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Type without using the keyboard with On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 7

Instead of relying on the physical keyboard to type and enter data, you can use On-Screen Keyboard. On-Screen Keyboard displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys. You can select keys using the mouse or another pointing device, or you can use a single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.

To open the On-Screen Keyboard:

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Ease of Access, then click on On-Screen Keyboard.

Select how information is entered into On-Screen Keyboard

Click Options, and then, under To use the On-Screen Keyboard, select the mode you want:

Typing mode

Description

Click on keys

In clicking mode, you click the on-screen keys to type text.

Hover over keys

In hovering mode, you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key for a predefined period of time, and the selected character is typed automatically.

Scan through keys

In scanning mode, On-Screen Keyboard continually scans the keyboard. It highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click.

Note:

  • If you're using either hovering mode or scanning mode and accidentally minimize On-Screen Keyboard, you can restore it by pointing to it in the taskbar (for hovering mode) or by pressing the scan key (for scanning mode).
  • If you're using a mouse click to select a key in the Scan through keys mode, the mouse pointer must be located over On-Screen Keyboard.
  • The keyboard layout changes in On-Screen Keyboard depending on the language displayed in the active program.

To set On-Screen Keyboard to use audible clicks
You can have On-Screen Keyboard make an audible click when a key is pressed.

Click Options, select the Use click sound checkbox, and then click OK.

To use a numeric keypad in On-Screen Keyboard
You can use a numeric keypad to enter numbers with On-Screen Keyboard.

Click Options, select the Turn on numeric keypad checkbox and then click OK.

To enable text prediction in On-Screen Keyboard
When text prediction is enabled, as you type, On-Screen Keyboard displays a list of words that you might be typing.

Click Options, select the Use Text Prediction checkbox, and then click OK.

If you don't want to automatically add a space after you insert a word using text prediction, clear the Insert space after predicted words checkbox, and then click OK.

Note

  • Text prediction is only available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. To enable text prediction in a specific language, you must first install additional language files for that language. For more information, see Install or change a display language.
  • Text prediction isn't included in Windows 7 Home Basic.

Make items on the screen appear bigger with Magnifier in Windows 7

Magnifier enlarges different parts of the screen. This is especially useful for viewing objects that are difficult to see and for seeing the whole screen more easily.

To open Magnifier:

  • Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then Ease of Access, then click on Magnifier.

There are three modes:

  • Full-screen mode. In full-screen mode, your entire screen is magnified. You can then have Magnifier follow the mouse pointer.
  • Lens mode. In lens mode, the area around the mouse pointer is magnified. When you move the mouse pointer, the area of the screen that's magnified moves along with it.
  • Docked mode. In docked mode, only a portion of the screen is magnified, leaving the rest of your desktop in a normal state. You can then control which area of the screen is magnified.

Note:

  • Full-screen mode and lens mode are only available as part of the Aero experience. If your computer doesn't support Aero, or if you're using a theme other than an Aero theme, Magnifier will only work in docked mode.
  1. On the Views menu, click the mode that you want to use.
  2. Move the pointer to the part of the screen that you want to magnify.

Note:

To exit Magnifier, press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Esc.

When you're using full-screen mode, you can quickly preview your entire desktop by clicking the Views menu and then clicking Preview full screen.

For a list of keyboard shortcuts that you can use with Magnifier, see the following links:

General keyboard shortcuts

Natural keyboard shortcuts

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

Accessibility keyboard shortcuts

File Explorer keyboard shortcuts

To choose where Magnifier focuses

Click the Options button, and then select the option that you want:

Option

Description

Follow the mouse pointer

Displays the area around the mouse pointer in the Magnifier window. When you select this option, you can choose to have the Magnifier window move when the mouse pointer approaches or when the mouse pointer hits the edge of the Magnifier window.

Follow the keyboard focus

Displays the area around the pointer when you press the Tab or arrow keys.

Have Magnifier follow the text insertion point

Displays the area around the text that you're typing.

To change the zoom level

Do one of the following:

To

Do this

Zoom in

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Plus sign

Zoom out

Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + Minus sign

To set the zoom increment

The zoom increment determines how quickly Magnifier zooms in and out.

Click the Options button, and then move the slider to adjust the zoom increment. Moving the slider to the left causes Magnifier to zoom slower, with smaller changes between zoom levels. Moving the slider to the right causes Magnifier to zoom faster, with larger changes between zoom levels.

To set the lens size

When you're using lens mode, you can adjust the size of the Magnifier lens.

