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Making the transition from Windows Xp to Windows 7 Article

From a post on the blind technology mailing list:

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 discussions. 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 or likely.

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 users.

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 3

Message 1

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 items.

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 submenu. 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 menu again.

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 computer has 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 Windows key and release it, you are in the search field I described earlier and typing 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 down dialog. 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 button. Issuing 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. 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 the space bar on that button, Windows will shut down. That is the default action. Enter often works with split buttons as well but as with buttons in general, if you want to be sure the button you are on is activated, you should press the space bar. 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 the space bar, 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.

Later in this tutorial, you will be able to work with split buttons in Wordpad.

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.

I believe that at times, there may be items related to a ribbon item above that item and below the item. Most of the time, there are only items below the item. To be sure, as an example, if you are right arrowing and get to view, down arrow to see if there is something below view. Then, up arrow to get back to view. Try up arrowing. If you can move up to something, you know there are items related to view above the ribbon. If you can’t, you know that there are only items related to view below the ribbon. You have checked and now know that there are only items below the ribbon for view. Down arrow from the ribbon to land on an item. Now move using either the left or right arrow through the items. You are now working in what is called the lower ribbon. You will see different items related to view. 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.

In other words, you move through items in the same ways when in either the upper ribbon or the lower ribbon or if you are above the upper ribbon. As I said, most of the time, there will not be items above the ribbon. In our example, we moved to the upper ribbon with alt. We wanted to see all the categories in the upper ribbon so we moved one way, using just the right arrow, to move through all the items. We decided we wanted to see what we can do when we get to view. When we up arrowed, we found nothing. When we down arrowed, we found items. We moved using the right arrow, through all the items in the lower ribbon.

Each time you open an item, you will hear all the short cut keys announced to open that item. For example, in wordpad, press alt. Start right arrowing until you get to the application menu.

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 latters 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. It’s like the childrens song, I know an old lady who swallowed a fly or the childrens’ game, my father
owns a grocery story or any other such memory game. Everything is announced so the deeper you are in the structure, the more letters you hear. Experiment 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 additional options.

Here are two more things you should know about ribbons. If you move to an upper ribbon such as view, the next time you open the ribbons, you will be on the view tab. Whether you move to the lower ribbon or not after moving

to the view tab, even if all you do is move to the view tab and then press escape to close the ribbons, , you will still be on the view tab when you open the ribbon again. But if you close the program and open it again, you will be back on the home tab. The program remembers what ribbon you worked with last until you close the program.

Here is the second point and it’s an important one. in some cases, moving with the right arrow through the items in a lower ribbon will cause something to open. You can see this if you do the following:

Open Wordpad and then open the ribbons. Make sure you are on the home tab. Then down arrow once. If you right arrow through the items, you will get to an item that opens a combo box where you can choose a font. the easy way to get out of this combo box and return to the ribbons is to press escape repeatedly until you are back in the main program window. Now, open the ribbons again with alt. Again, make sure you are on the home tab and down arrow once. Start left arrowing. You will see that you can left arrow through everything in this lower ribbon and nothing will open. So, we see that if you are working with a lower ribbon and this problem occurs, you can prevent it by left arrowing through the items instead of right arrowing through them.

Keys such as control o, control n, control s, control r, etc. are mostly retained in programs that 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 work.

I’ll add, in closing this discussion of ribbons that I haven’t been using Windows 7 for long and I don’t claim to know all possibly useful information about ribbons. I have also left out certain information to allow the tutorial to be as I described, a means of teaching what you need to know at the outset. As time goes on, you may learn more about ribbons.

But I have presented the information you need to find and work with almost all items available in ribbons.


Message 2.

You should change the setting for file extensions so that they are displayed. that is done in the same way as it was done 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 type t. You are in the tools menu.
Type o. You have opened folder options. 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 space bar. Tab to enter and press the space bar. Close the c drive with altf4. 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 bar. that unselects the item that was selected and now nothing is selected. For those who are wondering, pressing f5 as an alternative method for unselecting everything doesn’t work, at least not on my computer when on the desktop.

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.

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 schemes.

If you are looking for something in control panel and aren’t sure what it is called and want to look for it without using the search field, once you open control panel, start tabbing. You will move from link to link, as though you were tabbing through a web page. there may be times when using first letter navigation would be faster. For example, if you know something you are looking for begins with the letter s but you don’t remember the name well enough to use the search field to find it. but I would much rather have access to the search field than to first letter navigation when working with Control panel. You may disagree but don’t 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 explaining that you will loose access to the search field if you make this change.

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 both.


Message 3.

First, is Windows Live Mail on your computer? If so, you need to learn how to work with ribbons.

What I will describe will allow you to work with ribbons in any program that contains them. I will describe how to work with ribbons and, as part of the discussion, tell you how to open the accounts dialog in Windows Live Mail.

I would strongly urge you not to use the JAWS virtual menus if you are using JAWS 12.×. 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 ribbons.

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. Open the ribbons with alt. You are in the upper ribbon on the home tab. Start right arrowing. You will get to accounts after two or three right arrows. Down arrow to see what is available for working with accounts. You are on a button that says e-mail. You can use either enter or the space bar on this button.

If you wish, before you open this item, you can right arrow through all the items in this lower ribbon. You will see a news groups button and, I believe one or two other items. the news groups button is for creating a news groups account.

Once you return to the e-mail button, use either enter or the space bar. then set up an account as usual. application menu available in at least one of the lower ribbons. 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, in short, many or most or perhaps all of the accellerator commands you used to use in previous versions of the program usually work.

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 or control s is not available. You won’t hear commands such as control o or control s 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.

Rating Rated 4/5 stars by 1 reader.


  1. 1

    I learned several important details, as well as the notion that I don't have to be afraid of Windows 7!!

  2. 2

    When I tried Windows 7, one annoying thing I found was that the Desktop was in the alt-tab list. Is there any way to tweak it so that only your open applications are shown when you cycle through with alt-tab?

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