which have been grouped together. For example, the Windows Accessories folder contains apps such as notepad and wordpad. The items in the list are sorted alphabetically, and in addition are grouped by their initial letter

Selecting an item in the list

As with any list, you can select an item by pressing Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Home and End. Unfortunately you can't use the first character to quickly move to an item, but there other ways of quickly moving through the list. One way is to use Page up, and Page Down, and another way is described later in this section.

By default, each folder is collapsed. You can press Enter to expand it, and then the items which it contains are displayed below it.

As previously mentioned, the items in the list are grouped by their initial letter. You can move between these groups to find items more quickly:

Closing the All apps list

If you need to close the All apps list, one way of doing this is to press Tab twice to move to the Back button, and press it.

Apps with jump lists

Some apps have an associated Jump list, which contains recently or frequently opened items, and can contain more permanently pinned items. More details of Jump lists are given in the Jump lists section below.

In the start menu, if an app has a jump list, then this is included in its context menu. If the app appears in the left hand side of the menu, including the all apps list, then the the phrase “jump list present” is read after the name of the app.

Note that, if the app appears in the left hand side of the menu, excluding the all apps list, you can also open the same menu by pressing Tab or Right Arrow to move to a show Jump list button, and pressing it.

Shut down, sleep, restart, and sign out

You can shut down, sleep, restart and sign out either using the start menu, or using the Quick link menu which is described in the following section and which you may find more convenient.

To Shut down, sleep, or restart, then once you've opened the Start menu:

  1. To move to the Power button, press either Shift + Tab twice, or Up Arrow twice.
  2. Press the button using Spacebar or Enter, and on the menu which opens choose Shut down, Sleep, or Restart.

To Sign out, then once you've opened the Start menu:

  1. To move to the Account picture button, press Down Arrow, or press Tab once or twice.
  2. Press the button using Spacebar or Enter, and on the menu which opens choose Sign out.

Quick link menu

The Start button's context menu is called the Quick link menu. You can open it by moving to the Start button, and pressing the Application key, but a much quicker way is simply to press the shortcut for this menu, which is Windows key + X.

The Quick link menu contains a number of useful items, including: programs and features, Control Panel, and a Shutdown or sign out sub menu. The items on the menu all have access keys, so for example to shut down the computer you could press Windows key + X to open the Quick link menu, and then press the letter U twice.

Pinned items

The pinned items are arranged into one or more groups. Each group has a group header, which contains its name, and below this are the pinned items in the group which are laid out as a grid. Each pinned item is represented by a tile, which can have a number of different sizes, as described in the Tiles section below.

In a newly created Windows 10 account there are two groups: “life at a glance”, and “play and explore”. By default, the right hand side if the menu has two columns for displaying groups. The first column contains the life at a glance group, and the second column contains the play and explore group.

If the number of groups does not exceed the number of columns, then each group is placed in a separate column, and so in effect the groups are in a single row. If there are more groups, then these are added to the bottoms of the columns which already contain one or more groups. The maximum number of columns is three, and you can change the number of columns, as follows. With any item on the Start menu, apart from the Search box, as the focus, you can increment or decrement the number of columns by pressing Ctrl + Right Arrow or Ctrl + Left Arrow respectively.

After opening the Start menu, you can move to the pinned items by pressing Up Arrow to move to the All apps button, and then pressing Right Arrow to move to the top of the right hand side of the Start menu. The focus is the group header of the first group.

Moving around the pinned items

Tiles

The pinned items on the Start menu are represented by tiles. These are similar to icons on the desktop, but they can have additional features. Some of the tiles for Windows store apps are live tiles: they can contain information which is updated. For example, the tile for the News app contains a recent news headline.

Tiles can have a number of different sizes:

By default, the tiles for desktop apps are medium square tiles, but the sizes of the Windows store apps vary. You can change the size of the tile of a pinned item by opening its context menu, opening the resize sub menu and choosing a size. Note that on the Resize sub menu, the current size is checked.

Pinning and unpinning items

You can pin items to the Start menu by choosing Pin to start from their context menu:

When you first add a pinned item, it's added to a new group, rather than to either of the existing default groups. After that, the item is normally added to the last group.

To unpin an item, open its context menu and choose Unpin from Start. For apps, you can do this either in the list of search results produced by using the Search box, in the pinned items, or in the Apps list. For folders, drives, or libraries, you can do this either in the pinned items, or in File Explorer.

