You can move forward and back in this help text using the up and down arrow keys in your keyboard.

Basic Introduction

Welcome to F123! You can increase or decrease the volume using the Control Super keys and the up and down arrows. The Super key is also known as the Windows key. Press and hold the Control and Super keys and use the up arrow key to increase and the down arrow key to decrease the volume.

In some computers the sound may be turned off or in “Mute”. If the Control Super and up arrow key are not increasing the volume, try Control Super M to see if that activates the sound of your computer.

To increase or decrease the voice rate, press Insert and the left and right arrow keys. To modify the tonality of the voice, use Insert and the up and down arrow keys.

The Insert key, which is also the zero key on the numeric keypad can also be called the Orca key, since it is used for many commands for the Orca screen reader. The Orca key will be the Insert or CapsLock key depending on whether the screen reader is in notebook mode or in desktop mode.

If you have trouble finding any key, press Insert H to enter the learn mode. In this mode you will be able to press keys without having them activate anything on the computer. Press Escape or ESC to leave learn mode.

Press the plus symbol on the numeric keypad to read this help page continuously and press the Control key to stop the reading. If you are using a portable computer, find the section that explains the use of smaller keyboards pressing H or Shift H to find the right section.

right now, your computer screen shows the Mozilla Firefox web browser with this introductory text and a link that you can click to open the next help page. You can press Tab and Shift Tab to jump from link to link, and H and Shift H to jump from title to title.

Use the Control Escape command to access the simplified applications menu and Alt F1 to access the full menu. Typing Alt Tab you can change from this screen to other open screens, such as those showing the simplified and full menus.

Remember that Alt Tab allows you to switch from one open window to another and since the simplified menu was opened with this page, press Alt Tab and you will be able to read the simplified menu. When typing Alt Tab again you will return to this page.

Screen Magnification for Persons with Low Vision

If you need screen magnification, you can activate the screen magnifier by pressing Super Alt M. The Super key is also known as the Windows key.

After activating magnification with Super Alt M, you can increase and decrease the magnification level with Super and the minus and equals keys.

Additional options such as color inversion, high contrast, virtual keyboard and many others can be found and activated in the Accessibility menu. You can open the accessibility menu pressing Control Alt M.

Using the Learn Mode - Orca H

Use the Insert H command by pressing and holding the Insert key until you press H, and then release both keys. Your system will enter the learn mode. In this mode the computer speaks the name of each key when you press it without activating anything on the F123 System. You can easily exit the help mode by pressing the ESC or Escape key, which can be found in the upper left corner of your keyboard.

The Insert key is just one of the keys that is used in combination with other keys. The Alt, Control, Shift, and Super keys are also used by holding them and pressing another key before releasing. Note that in systems like the F123, the key known as Windows key, is called the Super key.

You can also use two command keys simultaneously and a letter. An example is the combination Control Alt O. If at any time the Orca screen reader stops talking, you can make it talk again by reactivating Orca, to do that hold Control and Alt, and press the letter O before releasing all three keys.

Do the following combinations on your keyboard, remembering that if you are using a portable computer keyboard, Orca must be in the notebook mode, where the Orca key is the CapsLock key instead of Insert. If the Orca is in the desktop keyboard mode, the Orca key will be the Insert key or the zero key on the numeric keypad.

Control Super and up and down arrows to increase and decrease volume.

Orca H to enter the help mode. Press ESC or Escape to leave.

Orca T to hear the time.

Orca T, pressing the T twice quickly to hear the date.

Orca and the space bar to enter the Orca preferences and ESC (or Escape) to exit without saving changes.

Control Escape to see the simplified menu, or if it is already open, just Alt Tab to switch windows.

Alt F1 to see the full list of applications, and arrows and Enter to choose one of them.

Types of keyboard and the F123 Orca Screen Reader

There are two basic types of keyboards: The desktop keyboard or desktop computer and the laptop keyboard or portable computer. The main difference between the two, besides the size, is that the desktop keyboard has what we call a numeric keypad (to the right), while the laptop keyboard does not have these keys. The numeric keypad has the keys you would find on a calculator and, when available, it is used by the Orca screen reader to input commands.

The Insert key is a good example. The number zero on the numeric keypad also works as the Insert key. It is often used to perform commands on the Orca screen reader, and because of that it is often called the Orca key.

In the keyboard of laptop computers, the numeric keypad does not exist and the Insert key is located near the Del key. For this reason, in the case of portable computers it is recommended that you open Orca preferences and change the keyboard layout mode to laptop. From then on, instead of issuing commands with Insert, you will be able to use the CapsLock key as your Orca key.

Press Insert and space bar to open the Orca preferences. After opening the Orca preferences, change the type of keyboard used by Orca by pressing the Tab key once and changing keyboard layout with the up and down arrow keys. Then use the Tab or Shift Tab command to get to the Ok button and press space or Enter key to close the Orca Preferences, saving your choice.

