If you missed the article about reading ePub books in Microsoft Edge, I highly recommend checking it out. Today I’m reviewing a software solution called QRead.
What Is QRead, and Why Do I Need It?
So glad you asked! The easiest way to explain QRead is that it helps in reading large documents. These can include PDF files, EPub files, Docx files, compiled help files otherwise known as CHM files, very large HTML pages, and huge txt files.
QRead works with Jaws and NVDA, but also has options for reading a book via text-to-speech independent of a screen reader.
The language interface of QRead can be set from within the QRead preferences. This can be accessed by opening the Documents menu or by pressing ALT+D, then arrowing down to Preferences.
Did I mention Bookshare files?
I think this is one of the best features of QRead. If you use Bookshare—and if you have a visual impairment you should be using Bookshare—QRead makes it a snap to get these books. No more messing around with the website, unpacking the book, and so on. Let me walk you through this and show you how it’s done!
Downloading and Reading Bookshare Books with QRead
Before you can download Bookshare books, you have to be a Bookshare member. This is free if you’re a student, whether you’re taking Hadley courses, enrolled in college, vocational school, or even participating in vision rehabilitation training. The application process can seem a bit overwhelming, but what they are looking for is basic demographic info, user account info such as your email and password, and to verify that you truly have a print disability. One way they allow you to verify that you have a print disability is via 3rd party verification through the national library of congress and the national talking book library. The signup process can take a few days, but they email you during the process so you know what’s happening.
Alright, now I can show you how to connect QRead to Bookshare. If you’re a clicker, click on Documents in the menu bar at the top of the window, then click on Import From Bookshare…
If you are using the keyboard, press ALT+D to open the Document menu, then either arrow down to Import From Bookshare… or just press the letter I. The Bookshare Import Tool brings up a separate window that allows you to search Bookshare books, browse by category, or browse periodicals.
The first time you do this, you will need to enter your email and password for Bookshare. You can also put this in ahead of time in preferences for QRead.
By default, this tool will search by author and title together. Clickers can click on the options that you want here. Keyboard users will mostly use TAB, SHIFT+TAB, and ARROW keys, to make choices.
Searching for a Bookshare Book
At this point, you can either click Search or press ALT+E to jump directly to the Search box. By default, the author and title is searched for at the same time. If you select Title from the Search Type drop down box, you will only search by book titles. Your other options in this drop down are Author and Full Text. The Full Text option is very nice if you want to search Bookshare for a particular phrase. Remember that this type of search can take some time, and the program can appear to freeze while the search is being carried out. Once you have typed what you are looking for and selected your search type options, just press ENTER.
Now you’re within the Titles List of Bookshare books. The Bookshare Import Tool will show 100 results at a time. Clickers can click Next to get more results if available. You can also press ALT+N to hit Next. Just arrow through the results or press the letter that the book title starts with to jump to all titles starting with that letter. If you are interested in that particular book, there is a Description Box that changes depending on what book is selected in the Titles List. Keyboard users can tab to it and arrow through the book description to determine if it is something you really want to download and read. If you do, you will need to SHIFT+TAB back to the Titles List and press enter. The book will be downloaded and opened in QRead automatically. During the download process, QRead can appear to be asking for the file name of the book, but just ignore this. The book will be opened in a few seconds without you needing to do anything.
Browsing Categories of Bookshare Books
Within the Bookshare Import Tool are three tabs, Search, Browse, and Periodicals. We just blasted through Search; now let’s mosey through Browse.
To get there, press CONTROL+TAB. Clickers, just click your heals, uh, I mean mouse. Once in the Browse tab, you’re in a tree view of options. The Popular and Latest categories are viewable by just arrowing to them and pressing ENTER. Clickers will select either of these, then click the View button to see the results.
Now you’re within the Titles List of Bookshare books. The Bookshare Import Tool will show 100 results at a time. Clickers can click Next to get more results if available. You can also press ALT+N to hit Next. Just arrow through the results or press the letter that the book title starts with to jump to all titles starting with that letter. If you are interested in that particular book, there is a Description Box that changes depending on what book is selected in the titles list. Keyboard users can tab to it and arrow through the book description to determine if it is something you really want to download and read. If so, you will need to SHIFT+TAB back to the Titles List and press ENTER. The book will be downloaded and opened in QRead automatically. During the download process, QRead can appear to be asking for the file name of the book, but just ignore this. The book will be opened in a few seconds without you needing to do anything.
