Application Overviews

System Access supports many commonly used applications. The descriptions and terms used in this section may be a bit confusing at first glance, however, we encourage you to keep a copy of the application- specific System Access hotkeys nearby when first exploring many of these popular programs. You can find these helpful lists of hotkeys in the Keyboard Command Quick Reference

Internet Explorer

System Access makes exploring the Internet easy and accessible. One way to start is by first accessing Internet Explorer, which can be started in a number of ways. These steps will help you find the way to Internet Explorer in all the various editions of Microsoft Windows. Find and press the Windows Logo Key, which is generally located at the bottom left of your keyboard. Pressing this key will bring up the Windows Start Menu. System Access will tell you where it is focused within the Start Menu. Use the Arrow Keys, generally on the right side of the keyboard, to move through the choices until you find the All Programs option. Selecting this option, by pressing Enter, will open up a list of programs that are installed on your computer. Again, by using the Arrow Keys, move through the list until you hear the option for Internet Explorer. Once there, hit the Enter key to start this program. Now you are ready to surf the internet.

Websites can be reached by typing an address into the address bar. Press the F6 key, or hold the ALT and the D keys at the same time, to get n the address bar. Type in the website's address and press the Enter Key. System Access will start to read the information on the website selected.

Exploring and navigating each webpage requires you to use a few hotkeys.

You can press Tab and Shift+Tab to move through the links on a given page, move up and down line by line with the Arrow Keys, or move by paragraph with Control+Up Arrow and Control+Down Arrow. Pressing the letter H will let you jump to each heading on a webpage, if it has any, and holding the Shift key with the letter H will cause you to move backwards through the headings on that same page. If you are browsing a webpage with many links, you can put these links in a convenient list by pressing Modifier+F7. Then you can choose a link using the Arrow Keys or the first letter of the name of a particular link, and press Enter to activate it.

Several webpages display their contents in tables, and System Access has various commands for navigating this data. For example, you can press Control+Alt+Left Arrow and Control+Alt+Right Arrow to move by column. Likewise, you can use Control+Alt+Up Arrow and Control+Alt+Down Arrow to move by row. Press Modifier+R to read the contents of the current row and Modifier+C to read the heading of the current column. These commands are especially useful when filling out a complex form such as an invoice.

Some webpages try to open advertisements using what are called "pop-ups." These are pages that spring up to block the page that you are reading. Windows will play a sound to let you know that a pop-up has been blocked. To access the pop-up just press Alt+N, followed by the Spacebar. You have the option of temporarily allowing pop-ups, or always allowing pop-ups on a given site.

When you are browsing the Internet, from time to time, you may hear a chime sound, along with a voice whispering C-SAW. This helpful sound lets you know that members of our community have scanned this website and made sure that all the links and graphics are accessible. C-SAW, or Community Supported Accessible Web, is an exclusive feature found only in System Access, and we hope it makes reading the web easier.

Using CSAW,

links and buttons on a web page which haven't been given user-friendly names by the web designer can be labeled for easier usability. Read more about CSAW

Outlook Express Email And Windows Mail

If you are setting up email in Windows XP, or Windows Mail in Windows Vista, System Access can automatically read all of the relevant information and prompts in the Email Setup Wizard.

Simply press Tab to move through the fields, and press Space to activate the Next button after completing each step described within the Setup Wizard. Some Internet providers may use their own software to configure your email settings. If this is the case, you may need to consult with your provider for some technical aspects of setting up your email for the first time.

Once you are set up and receiving email, simply use the Up and Down Arrows to move through the list of messages. System Access will read all of the available information about each message, such as its sender, subject, and date. If a message is unread, has high priority, or has an attachment, System Access will indicate these attributes as well.

You can jump to the inbox by pressing Control+Shift+I. From here, you can also check the status bar by pressing Modifier+Page Down. The status bar will indicate how many messages you have in the current folder, how many are unread, and whether you're working offline. Once you've found a message of interest, press Enter to open and read it.

Note that Outlook Express, and Windows Mail in Vista, displays email messages as webpages. This means that you can get a list of links, tab through the links, and use webpage navigation commands. System Access also lets you jump to the list of attachments, if any, by pressing Modifier+A. Select the attachment you want and press Enter to open it. Alternatively, you can open a pop-up menu for the attachment by pressing the Applications key. From here, you can open, print, or save the attachment.

To reply to the message, press Control+R; to forward it, press Control+F. It may be helpful to read the Outlook Express or Windows Mail Help sections built into Windows. Just press Alt+H to open the Help menu, then choose Contents and Index. Find the topic that you want, and press F6 to read it. When you are done, press F6 again to move back to the index of topics.

