very basic short tutorial for XP users who are moving to Windows 7
this informal short tutorial is
based on messages I wrote to e-mail lists. You will see repetition in the
discussion of ribbons which occurs in two separate messages but I've left the
repetition in the material because it may help you understand points to see both
The goal of this informal
tutorial is to present what a new Windows 7 user, who is familiar with Windows
Xp needs to know to work with Windows 7. Where possible and where I deemed
it desirable, I've presented techniques that are most similar to those used in
XP. Where not possible or where I deemed it not desirable, I presented or
concentrated on other methods. but I gave no unnecessary information and
the other methods are easy to use and learn. You will likely learn a lot more
about Windows 7 over time but this guide will probably allow you to use Windows
7 with reasonable ease and convenience within a much shorter time than you may
have thought possible.
I hope those who read this material will distribute it
widely. I would like it to become well known and available for download in
many places such as from web sites that present such material for blind computer
The tutorial is based on the
text of three messages, which I have modified as desirable for this
tutorial. To move from one message to the next, use the search command and
search for the word message, followed by a space then a number. For
example, if you want to move to the third message, search for message
Regarding working with My
Computer and Windows Explorer, You will find lots of items that you can ignore
and still work with the list of files and folders as you are used to
doing. . As a new user, you don't have to worry about any of
them. If you are in a list of files and folders, you will see that tabbing
moves you through all sorts of items. but the actual list itself, which
you work with in My Computer or Windows Live Mail works the same as in the
past. You may want to learn about certain items you can tab to, such as
the search feature but for now, in the early use and learning stage, you can
keep things simple and just stay in the list. Also, when you work with an
open or save as dialog, in XP, you just shift tabbed once to get to the files
and folders list. In Windows 7, you must shift tab twice. Once on
the list, it works as always.
Windows 7 allows you to open
programs and other items using similar methods as in XP but a valuable search
field is added to the start menu as another means of finding and opening
If you want to use the all
programs menu, open the start menu. You are in a search field. Up
arrow once to all programs.
right arrow once to open the all programs
down arrow twice. You are now in the main part of the all
programs menu and can move through it using first letter navigation or the up
and down arrow keys.
You can still create short cuts,
send short cuts to the desktop and assign shortcut keys as you can in earlier
versions of windows.
But before deciding to what extent you want
to do those things, you should understand and try working with the search field
in the start menu.
Once you press the Windows key,
you are placed in the search field. type something you are looking
for. You can often type just one word of something or perhaps even just
three or four letters. You will have to experiment. If you want to
find Internet Explorer, just typing inter may well be sufficient. You will
be placed on the first result. You don't have to down arrow to it.
Your screen-reader should automatically read the first result. If it
doesn't, use read current line to have it read. You can press enter to
open whatever result you are on. If you hear Internet Explorer announced
after typing inter just press enter and the program will open. If you down
arrow through the results and find one you want to open, press enter. If you
want to close the search field and list and start over, press escape
twice. You will be placed on the start button. Then open the start
when using the search field,
experiment to see what gives you the best results. Don't assume typing the
first word is the best method to move to something quickly. If the
Windows Live Mail for example, you can probably cause Windows
Live Mail to appear as the first
result by just typing the word mail. If you
think about it, using the word Windows in the search field is far too broad a
term and the word live may also apply to many programs that may be on your
computer in the Windows Live category of programs. Mail makes the most
sense to use in this context and you will find that out if you experiment with
different words in the search field even if you haven't gone through the thought
process I just outlined.
You don't have to worry about
the run dialog being any more difficult to use. To open it, you hold the
Windows key and type r, then release both keys. If you just press the
and release it, you are in the search field I described earlier
r will do nothing except, perhaps show items that begin with the
letter r. Once you open and try using it, you will find that the run dialog
works just as it works in earlier versions of windows.
