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.
This is a guide to the taskbar on Windows 7. The taskbar is a thin bar that normally runs across the bottom of the screen, and contains:
The new features in the Windows 7 taskbar include:
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.
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, there are two ways of doing this. Pressing Esc closes the menu, leaving the Start menu button as the focus. Alternatively, pressing the Windows Key also closes the menu, but returns the focus to wherever it was before you opened the menu.
Normally, after you've selected program 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 programs, these include commands for pinning the program to the Start menu and Taskbar, which will be referred to in the relevant sections, and a command for running the program with administrative privileges (Ctrl + Shift + Enter).
The start menu has two columns, and the next two sections describe the contents of these columns after opening the menu. When you enter text in the search box, open the All programs menu or open a Jump list, then some of the items below are temporarily replaced by others, and the details are given in the relevant sections of the guide.
After you open the menu, the left hand column contains the following:
After you open the Start menu, the right hand column contains the following:
After opening the Start menu, the Search box, which is at the bottom of the left column, is the initial focus. To move to other items, you can use the following keystrokes:
When you open the Start menu, the Search edit box is the initial focus, and this can be used for opening programs and a wide range of other items.
To open most programs and items in the control panel, type either all or part of the name into the search box, and press Enter. You can type in either complete words or the beginnings of words, and whenever there's a pause in your typing, Jaws reads out the best match to what you've typed. As soon as you hear the name of the program or item in the control panel, you can press Enter to open it – you don't have to type in the full name. Note, that if there's text in the edit box, then a quick way of deleting it is to press Esc.
The following sections describe the use of the search box in more detail.
The Search box can be used for finding and opening the following groups of items, and the search results are displayed using these groups:
By default, all of the groups of items described above are searched, but you can customize this, as described in the Groups of items searched section in the Customizing section.
You can use either complete words or the beginnings of words as search terms. Whenever there's any text in the Search box, then a list of search results appears, which spans both columns of the start menu, and which temporarily replaces everything in the Start menu above the Search box and the Shut down split button.
From all the search results, only up to about the top 15 are shown. You can view the full results, as described below, but it's rarely necessary. These top results are grouped using the groups which were described in the last section, and in that order: Programs, Control Panel, individual libraries, and Files. If there are results for a group, then a heading for this group is present, and the full number of results for the group is given in parenthesis. At the bottom of the results, there is a See more results item.
As you type characters into the Search box, the list of search results is continuously updated. If the first result is a program or a control panel item, then this item is automatically selected, and whenever you pause after typing one or more characters, Jaws reads the name of this item. You can open this item by pressing Enter.
Normally, by either typing in some distinctive search terms or by typing the full name, you can get the program or item you want to open to be the first item in the list. However, to open some programs and control panel items, there's a need to select another item in the list so that you can then open it. You can select other items in the list by using Down Arrow and Up Arrow. Note that these keystrokes don't move the focus away from the search box – if you type in more characters these appear in the search box.
If you select the Programs heading in the list of search results, and open it by pressing Enter then Windows Explorer opens, with the full search results for this group shown in the Items view. Similarly, if you select and then open the Control Panel heading, then the Control panel opens with the full search results for this group.
If the first result is in either a library or the Files group, the See more results item at the bottom of the list of results is selected, rather than the first result, and Jaws doesn't read anything.
When this is the case, you can select the first item, by pressing either Tab, or by pressing Down Arrow three times. You can then use Down Arrow to select items further down the list if necessary.
If you select and open a library or the Files heading, then Windows explorer opens with the full results for that group shown in the Items view. If you select and open the See more results item, then the Items view contains the full search results for all the libraries and the Files group.
The All Programs menu contains all the programs which have been installed on the computer by either you or the company who build the PC, together with some programs which are part of Windows.
The All Programs menu is opened using the menu item immediately above the Search box in the left hand column, and which is labelled All programs sub menu. With this menu item selected, you can open the All programs menu by pressing either Enter or Right Arrow. The menu is displayed as a tree view, rather than as a conventional menu, and it temporarily replaces the pinned and most frequently used programs. In addition, the All programs sub menu item turns into a Back sub menu item, and for reasons best known to Microsoft this menu item remains the focus, rather it changing to the All programs menu.
So, if you've just opened the Start menu, so that the focus is the Search box, a couple of convenient ways of opening and then moving to the All programs menu are:
The top level of the tree view of the All Programs menu consists of an number of individual programs, followed by a number of folders. A folder contains a number of items which have been grouped together, and is the equivalent of a sub menu in a conventional menu. For example, the Accessories folder contains programs such as Notepad, and Calculator.
As with any tree view, you can select an item by using Up Arrow and Down Arrow, Home and End, and the first character or characters of an item. Note that you can move to all the items in the left hand column using Up Arrow and Down Arrow. So if you're on the first item in the tree view, pressing Up Arrow will take you to the Start Search box, and if you're on the last item, then pressing Down Arrow move you to the Back sub menu item.