Microsoft Outlook

As in Outlook Express and Windows Mail, Microsoft Office's Outlook's setup wizard works in a similar manner with System Access. Each step within the Outlook Setup Wizard can be read by tabbing through your available options. Some Internet providers may use their own software to configure your email settings. If this is the case, you may need to consult with your provider for some technical aspects of setting up your email for the first time.

To read a message, just press the Enter key, and the message will open, placing you on the top line. You can read continuously with Modifier+Down Arrow, or review the message a line at a time with the Down Arrow key. If the message has attachments, you can put them in a list by pressing Modifier+A. You can reply to messages with Control+R, and forward messages with Control+F. System Access also works with the contacts folder for emailing contacts directly, or adding a contact either from a message, or manually.

Microsoft Word

System Access provides complete functionality to Microsoft Word documents, reading tables, forms, font information, headers and footers, footnotes, etc. System Access provides a user-friendly way of giving you information about the document that you are in, as well as other information of interest, without needing to check or uncheck selections in a complex set of dialog boxes (as is common in some screen readers). System Access will work in the various Word wizards, such as the Letter wizard etc.

Microsoft Word can be very complicated to use at times. However, here are some basic commands to get you started.

When typing in a document, you can read from your current position to the end of the document by pressing Modifier+Down Arrow. You can have System Access say the current word by pressing Modifier+the 5 Key on the Number Pad. Modifier+Up Arrow will read the current line. Skip to the next paragraph by pressing Control+Down Arrow, while Control+Up Arrow will read the previous paragraph.

For more advanced reading commands, like those for tables or editing a document, refer to the Keyboard Command Quick Reference.


Once you open an Excel worksheet, just use the standard cursor movement and reading keys to read and edit its contents. For example, the Arrow Keys move you from one cell to the next adjacent cell. System Access also provides hotkeys for reading parts of the worksheet. Please refer to the Keyboard Command Quick Reference


System Access fully supports PowerPoint slide creation, viewing, and editing. For example, you can read a PowerPoint presentation by opening the slideshow window by pressing F5. System Access will begin reading the contents of slides automatically. You can also use standard cursor movement commands to examine a slide more closely. Use the following keys to navigate within the slideshow:

Page Up moves you to the previous slide. Page Down or Spacebar moves you to the next slide. You will be notified when you reach the end of the presentation. Escape closes the slideshow window.

System Access supports various panes such as the thumbnail, notes, and the normal slide editing pane. Also dialog boxes such as the insert new slide, setup show, record narration, animation scheme, and slide transition etc. are supported.

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of Microsoft's help. This can be accessed by pressing the F1 key. Be sure to search for keyboard commands. You can find keyboard commands for just about anything that you need to get done in PowerPoint, and System Access will talk you through the entire process.

Command Prompt

System Access lets you use the command prompt, sometimes referred to as the console. System Access will work within the console window in its regular windowed mode, or in the full-screen mode. As the console displays text, System Access announces it automatically. (Note: Automatic speech output is not supported under 16-bit applications, such as older DOS games, or the old

There are also several commands to review the contents of the console. Num-Lock must be enabled to use the NumPad commands. For more details, please refer to the Keyboard Command Quick Reference.


System Access works with Skype, an Internet voice communication service that allows you to talk with other Skype users at no charge. Skype is a program that you can download from the Internet and install on your computer. Visit to learn more about this service. Note that for Windows 8 users, we recommend downloading the desktop version of Skype rather than using the modern app which comes preinstalled. This will provide the best experience with System Access.

You will need to configure your microphone and speakers before you can use Skype. Follow the program's prompts to accomplish this first before attempting a call. You may want to explore Skype's menus after you have your microphone working correctly. To adjust various options press Alt+T for Tools, followed by O for Options. You will need to add your friends to your Skype contact list before you can call anyone. Invite them to join your list or ask them to call you after you have set up the program.

As you move through your contacts with the Arrow Keys, System Access announces various attributes of each contact, such as name, country, and local time. To call the contact, press Enter. This only works if the double-click a contact to call checkbox under Tools/Options General Settings is checked. It is not checked by default. If you want more options that pertain to a contact, just press the Application Key. A menu will pop up that allows you to call the contact, chat with the contact, send a file, send a voicemail, etc. Press Alt+1 to see a list of your contacts, Alt+2 to se a list of recent call and message activity, and Alt+3 to see the history of conversations.

Last modified December 10, 2014

To share this article, copy and paste the following link: