JAWS Alert Manager (JAM)
Doug Lee
Last Revised July, 2023

The JAWS Alert Manager (JAM) is a set of JAWS scripts aimed at giving JAWS users control over the handling of Windows and application alert messages. It also includes a few other, admittedly unrelated but useful features. Notable among these is a system for examining websites without launching a browser or permitting any downloaded web code to run locally. This document describes JAM and how to use it. This document can be opened by typing JAWSKey+/ followed by F1 if JAM is running in the current JAWS version.

Note that the June, 2022 update to JAWS 2022 introduced a JAWS-native system for handling notification history and review. This review system uses a popup dialog whereas JAM allows review without a dialog. The JAWS native system also, by default, records UIA notifications that are by default ignored by JAM; see the JAM Command U keystroke for toggling JAM's handling of UIA events. See the JAM and the JAWS Native Notification Review System section for further information on how the two systems differ and can cooperate.

Table of Contents

System Requirements For JAWS Users

The following requirements apply for JAWS users:

Script Installation Instructions

To install these scripts on a new system:

  1. Load JAWS if this has not already been done. This will require administrative privileges on the computer.
  2. Run JAWS as the user for whom the scripts are to be installed. This and the following steps must be performed for each user of the computer who will be using JAWS with these scripts.
  3. Download and run, or run directly, the installer for these scripts; and follow the on-screen directions. Be sure to install the scripts in the currently running JAWS version if a JAWS version list is presented.
  4. To verify successful installation, type JAWSKey+/ followed by Q. Part of the JAWS spoken response should be a revision number. If you do not hear a revision number, the scripts are not correctly loaded. In some cases, restarting JAWS may fix this issue.

Key Sequences

These scripts incorporate commands that consist of sequences of keystrokes, all beginning with a common prefix, or "command keystroke." This approach allows many script commands without the risk of conflicting with application keystrokes. See the "Multi-Key Command Sequences" section of the "Common Script Elements" document for further details, including how to explore the available script commands (similar to exploring a menu system), and how to change the Command keystroke if necessary.

By default, the Command keystroke for these scripts is JAWSKey+/. This document may refer to this keystroke as JAWSKey+/ or Command; so, for example, JAWSKey+/ Tab and Command Tab both refer to typing the prefix keystroke, then separately the Tab key. Some sequences may consist of more than two keystrokes, or "levels"; for example, JAWSKey+/ d r would refer to typing JAWSKey+/, then d, then finally r.

Script Commands and Features

These scripts provide the following commands and features for users. The features are broken down into groups based on their functionality.

Notification Handling

The Minibrowser

Miscellaneous Features

For the more technically inclined, and for those who wish to help with JAM development by providing information, JAM offers another convenience:

Alert Shortening During Relative Navigation

The following script feature is turned off by default and may be toggled on and off via Command R.

During relative navigation through notifications, JAM can abbreviate each notification by removing from its start and end whatever start and end were spoken as part of the previous notification. This tends to reduce repetitions of application names, text channel and sender names, trailing button text, etc. as you move through a series of notifications from the same origin. Beware, though, that this can also remove actual content from what is spoken. A famous example of this extra removal occurs when two notifications from a Windows Store update follow each other and are then read via relative navigation. Imagine that the following two notifications are encountered during navigation, in this order:

12:14 New notification from Microsoft Store, Xbox Game Bar, Just got updated, check it out.
12:14 Microsoft Store, App Installer, Just got updated, check it out.
With the extra shortening in effect, JAM will announce them thus:
12:14 New notification from Microsoft Store, Xbox Game Bar, Just got updated, check it out.
12:14 App Installer,
Use Command K or Command NumPad5 to read the entire current notification without any extra shortening.

Notification shortening applies only during relative navigation and among notifications reached via that command set. Use of sequences like Command 1 (most recent notification) does not affect this shortening feature; and speech on notification arrival is not abbreviated in this way.

JAM and the JAWS Native Notification Review System

The June, 2022 update to JAWS 2022 introduced a notification handling system similar to (and possibly based on) JAM. JAM still works in that and subsequent JAWS versions and will continue to be supported for those who prefer it.

A few things to keep in mind:

Some differences between the two notification management systems, in no particular order:

Browserless Web Page Review

These scripts provide a way to bring up a webpage directly from its URL without opening a browser: Type Command G. A dialog will appear requesting a URL. Type or paste the URL of interest and press Enter. Up and Down arrows will alternatively allow choosing among URLs found in speech history; see the Minibrowser section in Script Commands and Features for details. The requested page will appear in a JAWS virtual view. Any links in the page will appear as links in this view, and pressing Enter will load the corresponding page into a new JAWS virtual view when possible.

This system provides an often very fast way to examine a linked web page by avoiding the need to open a browser. It may also improve security, since absolutely no Javascript or other active client-side code from a website will be run on your computer in this case. Corporate and government IT departments might also appreciate the fact that this system does not support submission of web forms either.

There are a few caveats to keep in mind:

In general, this author finds the following approach extremely helpful and efficient for reading many reports, blogs, news articles, etc. that are advertised via Twitter, Discord, company Teams meetings, etc.:

  1. Obtain a URL to investigate by putting it on the clipboard from the application where it is found.
  2. Type Command G, paste the URL into the resulting edit box, and press Enter to bring up the JAWS virtual view for the page.
  3. Use Ctrl+Down repeatedly to jump past any prefatory material not removed by the JAWS scripts from the view.
  4. Use arrows and/or the JAWS "Say all" command, Insert+Down, to read the page content.
  5. Press Esc when finished, to return to the active application.

This virtualization feature will likely undergo updates from time to time to improve its ability to work with more pages, based on user needs and requests.

Known Issues

The following issues are known and may be encountered during use of these JAWS scripts. These issues may be fixed in a future script update .

Some alerts that should be shortened may be left unchanged. The author considers this safer than accidentally cutting important text out of an alert as a result of trying too hard to make all alerts shorter.

When the scripts are removed, the alert data is not. This is harmless and will not impair uninstallation, future reinstallation, or computer operation. If you later re-install the scripts, the alerts you previously stored will again be available. Removing the alert store during uninstallation would cause all alerts to be lost on every script upgrade. The alert store may be deleted manually by removing folder "%APPDATA%\JAWS Alert Manager" and its contents. If you have saved filters or other configuration settings for JAM, these will be removed by deleting this folder as well.

Braille support is not well tested and is likely incomplete.

Fun Notes

The name JAM is an acronym for "JAWS Alert Manager." It is also convenient, however, that it is good at jamming the transmission of duplicate alerts. For this reason, the author considers both "JAM" and "Jam" spellings appropriate for the utility.

Revision History

This is the revision history of these scripts, most recent revision first:

Revision 99, released August 1, 2023

Revision 92, released June 22, 2022

Revision 88, released August 5, 2021

Revision 86, released July 6, 2021

Revision 74, released November 22, 2020

Revision 73, released November 19, 2020

Note: For correct operation of new commands, this script update must be installed via the installer rather than via the Command Shift+U sequence.

Revision 66, released October 31, 2020