In-Process 29th March

I was going to beat around the bush and tease you for a few paragraphs, but I couldn’t wait – The big news this week is the release of NVDA 2019.1!

NVDA 2019.1

If you need to download it immediately and can’t bear my waffling any further, you can go right to the release announcement which also has the link to download.

Highlights of this release include performance improvements when accessing both Microsoft word and Excel, stability and security improvements such as support for add-ons with version compatibility information, and many other bug fixes.

Not only are there performance improvements in Excel, but you no longer need to disable “Allow editing directly in cells” in Excel’s advanced options.

We’ve also taken out the large chunk of silence between sentences when using the Windows OneCore Voices on Windows 10, so reading with OneCore should feel snappier too!

There are new braille tables for Afrikaans, Arabic 8 dot computer braille, Arabic grade 2 and Spanish grade 2.

We’ve added an option to NVDA’s mouse settings to make NVDA handle situations where the mouse is controlled by another application. This allows NVDA to track the mouse when a system is controlled remotely using TeamViewer or other software. It also allows NVDA to work with non-standard mice, for instance, computer joysticks. Also for mouse users, reporting of text under the mouse has been improved within Microsoft Edge and other UIA applications.

Several features requested by corporate users are the ability to disable logging entirely, and the ability to specify whether silent installations of NVDA set NVDA to start at Windows logon or not. These are both available in 2019.1.

In specific applications, there has been work done for LibreOffice / Open Office, Firefox and Chrome. The presence of formulae in LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice spreadsheets is now reported. In Firefox and Chrome, browse mode now reports the selected item in list boxes and trees.

When moving by character in plain text controls (such as Notepad) or browse mode, 32 bit emoji characters consisting of two UTF-16 code points will now read properly.

Optimal program settings

NVDA has always tried to work with most programs “out of the box”. We’ve tried to avoid situations where you need to set particular options in a program for it to work. Having said that, there are times when it is unavoidable, or when a program works, but setting some options may improve the experience. For some months now, we have been aware of an issue where the only way to read information when editing text in cells in Excel was to have “allow editing directly in cells” disabled in Excel. In 2019.1 this has been fixed so you can have that setting enabled or disabled as you choose and it should work regardless. Another bug fix in 2019.1 is that responsiveness in Microsoft Word when navigating by line, paragraph or table cell may be significantly improved in some documents. In the “What’s new”, this bullet point is accompanied by “A reminder that for best performance, set Microsoft Word to Draft view with alt+w, e after opening a document.” While you can read and edit documents in Word in any view, using Draft view may improve performance, particularly on older or lower-spec machines.

Someone else wrote to me this week about a problem with reading emails in Outlook when the email preview was enabled. Email preview in Outlook is a visual feature which lets you see the text of the currently selected message without fully opening it. Although there was a bug in that particular case, turning off visual features like message preview, can improve performance if you aren’t using them.

Here are some tips I found for tweaking visual effects for better performance in Windows 10 from Windows Central.

And here’s how to adjust the same settings in Windows 7 from Gizmo’s Freeware.

Here’s another one from PC World.

And here are some tips from Microsoft for Speeding up Office by turning off animations.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy 2019.1, let us know how you’re going with it. If you’ve got any other tips or tricks you’d like to see here, please do let us know.