Bridges Resource Library

JAWS Power Moves

Updated as of May 21, 2024.

What Makes a Move a Power Move?

Depending on which programs one uses, there are a lot of “moves” one can make in a day between school, work, and play.

How to define a Power Move? Power Moves are JAWS concepts used often and that make us more efficient and effective. Put enough power moves together, and you’re a power user! Here are five top JAWS Power Moves, in no particular order.

First-letter Navigation

This one is important for any kind of reading, but it’s especially important on Web pages. First-letter navigation allows us to quickly get to what we want by navigating by the kind of “element” we’re looking for. For example, we get to the next button by pressing B; the next heading by pressing H; the next edit box by pressing E … you get the idea. I find that this comes in especially handy when I’m filling out a form or skimming through a page to find something specific.

For example, when I finish a task and enter the hours I’ve spent working on it into our timesheet program, I can press E for edit once I’m on the “time tracking” page so I can quickly get to the right field.

Please note that using first-letter navigation takes some exploration first, so we all naturally use the arrow and Tab keys when we first visit a website. This is just a shortcut to get to where we want to go once we know a website better.

List Navigation Keystrokes

Another option for finding what we want quickly on a webpage is to use the list navigation keystrokes: Select a form field (JAWS key + F5), heading list (JAWS key + F6), and links list (JAWS key + F7).

These keystrokes will bring up all the elements of the specified type on the webpage in a list, from which we can select the one we want by down arrowing to it or pressing the first letter. For example, a quick way to get to The Bridges Blog is to go to, press JAWS Key + F7 to open the links list, and press b until you hear “Bridges Blog.”

Have a Laptop? Use Laptop Mode!

Did you wonder why we wrote “JAWS key” instead of “Insert” in the previous section? That’s because Insert doesn’t have to be the JAWS key. This is especially helpful for many laptops, which either don’t have an Insert key or have one that also serves another function.

On some devices, one has to also press the function key at the same time as the Insert key in order to get the Insert key to function. This can result in both hands twisting into all kinds of contortions to perform a keystroke. Trust us—there is a better way!

To find it, the easiest place to look is the JAWS startup wizard. Go to the JAWS window, press Alt + H for help, then Z to open the startup wizard. When you get to the part about “keyboard layout,” set it to “laptop.”

This will make the JAWS key the Caps Lock key. So, for example, to read the title of the current window, you would press Caps Lock T.

Speaking of the startup wizard, that’s a good “power move” in itself—it’s a great one-stop shop to find and change several common JAWS settings that users often want to change as they get used to their screen reader and develop their own preferences.

JAWS + a Headset = Professionality and Privacy

When working around others (including in a classroom) or when on a virtual meeting, consider using headphones. It’s a matter of courtesy, and it is especially important in virtual meetings because background noise almost always interferes with the audio quality of the call. Using headphones also keeps your private information private – Win, Win!

In order to ensure that as much extra sound is blocked out as possible (including sound from the computer), some prefer a USB headset with a microphone. Others connect headsets to their computers via Bluetooth.

If you have specific questions about headsets, please reach out to the free Bridges Helpdesk.

Have a Backup Screen Reader Handy

This JAWS Power Move isn’t even directly about JAWS. As great as it is, JAWS can sometimes freeze up or not read something as clearly as we would like it to. For this reason, it is important to have a backup screen reader in place.

In most cases, Microsoft Narrator, the built-in screen reader on Windows computers, will suffice. You can bring that up by pressing Alt + Windows + Enter.

A more powerful, free screen reader which some people use as their primary tool is NVDA, which is also a good alternative if JAWS stops working for a long time.

Next Steps

There are many more keystrokes we could have chosen from, but we hope this will be a good start for all JAWS users. If you ever need a quick reference for JAWS shortcut keys, a great resource is Freedom Scientific’s list of JAWS hotkeys. You can also use the help section in your JAWS menu, or, as always, contact our Bridges Helpdesk, and we’ll work with you personally.

Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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