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Saturday, September 18, 2010

How Do I Use the Shortcuts Pages of the Eyes-Free Shell?

In addition to the 7 helpful apps on the Eyes-Free shell main screen, users can access a series of home pages, called Menus, with frequently used apps, URLs, contacts, Eyes-Free widgets, and Settings items through the Shell. Each additional Menu contains up to nine shortcuts, also laid out in a 3x3 grid, and users simply touch the left and right edges of the screen to access them.

This post is about how to access, set up, and use the shortcuts screens or menus on the Eyes-Free Shell. for information on the Eyes-Free Shell main screen, refer to the previous post.

Finding Shortcut Menus/Pages on the Eyes-Free Shell

Users can move to various shortcut menus or pages by touching the left and right edges of the screen. Here's how it's done:

1. Touch the left or right edge of the screen.
a. If the phone is in portrait orientation, touch the literal left and right edges of the screen, the glass surface near the plastic or metal casing that holds it in place.
b. If the phone is in landscape orientation, touch the screen along imaginary lines that are about 1 inch or 2.5 cm from the literal left and right edges of the glass surface. When auto rotate is turned off, the phone is in landscape orientation only when the hardware keyboard is pulled out. The literal left edge of the screen is the space ordinarily occupied by the status bar (which does not behave like a status bar in this situation), and the very right edge of the screen is occupied by the Back, Home, Menu, and Search soft keys.
2. Touch the same edge again repeatedly to cycle through available pages, stopping when you hear the name of the page you want. By default, the pages are Home, Shortcuts Left, and Shortcuts Right. Names can be changed to reflect their content, and more pages can be added.

Note: from home (the main screen), touching the left edge of the screen moves directly to Shortcuts Left, and touching the right edge of the screen moves directly to Shortcuts right. Additional left or right menus/pages can be added.

Setting a New Shortcut on an Eyes-Free Shell Menu/Page

The shortcuts can launch any app on the phone, open a bookmarked URL, bring up the details screen for any contact, direct dial or direct message any contact, access the information available on the default Eyes-Free Shell main screen, and get to any item within Settings. The process can seem fiddly and overly complicated the first time or two, but it's actually very predictable.

To cancel the process, press the Back button twice to exit editing mode without making changes at any point.

1. Touch the edge of the screen repeatedly to find the page you want to add shortcuts to. by default, options are Home, Shortcuts Left, and Shortcuts Right, and two more screens can be added.
2. Press the Menu button. The phone announces, "Edit menus."
3. Scroll to and press the selector on Edit Menus, the only option. Simply pressing the selector may not work. Once the selector has been pressed on Edit Menus, the phone announces, "Eyes-Free Shell" or "Edit Shortcuts."
4. If you discover you are not on the correct shortcuts page or that you skipped Step 1, you can tap the right or left edge of the screen one or more times at this point to get to the right page.
5. Select your shortcut position.
a. Touch the general center of the screen (the 5 position).
b. Stroke vertically, horizontally, or diagonally in any direction to the spot where you want the new shortcut to appear. The phone announces, "none," if no shortcut is there already, or it announces the existing shortcut (e.g., "Time," "Pizza Delivery Number," or "Wikipedia") if one is already assigned.
c. Lift your finger to indicate that you want to set the shortcut in this position. The phone announces, "Add to Shell," and displays 8 options.
d. If you stroke to the wrong position, press Back to exit edit mode. An alternative is to try touching the screen again and stroking to another position, but this doesn't work consistently.
6. Scroll through the shortcut options and press the selector on the one you wish to add. Options are Applications, Bookmarks, Contacts, Direct Dial, direct Message, Eyes-Free Widgets, Settings, and None.
7. Scroll to and press the selector on the specific app, bookmark, contact, or Settings item you wish to add.
a. In most cases, you can type the first letter to get results beginning with that letter.
b. In the case of Direct Dial and Direct Message, you can also use stroke dialing to find the contact, and you must press enter a second time on the contact to confirm your selection.
8. Repeat Steps 4-8 to add more shortcuts to the Shell.
9. Press Back twice or until the phone announces, "Exiting Edit Mode." Currently, the phone mispronounces this as "Exciting edit mode."

Deleting Shortcuts, Replacing shortcuts, Renaming Menus, Adding New Menus, and Restoring Default Menus in the Eyes-Free Shell

The Eyes-Free Shell has some useful flexibility. Existing shortcuts can be deleted or replaced with new ones; pages can be named to reflect their content; additional pages can be added; and all pages can be cleared and restored to installation defaults.