Rearranging the tiles

There are keystrokes both for moving groups, and moving the tiles within and between groups. All these keystroke coincide with the keystrokes used by Jaws for moving the mouse. So to use the keystrokes for rearranging the pinned items, you have to press the Jaws passthrough key Insert + 3 before you press one of these keystrokes.

To move a group, select its group header, and press Shift + Alt + Arrow key.

Moving a tile within and between groups is not at all easy using Jaws, as it doesn't give you any feedback as to where the tile has moved to, and how other tiles have been moved to accommodate this. The keystrokes are again Shift + Alt + Arrow key, but it may not be worth the struggle.

Naming a group

To name or rename a group:

  1. Select the group header, and press Enter. The focus becomes an edit box.
  2. If there is any existing text in the edit box, it is unselected, so if you which to overwrite the name, just press Ctrl + A to select this text, before typing in the new name.
  3. After you have typed in the text, press Enter to close the edit box.

Additional tasks

As well as opening desktop and Windows store apps, you can also perform a number of additional tasks. These are available using an app's context menu, which can be opened after selecting an app either anywhere on the Start menu, or in the list of results produced by using the Search box, which is described in the Search section.

Uninstall a Windows store app.

Open the context menu of the app, and choose Uninstall. Note that it appears that not all Windows store apps can be uninstalled.

Pin a desktop or Windows store app to the taskbar

Open the context menu of the app, and either choose Pin to taskbar, or if that isn't present on the menu, open the More sub menu, and then choose Pin to taskbar.

Create a shortcut on the Desktop for a desktop app

  1. Open the context menu of the app, and either choose Open file location, or if that isn't present on the menu, open the More sub menu, and then choose Open file location. File Explorer opens at one of the locations where the shortcuts corresponding to to items in the All apps list are stored, and the shortcut to the app is selected.
  2. Open the shortcut's context menu, open the Send to sub menu, and choose Desktop (create shortcut).
  3. Press Alt + F4 to close File Explorer.

Create a keyboard shortcut for a desktop app

If there's already a shortcut on the desktop for the app, then you can open the properties dialog of that shortcut to create a keyboard shortcut. However you can create a keyboard shortcut without having to create a desktop shortcut:

  1. Open the context menu of the app, and either choose Open file location, or if that isn't present on the menu, open the More sub menu, and then choose Open File location. File Explorer opens at one of the locations where the shortcuts corresponding to the items in the All apps list are stored, and the shortcut to the app is selected.
  2. Open the shortcut's context menu, and choose properties. The properties dialog for the shortcut opens on the shortcut page.
  3. Tab to the Short cut key edit box. Press a single character, and the shortcut will be Ctrl + Alt + character.
  4. Press Enter to press the default OK button.
  5. Press Alt + F4 to close File Explorer.

Create a shortcut on the desktop for Window Store or Desktop apps

You can't create a shortcut on the desktop for a Windows store app using the Start menu. If you open its context menu, there's no menu item to open its file location. However, you can create one using File Explorer, and the instructions are given here for convenience.

  1. Press Windows key + E to open File Explorer.
  2. Press Alt + D to move to the address bar, type shell:appsfolder (without any spaces), and then press Enter. The items view now includes an item for each of the apps in the All apps list.
  3. In the items view, select an item, open its context menu, and choose Create shortcut. A dialog opens, telling you that “Windows can't create a shortcut here. Do you want the shortcut to be placed on the desktop instead?”.
  4. The Yes button is the initial focus in this dialog, so just press Enter to press it.

When you open the Start menu by pressing the Windows Key, the Search box is the initial focus, and this can be used for opening apps, and a wide range of other items.

To open most apps, type either all or part of its name into the Search box, and press Enter. You can type in either complete words of the beginnings of words, and whenever there's a pause in your typing, Jaws reads out the best match to what you're typing. As soon as you hear the name of the app, you can press Enter to open it – you don't have to type in the full name.

The following sections describe the use of the Search box in more detail.

What is searched

The Search box can be used for finding and opening the following kinds of items, and the search results are displayed using these groups:

By default, all of the kinds of items described above are searched, but you can choose whether or not the web and the store are searched, as described in the Customizing search section, in the Customizing the taskbar section. In addition, you can limit the search to specific kinds of items, as described in the Searching for specific kinds of items section below.

Searching

As soon as you type any characters into the Search box, the Start menu is replaced by the Search pane. Most of this pane is taken up with its main column which is positioned so that it's directly above the search box, and the search results are displayed in this column. The search pane is described in more detail in the Search pane section below.