Some of the keystrokes for selecting items in the tree view are slightly different from normal:
If you need to close this menu:
The group of pinned and frequently used programs are located at the top of the left hand column of the Start menu:
Some programs have an associated Jump List, which contains recently or frequently opened items, and can contain more permanently pinned items. More details are given in the Jump Lists section below. If a program with a Jump List is selected in this group of programs, then for sighted users, the item is made up of two parts: the larger left hand side which contains the program's name, and the smaller right hand side which contains a right pointing triangle. Jaws indicates such an item by saying sub menu after the name of the program. For such programs there are two options:
To pin a program to the Start menu:
To unpin a program from the Start menu, select the pinned program, open its context menu, and choose Unpin from Start menu.
At the bottom of the right hand column of the Start menu, there's a Power split button, which by default is a Shut down split button. After opening the Start menu, the initial focus is the Start Search box, and you can move to the Shut down split button by pressing either Right Arrow once or Tab twice.
To shut down the computer, press the left hand side of the split button, which contains the label shut down, by pressing Enter. If you press the right hand side of the split button, which contains a black right pointing triangle, by pressing Right Arrow, then a menu opens which contains these commands: Sleep, Switch user, Log off, Lock, and Restart.
For some windows updates, the computer needs to shutdown. When this is the case, the label of the left hand side of the split button temporarily changes to “Install updates and shutdown”.
If you don't want the left hand side of the Power split button to shut down the computer, you can change it to be any of the commands available on the split button's menu. For details, see the Power split button section of the Customizing section.
An alternative to using the Start menu for shutdown, sleep, etc is to use the Shut Down Windows dialog box. You can open this by pressing Alt + F4 if the focus is the Desktop or anywhere on the Taskbar. So if a program window is the focus, then to open the dialog you could press Windows Key + T to move to a taskbar button, and then Alt + F4 to open the dialog. The first control in the dialog is a combo box which contains all the options for shutdown, sleep, etc.
For many programs, Windows 7 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, Windows Explorer's Jump List contains frequent locations, Microsoft Word's contains recent document, and the Control Panel's contains recent tasks and settings.
You can only open a program's jump list either from a program in the pinned and frequently used programs on the Start menu, or from a taskbar button.
The Jump List is divided into one or more sections, and the sections present depends both on the program, and which items are present in the list. 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 all the usual keystrokes for a list: Up Arrow, Down Arrow, Home, End, and the first character of the item.
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:
Assuming the default setting for taskbar buttons, which is described in the Customizing the taskbar buttons section of the Customizing section, a program 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 a program's taskbar button you can:
There are two main ways of interacting with the taskbar buttons:
The first taskbar buttons are for the pinned programs. By default, after Windows has been installed, a number of programs are pinned to the taskbar, but you can easily pin and unpin programs as described in the Pinning and unpinning programs section.
Although you may find using the taskbar buttons convenient, you don't have to use them: you can open programs using the Start menu, and there are two other ways of switching to opened windows:
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 program are open. If no windows are open, which normally means that the program isn't running, then only the icon, which acts a label for the button, is visible. If one window or tab is open, then the outline of the button is also visible. And if there is more than one window or tab open, then there appears to be a stack of buttons.
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:
If you move to a taskbar button for a program 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:
The task switcher list box automatically opens above a program's taskbar button if the button has the focus, and the program has one or more open windows or tabs.
The list box normally contains the titles of a program'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.
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.
There are a number of keystrokes which use the position of a program's button on the taskbar, and you can use the numbers 1 through to 0, which gives a total of 10 possible programs. Normally these are useful only for pinned programs, because their positions are known.
If there is more than one window or tab, you can also switch to any of these, rather than just the first:
To pin a program to the 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 this program to taskbar from its context menu.
To unpin a program from the taskbar, select the pinned program, open its context menu, and choose Unpin this program from taskbar.
Sighted users can change the order of the pinned programs 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 programs, and then pin the programs in the order that you want.
To change the position of one of the pinned programs using the Jaws cursor:
The notification area contains a clock and an number of icons, which normally represent background programs or services which are running on the computer. 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, a network icon, and an anti-virus program icon. 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.
Occasionally, the program or service represented by an icon can open a small pop-up window, which is referred to as a notification. This provides some information, and may invite you to click it to perform some action. These are described in the notifications section below.
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 showing and hiding notification area icons section of the Customizing section.
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 is normally the most reliable method due to occasional problems when navigating the notification area using standard windows 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:
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 small pop-up window opens, which contains the hidden icons, and a customise link which opens the Notification Area Icons page of the Control Panel. You can then access both the visible and hidden 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, including the icon representing Microsoft Security Essentials, 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.
Occasionally, the program or service represented by an icon can open a small pop-up window, which is referred to as a notification, and which automatically closes after a short time. Jaws automatically reads these notifications.
