MS WINDOWS BASICS
this section, we cover how to navigate some of the interfaces in MS
Windows and some useful Windows keyboard shortcuts. How long this will
take to cover depend on how much your participants already know about
MS Windows, how much useful vision they have and how far you want or
need to cover different Windows versions.
As written this
section covers Windows 10, there are differences between this and
Windows 7 or 8, if your learners are using either of them it will need
adapting but the basic structure can remain the same.
If you have participants with low vision using a screen projector and a
screen magnifier for this session might be useful.
working with NVDA, let's discuss some general features of the Windows
operating system starting with the desktop. The desktop is a grid of
shortcuts to programs files, folders, and websites. The desktop is the
default view presented with when Windows starts. Application windows
appear in front of the desktop. The desktop is always available behind
other running applications.
The taskbar runs across the bottom
of the desktop and contains the Start button on the far left,
notifications on the far right and running and pinned applications in
the centre. The taskbar is always visible unless you are running a full
screen application, which we won't be doing in this tutorial. Pressing
the Start button in the task bar or the `Windows` key on the keyboard
opens or closes the Start Menu.
The Start Menu lists recently
used applications; the File Explorer, Settings, and the Power Menu. The
Start Menu contains all of the installed applications in an
alphabetized list under the All Apps Button. New to Windows 10, is a
grid of pinned apps that appear to the right of the Start Menu list.
Microsoft dropped the Start Menu for Windows 8, a mistake for which
they were roundly and justly criticised. If you're running Windows 8
the `Windows` key opens a full screen start page with a grid layout of
icons. However, omputers running MS Windows 8 can be modified with the
free utility Classic Shell (www.classicshell.net) to have a
classic style start button.
that are pinned to the taskbar always appear in the taskbar whether
they are currently running or not. Applications run in Windows sit on
top of the desktop. These applications can be minimized, that is,
hidden from view so that they are still running but no longer visible.
Minimized applications can be restored by activating the application in
the taskbar or by switching to the application using the `Alt` plus
`Tab` key combination.
In Windows 10, there are two types of
applications Legacy Windows Desktop applications and Windows 10 apps
that are downloaded from the Windows Store. We will only be covering
the Legacy Desktop applications as most applications have not yet been
converted to the new Windows 10 format. Most of the principles covered
apply to both types of applications.
Many applications have a
menu bar that appears the top of its window and contains most of the
options for the application. The bar is a series of tabs with drop down
menus generally with file, edit, view and other options. Below the menu
bar is the body of the application and some applications have a status
bar across the very bottom.
started with NVDA. The desktop, has icons arranged in a grid, the
desktop is a convenient place to store files and shortcuts, but
learners should avoid over using it. Encourage them to keep a clean
desktop, while learning to use the Start Menu for launching programs
and a logical system of folders on the computer for storing files.
is covered in detail later. As the Desktop is the first thing that a
learner will encounter after they log on to a computer, it makes sense
to talk about it first. Press the `Home` key to get to the first
shortcut icon then the `up` or `down arrow` key to move through a
column of shortcuts, the `left` and `right` arrows to move between
NVDA will announce each shortcut in turn when you reach
the end of a column or row, NVDA won't announce anything if you keep
trying to move in the same direction.
You can also type the
first few letters of a shortcut and move directly to it. If I have a
shortcut to the Notepad program on my desktop I could start typing
Notepad to move directly to it. I could now press `Enter`
starting NVDA and using the Desktop from the keyboard then quitting
NVDA and get yor learners to practise it. If any of them start a
program by accident during this exercise pressing `Alt` and `F4` will
ACCESSING THE DESKTOP AT ANYTIME
any open applications and return to the desktop press `Windows` plus
`D`. I'll press the `Windows` plus `D` combination to return to the
desktop. You can press `Windows` plus `D` again to restore your open
This way of starting
programs can take quite a few keystrokes so also demonstrate this and
let learners practise it on their own.
Another method of
quickly launching programs is to press the `Windows` key to open the
Start Menu. By default, focus is in the search field. This means that
you can immediately begin typing in Notepad. Listen with NVDA as
Windows searches through the computer in real time and presents with
After a few letters it has narrowed the search down
to Notepad and you can press `Enter` to launch the program. This is a
better way to launch programs than using desktop shortcuts because the
search box is always immediately accessible by pressing the `Windows`
key. It will also search all of your programs and files and there's no
need to ensure that there is a shortcut on your desktop. You can launch
any program on your computer using this method. In Windows 10 Search
has been enhanced with several new advanced features that you can check
out on your own. Go ahead and launch Notepad by pressing `Enter`.
ACCESSING THE DESKTOP AT ANYTIME
minimize any open applications and return to the desktop press
`Windows` plus `D`. I'll press the `Windows` plus `D` combination to
return to the desktop. You can press `Windows` plus `D` again to
restore your open windows.
THE START MENU
You can press the `Windows` key at any time to open the start menu.
the start menu opens, your focus is placed in the search field. Windows
7 has a simpler start menu that can be navigated fully with the arrow
keys. The Windows 10 start menu has two panes. The left pane contains
the All Apps button, the power menu, settings and recently used apps.
The right pane has smart tiles that Windows 10 apps can use to present
snippets of information such as news headlines or stock prices. You can
use the arrow keys to move within a pane and the Tab key to move
between sections. In Windows 10 the power button is located above the
All Apps button.
In Windows 7 the power menu is located to the
right of the search field. You can activate this button with the
`Enter` key or `Spacebar` key. This will open a dialog containing Shut
Down, Restart, and Sleep. We'll go ahead and activate this button with
the Enter key and press the up arrow to navigate through the options.
If you want to shut down your computer, activate the Shutdown button
with the `Enter` key or press the `Escape` key to dismiss the shut down
dialog. Emphasise to learners that Windows should always be shut down
from the power menu and never by pressing the computer power button.
Windows 7, the All Apps button is called All Programs. Press `Enter` or
`Space` to expand this menu and arrow up and down to navigate through
This is a list of all the applications currently
installed on your computer. As you navigate over the items in this
list, some indicate that there collapsed. These are folders that can be
expanded with the `Spacebar` or `Enter` key. To start an app that
you’ve selected, press the `Enter` key or `Spacebar`.
apps list is a good way to review what programs you have installed.
It's also good for finding the names of programs you don't use often.
However, using this menu, is less efficient than the search features to
directly find an app to launch. Pressing `Escape` will dismiss the
Demonstrate to your
learners starting NVDA and using the search facility from the keyboard
then get them to practise it. If any of them start a program by
accident during this exercise pressing `Alt` and `F4` will close it.
to your learners starting and using the Start Menu from the keyboard
then quitting NVDA, then get them to practise it. If any of them start
a program by accident during this exercise pressing `Alt` and `F4` will