The Narrator program, one of several Ease of Access tools, can be used to read aloud text that appears on your screen. This can be useful for people who have vision or language issues and prefer to hear rather than to read. In this article we will go over how to access Narrator, what options it has available, and some basic shortcuts that will make it easier to use.
Ease of Access
Improving the way you access and work with Windows
Do you need a shortcut to launch the Shut Down Windows menu? If you do, I created one for you to download and use on any Windows computer. It works on all recent versions of Windows, including Windows 8.
In my previous two articles, I talked about using Windows Search to find what you want. Some of the terminology I talked about in those articles can look more like Martian than your own normal way of speaking (undoubtedly because programmers who normally use that kind of language created the system). Why isn’t there a way to tell Windows what you want to find by "speaking" to it the way you would ordinarily ask someone a question?
In theory, there is a way! It’s called Natural Language Search. Let’s see whether using it makes life (and searching) easier.
In a previous article I talked about searching for data in Windows or within Windows apps, using the Search box. Most of us have had times when we sort-of knew what it was we wanted to find, but didn’t remember the exact file name. In this article, I’m going to talk about some other ways to find what you want, some of which work better than others.
Once upon a time there was a program called Lotus Magellan that made indexing and searching a hard drive astonishingly easy. You did have to tell it to build an index, but once you did that, all you had to do was type in your search term, and Magellan would go through the index, find all the files containing your search term, and display them to you in a window. You could also save your searches so those files would be immediately accessible again.
So what, you say? What’s that got to do with anything? Well, believe it or not, with Windows Vista Microsoft finally began giving Windows users the same search skills that Magellan gave the DOS users decades before—and much more. Windows XP had Search, but it was slower and much less sophisticated. And Windows 7 has added improvements to Windows Vista and Windows XP. Let’s take a look at Search, and see what you can do with this whizbang tool.
I’ve noticed a growing complaint with Windows 8: the fact that, on the Desktop there is no visible shortcut to take you to the Start screen. Something like "Show Start", just like we had Show Desktop in Windows XP. For a novice user, there is no clue shown on how to get back to the Start screen. That’s why I decided to investigate and found a hack that gets this apparently simple job done.
UPDATE: The shortcut has been updated so that it is no longer marked as suspicious by certain security products.
The Games panel in Windows 7 is pretty awesome but it does have one issue: after you install and uninstall a few games, you can end-up having leftover shortcuts that are no longer valid and cannot be removed with ease. If you encounter this problem, this guide shows a few ways to remove these invalid shortcuts.
The Games folder is a Windows 7 feature that few people are aware of, let alone understand its complete functionality. This article will try to demystify it and explain in detail what it is, how it works and how it can be customized.
Do you want to launch any executable file by the press of a few keys on your keyboard, without having to use the mouse? Do you want to do this without installing any third party tools in Windows? There a few ways you can make this work, even if you don’t have a keyboard with programmable keys, by using default Windows functionality. This tutorial shows two ways you can do this in Windows.
Having a dual-monitor configuration gives you a pretty good productivity improvement but introduces a few annoyances you don’t have when working on a single monitor. For example, it is more likely for your mouse cursor to slip to the second screen when all you want to do is close the active application window or press the Show Desktop button on the taskbar. How do you fix this? We’ve got a solution inspired by a discussion on Reddit.
I have to admit that I hadn’t used any kind of speech recognition in a long time when I was asked to do the tutorials. The last time I had tried speech recognition, it was with Dragon Dictate, which was new when Windows 98 was also new. A very long time ago in computer years!
I was happy to tackle this subject because I was very interested to see how speech recognition has improved. And boy, has it improved! Even a basic, built-in application like this did an amazingly good job "right out of the box." In this final article about Speech Recognition, I’d like to talk about what I learned while reacquainting myself with the wonders of speech recognition, and where I’ll be going from here.
In the previous tutorials about Speech Recognition you learned how to set up this application and the basics of using it. Speech Recognition does work surprisingly well "right out of the box," and it’s quite sophisticated for a built-in application. However, this is not to say that it is foolproof. Let’s take a look at some of the common problems in Speech Recognition, and how to fix them.