Methods for copying text or links from chat messages in Zoom


Scott Salzman
 

Hi,

I've searched this topic using both the group archive search function, and a search of the group site using Google, and I've read through all of those search results.  I've also searched the web, but haven't found any specific methods of copying text from a chat message in Zoom, using NVDA, that will work during a Zoom session.  Sometimes, there's a need to be able to copy a link from a chat message and view a web resource during a Zoom meeting.  So I thought I'd share two methods that, while a bit clunky, consistently worked for me, when I tested them in the latest version of Zoom (2019.3.1) and Windows 10, with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.  Apologies if these are common knowledge, I didn't find any descriptions of using them with a screen reader.

The first method is to use the
explicit "Save chat" button in the Zoom chat window, then you can navigate to the saved chat file, which is, of course, a plain text file, and you can find your intended text or link in that file, and copy it into your web browser, or wherever you like.  You can repeat this process as many times as you like during a Zoom session, so you can use this method each time a link is sent in a chat message.

  1. If the Zoom chat window is not already open, open it by pressing Alt+H.
  2. Press Tab until you hear NVDA say "More chat options dropdown button".
  3. Press Enter.
  4. NVDA will say "Menu".
  5. Press Down Arrow.
  6. NVDA will say "Save chat button"
  7. Then NVDA will say "Zoom Group Chat" (at this point your focus has left the chat options dropdown menu and returned to the chat window).
  8. All of the chat messages that have been sent, up to this point in the Zoom session, will be saved to the current location for saving Zoom chats. The default location is a folder called "Zoom", under your Documents folder.  The file is called "meeting_saved_chat.txt", and it will be inside a folder that has a name beginning with a date and time stamp.  It may be convenient to keep that folder open, so you can more conveniently access the saved chat file, as you update it.
  9. At this point, you should have a fully accessible copy of all chat messages, and you can use the keyboard commands of your choice to navigate, select, and then copy and paste the link into a browser window. 
    1. Note that this method selects and copies all chat content, with each chat message starting on a new line, and beginning with a time stamp.  That may make be helpful in finding the message of interest.
  10. You can repeat the save process, which will update the saved chat file, as many times as you like. Doing this has no effect on whether the entire Zoom session's chat will be saved automatically. It appears that each save, including any automatic end-of-meeting save, will append the chat content to the same file.
 

The second method is to use the standard Windows commands for selecting all text, and then for copying and pasting that text into Notepad.  From there, you have an accessible text copy of the chat message content, from which you can find and select some text, or a link, and copy it into your web browser.  Here are the steps:

  1. If the Zoom chat window is not already open, open it by pressing Alt+H.
  2. Press Tab until you hear "Chat text list list".  At this point, your focus is on the chat messages area.
  3. It doesn't appear that you can reliably navigate within between individual chat messages, in a way that would allow you to select and copy an individual chat message, but you can select all of the chat message content, and copy it.  To do this, press Control+A to select all text.  NVDA does not say anything when you do this.
  4. Then press Control+C to copy the selected text to the Windows clipboard.  NVDA does not say anything when you do this, either.
  5. Since your intent is to paste the text that you just copied, you can verify that you successfully selected and copied your intended text after you attempt to paste it.  It may be convenient to have an empty Notepad window ready for pasting this text.  You can paste your copied text using the Windows paste command, which is Control+V.
  6. At this point, you should have a fully accessible text copy of the entire group of chat messages that you copied, and you can use the keyboard commands of your choice to navigate, select, and then copy and paste your intended text or link from that file, into your web browser, or wherever you like
    1. Note that this method selects and copies all chat message content, so you will need to find the text or link of interest from among all of the chat content.  Also, the format of the chat message content that gets copied with this method may not be what you expect.  I tested this with only myself in a Zoom session, so all messages were sent from me to "Everyone".  All of those messages were contained in a single group, with that group of messages beginning with a line that contained the "from" and "to" information, followed by a second line that contains all of the chat messages combined, one after the other, with no space in between them, all on a single line.  It may be helpful to expect that the chat message content will be in this format if you try to navigate it line by line.


I hope that this information is helpful to someone.

If you try these methods, please share any corrections or improvements, and if you know of any other methods of copying text or links from chat messages during a Zoom session, please share them.

Thanks.

Scott

Scott Salzman
Web Discovery Librarian
Furman University

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