Remember I mentioned that the Browse tab put you in a tree view? This means that you have nodes you can expand or collapse by using the LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys—LEFT for collapse and RIGHT for expand. The two other options we have in this list are Bookshare Categories and By Grade Level. Both these trees are collapsed, So keyboard users will arrow to these and press the RIGHT ARROW to expand them. When the Bookshare Categories tree is expanded, you get a list of 100 categories that you can arrow through. The By Grade Level tree gives you 31 different grade levels to choose from. Arrow to one and press ENTER to see the results. As before, you’ll just arrow through the titles. You still have the description that you can check out to see if you really want the book. Also as before, press ENTER to download the book.
The last tab in the Bookshare import tool is Periodicals. Clickers… Click it! Keyboard users press CONTROL+TAB. You are now in a list of various periodicals that you can download. I have a grand total of 247. Try not to read them in one sitting. You’ll get a brain freeze! 🍨
You can arrow through the results, or just press the first letter of the journal, magazine, or periodical you would like to read. If you want Time Magazine, as an example, just press the letter T four or five times until you get to it. As before, press ENTER to download. There is no description box for the Periodicals area.
Reading Your Book, Document, or File
- If your file has a table of contents (TOC), you can press CONTROL+T to bring this up from anywhere within your file, then arrow to or click on the area that you want to jump to.
- You can also jump to the next page by pressing the letter P or SHIFT+P to go back a page.
- The letter H will take you to the next heading and generally corresponds to a chapter or section of a book. SHIFT+H MOVES YOU BACK TO THE PREVIOUS HEADING.
- The letter L or SHIFT+L will move to the next or previous link.
- Pressing CONTROL+F will bring up a dialog box that allows you to find text within a book, such as “chapter 3”.
- CONTROL+G will allow you to type in a line number to jump to.
- CONTROL+S will begin reading the file without the need for a screen reader. This uses the built-in text-to-speech voice in windows.
- CONTROL+SHIFT+S will stop the built-in text-to-speech reading. Note, if you rely on this to read your documents, you will likely want to adjust these preferences in either settings or in the control panel under speech.
- You are also able to jump by percentages. Clicking and dragging the Document Position slider will allow you to quickly jump, for instance, from 20% to 70%. Keyboard users can just tab to the Document Position slider, then use your UP/DOWN ARROW keys to adjust the percentage.
QRead will automatically save your place within the book. This happens every second so you will never lose your place. When you open QRead, your book or books will automatically be opened to the place where you were when you closed QRead. Note that the feature to automatically keep track of your position in files can be turned off in QRead preferences.
If you want to set a temporary bookmark to quickly access later, press CONTROL+B. To jump back to the temp bookmark, press CONTROL+J and select it from the list.
Setting Multiple Named Bookmarks
If you want to name your bookmarks and always have them available, press CONTROL+SHIFT+B. Next, give the bookmark a name, such as “Chapter 7”, and press ENTER. To bring up a list of all permanent and temp bookmarks just press CONTROL+J. Arrow to the bookmark you want to jump to and press ENTER.
You can delete a bookmark by tabbing to the Delete button from the Bookmarks dialog, or by pressing ALT+D.
QRead also supports Goodreads. You will need to provide your Goodreads account credentials before using this feature. You are able to provide book status and book reviews directly from QRead. This feature is available in the Documents menu.
This is a special version of QRead you can download that allows running it in a portable mode. In other words, you do not need to install it on the PC that you are using. You can just run it from a thumb drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or any other folder in your PC. This will require you to authorize your copy of QRead whenever you use QRead on a new PC. When you do this for the first time, you will more than likely require administrative rights. Once QRead is authorized, you will no longer require administrative rights.
The advantage to running QRead in portable mode is that you always have your books/documents with you, to read quickly and easily. This is especially true if you run QRead from a thumb drive.
Well, as much fun as I have had writing this article, all good things must come to an end. If you have any questions, please get in touch or leave a comment; it’s quick and easy.