What's New in JAWS 2019 Public Beta

Thank you for participating in the JAWS 2019 public beta testing. This page provides all the necessary details that you need to know and at the end of the page, you will find links to download JAWS 2019 Beta now. Please take a few moments to review this information and take advantage of the beta report form link to provide Freedom Scientific your feedback during the public beta.

Quick Notes About the Public Beta

Thank you for your help during the public beta period. Please note that this is beta software, and its accuracy and reliability are not guaranteed. You should not rely exclusively on the beta software for any reason.

  • This JAWS 2019 public beta is available in English, Spanish, German, French, French Canadian, Dutch, Hebrew, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic.
  • Please note that while the final release of JAWS 2019 will be a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) upgrade, this public beta version will run for anyone with a license that provides access to JAWS or Fusion 2018.
  • If you do not have JAWS or Fusion 2018 authorization, you can still install the public beta version and run it using 40-Minute Demo mode.
  • This public beta version will expire later this year. To use JAWS without interruption, you must continue to update to later versions of the public beta and then to the final release.
  • You do not have to remove earlier versions of JAWS to install the JAWS 2019 public beta. Your previous versions will continue to function when you have JAWS 2019 installed, just as each new major version release of JAWS has in the past.
  • For MAGic users, There is a known issue where JAWS 2019 public beta will not start if MAGic is currently running. For now, you must first start JAWS 2019 before starting MAGic.
  • There is currently a known issue where Vocalizer Expressive voices installed with certain languages are being removed during a JAWS uninstall. This will be resolved by the final release of JAWS 2019.

Technical Support During the Public Beta

While in public beta, general technical support of JAWS 2019 is not available using our direct support phone lines or email. However, you may use normal support lines in order to resolve any problems you experience related to installation or authorization using the Public Beta. For all other issues you may discover, we ask that you send feedback directly to Freedom Scientific using the JAWS 2019 Beta Report Form web page. Please bookmark the report page in your web browser so that you can easily locate it if you need technical assistance. Also, please submit one problem per report.

If reporting issues with Microsoft Office, please include the full version number. For example, 16.0.10730.20102. To locate this information, press ALT+F, D, A from within Office.

New Features Added in JAWS 2019

The following features are new to JAWS 2019.

Faster JAWS Startup with Grace Period Authorization

JAWS 2019 introduces a new concept to help ease the delay in response when JAWS first launches and looks for authorization. In prior versions, JAWS would not fully start until proper authorization was found. Since Authorization can include searching for a network license, the amount of time before JAWS started speaking could be significant. While it is not possible to speed up this period directly, the authorization process will now be completed simultaneously to startup. As JAWS searches for authorization, it enters a new "grace period" authorization state which provides limited functionality, similar to what is available on the logon screen, so you can use speech and braille while authorization discovery takes place. Once the authorization check has finished, JAWS then uses the correct feature set based on the license.

Separation of Office Scripts

JAWS Microsoft Office support for Word, Outlook, and Excel has been separated into different script sets which now load depending on the version of Office currently running. This makes it much easier to make continued improvements to Office 365 support going forward without the risk of breaking JAWS functionality in previous versions of Office for users who still rely on these older versions. If you are running Office 2016 or Office 365, and the version number includes a build number of build 10000 or higher, the newly created Office settings for Word, Outlook, and Excel should be loaded when you run those applications. If you are running earlier Office versions, JAWS should load the Word Classic, Outlook Classic, or Excel Classic settings.

To verify the version and build number of office you are using, press CTRL+INSERT+V. This command will also indicate if you are running a retail or subscription version of Office. To verify which JAWS settings are loaded, press INSERT+Q.

Improved Performance in Office 365 Applications

With the changes made to separate the Office 365 support from the scripts for previous Office versions, we are now able to take advantage of more UIA functionality provided by Microsoft. There is also much less decision making that needs to be done in the scripts since there are no longer other office versions to be considered. As a result, users should notice greatly improved performance and responsiveness when using current versions of Word, Excel, and Outlook. A few areas where users may notice increased responsiveness include:

  • Navigating large documents in Word that contain a lot of markup such as footnotes, endnotes, comments, tables, and so on.
  • Editing data and formulas in Excel.
  • Navigating large message folders in Outlook.

For braille users, document spacing an formatting are now more accurately indicated on the braille display. This includes indents, outdents, and tab stops. We have also addressed several issues with the braille cursor not always being positioned where expected, which made it difficult to sometimes edit using braille.

If you are using a braille display with status cells, it will now also be easier to tell if text is centered or right justified by displaying "cj" or "rj" in the first two cells when focused on the line containing the centered or right justified content.

Audio Ducking Support for Windows 10 version 1803 and Higher

The JAWS Audio Ducking feature is now supported in the Windows 10 Spring 2018 Creators update (version 1803) and higher. Audio Ducking causes the volume of other programs to be lowered while JAWS is speaking. For example, if you are listening to music and JAWS begins talking, the volume of the music will be slightly lowered so you can comfortably hear JAWS and then raised back to its current level when JAWS stops talking.

