Learn More, Do More, New Features in JAWS: Turn Off Virtual Cursor for Specific Tabs in Chrome

The last feature we’d like to cover in this series highlighting some of the more notable features in JAWS 2020 is the ability for JAWS to remember the state of the Virtual Cursor in Google Chrome when toggled using the INSERT+Z command. This may be especially helpful for users who regularly open and move between multiple web page tabs where they need the Virtual Cursor off in one and active in others.

JAWS uses the Virtual Cursor to read web pages, enabling users to read and select text just like in a word processing application like Microsoft Word. Commands are also available for quickly moving to specific elements on a page such as links, headings, regions, lists, tables, and form fields. JAWS also highlights text as it is read so a sighted user like a teacher or parent can visually follow the text.

While the Virtual Cursor provides the best experience for reading web pages with JAWS in most cases, there are some web applications where turning off the Virtual Cursor by pressing INSERT+Z can improve the app experience. For example, Google Calendar offers hot keys for navigating and working with appointments, so turning off the Virtual Cursor in this web-based app is the recommended approach. Additionally, many users regularly open multiple tabs so they can easily access different sites and quickly move between the open tabs using the CTRL+TAB keystroke. When you need to have the Virtual Cursor off in one tab but enabled in others, it can become frustrating to constantly press INSERT+Z to switch cursors.

Beginning with version 2020, JAWS and Fusion remember the state of the Virtual Cursor in Google Chrome for each tab once you set it. It also announces whether the Virtual Cursor is on or off as you move between tabs. For instance, if you press INSERT+Z to turn off the Virtual Cursor while focused in a web app like Google Calendar or Gmail and you press CTRL+N or CTRL+T to open a page in a new Browser window or tab, the Virtual Cursor is automatically turned off when focus moves back to Google Calendar and turns back on when you move to a different tab. Your preferences only last for the current browser or JAWS session; you must reset your preferences each time you close the browser or restart JAWS.

This feature is on by default. If you turn the feature off, the Virtual Cursor will always turn on when you go to a tab, and your preferences will not be remembered. If you do not want JAWS to remember the Virtual Cursor state for a specific page tab, follow these steps:

  1. Press INSERT+6 to open JAWS Settings Center.
  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+D to load the default settings file.
  3. In the Search edit box, type “Tabs” without the quotes.
  4. Press DOWN ARROW until you locate Virtual Cursor On/Off based on Browser Tabs.
  5. Press the SPACEBAR to clear the check box and then select OK.

Take a look at our Surf’s Up pages for more tips on browsing the web using JAWS and Fusion. We also encourage you to visit our Webinars On Demand page to locate training and resources for using JAWS with Google Chrome, Gmail, Google Calendar, and more.