[WATS.ca Archived]

January 15, 2013

Accesskeys and Reserved Keystroke Combinations

accesskeys

Prologue

Back in the early 2000′s, my colleague and friend Derek Featherstone and I launched a joint consultancy group in Ottawa, Canada that focused on the issues of on-line accessibility, and the emergent techniques and requirements of this (at the time) new aspect of web development. Derek and I wrapped up WATS.ca somewhere around 2006 as we moved on to other projects, but we both remain active in the field today.

We jointly published a number of articles on our web-site that often became go-to references then, and it seems a shame that they be lost to the vagaries of time; the original site long since gone. I have created an Archive section of this site to preserve those postings, and the following article from that time is one such. Please note that some of the information in this or other similar articles may be dated, or superseded by events in time: I am making no attempt to update these articles and am simply posting them as they existed when they were first written.

By: John Foliot | Posted: December 04, 2003

In a non-scientific study conducted in the summer of 2002, we researched the availability of available Accesskeys which had not already been reserved by various other software technologies which might be employed by various users. The results indicated a real problem in that most ALT + __ keystroke combinations (assuming the Windows operating platform) have already been reserved by one type of application or another.

Given that at this writing there are few if any available ALT + __ keystrokes left, and conceding that built in or assigned keystroke combinations inherent in software applications should take precedence for the end user, WATS.ca continues to advocate that the ACCESSKEY element/attribute, while a good idea in principle, is fraught with so many potential problems that we have abandoned using them in the interest of true inter-operability.

While it would be presumptuous of us to declare this table “complete” it does illustrate the number of keystroke combinations which would conflict with implementation of the ACCESSKEY functionality introduced in HTML 4.0. Errors, omissions or inclusions are gratefully appreciated and will be added to this page upon receipt.

We have included Opera for reference only. We are aware that Opera doesn’t use the ALT + _ keystroke to invoke accesskeys. We also acknowledge that this appears Windows-centric and that other Operating Systems may invoke alternative modifier kyes to access the designated hot-key.

Known reserved keystroke combinations

IE 5.5/6 Firefox / NS 7 / Mozilla Opera 7 IBM HPR JAWS Classic Settings (Using IE 5.5/6) JAWS Laptop Settings (Using IE
5.5/6)
Window Eyes (Using IE 5.5/6)
JAWSAssist Extension for FireFox
IE 5.5/6 Firefox / NS 7 / Mozilla Opera 7 IBM HPR JAWS Classic Settings (Using IE 5.5/6) JAWS Laptop Settings (Using IE
5.5/6)
Window Eyes (Using IE 5.5/6)
JAWSAssist Extension for FireFox
Alt+A Favorites Favorites Favorites Favorites Favorites
Alt+B Bookmarks Bookmark Read All Options in Dialog Box Bookmarks
Alt+C Read Characters
Alt+D Address Address Dial Address Address Address Address
Alt+E Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit
Alt+F File File File File File File File File
Alt+G Go Go Use Graphics Wizard Go
Alt+H Help Help Help Help Help Read Current Line Help Help
Alt+I Read Items
Alt+J Table Jump Read Prior Word
Alt+K Provide a list of Accesskeys for the current page Read Current Word / Spell Current Word (Key must be pressed twice within half a second for the spell function.)
Alt+L Read Links Read Next Word
Alt+M Mail Read Prior Character or Icon
Alt+N Navigate Read Windows Cursor Read Next Line
Alt+O Read Controls
Alt+P Activate JAWS Cursor
Alt+Q QA (Mozilla Only)
Alt+R Turn JAWS Cursor Restriction On or Off
Alt+S Settings Change Screen Echo
Alt+T Tools Tools Table Navigation Tools Speak the Title of the Current Window Tools Tools
Alt+U Debug (Mozilla Only)
Alt+V View View View View View Change Verbosity Level View View
Alt+W Window Window Read Words Read the Application Window Window
Alt+X
Alt+Y Read Prior Line
Alt+Z
Alt+1 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Read Headings Reserved for User-defined windows Cycling Heading level 1
Alt+2 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Reserved for User-defined windows Cycling Heading level 2
Alt+3 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Reserved for User-defined windows Cycling Heading level 3
Alt+4 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Reserved for User-defined windows Cycling Heading level 4
Alt+5 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Say Sentence (Numberpad) Say Sentence (Numberpad) Reserved for User-defined windows Cycling Heading level 5
Alt+6 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Reserved for User-defined windows Cycling Heading level 6
Alt+7 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Reserved for User-defined windows
Alt+8 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Left Mouse Click Reserved for User-defined windows
Alt+9 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Right Mouse Click (Press this key twice within a second for a double mouse click.) Reserved for User-defined windows
Alt+0 Default English installation of Firefox on Linux uses Alt+(#) to shift tab focus when browsing multiple tabs Reserved for User-defined windows
Alt+ `
Alt+ – Open a child window control menu Open a child window control menu
Alt+ =
Alt+ (
Alt+ ) Screen Sensitive Help
Alt+ [
Alt+ ]
Alt+
Alt+ / Speak Coordinates of Active Cursor
Alt+ ; Activate PC Cursor
Alt+ :
Alt+ , Read Current Character
Alt+ . Read Next Character or Icon
Alt+ (Left Arrow) Back Back
Alt+ (Right Arrow) Forward Forward

Addendum: A big thanks goes out to Mikko Rantalainen (mikko.rantalainen@peda.net) for providing the following information regarding internationalization, specifically Finnish/Swedish localizations:

  • Default Internet Explorer for Finnish localization has menu bar accelerators for T, M, N, S, K and O and address bar accelerator E.
  • In addition, shortcuts with ‘=’, ‘(‘, ‘)’, ‘[‘, ‘]’, ‘/’, ”, ‘;’ and ‘:’ require using shift or AltGr with Finnish/Swedish (and most other European) keyboard layouts so those cannot be used with just ALT. (For example, to type ‘[‘ I have to press AltGr+8. So “ALT+[” requires me to press Alt+AltGr+8 which seldom works as expected. If you accept this kind of shortcuts you might as well add “AltGr+µ” as it’s equally easy to type (Alt+AltGr+M) with my Finnish layout keyboard).
  • Non-numeric keys that can be used without any modifier key in Finnish/Swedish keyboard layout are: + ‘ – . , < § and letters å ä ö [written in UTF-8]
  • CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Accesskeys and Reserved Keystroke Combinations by John Foliot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Posted by John

I am a 16 year veteran of Web Accessibility, living and working in Austin, Texas. Currently Principal Accessibility Strategist at Deque Systems Inc., I have previously held accessibility related positions at JPMorgan Chase and Stanford University. I am also actively involved with the W3C - the international internet standards body - where I attempt to stir the pot, fight hard for accessibility on the web, and am currently co-chairing a subcommittee on the accessibility of media elements in HTML5.

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