The Windows Desktop & Starting JAWS

What is JAWS?

Movie poster from the 1975 film "JAWS"
Job Access With Speech – JAWS
JAWS is a screen reading program. Screen readers are software applications that will attempt to identify, interpret, and read the information being presented on the computer’s screen.
JAWS operates off of keyboard input like other screen readers such as VoiceOver for OS X, NVDA, Window-Eyes, and Dolphin.

Computer Basics

Starting up your computer Turning on your computer isn’t always easy. Some manufacturers hide the ‘on’ button – for instance, on top of the case or flat on the front where you can’t see it. Typically, on laptops, the on button can be found just above the keyboard but below the screen.
Shutting down your computer To turn off your computer using the Start menu, press the Windows button and then press the right arrow. In Windows 7, this should move focus to the Shutdown button. With focus on this button, you can press Enter to shutdown the computer or press the right arrow key again to open a menu with many options, including: switch user, log off, lock, restart, sleep, or hibernate. When you Shut down, your computer closes all open programs, along with Windows itself, and then completely turns off your computer and display.
Laptop care and handling There are many dos and dont’s when it comes to caring for your laptop. These include things like not using your laptop on your bed, keeping your laptop clean, and not using your laptop as Frisbee, but the list goes on. For a comprehensive list, follow this link to wikiHow’s 33 steps to taking good care of your laptop computer.

The Windows Desktop

Microsoft Windows is a graphical operating system. There have been many versions of Windows created since 1981 including: Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0 and 2.1, Windows 3.0 and 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, and Windows 10. The vast majority of Windows users are now on Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10.
Specialized versions of Windows have been developed for other devices. Windows CE (Embedded Compact) was developed to run on “minimalistic computers” like satellite navigation systems and mobile phones. Windows CE was the basis for Microsoft’s smart phone operating system used in Windows phones – the aptly named Windows Phone system. Microsoft also developed a special version of Windows to run on their video game console the Xbox titled Xbox OS.
The backdrop of Microsoft Windows is the Desktop – the computer space where you find programs and do work. The reason Microsoft named their operating system “Windows” is because it was one of the first graphical user interfaces. As well, the system is built around users opening and manipulating programs in little windows.

Important Windows Concepts

Icon An icon is a pictogram displayed on a computer screen in order to help the user navigate a computer system. Icons are quickly comprehensible symbols of a software tool, function, or a data file, that are accessible on the system. An icon is more like a traffic sign than a detailed illustration of the actual entity it represents.
Cursor a movable indicator on a computer screen identifying the point that will be affected by input from the user, for example showing where typed text will be inserted.
Focus The focus indicates the component of the graphical user interface which is selected to receive input.

Parts of the Windows Desktop

Desktop The desktop is the main screen area that you see after you turn on your computer and log on to Windows. Like the top of an actual desk, it serves as a surface for your work. When you open programs or folders, they appear on the desktop.
Start Button and Start Menu The Start menu is the main gateway to your computer’s programs, folders, and settings. It’s called a menu because it provides a list of choices, just as a restaurant menu does. And as “start” implies, it’s often the place that you’ll go to start or open things.
Taskbar  The taskbar is the long horizontal bar at the bottom of your screen. Unlike the desktop, which can get obscured by open windows, the taskbar is almost always visible. It has three main sections: the start button, the middle section, which shows you which programs and files you have open and allows you to quickly switch between them, and the notification area, which includes a clock and icons (small pictures) that communicate the status of certain programs and computer settings.
Notification Area The notification area is a part of the taskbar that provides a temporary source for notifications and status. It can also be used to display icons for system and program features that are not on the desktop. The notification area was known historically as the system tray or status area. Depending on how many icons you have in the notification area, you might encounter the Notification Overflow area. This area holds the icons that could not fit in the notification area.

Windows Key Functionality

Opens the Quick Launch Toolbar with focus on the Windows Search bar Windows Button (Win)
Interrupt or cancel current process or running program, or close a pop-up window or menu Escape Button (Esc)
Used to advance the focus to the next functional area or “tab stop” Tabulator Key (Tab)
Finish an “entry” and begin the desired process, and is usually an alternative to pressing an OK button Enter Key (Enter)
Along with the backspace key, the delete key is used to delete text. However, when dealing with text pressing the delete key deletes text to the right of the cursor and pressing the backspace key deletes text to the left (backwards) of the cursor. Delete key can also be used to delete files and folders. Delete Key (Del)
The shift key is a modifier key on a keyboard, used to type capital letters and other alternate “upper” characters. There are typically two shift keys, on the left and right sides of the row below the home row. The shift key is also used to highlight text. Shift Key (Shift)
A Control key is a modifier key which, when pressed in conjunction with another key, performs a special operation. Control Key (Ctrl)
The Alt key is used to alternate the function of other pressed keys. For example, simply pressing “A” will type the letter a, but if you hold down either Alt key while pressing A, the computer will perform an Alt + A function, which varies from program to program. Alternate Key (Alt)

Windows Shortcuts

Minimize all open applications and move focus to the desktop. You can press the key combination to restore the minimized applications. Win + D
Put focus on the Windows Taskbar. Pressing the key combination again will allow you to cycle focus between open and pinned applications. Win + T
When focus is on the desktop, pressing this key or key combination will cycle focus between the Start Menu, Desktop, Taskbar, and Notification Area. Tab/ Shift + Tab
Opens the Task Switcher menu to move between open applications. Hold Alt and move through applications by pressing tab or the arrow keys. Alt + Tab
Exits the current application. Alt + F4
Opens the context menu. Shift + F10
Opens Windows Explorer Win + E
Display main window’s system menu Alt + Space

Starter JAWS Keystrokes

Start JAWS Ctrl + Alt + J
Interrupt speech Ctrl
Switch to the JAWS window Insert + J
Shut down JAWS Insert + F4
Say JAWS version number Insert + Page Up (numpad 9)
Say JAWS serial number Insert + Page Down (numpad 3)
Read Title Bar Insert + T


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