Sometimes the notification just provides some information, for example, that new hardware has been detected. Other notifications offer to perform some action if you click them. For example a notification may inform you that an update for a program is available and say that you can click here for it to be installed. You can click a notification by pressing Numpad Slash. By default notifications stay open for about 5 seconds before closing, but you can increase this time to give yourself more time to click them, as described in the Time notifications remain open section of the Customizing section.
Nearly all the settings for the taskbar are in the Taskbar and Start menu properties dialog, or in a dialog and a Control Panel page which you can open from this dialog. There are a number of ways of opening the Taskbar and Start menu Properties dialog, including:
This dialog has three pages: Taskbar, Start Menu, and Toolbars. On the Taskbar page you can open the Notification Area icons page of the Control Panel by pressing the Notification Area Customize button, and on the Start Menu page you can open the Customize Start menu dialog by pressing the Customize button.
By default, the number of most frequently used programs in the group of pinned and frequently used programs is 10 Some people prefer to set this to zero, and just used the pinned programs which don't change unless you change them. You can set this number using the “Number of recent programs to display” spinbox in the Customize Start Menu dialog, which can be opened by pressing the Customize button in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog.
You can customize the group of items in the right hand column, which normally begins with your personal folder, using the tree view in the Customize Start Menu dialog, which can be opened by pressing the Customize button in the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog.
For some menu items, there is just an option as to whether they're displayed or not, and for each of these items, there's a check box in the tree view. For other items, there are more options, and for these the item in the tree view contains a group of radio buttons. To turn on one of these options, press Spacebar.
There are three options for a number of locations:
The following items can be either displayed or not. Of these, the following are shown by default: Default programs, Devices and Printers, and Help. The following are not shown by default: Connect to, Favorites menu, Homegroup, Network, Recent Items, and Run command.
Finally, System administrative tools has three options, and the default is that it's not displayed.
When you use the Search box, then by default the groups of items searched are: Programs, Control Panel, Libraries, and other files. However, you can customize this in the Customize Start Menu dialog, which can be opened by pressing the Customize button on the Start Menu page of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog. The tree view, which is the first control, contains the following relevant items:
By default, the command on the left hand side of the power split button, which is at the bottom of the right hand column, is Shut Down. You can change this using the Power button combo box, which is on the Start Menu page of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog.
To change the number of recent or frequent items in Jump Lists:
On the Taskbar page of the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog, there's a Taskbar buttons combo box which contains three options for how the opened windows of a program are represented:
You can open the Notification Area Icons page of the Control Panel by typing customize icons on the taskbar into the Start menu search box, and pressing Enter. Alternatively, you can open Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog, and on the Taskbar page, press the Notification Area Customize button.
This page of the Control Panel contains:
To Show all icons and notifications, set the check box to checked, and then Tab to the OK button and press it. Alternatively, you can choose a setting for each icon, using the combo boxes. The options are:
Note that the Windows Explorer combo box in fact controls the the icon and notifications for safely removing hardware. This confusing state of affairs is due to Jaws only reading part of the label of the combo box.
To change the time that notifications remain open:
|Cycle round the Start menu button, taskbar buttons, notification area, Show desktop button, and Desktop||Tab|
|Maximize a window||Windows Key + Up Arrow|
|Show Desktop||Windows Key + D|
|Open Start menu||Windows Key|
|Close Start menu, restoring focus to previous location||Windows Key|
|Close Start menu, leaving the Start menu button as the focus||Esc|
|Move to next or previous item in a column||Down Arrow or Up Arrow respectively|
|Move between the two columns||Left Arrow or Right Arrow|
|Cycle forward through the first of the group of common locations etc, which is your personal folder, Shut down split button, the first program in the group of pinned and frequently used programs, All programs sub menu item, and the Search box||Tab|
|Cycle backward through similar items, except that for groups of items it moves you to the last, rather than the first item||Shift + Tab|
|To clear the text in the Start Search box||Esc|
|Close the All Programs menu||Esc|
|Open a program running with administrative privileges||Ctrl + Shift + Enter|
|Cycle round taskbar buttons||Windows Key + T|
|For the focussed button: open the program 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||Down Arrow or Tab|
|Cycle backwards through the titles in a task switcher list box||Up Arrow or Shift + Tab|
|Open the Jump List for the focussed button||Application Key|
|Open a new instance of the program for the focussed button, whether or not the program is already running||Shift + Enter|
|Open a new instance of the program for the focussed button, running with administrative privileges||Ctrl + Shift + Enter|
|For a program at a given position: open the program 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 a program 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 a program at a given position: open the program 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 a program at a given position||Alt + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)|
|Open a new instance of a program at a given position, whether or not it's already running||Shift + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)|
|Open a new instance of a program at a given position, running with administrative privileges||Ctrl + Shift + Windows Key + number (1 through 0)|
|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, if no notifications are open, or to the icon with an open notification||Windows Key + B|
|Click a notification||Numpad Slash|