Installing SpeakOn and getting started >

Getting started with SpeakOn

This page gives you very basic instructions to get started with SpeakOn CalcPad. Throughout this manual usually the name SpeakOn CalcPad is abbreviated simply to SpeakOn.

SpeakOn is self-voicing. To prevent SpeakOn and your screen reader from talking at the same time, depending on the screen reader you are using and its settings, you may need to either mute your screen reader when the focus is on SpeakOn or shut down your screen reader altogether. For example with NVDA, when the focus is on SpeakOn, press Desktop: [Shift + NVDA + s] or laptop: [Shift + NVDA + z] to switch NVDA to a sleep mode; this mode lasts until SpeakOn is shut down and needs to be applied again when SpeakOn is restarted. Some screen readers such as JAWS, can be configured so that they mute automatically when the focus is on self-voicing applications such as SpeakOn. There is more information about how to do this with popular screen readers in the Tutorial section of this manual.

You interact with SpeakOn using a standard keyboard and optionally a numerical keypad in the usual way. The Tutorial section of this manual will guide you step-by-step through SpeakOn's common operations.


SpeakOn is operated using tasks which are in some ways equivalent to Windows dialogs. The Calculator task provides the functionality to perform calculations; you will spend most of the time using this task. From time to time you will start other smaller tasks to perform specific operations. Every task contains one or more controls. You interact with these controls which perform actions based on the keys you press.

Each key is given a name which relates to its functionality and the key symbols are surrounded by square brackets [ ]. For example the ‘Help’ [F1] key refers to a key that toggles the Help context menu on or off and is activated by the [F1] key on the standard keyboard.

There are two groups of keys used by SpeakOn: Main keys which include the function keys, [Alt] and [Tab] keys, and Context keys which include the four arrow keys, the [Enter], [Home], [End] keys and a few other less commonly used keys. Main keys perform the same functions anywhere in SpeakOn and the Context keys are used to navigate and operate individual controls and menus.

A list of essential keys is provided at the end of this page for quick reference and the operation of most of these is explained below. As you become familiar with SpeakOn you will know many of these keys and their associated actions by heart but you can always remind yourself of the keys available and invoke the actions directly by using the Main Keys sub-menu and the Control Context Keys sub-menu. These and other help functions are available from the Help context menu described below which acts as a central point for all help functionality.

Basic operations 

Install and start the SpeakOn CalcPad program. The Calculator task will start and continue to run throughout the session.

To change the speech volume, press the ‘Speech Minus’ [F5] or ‘Speech Plus’ [F6] keys. To change the speech speed press the * ‘Speech Minus’ [Ctrl + F5] or * ’Speech Plus' [Ctrl + F6] keys.

You will interact mostly with SpeakOn using the Context keys. Features which are used less frequently are available from a context-sensitive menu called the Main menu. You will also find that most features available using the context keys are also available from the Main menu and the equivalent keystrokes are clearly indicated.

One of the most useful keys when you start to use SpeakOn is the Help [F1] key. The Help context menu acts as a central point for all SpeakOn help features and will assist you in learning SpeakOn quickly. When you press the Help key, you are presented with context menu items and sub-menu lists of help features available in SpeakOn. You can scroll the list of the Help context menu by using the 'Up' [up arrow] and 'Down' [down arrow] keys. If you forget where you are in SpeakOn, choose the third menu item in the list, 'Where am I?', which you can select by pressing the 'Select' [Enter] key. You will be told the name of the current task and control. If you select this menu item now you will find that you are in the Calculator task, Pad EditCombo control. You can also access this 'Where am I?' feature by pressing the # 'Help' [Shift + F1] key. The various help features available in the Help context menu are explained in detail in the Tutorial section.

You are now in the Calculator's main task and the focus is on the Pad EditCombo control.

Simple calculations

SpeakOn CalcPad can operate in either standard or scientific mode. After installation it is configured by default to start in standard mode where you can perform simple calculations and explore many of its features.

The Pad EditCombo control is where you type and perform the calculation, observe the result and navigate to previous calculations (history) if you wish.

You can imagine that the Pad EditCombo control performs similarly to an office pad made of sheets of papers where each sheet contains either a recent calculation, result or calculation history; you can erase (clear) any of the sheet or the whole pad as described further below.

To demonstrate the above type the following:
Press Select [Enter]
The result 3 is added to the EditCombo control.

You can go back to the previous calculation by pressing Up [up arrow] and then press Select [Enter] to perform the calculation again.

To type another calculation you need first to clear the previous one. To do this, issue the 'Clear' command by pressing * 'Del' [Ctrl + Del] or [Ctrl + d]. Then type your new calculation and perform it by pressing the Select [Enter] key.

As you type and perform calculations you will find that previous calculations are added to the Pad EditCombo as history which you can always get to by pressing the Up [up arrow] and Down [down arrow] keys.

Calculations are performed using mathematical operators in a similar order to Excel and other spread sheets but there are important differences. Make sure that you read in the Tutorial:
Calculation terminology and mathematical operators

Perform the following calculation:
3 + 4 * 2
Result: 11

This result is because the multiplication has priority over addition. To force a different calculation order you can use brackets as follows:
(3 + 4) * 2
Result: 14

Using memory

For compatibility with regular calculators, memory operations are supported from the Calculator's task Main menu Memory sub-menu and can be operated with shortcut keys; The F9 key acts together with its modifiers as the memory key.