When you are using Orca in the notebook mode and need to write everything in capital letters, you must press the CapsLock key twice in quick succession to enable and again to disable capitalization.

Adjusting the Screen Reader Voice

You can change rate, volume, and tonality of the Orca screen reader voice using the keyboard shortcuts described above or through Orca preferences when you press Orca and the space bar. Orca space in the portable keyboard mode will be CapsLock space.

When you open the Orca preferences the focus, that is your cursor, is positioned on the General tab. To see the available options on this tab simply change from one option to another with Tab or Shift Tab. But to change from that tab to others, make sure focus is on the tab name and use left and right arrow keys to change to other tabs.

For example, if you do not want to hear the name of each key when typing, change echo key options. Press Orca space to enter the Orca preferences. Use the left or right arrow key to change the tab until you reach the tab called “Echo key". When you reach this tab press the Tab key until the desired option, in this case the first one, which is called "Enable echo key". Pressing the space bar, you can enable or disable this option.

Simplified Menu and Easy Access to Controls

You can have easy access to the most used applications by pressing Control Escape. After opening the simplified menu with Control Escape, choose the desired application using the up and down arrow keys and open it by pressing Enter. When the application, is open, use the F10 key to activate the menu options and the arrow keys and the Enter key to select the desired action.

When you click on any link, the system will open the page attached to this link and you will be able to read it using the key with the plus symbol on your keypad. Those who are using the F123 portable keyboard mode should use the CapsLock semicolon command. Pressing Control will stop the reading.

The F123 Visual System

F123 Visual is a complete operating system, which includes screen reader and magnifier, office applications, web browser, email, instant messenger, and much more. F123 (pronounced F 1 2 3), is designed to increase educational and employment opportunities, as well as social inclusion for people with partial or total blindness.

Enabling and Disabling this Help Page and Tips for the F123 System

the information included on this page and related help messages are meant as basic orientation for those who are using F123 for the first time. If you have used F123 before and do not need help, enter the deactivate-help command in the terminal or using Alt F2. If you want to reactivate help mode for a friend, simply enter the activate-help command in the same way. The terminal can be opened with the Control Alt T shortcut and can be closed typing exit and pressing Enter.

F123 News

You can always find news about F123 on the following page:


A project like F123 would not be possible without the contributions of individuals, communities, companies, organizations, governments, and foundations who understand the potential that this initiative has to improve the lives of people with visual impairments.

Among individuals, we want to especially thank Joacy Botelho, Daniel, Marcel, and Martin Meili; Adélaïde Caillaud, Adilson Mota de Araújo, Ana Botelho, Ariel Pascke, Betina Richers Graf, Bill Cox, Carla Mauch, Carlos Célio Oliveira, Cléverson Uliana, Cléverton Barros, Frank Alcântara, Gilberto Dimenstein, Gilles Casse, Gustavo de Paula, Howard Weinstein, Hudson Augusto, Joanmarie Diggs, Jonathan Duddington, Jordan and Michael Beck, José Vilmar Estácio de Souza, Julian Harker, Juliane Silva, Julie Lapidus, Krishnakant Mane, Kyle Brouhard, Luís Mauch, Luiz Henrique Volso, Marco Aurélio PC, Maria Aparecida Vieira, Mark Shuttleworth, Marta Almeida Gil, Mary Vargo, Melissa Mendonça, Natalie Cox, Peter Korn, Phil Cowans, Sidney and Cristina Santos, Talyta dos Santos, Thomas de Lima, Tiago Casal, William Walker, and Zachary Kayal for their contributions to F123 and to the free software world.

Among communities we are especially grateful to those responsible for ARCH, Compiz Fusion, Debian, eSpeak, Firefox, Gnome, Knoppix, LibreOffice, Mate, Orca, Lubuntu, Manjaro, and Ubuntu.

Finally, we thank Medicor Foundation, Ashoka, Boehringer Ingelheim, Canonical, Duodyn, Free Software Foundation, Gnome Foundation, Igalia, and Mais Diferenças for their support to F123 and the free software world.

Distance Learning Course for F123 Use

Organizations interested in having access to our distance learning course to support their classroom activities, or people interested in taking the course from home, should send an e-mail with the full name, age, city, state, and country to the address:

In many cases access to the online course materials can be offered for free thanks to support given by foundations and individuals.

List of F123 E-mail Users

If you want to ask for help, make suggestions, or share your experiences with other F123 users, send an email to the following address to join our list:

Support F123

You can support our project by publicizing F123 via social networks or among friends who may not yet know of our project. Use any of these links:

You can also support our project by buying a DVD with F123, hiring our technical support and consulting services, or even buying a high quality speech synthesizer. If you have already installed the free version of our software, the voice installation can be done automatically and remotely. Support F123 with your purchase by clicking here.

If you´d like to read this page again, you can go back to the beginning with Control Home or by pressing Shift H to return to the previous titles.

Next help page