If you are a new Windows 7 user,
you may find the easiest way to open the shut down dialog is to press the
Windows key, then press escape. You will land on the start button and you
can then use alt f4 to bring up the shut
Or, if you use
Windows key m to move to the desktop, alt f4 will also
bring up the shut down
dialog. On my computer, Windows key m doesn't
always take you to the
desktop. Rather often, it places you on the start
the same command again places you on the desktop.
There are other ways
to shut down, restart, and do the other things you do in the shut down dialog
but this is most similar to the Windows XP dialog and, as a new Windows 7 user,
you may find this the most convenient method to use for now. You may or
may not want to switch later as you learn different ways of doing things in
Windows 7. the other main way isn't any more difficult, just a little different.
When you bring up the shut down dialog, you are placed on shutdown. If
that is what you want to occur, press enter. If you want some other
acction to occur, move to the item and press enter. Shortly, I'll describe
another method of shutting down Windows.
One thing you will see as you
look around are split buttons. A split button often allows you to see more
options than just the default action. Let's take an example.
Let's say you come across a split button that says shut down Windows.
You won't find it in the shut down dialog I showed you how to open but you will
find it if you learn the other main way to shut down windows in Windows 7.
If you press enter on that button, Windows will shut down. That is the
default action. Split buttons often show more options if you either right
arrow while on the button or down arrow. As an example, if you are on the
shut down split button, you can right arrow and a list of options will
open. the items in the list include sleep, hibernate, restart, and
others. You up or down arrow through the list or use the short cut
commands you hear announced as you move through the list. the letter
shortcuts often take actions without pressing enter so be careful when using
them, just as you are in menus.
So, let's review. You find
a split button that says shut down. If you press enter, the computer will
shut down. If you right arrow, other options may be displayed. Or if you
down arrow, other options may be displayed. A split button won't work with
both methods. One method, either right arrowing or down arrowing will do
so if it can be done with the button. Try both methods if you don't know
which one might work. If you are on a tool bar which extends across the
screen from left to right, down arrowing will open additional options. If
you think about this, it makes sense. If you are in a menu, down arrowing
will move you to the next item in the menu. So you right arrow on the
split button to cause it to display more options. In a tool bar that
extends across the screen from left to right, right arrowing will move you to
the next item in the tool bar. So you down arrow when on the split button
to cause it to display more options. But some tool bars run up and down
the screen, as menus do. And at times, you may not be sure which way a
structure extends on screen. So, as I said, if you are not sure or don't
know, try both methods of causing the split button to display more
options. Often, one of them will work. If you open the options a split
button offers and don't want to work with them, arrow in the opposite direction
to move out of them. For example, if you right arrowed to open more
options, left arrow.
Let's find the shutdown split
button in the start menu.
Open the start menu.
You are now on the shutdown split button. If you press enter Windows
will shut down. If you right arrow, you will be in a number of items you
can up or down arrow through such as restart, hibernate, etc. To close the
options you are now in without taking any action, left arrow.
Regarding ribbons, much of the
complaining about them is not warranted if you understand how they work and how
to use short cut commands effectively and efficiently. and I would
strongly recommend against using the JAWS virtual menus, no matter what the JAWS
training material says about ribbons being difficult to use. the training
material is just plain wrong and if you use the virtual menus offered as an
option in JAWS, you will also not hear any short cut commands announced.
Try looking at ribbons and doing
what is described below in wordpad. Everyone with Windows 7 has Wordpad on
their machine. Wordpad provides a good environment to look at and practice
working with ribbons.
The essence of working with
ribbons is this:
Press alt to move to the upper ribbon.
You will probably
be on an item that says home tab. Items on the upper ribbon are announced as
tabs such as home tab, view tab, etc.
To see what choices are
available in the ribbon,
right or left arrow repeatedly to move through the
items. Move in one
direction to move through all of them, just as you
would to move through all the items in a menu. For this demonstration, just so
we are all doing the same thing, move with the right arrow. When you get back to
where you started, you can keep right arrowing to move through the items again,
if you wish. You can move through all the items as many times as you want.