By default, audio remains at the same level as JAWS speech. To enable Audio Ducking, open the Startup Wizard from the JAWS Help menu and select the "Lower the volume of other programs while JAWS is speaking" checkbox located on the Speech Settings page. Alternatively, Audio Ducking can be turned on through Settings center by doing the following:

  1. Press INSERT+F2, and select Settings Center.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the JAWS default settings.
  3. In the Search edit box, type "volume" without the quotes.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to "Lower the volume of other programs while JAWS is speaking" in the filtered search results in the tree view.
  5. Press SPACEBAR to toggle this option.

You can also press INSERT+SPACEBAR followed by D to quickly toggle Audio Ducking on or off. The current setting will remain in effect until you press the layered keystroke again or restart JAWS.

TAB Key No Longer Echoed

For users who leave Typing Echo enabled, JAWS will no longer announce the TAB key by default. This means you will not constantly hear "ALT+TAB" while switching between applications or hear "TAB" spoken each time as you move through links on web pages.

Note: If you prefer to have the TAB key spoken, or you would like to mute other keys such as SPACEBAR, ENTER, or ESC, open Settings Center and search for "manage key labels". For more details, refer to this support article on using the Manage Key Labels feature.


Skype now offers three options on Windows 10.

  1. You can continue using Skype Classic which is version 7 and works very well with JAWS. Note that Skype Classic is expected to be retired at some point not yet known.
  2. You can download and install the new Desktop version 8, which is now supported in JAWS. See details below.
  3. You can install the Universal App from the Microsoft Store. However, this is the least accessible at this time and we recommend you install Skype 7 or 8 for the best support.

For users moving to Skype 8, please be certain to download the version referred to as "Skype for Windows" which works well on Windows 10. Note that the Universal App we are not recommending is referred to as "Skype for Windows 10".

For those using Skype version 8, we have added some additional keystrokes to help with navigation since these options are not offered in Skype. These commands are:

  • Move to the chat entry field: CTRL+INSERT+E
  • Move to the chat history list: CTRL+INSERT+Y
  • Move to the conversations list: CTRL+INSERT+N

You can also use the JAWS commands INSERT+W and INSERT+H while focused on Skype for a list of most of the keyboard commands you would want to know when using Skype. For a full list from Microsoft, please visit the Skype Hotkeys Web Page.

Tip: You can assign a keystroke such as ALT+CTRL+S to the Skype icon on the Desktop to quickly open Skype to answer an incoming call. If you are in another application and you receive an incoming call alert, you can press your shortcut keystroke to open Skype, press INSERT+UP ARROW or INSERT+TAB to read the caller information, and then press CTRL+SHIFT+P or use TAB to choose Answer or Decline.

Enhancements in JAWS 2019 Public Beta 2

The following is a list of improvements made between the first Public Beta and Public Beta 2. Note that while many customer-reported enhancements are included in this release, the following is a list of more notable changes.

Speak Character Phonetically After Pause During Character Navigation

As you navigate by character, JAWS will now speak the phonetic representation of letters if you pause for a brief period of time. This enables you to immediately hear a letter spoken phonetically without the need to perform an additional command.

By default, JAWS speaks the character phonetically after a one and a half second pause. To change the amount of time JAWS waits before the phonetic announcement, or to completely turn off this feature, do the following:

  1. Press INSERT+6 on the number row to open Settings Center.
  2. If you want changes to only apply to a particular application, select it from the Application list. Otherwise, press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the default settings file.
  3. Type "Phonetic."
  4. Press DOWN ARROW to move to "When pausing after character navigation, speak character phonetically," then press SPACEBAR to cycle through the available options.
  5. Select OK to exit Settings Center.

JAWS also offers a manual option to speak phonetics continuously as you navigate by character. Pressing the Say Character Keystroke (NUM PAD 5) twice quickly toggles this feature on and off. If you are using the manual option for all letters, the pause announcement will not occur.

Prompt to Confirm when Exiting JAWS Now Optional

When you perform one of the commands to exit JAWS including INSERT+F4, a prompt displays asking if you are sure you want to quit JAWS. You can then press ENTER to quit or ESC to cancel. JAWS 2019 now allows you to disable this prompt so that JAWS immediately exits. To disable the shutdown prompt, open the Basics dialog box located in the JAWS Options menu, and clear the "Prompt to Confirm when Exiting JAWS" check box.

Notification of Spelling Errors in Word 365

JAWS was the first screen reader to introduce Spelling error detection in Microsoft Word around 1998. This feature indicated when the cursor moved into or out of a spelling or grammatical error while navigating and was also able to count the errors on the current line. These errors could also be marked in Braille with dots 7 and 8. However, the ability to count the errors and mark them in braille adversely affected the responsiveness of navigating the document and was turned off by default.

