ZoomText 2019 – The Basics

ZoomText is a screen magnification utility from Freedom Scientific/VFO – who also are the people behind JAWS. ZoomText has an inbuilt screen reader as well as a magnifier but you can also get ZoomText Fusion which incorporates the JAWS screen reader.

These notes focus on ZoomText 2019 and will cover the following:

  • New Shortcut Keys 
  • The ZoomText Toolbar/window 
  • AppReader
  • Unified Finder
  • Colour Enhancements (inverting colours) 
  • Zoom to 1x Magnification
  • Basic reader functions
  • Saving ZoomText configurations 

NOTE: ZoomText has undergone major changes in recent versions (since ZoomText 11) and now has new keyboard shortcuts and a newly designed user interface. ZoomText now primarily uses the CAPS key as a modifier key. Magnifier commands will generally contain CAPS+CTRL and Reader (the screen reader) will use CAPS+ALT. 

NOTE: ZoomText runs on the Windows platform and therefore is used on PCs, laptops and portables devices running the Windows operating environment. 

Loading / Starting ZoomText

To start ZoomText, hold down CTRL+ALT+SHIFT and press Z (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+Z). 

When you are in the ZoomText User Interface, you can use TAB and the ARROW keys to move around the interface. TAB jumps between items, pressing DOWN ARROW will open at item’s submenu. You can also use CTRL+TAB to move between sections. You can also press the ALT key to move to the ribbon and activate the ZoomText menu. 

There are 3 main tabs in the ZoomText User Interface – being:

  • Magnifier: this section contains controls relating to the magnifier, including level of magnification, cursor, colour and focus settings 
  • Reader: this section contains controls relating to the inbuilt screen reader, including speaking read, keyboard commands, verbosity and other related settings
  • Tools: tools relating to the Finder, recording and the camera function. 

Magnifier Keyboard Commands:

CAPS+UP / DOWN ARROW Changes the level of magnification

CAPS+ENTER Zooms to 1x magnification 

CAPS+CTRL+ENTER Disables / Enables ZoomTexts

CAPS+C Enables/Disables Colour Enhancements

CAPS+P Pointer enhancements 

CAPS+R Cursor enhancements 

CAPS+F Focus enhancements 

Displaying the ZoomText User Interface

NOTE: At any time, you can display the ZoomText User Interface by pressing CAPS+CTRL+U. This can be done from anywhere within Windows so long as ZoomText is running. 

Reader Commands

The following commands relate to the inbuilt screen reader within ZoomText. 

CAPS+ALT+UP / DOWN ARROWS Changes the speaking rate 

CAPS+ALT+ENTER Turns speech on or off 

Reading Tools 

NOTE: The DocReader in previous versions of ZoomText is now incorporated into the AppReader – the function is called Text View. 

The follow list gives a general overview of using the App Reader within ZoomText 2019 

  • CAPS+ALT+R will start reading in a particular app such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or in Microsoft Word. 
  • You can pause speech by pressing the ENTER key. 
  • When you are in the Reader you can press the TAB key to switch to the Text View. 
  • Continuing to press TAB will switch you between the Text View and the App Reader
  • Click and drag the mouse over text to have the App Reader read that text. 
  • In Text View, you can stop reading at any time by pressing either ESC (Escape) or right click with the mouse. 

Keyboard commands for the App Reader:

CAPS+ALT+R – launches the Reader tool

CAPS+ALT+T – launches Text View. 

CAPS+ALT+S – launches the Speak It tool 

Unified Finder 

The Unified Finder allows you to search for text within a document or a web page. You can use buttons to jump backwards and forwards between results. It works like the Find tool within Word, allowing you to find the next or previous occurrence of something you are searching for. 

The Finder goes a step further and allows you to list particular results in a list box. You can choose an element, like a heading or a link, type some text (or leave this field blank) and then choose the List option to show the results in a list. This makes it really easy to find key areas of content on a web page or within word document. 

To launch the Finder – press CAPS+CTRL+F

Alignment of Magnifier 

For many people with low vision, finding the mouse pointer can be a challenge. By default ZoomText’s magnifier will move when the mouse pointer hits an edge of the screen, so to pan left, you move the mouse to the left, when the mouse hits the left edge it starts moving / panning in that direction. For some people, keeping the mouse pointer in the centre of the screen means that the mouse cursor is directly in front and makes it much easier to find. 

You can change this setting by doing the following:

  1. Go to the Magnifier tab in the ZoomText User Interface 
  2. Choose Focus then Alignment 
  3. There are 3 options, one for centring the mouse pointer, another for the cursor (while typing) and the third is for when moving around menus. Change any or all of these as desired and then choose OK. 

Saving Configurations 

Once you have set various aspects of ZoomText to how you like them, you can set these as the default configuration. This means then that whenever ZoomText loads, it will be set up just how you like it. 

Once you have changed various settings, including magnification and reader settings, colour enhancements, cursor and focus options, do the following:

  1. Display the ZoomText User Interface
  2. Open the ZoomText menu
  3. Choose Configurations then Save as Default
  4. A dialogue box displays confirming that you are about to change the default configuation. You should choose Yes. 

Remember you can do this at any time. So if you discover after saving your default configuration you need to change/modify a setting, just follow the steps above.