You can use either complete words or the beginnings of words as search terms. As you type characters into the Search box, the list of search results is continuously updated. The first result is automatically selected, and whenever you pause after typing, Jaws reads the name of this item, followed by what sort of item it is. You can open it by pressing Enter.

From all the search results, only about the top dozen are shown. The best match or matches are at the top of the list, and the rest are grouped using the kinds of items which were described in the last session, for example apps and settings.

Normally, by either typing in some distinctive search terms, or by typing the full name, you can get the item you want to open to be the first item in the list. However, sometimes there's a need to select other items in the list, so that you can open them. You can do this by using Down Arrow and Up Arrow. Note that these keystroke don't move the focus away from the Search box – if you type in more characters, these appear in the search box.

Warning: when you open a web result, this is opened in Microsoft's Edge browser, irrespective of which browser you have set as your default browser. Unfortunately, the Edge browser is currently not accessible using Jaws.

Most of the time, you'll probably just want to open the item you find. However, other actions are available from the item's context menu. For apps, some of these were described above in the Additional tasks section, which is in the Start menu section. For files, you can open it's location, which opens File Explorer at the location of the file. This can be useful if you don't know where a file has been saved.

At the bottom of the main column of the search pane, after the search results there are one or two items for getting more search results. If the setting to include web results is on, then there are two items:

If the setting to include web results is off, then there's only a single item, Search my stuff. You can easily move to these items from the Search box by pressing Up Arrow one or two times.

If there are no search results are found, then a single result is shown enabling you to to either Search the web if web results are included, or Search your stuff, if web results are not included.

Searching for specific kinds of items

You can limit a search to specific kinds of items by typing the kind of item followed by a colon followed by your search terms. For example, if you are looking for a document named fred, you can type doc:fred. You can use the following words to specify the kind of items which are searched: app, setting, doc, folder, video, music, video, and web. Where appropriate you can also use the plural form of these words, so for example, you could search using either app:fred or apps:fred. In addition, you can also use document rather than doc, if you really want to type the extra letters.

Note that there is a list of items at the top of the main column of the search pane which can be used for specifying the kind of items to be searched. However these very user friendly for users of screen readers, and it's much easier to type in the kind of item, as described above.

Search my stuff

There are a number of differences between searching using the my stuff option compared to the standard search:

To search using the my stuff option, after you have entered your search terms, press Up Arrow till you get to My stuff or Search my stuff, and press Enter. The contents of the main column of the Search pane are replaced by new contents which includes:

After moving to Search my stuff, and pressing Enter, the focus returns to the Search box, and so you have to Tab to the contents of the main column listed above. Note that to change the option selected by either combo box, you have to press Alt + Down Arrow, to open the list of options, select and option, and press Enter. Unfortunately, the focus again returns to the Search box, and so you have to Tab back to the main column.

Search pane

As soon as you type any characters in the Search box, the Start menu is replaced by the Search pane. In addition, you can also open the Search pane directly by pressing Windows key + S. The Search pane consists of two columns:

If you Tab round the Search pane, you'll cycle round the following controls:

The list of pages

The pages which can be displayed in the search pane depend on whether Cortana is on or off. With Cortana turned off, the list of pages in the left hand column of the search pane contains the following items:

The pages that are available when Cortana is on are described in the Cortana section of this guide, which is the next section.

Cortana

Cortana is a personal assistant. You can ask Cortana questions, and ask it to do tasks like setting an alarm or reminder. If you ask it to “tell me a joke”, some of the jokes are even quite good. You can type your requests to Cortana in the Search box, or you can speak them, provided that the computer has either an internal or external microphone.

Cortana's responses are displayed using some of the same software used by the Edge browser, and so these responses, like the Edge browser are currently not very accessible for screen readers. This obviously makes Cortana less useful at the moment. When you speak, as opposed to type, your request, Cortana normally reads at least some of its response, and so you'll probably find speaking requests more useful.

How to turn Cortana on and off is described in the Customizing Cortana section, which is in the Customizing the Taskbar section. When Cortana is on, there are a couple of changes to the search pane. The first is that immediately to the right of the Search box, there's a microphone button. Pressing this button is one of the ways of indicating to Cortana that you are about to speak. The second is that a different set of pages can be displayed in the search pane, and these include the following pages, which are all described in subsequent sections:

To display one of these pages, and move to its content:

  1. Press Windows key + S to open the Search pane, with the Search box being the initial focus.
  2. Tab to the list in the left hand column, in which Home is the initial focus.
  3. In this list, select the name of the page you want, and press Enter.
  4. Tab to the contents of the page.