The improvements to this feature in JAWS 2019 now offer the following above and beyond the prior functionality:

  • Play a buzzer sound during typing, when you press SPACEBAR after entering a misspelled word.
  • Reliably underline errors in braille or count the errors on the line navigated to without any decrease in responsiveness.
  • Detect advanced proofing issues, not just spelling and grammar errors.
  • Read the error inline with the text as you navigate by line, similar to how JAWS indicates other text attributes such as bolded text, indicating the error with speech, sound or voice change (using the Speech and Sounds Manager).

To configure whether or not the buzzer sound is heard when SPACEBAR is pressed after mistyping a word, open Quick Settings (INSERT+V) from Word or Outlook and select or clear the "Spelling buzzer on mistyped words" check box. This option is available when using JAWS with Office 365 versions higher than 16.0.10000.

The other Spelling options in the Microsoft Word Quick Settings, "Spelling error detection" and "Grammatical error detection," currently remain the same. They allow you to cycle Spelling and Grammar options between off, hearing spelling/Grammar errors as you navigate by character, word, line, or Say All, or hearing spelling/Grammar errors plus count.

New Consolidated Setup Package

Starting with JAWS 2019 Public Beta 2, there is now one link to download and install JAWS for all supported operating systems and languages. You no longer have to choose the correct setup executable based on your system as well as which language you need. When you begin the setup, the installer automatically detects whether you are using 32 or 64-bit and installs the correct components. If you are doing a new install and you want to use a different language other than the default for your operating system, select the Options button on the first installation screen and then choose a language. If you are updating an existing installation, the Options button is not available as JAWS detects the language already installed and updates using the same language.

Other Changes

  • Resolved an issue with the Skim Reading Feature in Office 365/2016 and higher. When attempting to skim read text containing specific colors or attributes, pressing ENTER on any of the links in the Skim Reading results was incorrectly moving you to the first entry each time.
  • Addressed reported issues with the volume of system sounds being lowered unexpectedly in some situations when using external synthesizers.
  • In response to customer feedback, the announcement of multi-line edit fields is now off by default. To enable this announcement, select the new "Announce multi-line edit" option located in the Miscellaneous group in Settings Center.
  • If the "Use Accessibility Driver for Screen Capture" option in Settings Center is cleared, resolved multiple issues where JAWS was not reading as expected in some situations.
  • When starting a Remote Desktop connection and JAWS is configured to launch automatically on the remote system, resolved an issue where an error message about the accessibility driver was sometimes being displayed.
  • When opening a page in Chrome, resolved an intermittent issue reported by some users where a page would appear blank until F5 was pressed to refresh.
  • Resolved an issue where the edit field for setting a home page in the settings for Chrome could not be navigated to using JAWS.
  • Addressed an issue in Google Chrome where JAWS was not announcing the currently selected item in combo boxes.
  • If multiple check boxes are on a single line in Google Chrome, resolved an issue where JAWS was only speaking the first check box.
  • Resolved an issue where the window title was sometimes not being updated in Chrome as expected. For example, when returning to the Inbox in Gmail from an open message.
  • JAWS no longer speaks extraneous information when typing in edit combo boxes in Firefox and Chrome.
  • Added support for navigating tree views in Edge.
  • Resolved an issue with the JAWS command to announce the application version (CTRL+INSERT+V) not always working as expected in Microsoft Office apps.
  • When switching to Outlook 365 from another application, addressed issues where focus changes were not being announced properly.
  • Addressed issues with comments, footnotes, and endnotes not being announced as expected when navigating documents in Office 365. Also, resolved an issue where page, section, and column breaks in Word documents were being announced twice if JAWS was configured to speak the number of comments on a line.
  • In Excel, addressed a customer reported issue with auto complete not working as expected when typing data into a cell.
  • Resolved an issue where the Select All command in the Spanish version of Word was not working.

Download JAWS 2019

Note: You will need an Internet connection during the JAWS install.

  1. Using the link at the end of this procedure, download and save the JAWS setup file to a location on your computer where you can easily find it, for example, your Downloads folder.
  2. Run the executable and follow the instructions to install JAWS. The setup automatically detects whether you are using 64 or 32-bit and also installs the correct language that matches your operating system language. If this is a new installation, you can install a different language by selecting the Options button on the first setup screen and then choosing the language you want from the list.

Offline Installer for Secure Environments

The offline installer for JAWS is intended to be used in secure environments such as a company or government agency where you need to install JAWS on one or more computers that are behind a firewall with restricted Internet access. This installer is very large as it includes all supported languages. If you intend on installing on the same computer you are using to download JAWS, there is no reason to download the offline installer.

  1. Select the appropriate link at the end of this procedure to download JAWS and save it to a location such as a USB drive. Make sure to download the correct version (64-bit or 32-bit) for the computer where you will be installing JAWS.
  2. Run the executable from the computer with restricted Internet access and follow the instructions to install JAWS. The setup installs the correct language that matches your operating system language. If this is a new installation, you can install a different language by selecting the Options button on the first setup screen and then choosing the language you want from the list.