1. To delete an existing shortcut, follow the steps for adding a shortcut only in Step 5 select the shortcut you want to remove, and in Step 6, scroll to and select None on the Add to Shell screen.
2. To replace an existing shortcut with a new one, follow the steps for adding a shortcut only, in Step 5, select a position that already has a shortcut. The new shortcut takes the place of the old one.
3. To name a shortcuts page, do the following, assuming that you are not in Edit Mode. If you are in edit mode, start with Step d below.
a. Touch the edge of the screen repeatedly to find the page you want to add shortcuts to. by default, options are Home, Shortcuts Left, and Shortcuts Right.
b. Press the Menu button. The phone announces, "Edit menus."
c. Scroll to and press the selector on Edit Menus, the only option. Simply pressing the selector may not work. Once the selector has been pressed, the phone announces, "Eyes-Free Shell" or "Edit Shortcuts."
d. If you discover you are not on the correct page or that you skipped Step a, you can tap the right or left edge of the screen at this point to get there.
e. Press Menu again.
f. Scroll to and press the selector on Rename Menu. Options are Insert Menu Left, Insert Menu Right, Restore Default Menus, and Rename Menus.
g. Type the name of the menu/page in the edit field (e.g., contacts, work Websites, GPS).
h. Scroll to and press the selector on OK.
i. Press Back twice or until the phone announces, "Exiting Edit Mode." Currently, the phone mispronounces this as "Exciting edit mode."
4. To add new pages, do the following, assuming that you are not in Edit Mode. If you are in edit mode, start with Step d below.
a. Touch the edge of the screen repeatedly to find the page you want to add shortcuts to. by default, options are Home, Shortcuts Left, and Shortcuts Right.
b. Press the Menu button. The phone announces, "Edit menus."
c. Scroll to and press the selector on Edit Menus, the only option. Simply pressing the selector may not work. Once the selector has been pressed, the phone announces, "Eyes-Free Shell" or "Edit Shortcuts."
d. If you discover you are not on the correct page or that you skipped Step a, you can tap the right or left edge of the screen at this point to get there.
e. Press Menu again.
f. Scroll to and press the selector on Insert Menu Left or Insert Menu Right. Options are Insert Menu Left, Insert Menu Right, Restore Default Menus, and Rename Menus.
g. Touch the edge of the screen repeatedly until the phone announces, "New Menu."
h. Add shortcuts to this page or rename it as described above.
i. When you are done, press Back twice or until the phone announces, "Exiting Edit Mode." Currently, the phone mispronounces this as "Exciting edit mode."
5. To clear all pages and recover the items on the default main screen (in case of utter shortcut calamity), Do the following, assuming that you are not in Edit Mode. If you are in edit mode, start with Step c below.
a. Press the Menu button. The phone announces, "Edit menus."
b. Scroll to and press the selector on Edit Menus, the only option. Simply pressing the selector may not work. Once the selector has been pressed, the phone announces, "Eyes-Free Shell" or "Edit Shortcuts."
c. Press Menu again.
d. Scroll to and press the selector on Restore Default Menus. Options are Insert Menu Left, Insert Menu Right, Restore Default Menus, and Rename Menus.
e. Add shortcuts to this page or rename it as described above.
f. When you are done, press Back twice or until the phone announces, "Exiting Edit Mode." Currently, the phone mispronounces this as "Exciting edit mode."

Note: Some users have reported frequent crashes with previous versions of the Eyes-Free Shell. Many report resolving the issue by restoring Default Menus once.

Using the Eyes-Free Shell Shortcuts

Users can set up 7 different types of shortcuts. They can be accessed by touching the edge of the screen to get to the menu/page, then stroking to the assigned position. Following is the behavior to be expected from each type of shortcut.

1. An Application shortcut opens the application,, so touching the screen, stroking to the Market shortcut, and lifting a finger opens the Market.
2. A Bookmark shortcut opens a webpage in the default browser, so touching the screen, stroking to a Wikipedia shortcut, and lifting a finger opens Wikipedia in Ideal Web Reader.
3. A Contact shortcut opens the details screen for the individual, so touching the screen, stroking to the Boss shortcut, and lifting a finger opens the screen that prompts users to call or email their boss at work.
4. A direct Dial shortcut sends a call immediately, so touching the screen, stroking to the Mom shortcut, and lifting a finger starts the call without a confirmation step. Users who stroke to the wrong name can cancel by sliding their finger to a blank spot before breaking contact with the screen.
5. A direct Message shortcut opens the default messaging app and puts the contact in the To field, so touching the screen, stroking to the Best Friend shortcut, and lifting a finger starts a text message and moves focus to the message body edit field. Users who stroke to the wrong name can cancel by sliding their finger to a blank spot before breaking contact with the screen.
6. An Eyes-Free Shell Widget shortcut gives users the kind of information found on the main screen (e.g., signal strength, time, battery status), so touching the screen, stroking to the battery shortcut, and lifting a finger causes the phone to announce the battery level. Users can put important widgets on all shortcut menus or move less important widgets to menus that are used infrequently.
7. A Settings shortcut opens System Settings options, like Accessibility, Accounts and Sync, or Language and Keyboard, so touching the screen, stroking to the Accessibility shortcut, and lifting a finger opens the item where the Accessibility, screen reader, and Kickback checkboxes are located.

Grid Orientation and Keyboard Behavior While in the Eyes-Free Shell

1. When the phone is closed (i.e., the keyboard is tucked under the touch screen), the grid is used with the phone in portrait orientation. When the phone is open (i.e., the physical keyboard is available to the user), the grid is oriented to landscape.
2. While the eyes-Free shell, the Eyes-Free shortcuts, and the Talking Dialer screens are up, the physical controls on the keyboard do not behave in the usual way. Most physical controls are unresponsive while in the Shell and Shortcuts, and in Dialer, arrow keys are unresponsive and different characters are assigned to the typing keys.
a. Back works as expected. A short press moves focus to the previous screen. A long press moves focus to the stock Home screen.
b. Home works as expected. A short press moves focus to the Eyes-Free shell. A long press moves focus to the Recent Applications screen.
c. Menu opens the page editor for the Eyes-Free Shell shortcut screen.
d. Search moves focus to the Talking Dialer. If the Talking Dialer is not installed, Talkback announces, "Application is not installed."
e. Search+letter works as expected, opening the app assigned to the Android shortcut.

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