Here is my mostly finished draft of a transition guide for users of Window-eyes. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I'll send it to the list in its final form for distribution by whomever wants to do so.
the brief tutorial begins below my signature.
Moving from Window-eyes to NVDA
A very short tutorial telling you just what you need to know to do a lot of what
you did before.
Many people are apprehensive about switching to NVDA or any other screen-reader
from Window-eyes. This tutorial will explain and demonstrate that such
apprehensions are largely based on misunderstandings.
Before I discuss the misunderstanding that causes most of this apprehension, I'll
briefly discuss installing NVDA and changing the synthesizer used and speech
NVDA has a talking installer. run the file as you would any installation file.
you may get a dialog asking if you want to run the file. Use the command alt r
for run. If you get a UAC prompt, answer alt y.
Run narrator. Then run the NVDA installer.
when you run the installer, there will be a pause and then a bit of music will
play. Not long after, the talking installer will run. Unload Narrator at that
point. return to the install dialog.
Tab through the dchoices. Accept the license agreement and then tab to install.
You will get other options but install is the one you want.
Don't stop using NvDA because of the voice. A lot of people don't try NVDA because
of the voice. As soon as you get it set up, I'll tell you how to change the
After NVDA is installed and running, it's time to learn how to change the
Issue the command control insert s. Use either insert. From now on, assume you
can use either insert unless I state differently.
A synthesizer selection dialog will open.
You will see a list of different possibly available synthesizers. Choose SAPI 5.
I know everyone has at least one SAPI 5 voice on their machine. Up and down arrow
through the list and stop on SAPI five. Press enter.
You will now hear another voice. It may be the same voice you hear in Narrator.
Now issue the command control insert v.
You are now in the voice selection and adjustment dialog.
Up and down arrow to see what voices are available. Stop on the one you want.
Now tab through the dialog and change settings for the voice.
Once you find a voice you want and tab through and set whatever you want such as
speed and punctuation, press the ok button.
Now, let's continue with what I spoke of at the start of this tutorial. The
misunderstanding that makes the switch seem daunting is that the user doesn't
realize that most of the commands he/she uses are Windows commands and program
commands and they won't change.
Consider the following examples:
Opening menus was and still is alt. That's a Windows command to open menus in
programs. It's the same no matter which screen-reader you use.
Control o for open doesn't change. Using the arrow keys to move in a document
doesn't change. Tabbing through dialogs doesn't change. Neither does how you move
in a list or a treeview or work with a combo box, and the list goes on.
Screen-reader commands, many of which may change, such as read title bar, provide
access to information you can't get or can't get conveniently by using Windows or
program commands. for example, read title bar. In Window-eyes, the command is
control shift t. In NVDA, it's insert t. I am assuming throughout this tutorial
that you are using the default desktop layout in NVDA. All commands are given in
that layout. The title bar is something a sighted person looks at. You can't move
to it with the pc cursor or application cursor, whatever you wish to call it,
because there is no need. A sighted person can just see it. So the screen-reader
has a command, read title bar. That command is not a Windows nor a program
Here are the screen-reader commands you will need to know to allow you to do a lot
of what you did before.
Read title bar, insert t.
Time, insert f12.
Read current Window, insert b. In Window-eyes the command is control shift w.
Read to end, insert down arrow. Use the down arrow on the main keyboard.
Stop speech with control, as with screen-readers in general.
Commands such as control home, control end, control left and right arrow are
Windows movement commands for moving in any standard edit field including word
processor edit fields. None of them will change.
More screen-reader commands:
Screen review commands:
Note the pattern as I give these commands:
Read previous line, numpad 7.
Read current line, numpad 8.
Read next line numpad nine.
You move in screen review to the previous or next line when you issue those
commands. You can keep moving and reading until you get to the top or bottom of
Read previous word, numpad 4.
Read current word, numpad 5.
Read next word, numpad 6.
Read previous character, numpad 1.
Read current character, numpad 2.
Read next character, numpad 3.
Note the pattern. Read current is the key in the middle of each of these rows.
Move to and read previous is the key on the left.
Move to and read next is the key to the right.
The lower the numbers the smaller the movement unit. 1 2 and 3 move by character.
4 5 and 6 move by word. Etc.
Here are two more important commands:
Jump to top of window, shift numpad 7.
Jump to bottom of window is shift numpad 9.
I've said top and bottom of Window but that's oversimplified. It depends what kind
of review mode you are using. I won't go into that to any extent in this very
that is the one you should be in usually. Unless you change it, you will remain
there. If you use another review mode, afterword, make sure you return to object
reviewIf you don't, you won't hear what you expect to hear at various times.
To make sure you are in object review, issue the command numpad insert nummpad 1.
When you are already in object review and can't move to another review mode, you
will hear no previous review mode. You will then know you are in the right one.
Or if you are returning from another review mode, when you hear object review, you
will know you are back in the right one.
I won't describe its use here, but screen review is similar not in commands, but in
how you review the screen to the Window-eyes cursor. Object review is different
from any review mode available in Window-eyes. It is valuable to know for various
uses. Depending on how you use your computer, you may find it valuable or not. I'm
simply making you aware that it is different and that you may want to learn it.
I'll provide a resource that teaches in great detail how to use NVDA.
This tutorial is to get you going using NVDA and to show you that even with the
little I will teach, you can still do a good deal of what you used to do. You may
then learn more as you wish.
Believe it or not, that is just about all I will teach in this very short tutorial
but I'll tell you a few more things.
When you are on a web page, quick navigation commands are almost identical whether
you are using NVDA or Window-eyes.
Move by headings is h. Skip blocks of links is n.
Move to next button is b,
Next combo box is c.
Next check box is x.
NVDA has an input help mode which is similar to what is in Window-eyes. Insert and
1 on the main keyboard turns it on. When you press a key or combination of keys
that might be a command, you will hear what the keys are and what, if any command
they execute. This varies cdepending on where you are.
When in a browser that supports browse mode, typing a lot of individual letters
will give you information about what the keys do in browse mode. I already gave
much of that information above but you may want to press a lot of keys using input
mode in a browser.
To turn input mode off use the same command you used to turn it on, insert 1.
to learn more about NVDA, a popular tutorial is available at (insert URL.)
On that page, you will see links to download different sections dealing with
different subjects. You can also download the entire tutorial as a zip file.
There is also an e-mail list for NVDA users. To join, send a blank message to this
I hope that this tutorial has removed much of your apprehension about switching to
NVDA. Now, as you wish or need, you may consult the tutorial I gave a link to.
NVDA is a powerful screen-reader and it will meet a lot of users needs as well as
JAWS or Window-eyes does. I hope this very short tutorial gives you a good
foundation on which to build confidence that the transition should be much easier
than you may have thought and that it will help make it much more enjoyable.