Using Your Screen reader to Extend the functionality of the Windows Clipboard

Most computer users are familiar with using ctrl-C to copy selected text to the Windows clipboard for later pasting with ctrl-V. Under normal circumstances, pressing ctrl-C overwrites or erases text which was previously placed in the clipboard. Today, screen readers can take this capability and, to quote a popular chef on television, kick it up a notch.
First, let’s discuss JAWS from Freedom Scientific. JAWS includes a rather nifty feature known as the Freedom Clipboard, allowing you to append rather than copy text to the clipboard. Here is how it works.
Find some text you want to copy to the clipboard.
Select or highlight it the normal way, using the shift key along with appropriate navigation keys, such as shift-insert-right arrow to highlight the next word at the cursor.
Press ctrl-C to copy the text to the clipboard, as you usually do.
Now, move your cursor to another block of text you want to add to the first block of text. Highlight it. Next, press insert-Windows-C, a key which I admit may take some unnatural finger contortions to press. The selected text will be copied to the clipboard but it will be added to the first block of text you already copied.
You can copy as many blocks of text as you want, making sure to use insert-Windows-C to append the text to what’s already in the clipboard. By the way, with the JAWS Keyboard Manager, you can change that key to something more to your liking if that combination proves to be too awkward.
Now, move to where you want the text to be pasted and press ctrl-V to paste the text. Voila! Those blocks of text are now pasted.
As an added tip, you can use insert-Windows-X to have JAWS speak the contents of the clipboard to verify what you copied into it.
As another tip, pressing insert-spacebar followed by the letter C puts the contents of the clipboard into the virtual buffer. In plain English, this means that you can use your standard reading commands to review what you copied into the clipboard.
Window-Eyes from AI Squared doesn’t have this capability built into the screen reader. However, Jamal Mazrui has written a fabulous app called Append to Clipboard. This app offers the same capabilities as you get with the Freedom clipboard but with a few added bonuses. First, his default hotkeys are a bit easier to use than the ones FS supplies, although you can, as I mentioned already, use the JAWS Keyboard Manager to change the assignment of this or most other screen reader keys. However, Jamal’s app for Window-Eyes allows you to cut as well as copy text to be appended to the clipboard. In addition, the app includes a special Windows-ctrl-V hotkey for pasting. This key gives you a list of items to paste including the entire clipboard or specific blocks of text you’ve individually copied. It’s an amazing utility and I wish he’d write one which is screen reader independent.
Update: NVDA users can receive similar functionality with the Clip Contents Designer Addon, available from the NVDA Addon Repository.
Happy copying.


One thought on “Using Your Screen reader to Extend the functionality of the Windows Clipboard

Please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s