Speaking a request

There are a couple of ways that you can indicate to Cortana that it should listen for a request. The first way is to press the microphone button:

  1. If the Search box is the focus, then you can press Tab to move to the microphone button, and then press it. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut Windows key + C to press the microphone button. After the button is pressed cortana plays a sound to indicate that it's listening. If Jaws starts reading the name of the button, and how to press it, you might want to press Ctrl to silence Jaws.
  2. Speak you request. If Cortana can deal with your request, then the reply is shown in the main column of the Search pane. Cortana then reads at least some of the reply. If you need to read more than Cortana reads out, then you can Tab to the main column, and you may be able to read some of its contents.
  3. If Cortana can't deal with your request, then it opens Microsoft's Edge browser to search for your request on the web. Note that the Edge browser is not currently accessible using Jaws.

You can also set Cortana to listen for a request after you have spoken the phrase “Hey Cortana”. How to set whether Cortana responds to this phrase is described in the Customizing Cortana section, which is in the Customizing the Taskbar section. In contrast to pressing Windows key + C to press the microphone button, saying “Hey Cortana” does not move the focus to the Search pane.

Typing a request

  1. Either press Window key + S to open the search pane, or press Windows key to open the Start menu, and this will be replaced by the search pane as soon as you start typing.
  2. Type in your request. If Cortana can deal with your request, then the name of first search result will be, your request, and the type of the result will be of some appropriate type which implies that you have to open the result. For example, if the request is London Weather, then the result might be “London weather, get the forecast” If you press Enter, the weather forecast is displayed in the main column, but Cortana does not read it out. You can Tab to the links in the main column, and Jaws may read some of the information.
  3. If Cortana can't deal with your request, then the name of the first search result is your request, and the type of result is search the web. Note that if you open such a result, then it's opened in Microsoft's Edge browser, which is currently not accessible using Jaws.

Home page

If open the search pane by pressing Windows key + S, then the pane opens at its home page, which consists of a number of information cards. If you type any text into the Search box, these information cards are replaced by the search results.

The cards which are shown depend on topics which you say you are interested in Cortana's notebook which is described the next section. Unfortunately, only some of the information on these cards is accessible with Jaws. All you can do is to Tab through the links on these cards, and hope that gives you some idea of the information.

Notebook page

You can access Cortana's Notebook on the Notebook page of the search pane. The page contains a series of links to the various pages of the notebook. To go to one of these pages, just Tab to the link, and open it.

The first three pages are:

The remaining pages are for specifying what topics you are interested in. They all have the same format, and contain the following controls:

Reminders page

This page contains a list of existing reminders, together with controls for adding a new reminder and managing the existing reminders. Unfortunately the control used for setting the time of a reminder is not currently accessible.

It's possible to work round this problem by typing or speaking request which includes the time. For example, you could type or speak the request “remind me to phone John at 4 pm”. If you speak the request, then Cortana should speak the request back to you and ask you if that is OK. You can then speak your reply, yes or no. Alternatively, a remind button in the the main column of the pane is the focus, so you can either press Enter to confirm the reminder, or press Tab to move to a Cancel button and press that. If you've typed the request, then you can use the remind and cancel buttons to either confirm of cancel the reminder.

Help page

The Help page of the search pane contains a list of things which Cortana can help you with. If you select an item in this list, and press Enter, you're taken to a new page which contains a list of ideas for requests. To return to the previous page, press Shift + Tab to move to a back button, and press it.

Taskbar buttons

Assuming the default settings for taskbar buttons, which are described in the Customizing the taskbar buttons section of the Customizing section, a desktop app or a Windows store app has a button on the taskbar if it's pinned to the taskbar, or it's running and has one or more windows open. Using an app's taskbar button you can:

There are two main ways of interacting with the taskbar buttons:

The first taskbar buttons are for the pinned apps. By default, after Windows has been installed, a number of apps are pinned to the taskbar, but you can easily pin and unpin apps as described in the Pinning and unpinning apps section.

Although you may find using the taskbar buttons convenient, you don't have to use them: you can open apps using the Start menu, and there are two other ways of switching to opened windows:

Moving to a taskbar button

You can use Windows Key + T to cycle round the taskbar buttons. If the focus is not one of the taskbar buttons, then pressing Windows Key + T moves you to the first taskbar button, and if the focus is one of these buttons it moves you to the next button.

Once the focus is one of the taskbar buttons, you can also use these keystrokes to move around the buttons:

For sighted users, the appearance of any taskbar button depends on how many windows or tabs belonging to that app are open.

