Short note on Jaws keyboard layouts

Jaws (screen reader) uses different keyboard commands for desktops and laptops. This is a short note to explain the difference and how to switch keyboard layout.

Jaws has different keyboard layouts because on desktops it makes heavy use of the numpad, whereas the numpad is typically not available on laptops. When you install Jaws the desktop keyboard layout is the default. You can change to the laptop keyboard layout in the startup wizard (Jaws > Help > Startup wizard), or by going to Jaws > Options > Basics > Keyboard layout.

Web navigation remains unchanged with either keyboard layout, but basic text navigation changes, as does the key that acts as the Jaws modifier key. In desktop layout the modifier key is either insert or numpad 0. In laptop layout it is the capslock key. You hold it to use it as the Jaws modifier, and double tap it to toggle caps on/off.

Instead of using the modifier key plus the numpad to navigate content by character, word, line etc. as you would on the desktop, you now use the modifier key plus letter keys. For example:

  • Modifier key + j: read previous word;
  • Modifier key + k: read current word;
  • Modifier key + l: read next word.

You can find all the keyboard commands for desktop and laptop by going to Jaws > Help > Help topics > Keystrokes, or online on the JAWS Keystrokes documentation page.

Categories: Development


Patrick H. Lauke says:

Incidentally, I always use the laptop keyboard layout, even on my desktop machine, as my keyboard (standard Dell one) doesn’t even have a NumLock, so impossible to set it correctly for JAWS.