Click the Options button, and then, under Magnifier Lens Size, move the sliders to adjust the size of the Magnifier lens. The lens size changes right away. Adjust the level until it's right for you.

Note:

  • You must be using lens mode for the lens size options to appear.
  • You can quickly change the lens size by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R, and then moving the pointer up and down to change the height, and left and right to change the width.

To turn on color inversion

Turning on color inversion increases the contrast between items on your screen, which can help make your screen easier to see.

Click the Options button, and then select the Turn on color inversion checkbox.

To display the Magnifier toolbar

Click the magnifying glass icon or click Magnifier on the taskbar.

Hear text read aloud with Narrator in Windows 7

Windows 7 includes a pretty cool tool for people visually impaired called Narrator. It can read aloud the text on-screen and even describe some of the events that happen (error messages, notifications, etc.)

How to start Narrator

  1. Click on the Start button
  2. Then click on All Programs
  3. Then click on Accessories
  4. Then click on Ease of Access
  5. Then click on Narrator.

Choose your preferences for Narrator

Under Main Narrator Settings box, select any of the following checkboxes:

  • Select the Echo User's Keystrokes checkbox to hear what you type.
  • Select the Announce System Messages checkbox to hear background events, such as notifications
  • Select the Announce Scroll Notifications checkbox to hear an announcement when the screen scrolls
  • Select the Start Narrator Minimized checkbox to start Narrator minimized. The next time you start Narrator, it will appear as an icon on the Taskbar instead of being open on your screen.

Note: To restore the Narrator dialog box to its full size, click on Narrator in the Taskbar.

Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 (Part 1)

I am currently planning my migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. Since there is no way to do an 'in-place' upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, I usually would need to back-up my current system. But this migration also happens to fall into my personal three-year workstation cycle, so this will be a 'side-by-side' migration.

As I have written in a previous blog, Upgrading your computer cheaply (part 1), I have two theories on computers:

1." Infant Mortality" is the belief that if it runs for a day (24 hours), it will run for its lifetime.

2. A computer "Lifetime", from my experience, is three years from the start of service. At three years or older, it's not 'if' it will break down, but 'when' will it break down. Just like a car, the older it gets, the more repairs it will need.

My current system has hit three years in production and has developed a couple of issues. I built a system to beta test Windows 7 on (see Beta testing Windows 7 - Part3 and Custom Cases: The Antec Skeleton), and I am going to migrate over to this workstation.

I usually back-up all documents, photos, etc. and then make an image of the hard drive. I then reformat the hard drive and reinstall the operating system. I will then install all of the applications and restore my documents. All custom settings done to the previous operating system will be lost, but this is expected with a 'clean' installation.

Since migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 requires reformatting the hard drive and performing a clean installation, there is one feature in Windows 7 I find nice. The product key for Windows 7 can be used to install either the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7.

As I wrote in the blog Beta testing Windows 7 - Part 2, I felt that the 64-bit version of Windows 7 was the way to go; I am going with Windows 7 64-bit. In the following articles, I will chronicle my endeavors.

Using Task Scheduler in Windows Vista and Windows 7

You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps. If you are not logged on as an administrator, you can only change settings that apply to your user account.

If you use a specific program regularly, you can use the Task Scheduler Wizard to create a task that opens the program for you automatically according to the schedule you choose. For example, if you use a financial program on a specific day each month, you can schedule a task that opens the program automatically, so you don't risk forgetting to open it yourself.

To run Task Scheduler.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click System and security.
  4. Click Administrative Tools.
  5. Double-click Task Scheduler.

If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Click the Action menu, and then click Create Basic Task.

Type a name for the task and an optional description, and then click Next.

Do one of the following:

To select a schedule based on the calendar, click Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or One time, click Next, specify the schedule you want to use, and then click Next.

To select a schedule based on common recurring events, click When the computer starts, or When I log on and then click Next.

To select a schedule based on specific events, click When a specific event is logged, click Next, specify the event log and other information using the drop-down lists, and then click Next.

To schedule a program to start automatically, click Start a program, and then click Next.

Click Browse to find the program you want to start, and then click Next.

Click Finish.

Triggers and Actions

The two key concepts involved in scheduling a task are triggers and actions. A trigger causes a task to run, and an action is the work that is performed when the task is run. The actions a task can perform include running a program, sending an e-mail message, and showing a message box. For example, you can send an e-mail when a certain event entry is logged in the event log or run a maintenance script when a user logs on to a computer. Occurrences that can trigger a task to run include: a computer starting up, a computer entering an idle state, or a user unlocking a workstation. In addition, you can schedule a task to run at a specified time.

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