Perform the calculation:
2 + 3
Result: 5

To store the result in memory, from the Main menu select:
Memory > Store result in memory

You can insert the memory content into your calculation as follows:
Type a calculation for example:
5 +
The calculation is not complete as you need to insert the memory value; then from the Main menu select:  Memory > Recall memory insert to calculation
You get:
5 + 5
Perform the calculation and you get:
Result: 10

Similarly you can add and subtract a result from memory using the relevant operations from the Memory sub-menu.

Note that memory is just a variable and you can perform the above memory operations by typing as explained further below; the memory is a variable called 'm'.

Using variables

CalcPad supports an unlimited number of memory storage holders called variables. A variable can have any name you like but for clarity short names are recommended. Consider the calculation:
3 + x

In the above calculation x is a variable and when you perform the above calculation, since the value of x is unknown, the Enter task appears inviting you to enter a numeric value for x; type for example the number 5 and press Select [Enter]; the result 8 is announced because the value of x is replaced by the number 5 and 3 + 5 results in 8.

Press Up to move to the previous calculation and perform it again. This time the Enter task does not appear; the reason for this is that the value is known to be 5 from the previous calculation so the result 8 appears immediately.

You can change the variable value by typing a simple assignment calculation as follows: x=7

The value of x is now 7 and if you perform the previous calculation again namely: 3 + x
Result 10

You can if you wish force the Enter task to appear each time you perform a calculation by typing the following assignment calculation:
The '?' character tells CalcPad to ask you each time the calculation is performed for a new value of x.

The special 'm' variable which represents the memory was mentioned before. Another special variable 'r' stores the latest result. You can use these variables to perform all the memory operations described previously as follows:

To assign the last result to memory:

To add the result to memory:
Or in short notation:

To subtract the result from memory:
Or in short notation:

You can use the memory variable in a calculation like any other variable so the calculation:
3 + m
will add the number 3 to the value stored in memory.

You can also use a calculation based on the previous result for example: 5 * r + 2 will multiply 5 times the previous result and add it to 2.

You don't have to remember all the variables and their values. The Variables selector task in the main menu:
Calculator > Variables selector
enables you to examine and insert variables directly into your calculation.

You can use the 'Clear all' command [Ctrl + Shift + Del] or [Ctrl + Shift + d] to clear all calculations, memory, variables and history.

Using functions

A function is a preset calculation (formula) in CalcPad. Functions begin with the function's name followed by its arguments. The function name tells CalcPad what calculation to perform. The arguments are contained inside brackets and provide the functions with the data needed to perform the calculation; functions usually have one or more arguments and arguments are separated by commas. A function name is marked in a calculation with the prefix '.f' to distinguish it from a variable.

For example, the function 'sqrt' calculates the square root of a number.
The sqrt function is written as:

Perform the following calculation:
Result: 4

You can use functions as part of a mathematical expression for example: 5 + f.sqrt(49)
Result: 12

In standard mode, CalcPad supports only a few functions. In scientific mode, many functions are available to perform a variety of operations. You don't have to remember all the available functions; the function selector task in the main menu:
Calculator > Functions selector
enables you to find, examine and insert functions directly into your calculation.

After performing the various operations above, you are always back in the Calculator task.

To shut down SpeakOn press the ‘Main’ [Alt] key. You are placed in the 'Shut down SpeakOn’ menu item and to apply it press the ‘Select’ [Enter] key. You can also shut down SpeakOn in the usual Windows way by pressing [Alt + F4] keys on the standard keyboard.

Summary and learning how to use SpeakOn CalcPad

This is a very simplified guide. Only the simplest operations have been described. To get the most from SpeakOn CalcPad and understand its operation, you should read the:
Tutorial section
and other relevant parts of this manual.

Essential standard keyboard keys 

'Help' [F1] - toggles the Help context menu

# 'Help' [Shift + F1] - 'Where am I?' - speaks the current task and control in focus

'Menu' [Alt] - toggles the Main menu

'Focus' [Tab] - moves the focus between controls in the same task

'Speech Minus' [F5] - reduces speech volume

'Speech Plus' [F6] - increases speech volume

* 'Speech Minus' [Ctrl F5] - reduces speech rate

* 'Speech Plus' [Ctrl F6] - increases speech rate

'Cancel' [Esc] - mutes the speech synthesizer temporarily.

'Up' [up arrow] - for navigation in a control if applicable

'Down' [down arrow] - for navigation in a control if applicable

'Right' [right arrow] - for navigation in a control if applicable

'Left' [left arrow] - for navigation in a control if applicable

'Select' [Enter] - for specific operations in a control if applicable

'Home' [Home] - for navigation to a first item in a control if applicable

'End' [End] - for navigation to the last item in a control if applicable

'Del' [Del] - delete a character in Edit or EditCombo controls

* ' Del' [Ctrl + Del] or [Ctrl + d] - clear calculation in the Pad EditCombo control

*# 'Del' [Ctrl + Shift + Del] or [Ctrl + Shift + d] - clear all calculations, memory, variables and history in the Pad EditCombo control

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