Or you can move with the left arrow whenever you want to move in the opposite
Stop on view. Then start
tabbing. You will move through all items in what is called the lower
ribbon that are associated with the view item.
Many items in the lower ribbon
are buttons. Use either the space bar or enter to activate the button. You
may find a button that opens a menu and if you press enter or the space bar, you
will then be in a menu.
Each time you move to an item,
you will hear the short cut command to work with that item.
Let's look at an item which is
usually called the application menu. Return to the main program window in
wordpad by closing the ribbons. You can either press escape repeatedly, if
necessary, or you can press alt once. Now, open the ribbons again with
Start right arrowing until you get to the application
You will hear application menu and then something like button drop down
grid. Never mind drop down grid. It's a description you don't have
to worry about. The important things are that you are on a button and at
the application menu. Press enter or the space bar to activate the
button. Activating the button opens the menu. Start down arrowing.
you will hear all the short cut commands necessary to open an item or take an
action. When you got to the menu item, you heard alt f. When you
open the menu and move through it, you will hear all the letters
announced. for example, if you down arrow to save as, you will hear alt f
a. that means that, when you are in the main program window, you press and
hold alt, type f while holding alt, then release both letters. You have
now opened the menu. You then type a to open save as.
with some of the split buttons you will find in the menu we are working with to
get a feel for how they work and what they do. You are in a menu so right
arrowing shows the additional options. Left arrow moves you out of the
Commands such as control o,
control n, control s, control r, etc. are mostly retained in programs
use ribbons, though you won't hear them announced. If you don't already know
them, you'll have to find them in ways such as by looking at a list of keyboard
commands for the program. Such lists are often available in the help for
the program. If you already know the commands from having used an older version
of the program, most or perhaps even all of the commands you know will
You should change the setting
for file extensions so that they are
displayed. You can do this in the
same way as in XP. One way to
do this is to open the c drive. You
can do so in the following manner:
Open the run dialog. In windows 7,
you have to hold down the windows key
when you type r. If you do this,
the run dialog will open and it works in
the same way as in Windows xp.
In other words, hold the windows key and,
while doing so, type r. Then
release both keys. Once the run dialog
opens, type c: and press
enter. Note the colon after the c.
Open the menus with alt. Then
You are in the tools menu.
You have opened folder
shift tab once.
right arrow until you hear view.
Tab until you
get to the advanced settings tree.
Down arrow to show extensions for known
file types. Uncheck it with the
Tab to enter and press
the space bar. Close the c drive with alt f4.
You will now see
extensions when you look at file types.
You can change what appears on the
desktop in the following manner:
Go to the desktop.
Down arrow once to
make sure only one item is selected.
Issue the command control space
that unselects the item that was selected and now nothing is selected.
For those who are wondering, pressing f5 as an alternative method
unselecting everything doesn't work, at least not on my machine when
Open the context menu.
Up arrow, it's much closer that
way, to personalize. Press enter.
Tab many times until you get to
change desktop icons and press enter.
You are in a list. Up and down
arrow to see the items. If you want an
item to be displayed, check it
with the space bar. If you don't want it
displayed, uncheck it if it is
already checked. Computer, one of the
items in the list, is the same as
My Computer used to be. the name has
been changed by Microsoft to just
computer instead of what I considered
the childish name, My Computer, it's
like a child saying, My candy. I
have computer set to be showed on the
desktop and I also have Control
Panel show on the desktop. You may not
want these items displayed but I
find it very convenient. Another easy
way to open Control Panel is to use the start menu search field. Open the
start menu, and, probably just typing contr will cause Control panel to be shown
as the first result. Press enter when you are on the correct result to
open Control Panel. Of course, if you don't get good results, you can type more
of the phrase control panel.
