moderated Re: How should Custom Highlights work?

Bill White <billwhite92701@...>

Hello, Jonathan. Here is the documentation for Custom Highlight Assign from JAWS Help


Custom Highlight Assign

Use Custom Highlight Assign to specify colors that are then recognized by JAWS as highlighted. This is very useful in applications that do not use Windows colors, or do not allow you to modify preset color settings. For more information, please refer to Custom Highlight Colors.


Custom Highlight Colors

Windows uses highlights to set apart icons and menu items that have the system focus. Text that is selected is also highlighted. The colors used for these

highlights are set in Control Panel, Display, Appearance. These colors are also specified in some applications. JAWS reads the text of highlighted items,

an JAWS echoes changes to what is highlighted. So when you move through a menu, JAWS reads each menu item to which the highlight (or selection) is moved.

In JAWS, you can now specify which colors are recognized as custom highlights for your applications. Specify custom highlights based on:

list of 3 items

• Foreground Color (text color)

• Background Color

• Both Foreground and Background Colors

list end

Once assigned, text matching the color(s) you have specified is treated as highlighted by JAWS. For example, SaySelectedText (INSERT+SHIFT+DOWN ARROW)

reads Custom Highlights you have assigned.

See also:

Assigning Custom Highlight Colors

Custom Highlight Options Dialog


Custom Highlight Options

Use the Custom Highlight Options dialog box to modify how JAWS reacts to Custom Highlights you have assigned for an application. Change how JAWS treats Windows Highlights and Custom Highlights or delete assigned Custom Highlights. However, you cannot assign Custom Highlights from this dialog. See Assigning Custom Highlight Colors.


To open the dialog box, do the following:


Open Settings Center, and type "Custom Highlight" without the quotes in the Search edit box.

Press DOWN ARROW to move to the filtered results, and select Configure Highlight Colors.

Press SPACEBAR to open the Custom Highlight Options dialog box.

The dialog box contains the following items:


Highlights List View

This list contains all of the defined color highlights. To remove an item in this list, select the Delete button or press DELETE on the keyboard.


Color Highlight Group

Use this series of radio buttons to specify which highlights are spoken. Regardless of this radio button selection, all of the custom highlights are displayed in the Highlights list view. The following options are available:


Windows Only: When this is checked, only the Windows Standard Highlights are treated as highlights. All custom colors defined for the application are ignored.

Custom Only: When this is checked, only the custom highlight colors are treated as highlights. Windows Standard Highlights are ignored.

Windows and Custom: Both Windows Standard Highlights and Custom Highlights defined in this application are processed as highlights.

See also:


Custom Highlight Colors


Bill White



From: [] On Behalf Of Cohn, Jonathan via
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2020 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: How should Custom Highlights work?


I was not able to find help documentation for Custom Highlight in JAWS 2021. But the short description in settings center goes along with my understanding. 

Where did you find documentation?



On Dec 19, 2020, at 9:06 AM, James Benstead <james.benstead@...> wrote:


Hi Jonathan,


Thanks, that's really interesting. It sounds like Custom Highlights works in a different way to what is described in the help file, is that right? Are you able to provide any examples of how you use Custom Highlights that I could replicate on my own JAWS installation? I'm keen to know what the feature does and how it works but I'm struggling to do that.


Thank you!



Too brief? Here's why!



On Wed, 16 Dec 2020 at 15:35, Cohn, Jonathan via <> wrote:

I generally use custom highlighting features in applications that do not indicate selected items correctly. For example if you have an application (not a web page one!) that has a list and you are supposed to press space to select an item in the list but JAWS does not recognize this. You might find that the selected text is Bright orange background. So, bring up the custom highlight tool and it will recognize the foreground and background color of the currently focused item. You can then tell JAWS to use that foreground and/or background color to indicate an item is selected.


On Dec 15, 2020, at 12:59 PM, James Benstead <james.benstead@...> wrote:


I've never used Custom Highlights before and I'm trying to figure out how they work. I've read through the Custom Highlight Colors section of the help file but Custom Highlights are not working the way I would expect.


To test CH I've created a Word document with five paragraphs. The text in each paragraph is a different colour. I go to the fourth paragraph, which is green, and hit:

  • CTRL + INS + H and then enter to "Set foreground and background"
  • Enter again to confirm
  • The "Customer Highlight Options - WORD" dialog appears, and confirms that "SpringGreen3 on white" is set as a Highlight
  • Enter to close the dialog and return to Word

According to the help file, "Once assigned, text matching the color(s) you have specified is treated as highlighted by JAWS. For example, SaySelectedText (INSERT+SHIFT+DOWN ARROW) reads Custom Highlights you have assigned." When I hit INS + SHIFT + DOWN, I would expect JAWS to read out the green text, but it doesn't: instead, it just says "nothing selected".


What am I doing wrong?


(Apologies for crossposting; I originally asked about this on the JAWS UK list, but didn't get a response).



Too brief? Here's why!





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