When you move to a button, how Jaws reads the button also depends on the number of open windows or tabs, and in addition gives an indication of what happens when you press the button using Spacebar, which is described in the next section:

Interacting with a taskbar button which is the focus

If you move to a taskbar button for an app which has one or more windows or tabs open, then a taskbar switcher list box temporarily opens above the button, and this contains the titles of these open windows or tabs, in the order in which they were opened. The focus doesn't automatically move to this list box, but it's used in some of the following tasks, and is described in more detail in the next section.

If a taskbar button is the focus, then:

Task switcher list box

The task switcher list box automatically opens above an app's taskbar button if the button has the focus, and the app has one or more open windows or tabs.

The list box normally contains the titles of an app's open windows, listed in the order in which they were opened. However, in the case of Internet Explorer, if an open window contains multiple tabs, then there are titles for each of the tabs, rather than just a single title for the window, and these are also listed in the order in which they were opened. Bug Warning: Jaws seems to think that there are three times as many items in this list box as there actually are. So, for example, if there are two items in the list box, then when Jaws reads the first item, it incorrectly says 1 of 6.

The items in the list box are displayed as a row of items, and you can use the following keystrokes in the list box:

The task switcher list box can also temporarily open whilst using the Windows Key + number keystroke, as described in the next section.

Keystrokes which use an app's position

There are a number of keystrokes which use the position of an app's button on the taskbar, and you can use the numbers 1 through to 0, which gives a total of 10 possible apps. Normally these are useful only for pinned apps, because their positions are known.

Pinning and unpinning apps

You can pin an app to the taskbar either using the taskbar buttons, or from the Start menu.

To pin an app to the Taskbar using the taskbar buttons:

  1. Open the app, and move to its taskbar button.
  2. Open its context menu, and choose Pin to taskbar.

To pin an app to the Taskbar from the Start menu:

  1. Move to the app either on the Start menu or in the list of search results.
  2. Open its context menu, and choose Pin to taskbar.

So, for example, if you wanted to pin the Control Panel to the taskbar, you could open the Control Panel, press Windows key + T until you get to the taskbar button for the control panel, and then choose Pin to taskbar from its context menu.

To unpin an app from the taskbar, select the pinned app, open its context menu, and choose Unpin from taskbar.

Changing the order of the pinned apps

Sighted users can change the order of the pinned apps by dragging them using the mouse. Jaws users can also do this using the Jaws cursor, although an alternative is simply to remove all the pinned apps, and then pin the apps in the order that you want.

To change the position of one of the pinned apps using the Jaws cursor:

  1. Move to the apps's button that you want to move.
  2. Press Insert + Numpad Minus to route the Jaws Cursor to the PC cursor, and then press Insert + Numpad Slash to lock the left mouse button, in other words, start holding it down.
  3. Press Numpad Plus to switch back to using the PC cursor, and then press either Left Arrow or Right Arrow the number of times which is the number of positions which you want to move the app either to the left or right respectively. This moves the PC cursor to the position where you want the app to end up.
  4. Press Insert + Numpad Minus to route the Jaws cursor to the PC cursor, and press Insert + Numpad Slash to unlock the left mouse button, in other words, stop holding it down.
  5. Finally, press Numpad Plus to switch back to the PC cursor.

Jump Lists

For many Desktop apps and Windows store apps, Windows 10 provides a Jump List, which contains recent or frequently opened items, and can also contain more permanently pinned items. A Jump List allows you to quickly open one of these items. So, for example, File Explorer's Jump List contains frequent locations, Microsoft Word's contains recent documents, and the Control Panel's contains recent tasks and settings.

You can open an apps's jump list either from an app on the start menu, or from an apps's taskbar button.

A Jump List is divided into one or more sections, and the sections present vary between apps. For users of screen readers, this division into named sections is not accessible, but in practice it's not a problem.

The following sections often appear on Jump Lists, and in this order:

You can select an item using most the usual keystrokes for a list: Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Home, and End. Unfortunately, you can't use the first character of the item — hopefully Microsoft will fix this.

Pinning and unpinning items

There are a couple of ways of pinning a frequently used or recent item:

Similarly, there are a couple of ways of unpinning a pinned item:

Notification area

The notification area contains a clock and an number of icons, which normally represent background programs or services which are running on the computer. In versions of Windows before Windows XP, the notification area was known as the System tray, and Jaws still refers to it using this name.

