JAWS FAQ

JAWS, Job Access With Speech, is a screen reader that provides access to the Microsoft Windows operating system as well as many popular applications for browsing the web, reading email, working with documents and spreadsheets, and much more. Information is spoken aloud as it appears and changes on the computer screen. In addition to speech, text on the screen can also be displayed in braille using a compatible refreshable braille display. To learn more, visit our JAWS product information page.

JAWS is for any computer user whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse.

JAWS is available in many languages, some of which are available from our download pages. Additional languages are also available from your local distributor in many countries.

JAWS installs and works with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. Note that as Windows continues to change, new JAWS features may not be available in older versions of Windows.

JAWS works with Microsoft Office 365, or Microsoft Office 2016 and later. JAWS also supports older versions of Office (2013 and 2010) however there are no further enhancements coming for these older versions.

JAWS has been tested to perform best with the latest Windows operating systems and software applications. As new versions ofFreedom Scientific products are released, support for older software may not continue.

JAWS works with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Support for Microsoft Edge is continuing to improve as well.

Yes, JAWS reads accessible PDF documents. It also contains an option to perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on inaccessible scanned PDF documents so they can be read. If an inaccessible PDF is opened in Adobe Reader, JAWS displays a dialog asking if you want to OCR the document. Choose Yes to have JAWS recognize and display the text for reading.

Definitely! Special attention has gone into the design of JAWS to make sure you have full access to email, especially with Microsoft Outlook from Office 365.

No, JAWS is intended for people who are not able to see the screen and need speech or braille to access Windows and applications. JAWS does however offer visual tracking features when reading web pages and PDF documents to help sighted teachers, parents, or testers have a better idea of where focus is on the screen as JAWS reads. If you have enough vision where you would benefit from more low vision features, then you should consider Fusion which offers both the screen reading features of JAWS and the screen magnification features of ZoomText to give you the best of both worlds.

JAWS is available from Freedom Scientific or your local Freedom Scientific dealer.

Yes, like other Freedom Scientific products, JAWS can be installed and will work in a 40 minute mode. When that expires, reboot and it will work again in the same way. And, if an update comes out, it will alert you and allow it to update just as it does for licensed software.

A few items you should look at customizing right away are how fast JAWS speaks, the amount of punctuation you hear, how keys are echoed as you type, whether or not JAWS starts automatically when Windows loads, how much information you hear as you navigate menus and dialogs, and selecting a Desktop or Laptop keyboard layout. If you are using a braille display, you may also want to choose whether text is shown in Computer Braille, or Grade 1 or grade 2. The JAWS Startup Wizard offers a convenient way to configure many of these commonly used settings including speech and braille preferences, verbosity settings, JAWS startup options, and more. The Startup Wizard automatically launches after a new JAWS installation. It can also be accessed anytime from the JAWS Help menu.

Our training pages offer a series of basic training lessons in both text and audio to help you get started using JAWS. Our training resources can also be accessed directly from JAWS by opening the JAWS Help menu and choosing Training. In addition, check out our Free Webinars page for hours of archived content demonstrating how you can get the most out of JAWS.

Yes. JAWS works with many popular braille devices including our Focus Blue series of braille displays.

By default, JAWS will not speak as you move the mouse. However, there may be times when you need to access controls in a particular application that are not accessible from the keyboard. To turn on Mouse Echo, open Settings Center, press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the default settings file, expand the Mouse Echo group, and press SPACEBAR on Enable Mouse Echo. Once enabled, JAWS speaks text under the mouse as it is moved around the screen.

If you find that you struggle to keep the mouse in a straight line when moving vertically or horizontally, press and hold the INSERT key (or CAPSLOCK key in Laptop layout) as you move the mouse in a specific direction to lock the mouse pointer to that position. For example, if you locate a menu bar or group of buttons you would like to explore, you could press and hold INSERT as you move the mouse to the right. If you accidentally move slightly up or down, the mouse pointer remains locked to the current position.

Absolutely! Use the following commands to access help information anytime you need it:

  • Turn Keyboard Help on or off: INSERT+1 on the number row. When Keyboard Help is active, press any key combination to hear a description of the command without the keystroke actually being performed.
  • Display context-sensitive help: INSERT+F1. Use this command to describe the current control or window.
  • Hot key help: INSERT+H. This command lists JAWS keystrokes that may be useful in the application you are currently working in.
  • Windows key help: INSERT+W. This lists some of the most commonly used Windows keystrokes.
  • Open the main JAWS help system: F1 while focused in the main JAWS application window. The JAWS help contains a number of topics describing how to use various JAWS options and features. From the Contents pane, use the ARROW to select a topic and press ENTER to display it. Use F6 to move between the topic window and the table of contents. Use CTRL+TAB to cycle between Contents, Index, Search, and Favorites.

JAWS contains a lot of commands and we understand that it is impossible for users and even instructors to remember them all. The Commands Search feature, which can be started by pressing INSERT+SPACEBAR followed by J, offers a quick way to locate JAWS keystrokes by allowing you to enter a full or partial description of the command whose keystroke you can’t remember. JAWS displays a list of commands that match your search criteria, a full description of the command, and all associated keystrokes including braille commands if a refreshable braille display is connected. See our Commands Search training lesson for more information and examples of using this feature.

In addition to the Eloquence speech synthesizer that is installed by default with JAWS, You can download Vocalizer Expressive voices from our website. These voices are free and offer very good speech quality in a variety of languages and dialects. JAWS also supports the voices included in Windows 10 as well as synthesizers from other companies that use the SAPI 5 interface.

We do not keep a state by state list of instructors. However, you can complete the form on our Dealer Locator to find a Freedom Scientific distributor in your area. Many distributors offer training services that can be personalized to your specific needs. For users in the United States, you should also consider contacting your local Division of Blind Services for assistance with finding an instructor.