GWKB2021 : Using Windows 8 with Window-Eyes

Product: Window-Eyes
Author: Jeremy Curry
Date Added: 10/26/2012
Last Modified: 02/14/2013

Support for Windows 8 was introduced with the release of Window-Eyes 8.0 Beta 1. It supports all flavors of Windows 8 excluding Windows 8 RT.

Window-Eyes provides full, comprehensive support for Windows 8. While the process for installing Window-Eyes onto a Windows 8 PC is identical for computers running Windows 7, the Windows 8 interface is significantly different than anything that has come before it.

After logging in to your user account in Windows 8, you will be on the Modern Desktop Start screen, which will be referred to here as the Start screen. The Start screen displays a colorful grid of square and rectangular tiles and each tile represents a Modern app or a program. Modern apps are similar to programs. You will typically be able to tell the difference between a program and a Modern app as most apps do not have menu systems while most programs still contain the familiar menu system. If you are connected to the Internet, some tiles will present information that Window-Eyes will read as it is provided. For example, there may be a tile that has the latest news. If focus remains on the tile, Window-Eyes will read the information as it becomes available. When a tile presents information it gets from the Internet in this manner, this is called a live tile.

Microsoft provides the ability to use the Arrow keys to navigate through the tiles, but this can be difficult as the Arrow keys will miss tiles because of their varying sizes.  Additionally, the Arrow keys will not take you to the next column when you reach the end of a column.  The Windows Enhanced app solves this problem and enables you to move logically through all tiles with the following keystrokes:

Insert-Down Arrow: Moves to next Tile in Group
Insert-Up Arrow: Moves to previous Tile in Group
Insert-Right Arrow: Moves to next Group
Insert-Left Arrow: Moves to previous Group
Insert-Home: Moves to first Tile in Group
Insert-End: Moves to last Tile in Group

While you may elect to use the above keystrokes to move between items within a group, the Windows Enhanced app also enables you to list all groups and tiles in an easy to navigate dialog by pressing Control-Insert-Tab. This dialog presents a tree view of the groups with items, an Activate button, Focus button, Select button, and a Close button. You may use this dialog to easily interact with the tiles and groups on the Start screen. This dialog makes it much easier to navigate tiles on the Start screen as you can use first letter navigation in this dialog, which is not possible on the Start screen.

You may still use the Desktop interface via the standard keyboard methods, such as Windows Key-D and Windows Key-M. One of the biggest differences between the Desktop in Windows 8 versus Windows 7 is that the Start menu no longer exists. When you press the Windows key, the Start screen will appear and populate your computer screen with the tiles mentioned above. Pressing the Windows key a second time will return you to your previously running application.

You may search for apps, files, or settings on the Start screen by typing the name of the item you are looking for. After you have typed in your search term, you can press the Up or Down Arrow keys to start moving through each search result. If you wish to search for items other than Apps, you will need to press Tab until you reach the list box of available search items which begins with Apps. You may then select between Apps, Files, or Settings with the Arrow keys and press Enter to change the search type to that specific category. If you continue to Down-Arrow, you will also discover a list of your most recently searched items. Pressing Enter on a recently used app will launch it if it is not already running. Remember that you can always Tab to reach the search box, the list of results, and the categories list. In addition, other categories may be available depending on the apps you have installed.

There are many hotkeys available for Windows 8. While not all of them can be listed here, we are including a selection of the most common commands you are likely to require below:

Windows Key - Switch between Modern Desktop Start screen and the last accessed application
Control - Plus: Expand the currently selected group on the Start screen
Control - Dash: Collapse the currently selected group on the Start screen
Windows Key - C: Access the charms bar
Windows Key - Tab: Access the Modern Desktop Taskbar
Windows Key - I: Access the Settings charm
Windows Key - H: Access the Share charm
Windows Key - K: Access the Devices charm
Windows Key - Q: Access the Apps Search screen
Windows Key - F: Access the Files Search screen
Windows Key - W: Access the Settings Search screen
Windows Key - P: Access the Second Screen bar
Windows Key - Z: Brings up the App Bar when you have a Modern Desktop App running
Windows Key - X: Access the Windows Tools Menu
Windows Key - O: Lock screen orientation
Windows Key - Period: Move the screen split to the right
Windows Key - Shift - Period: Move the screen split to the left
Windows Key - V: View all active Toasts/Notifications
Windows Key - Shift - V: View all active Toasts/Notifications in reverse order
Windows Key - Print Screen: Takes a screenshot of the screen and automatically saves it in the Pictures folder as Screenshot
Windows Key - Enter: Launch Narrator         
Windows Key - E: Open Computer
Windows Key - R: Open the Run dialog box
Windows Key - U: Open Ease of Access Center
Windows Key - Ctrl - F: Open Find Computers dialog box
Windows Key - Pause/Break: Open the System page

More hotkeys are available from the MSDN blog at