Each icon normally provides some status information, and allows you to change some of the settings of the program or the service. Examples of icons which are normally present are a speaker(volume) icon, and a network icon. New in Windows 10, there is a notification centre icon which provides one of the ways of opening the Action centre, and provides the status information as to whether there are any new notifications in the Action centre. Unfortunately the status of this icon is not currently accessible to users of screen readers. Notifications and the Action centre are both described in the next main section of this guide.

By default, some of the icons are hidden. However, you can either set them all to be shown, or set each icon individually, as described in the Customizing the notification area section of the Customizing section. Normally, it's most convenient to have them all shown.

You can interact with the icons and the clock using either keystrokes which are part of Jaws, or standard Windows Keystrokes, and these are described in the next two sections.

Using Jaws keystrokes

You can access the icons in the notification area by opening the Select a System Tray Icon dialog (Insert + F11), and you can read the time by pressing (Insert + F12), and the date by pressing the latter keystroke twice quickly.

The Select a System Tray Icon dialog contains:

So, for example, to open the volume mixer dialog to adjust the system volume:

  1. Press Insert + F11 to open the Select a System Tray Icon dialog.
  2. Press the letter S until you select the Speakers.
  3. Press Enter to press the default Right Single Click button.
  4. The volume icon's context menu opens with Open volume mixer selected. Press Enter to choose this option.
  5. The Volume mixer dialog opens, and the initial focus is the volume slider of the Speakers. Adjust the volume, and then close the dialog by pressing Enter.

Using Windows keystrokes

Assuming that all the icons are shown, then you can use the following keystrokes to move to an icon.

When an icon is the focus, then a small amount of text appears above the icon, and this is what Jaws reads when you move to an icon. This text is normally either the name or the status of the program or service which the icon represents.

With an icon as the focus:

If there are any hidden icons, then the first item in the notification area is a notification chevron button. If you press this button then a toolbar, which contains the hidden icons, appears directly above the notification area. You can then access all the icons using the arrow keys. However if the button is the focus, you can't use the first character of an icon to move to it.

Note that for a small number of icons, after you have pressed Spacebar, or Enter or Application Key, the mouse pointer is moved to this icon, and this can interfere with the subsequent navigation to the other icons in the Notification area.

Notifications

From time to time, Windows or an app, may want to draw your attention to some information, such as an update has been installed, or you have a new mail message. This can be done using a notification, which can take the form of one or more of the following:

You can customize the notifications sent from Windows and apps, and this is described in the Customizing notifications section.

You can temporarily turn off both notification banners and notification sounds by turning on Quiet hours. This feature can be turned on and off either from the context menu of the notification centre icon in the notification area, or by using the Quiet hours quick action button in the Action centre, which is described in a section below.

Notification banners

A Notification banner is a small window which temporarily appears above the notification area, and it's also sometimes called a toast notification. Jaws does not automatically read a notification banner, but while it's still open, you can move to it by pressing Windows key + V.

A notification banner may contain controls for actions related to the notification, and always includes a dismiss this notification button. Once the notification banner is the focus, you can also dismiss it by pressing Delete. In rare cases where more than one notification banner is open, if you tab past the dismiss this notification button, you'll move to another notification banner.

By default, notification banners stay open for about 5 seconds before closing, but you can increase this time to give yourself more time if you need to move to them, as described in the Time notification banners remain open section of the Customizing section.

Action centre

The easiest way of opening the Action centre is to use the shortcut Windows key + A. Alternatively you can move to the notification centre button in the notification area, and press it. You can also close the Action centre by pressing Windows key + A. The Action centre contains the following controls:

List of notifications

The notifications are grouped by the Windows service or the app which sent them, and the group containing the most recent notification is at top of the list. Notifications are automatically removed from the list after an appropriate time, so although there are a number of ways of dismissing them manually, you won't normally need to use them.

You can move to a notification using the standard keystrokes for a list: Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Home, and End.

If a notification is informing you that something needs doing, or something new is available, then if you press Enter or Space, you'll be taken to the appropriate app or part of Windows.

At the right hand side of each notification in the list, there are one or two buttons, which you can move to by tabbing:

If you tab to the dismiss this notification button, and then press Tab again, the name of the group of notifications becomes the focus. To the right of each group name there's a “Dismiss all notifications in this group” button. Again, as an alternative to moving to and pressing this button, you can just press Delete.

So, taking into account the buttons to the right of each notification, and the button to the right of the name of a group, if you tab round the action centre, then you'll cycle round the following controls: Clear all button, A notification in the list, Expand this notification button, Dismiss this notification button, Group name, Dismiss all notifications in this group button, Collapse/Expand button, the quick settings buttons.

Note that when you open the Action centre, you might expect the first notification in the list to be the initial focus. However, this isn't always the case, and you may have to Tab to it.

Customizing the taskbar

In Windows 10, many of the settings for customizing the various parts of the taskbar are to be found in the Settings app. And so this will be described in the next section, before going on to the describe the customizations.

Settings app

The easiest way of opening the Settings app is by pressing the shortcut Windows key + I. Alternatively, by default it appears in the left hand side of the Start menu, or you can search for it.

The following sections describe both how to browse the pages of the Settings app, and how to search for settings.

Home page

The home page of the Settings app contains:

If you move to one of the main categories in the list, and press Enter, then you're taken to a page for that category, and the layout of this page is described in the next section.

Main category page

The page for each main category contains:

When a main category page opens, the first category in the category list is selected, so if you're interested in the settings for this category, you can just Tab to them. If you're interested in another category, move to it in the list and press Enter, and then you can again Tab to the settings.

Search box

You can search for settings from both the home page, and the main category pages. The results includes settings in the Settings app, the Control Panel, and the Search pane's settings.

  1. Type in your search terms. Note that you don't have to move to the search box before you do this – as soon as you start typing characters, the Search box becomes the focus, and your text is entered there.
  2. As soon as there is any text in the search box, the controls that were previous on the page are replaced by a list of results, and you can move to the results by pressing Tab.
  3. You can cancel the search by pressing Esc, or by deleting the text in the Search box.

Customizing the Start menu

The settings for the Start menu can be found in the Settings App. In the main Personalisation category, there's a Start category which includes controls for the following settings:

Whether the most used, new and suggested apps are shown

There are toggle switches for each of these, all of which are on by default:

Which items appear in the places list

By default, the places list contains File Explorer and the settings app. To change the items which appear in this list, open the “Choose which folders appear on the Start” link. You're taken to a page which contains a toggle switch for each of the items which can appear in the places list, which includes your personal folder, and your documents folder.

Web and Store included in search results

By default, items from the Web and the Store are included in the search results. If you are not using Cortana, then you can change a settings so that they are not included:

  1. Press Windows key + S to open the search pane. Alternatively, you can press Windows Key to move to the Search box, and then type one or more characters to open the search pane.
  2. Press Tab until you get to a list, in which Home is the initial focus.
  3. In this list, select Settings, and press Enter. Various controls appear in the main area of the search pane.
  4. Press Tab until you get to the “Search online and include web results” button. By default the button is checked, and you can change the state of the button by pressing Spacebar

Customizing Cortana

Turning Cortana on

Press Windows key + S to open the Search pane. Then press Tab until you get to Try Cortana, and press Enter.

You then have to work you way through a number of pages which are displayed in the main column of the search pane. Both to get to the first page and to get to subsequent pages, you have to tab one or more times to move to the main column. Unfortunately, Jaws does not read all the text on some of these pages, so you may need sighted help. Examples of the content of the pages are:

Turning Cortana off

  1. Open the Start menu, by pressing the Windows key.
  2. Type all or part of Cortana settings. If necessary, press Down Arrow until you get to Cortana & search settings, and then press Enter.
  3. Tab to the button with the name Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more.
  4. If the button is checked, then press Spacebar to uncheck it.

Whether Cortana responds to “Hey Cortana”

  1. Open the Start menu, by pressing the Windows key.
  2. Type all or part of Cortana settings. If necessary, press Down Arrow until you get to Cortana & search settings, and then press Enter.
  3. Tab to the button with the name Let Cortana respond to “Hey Cortana”.
  4. Press Spacebar to change whether or not the button is checked.

Customizing Jump Lists

You can set whether or not Jump Lists include recently or frequently opened items. In the Settings app, in the Personalization main category, in the Start category, there's a “Show recently opened items in Jump Lists on Start or the taskbar” toggle switch. This toggle switch is on by default.

Customizing the taskbar buttons

By default, if there are a number of windows open for the same app, then these are combined into a single button. This is normally the best of option, but you can change it if you want to.

The setting for this is on the Taskbar page of the Taskbar and Navigation dialog. One way of opening this dialog is to press the Windows key to open the Start menu, with the Search box being the initial focus, type all or part of Taskbar and navigation, and press Enter. Note that the title of the dialog which opens is “Taskbar and Start Menu Properties”, which is incorrect, because there are no settings for the Start menu in this dialog.

