Productivity with JAWS PlaceMarkers

Today I want to showcase another great feature of JAWS called PlaceMarkers. If you think of a physical Place marker in a book that lets you go back to an important page, it will help you visualize what the JAWS version of PlaceMarkers can do for you in Word documents, PDF documents, and on the Web. It can even help you quickly select text.

What Can I Do with PlaceMarkers?

In a nutshell, PlaceMarkers enable you to instantly navigate back to a place that you define within a Word document, PDF document, or within a web page. When you are in one of these documents or web pages and you find a place that you want to be able to jump back to, you can create what is called a temporary PlaceMarker to set that location. Then you can zip back to it with another hot key. Let’s try this on the JAWS downloads page.

Once the JAWS downloads page is loaded in your browser of choice, navigate to the  What Is New In JAWS link. Do not press enter on it. Instead, we are going to set a temporary PlaceMarker by pressing CONTROL+WINDOWS+K. You should hear JAWS say: “temporary PlaceMarker set”. Now, wherever you move on that page, you can jump back to that location by pressing the letter K.

Note that if you are doing this in a Word document, you will hear, “marking place”, and the hot key to return is WINDOWS+ALT+K.

These temp PlaceMarkers will stay set even if you close JAWS or the browser.

You can also use temp PlaceMarkers to select text. All you need to do is to drop a temp PlaceMarker with CONTROL+WINDOWS+K, move to where you want to end your selection, and press JAWSKEY+SPACE followed by the letter M. JAWS will say, “selecting between marked place and current position”. Now you can copy that text to the clipboard if you wish.

The limitation with temporary PlaceMarkers is that you can only have one per page or document. However, you can do so much more here if you use permanent PlaceMarkers.

Creating Permanent PlaceMarkers

If you want to have more than one PlaceMarker for a website, you can create a permanent PlaceMarker. To do this, press CONTROL+SHIFT+K. If you do this on the web, you will be placed in the PlaceMarker List dialog. At this point you can add a permanent PlaceMarker by pressing ENTER, or tabbing to the Add button, or by pressing ALT+A. However you choose to get there, you will be in the Add PlaceMarkers dialog, in the Name edit box. For this example, I am still using the JAWS downloads page that I linked to above. For this permanent PlaceMarker, I navigated to the Contact Us heading. So, in my case, the permanent PlaceMarker already has the name of “contact us”. If you tab you will get to a check box called Define For All Pages On Current Domain. If this is checked, the PlaceMarker will work for all pages within the Freedom Scientific website. If you do not check this box, the PlaceMarker will only work for the current web address.

Tabbing again, you will have another check box called Anchor To Text. If you check this option, JAWS will refer to this text when locating the PlaceMarker on the page, rather than the physical location. It is a good idea to check this box so that the PlaceMarker will continue to work even after the website and/or the page are updated. When these updates occur, things can sometimes be moved around. By checking this box, JAWS will use that text to find the PlaceMarker even if it’s not in the same location due to a page update.

If you do check that box, tabbing once more will take you to an edit box called Anchor Text. This box will have the text that JAWS believes to be associated with the PlaceMarker. You can change this if you think there is too much text; standard editing commands will work here.

When you are done, tab to the OK button.

Congratulations! You just created a permanent PlaceMarker.

Managing PlaceMarkers

If you go back into the PlaceMarkers list with CONTROL+SHIFT+K, then tab, you will first have an add button that we covered before. If you tab again, you will find a remove all button. Warning ⚠ Using this button will allow you to delete all PlaceMarkers on a given web page.

Once you arrow to a PlaceMarker from the list, you can tab to either the Rename or Remove button.

You also have a Display radio  button that allows you to show PlaceMarkers for everything, the domain, or for only the current URL (i.e., the address of the current web page).

Let’s Wrap This Up

I love this feature in JAWS. I think if more people used it wisely, it could really help them navigate more efficiently. Here are a few examples of how this can be useful:

Many websites have comment areas. After reading an article, it may be interesting to see what others have said or recommended. A PlaceMarker can make this easier. Here’s another. If you use some kind of customer web database, you can setup PlaceMarkers to jump to various areas that you need to access quickly. This could be someone’s account info, a phone number, a save button, a search box, and the list could go on.

Hopefully, as you think about this feature, you will find uses not covered here.


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