You may get messages or see some
blind people advocate changing the view
in Control Panel to small icons so
that you can move by first letter
navigation. I'm not telling you not
to do so but I am saying that often,
far too often, blind people reject
change in computer-related interfaces
without understanding the benefits that
may be offered in the new
interface and without giving the new interface a
proper try to see if they
like it before rejecting it out of hand. If
you leave Control Panel
display set to the default setting, you will find
that when you open
Control panel, you are in a search field. Do you
want to find device
manager? Just type device in the field and down
arrow. You will get to
device manager very quickly. Press enter
to open it.
Do you want to get to system? Type system in the search
field, down arrow
until you get to it and press enter. Again, you will
find system very
quickly in this way. Do you want to change
sounds? Type sounds in the
search field and down arrow until you get to
change system sounds and
press enter. You are now in the sounds part of
the volume dialog and are
in the correct place to work with sound
If you are looking for something in control panel and aren't sure
is called and want to look for it without using the search field,
open control panel, start tabbing. You will move from link to
though you were tabbing through a web page. there may be times
first letter navigation would be faster. For example, if you
something you are looking for begins with the letter s but you
remember the name well enough to use the search field to find it.
would much rather have access to the search field than to first
navigation when working with Control panel. You may disagree but
just change this setting because blind people say you should do
it. I far
too often see blind people recommend the small icons setting
so you can
use first letternavigation and I don't ever recall one of them
that you will loose access to the search field if you make this
What I'm discussing in this
message does not actually fall under the
category of accessibility. Windows
is accessible whether you make the
changes and work in the ways I describe or
not. but these are changes or
ways of working that may make using
Windows more convenient or faster or
First, is Windows
Live Mail on your computer? If so, you need to learn
how to work with
What I will describe will allow you to work with ribbons in any
that contains them. I will describe how to work with ribbons and, as
of the discussion, tell you how to open the accounts dialog in
I would strongly urge you not to
use the JAWS virtual menus if you are
using JAWS 12.x. Virtual menus
are off in JAWS by default so if you
haven't turned on the virtual menus, you
will be seeing the actual
ribbons. The JAWS training material claims
that ribbons are difficult to
use. FS is doing a real disservice to the
JAWS using community by
encouraging people not to use ribbons and making
claims FS may believe are
true, but are not, about the difficulty in using
Here is how to open the accounts dialog to create an e-mail account
in Windows Live Mail. Seeing how this is done may help you understand how
to work with ribbons in general.
open Windows Live Mail.
ribbons with alt.
You are in the upper ribbon on the home tab.
You will get to accounts after two or three right arrows.
tabbing to see what is in accounts. Stop on a button that says
e-mail. You can use either enter or the space bar on this button.
you wish, before you open this item, you can tab through all
the items in
this lower ribbon. You will see a news groups button and, I
or two other items. the news groups button is for creating a news groups
Once you return to the e-mail button, use
either enter or
the space bar. then set up an account as usual.
You will find an
application menu available. It is a
menu from which you work with many
aspects of the program you used to use
the file menu fore. and indeed,
you can open it from the main program
window by holding down the alt key and
typing f. One important thing you
will see in this menu is the options
dialog that used to be in the tools
menu. Now, in the new version of
Windows Live Mail, it's in the
application submenu because this submenu is
not a file menu, it's for
working with certain application items and
features, ranging from save as
to the options menu.
Accellerator commands often work
in programs with ribbons. Commands such
as control o, control s, and,
since we are discussing an e-mail program, control r for reply, in short, many
or most or perhaps all of the
accellerator commands you used to use in
previous versions of the program
My recommendation is that, when
using ribbons, if you know you are going
to use a command regularly, that you
make a point of remembering the short
cut commands announced for getting to
that item, that is, if an
accellerator command such as control o, control s,
or control r is not available. You won't hear commands such as control o,
control s, or control r announced when working with ribbons. You have to
know them or find them in other ways such as looking them up in a list of
program commands, often available in the help material for the program.