On the Taskbar page of the dialog, there's a Taskbar buttons combo box which contains three options for how the opened windows of an app are represented:

Note that you can also open the Taskbar and Navigation dialog from the Control panel.

Customizing the Notification area

The settings for the notification area are in the Settings app: in the main system category, there's a Notifications & actions category.

To change which icons are shown in the notification area:

  1. Tab to the “Select which icons appear on the taskbar” link, and open it. You are taken to a new page.
  2. The first control on the page is an “Always show all icons in the notification area” button. This button is unchecked by default.
  3. If the first button is unchecked, that is all icons are not set to be shown, then following the first button, there are buttons for the possible apps and system services that might appear in the notification area.

Customizing notifications

The settings for the notification area are in the Settings app: in the main system category, there's a Notifications & actions category.

Whether to show notifications which give tips about windows

There's a Show me tips about Windows toggle switch, which is on by default.

Whether to show app notifications

There's a Show app notifications toggle switch, which is on by default. If you toggle this switch off, then there won't be any notifications for any apps. If it's on, then for some apps, there are controls for setting whether you want notifications for them, and if so, what type of notifications. These controls appear after the heading “Show notifications from these apps”, but unfortunately Jaws doesn't read that heading. However, the control before the heading is a Hide notifications while presenting button, and so you can find the controls after this button.

For each app which you can set the notifications for, there are a couple of controls.

Time notification banners remain open

You can change the time notification banners remain open both in the Control panel, and the Settings app, and using the latter will be described.

  1. Open the Settings app (Windows key + I, choose the Ease of Access main category, and then choose the other options category.
  2. Tab to the Show notifications for combo box, and select the time that you want.

Customizing the Action centre

If you have only four of the quick actions buttons shown in the Action center, which you can set by pressing the collapse button, then you can set which of the four quick actions are shown. In the Setting app, in the System main category, in the Notifications & actions category, there are four “pinned quick actions” combo boxes. Note that if you want to change one of these, then you have to open the list of options, before changing the option, otherwise Jaws does not read the options. You can open the list of options by pressing Alt + Down Arrow, and then after you have selected an option, press Enter to close the list.

Keystrokes

General keystrokes

Command Keystroke
Cycle round the Start button, search the web and windows button, task view button, a group of taskbar buttons, notification area, Show desktop button, and Desktop Tab
Open Start menu Windows Key
Open Quick link menu Windows Key + X
Open Search pane Windows Key + S
Start Cortana listening Windows Key + C
Show Desktop Windows Key + D
Maximize a window Windows Key + Up Arrow
Open the Setting app Windows Key + I
Open the taskbar and navigation properties dialog Windows Key + T, then Alt + Enter

Taskbar buttons keystrokes

Command Keystroke
Cycle round taskbar buttons Windows Key + T
For the focussed button: open the app if it's not running; or switch to a single open window or tab; or move to the task switcher list box if there's more than one window or tab open Enter or Spacebar
Cycle forwards through the titles in a task switcher list box Right Arrow or Tab
Cycle backwards through the titles in a task switcher list box Left Arrow or Shift + Tab
Open the Jump List for the focussed button Application Key
Open a new instance of the app for the focussed button, whether or not the app is already running Shift + Enter
Open a new instance of the app for the focussed button, running with administrative privileges Ctrl + Shift + Enter
For an app at a given position: open the app if it isn't running; or switch to a single open window or tab; or switch to first one opened Windows Key + number (1 through 0)
For an app at a given position which has more than than one window or tab open, switch to any window or tab Hold down the Windows Key and then press a number key to cycle round the titles in the task switcher list box
For an app at a given position: open the app if it isn't running; or switch to a single open window or tab; or switch to the last one viewed Ctrl + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)
For an app at a given position which has more than than one window or tab open, cycle round them in the order in which they were last viewed Hold down Ctrl and Windows keys and then press a number to cycle round these windows
Open the Jump List for an app at a given position Alt + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)
Open a new instance of an app at a given position, whether or not it's already running Shift + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)
Open a new instance of an app at a given position, running with administrative privileges Ctrl + Shift + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)

Notification area keystrokes

Command Keystroke
Open the Select a system tray icon dialog Insert + F11
Read the time Insert + F12
Read the date Insert + F12 twice quickly
Move to the first icon in the notification area Windows Key + B

Notification keystrokes

Command Keystroke
Open or close the Action centre Windows key + A
Move to a notification banner Windows key + V
Dismiss a notification banner which is the focus Delete