Accessibility Tip: JAWS PlaceMarkers

What are PlaceMarkers?

PlaceMarkers are pretty much what the name implies. They are markers you add to web pages or long PDF documents so you can find a specific item easily.

There are two types of PlaceMarkers and we will touch on them both. The first type is referred to as simply PlaceMarkers (or sometimes Permanent PlaceMarkers) while the second type is called a Temporary PlaceMarker.

PlaceMarker data is stored within JAWS so it is important to know that when updating JAWS or uninstalling and reinstalling, you may lose your PlaceMarkers. You can retrieve them from Settings\Enu\PlaceMarkers folder if you would like to make sure they are not lost. The file name will be the URL of the Web page followed by the file extension PMI.

PlaceMarkers (Sometimes Called Permanent PlaceMarkers)

PlaceMarkers can be added to any HTML content and will remain there until removed. The most common use for PlaceMarkers is to mark a difficult to find element or commonly visited area or string of text on a web page.

Please note that, to more easily differentiate between the two types of PlaceMarkers, these more stable and versatile PlaceMarkers are referred to as “Permanent PlaceMarkers”. However, if you see the word “PlaceMarker” alone, it is typically referring to the type of PlaceMarker described here.

The PlaceMarker Dialogue

The PlaceMarker Dialogue box, like most dialogue boxes, can be navigated using the Tab key. Following are elements of the PlaceMarker Dialogue and the function of each:

  1. Add: When opening the PlaceMarker Dialogue, this button will have focus by default. Activating the Add Button will create a PlaceMarker and set it to the current position of your cursor. Since this is the default button when opening the PlaceMarker Dialogue, you may simply press Enter as soon as the dialogue opens. Details on adding a PlaceMarker are described below under the heading “Creating a PlaceMarker”

  2. PlaceMarker List Box: After opening the PlaceMarkers Dialogue, focus rests on the PlaceMarker List. As mentioned above, you may use Arrow Keys to find the PlaceMarker. From this point, you can Move To, Change, or Remove the PlaceMarker in focus.

  3. Move To: After you have a PlaceMarker in focus from the PlaceMarker List Box, you may either press Enter to navigate to the PlaceMarker or press Tab until the Move To button is in focus. Engaging this button will move you to that PlaceMarker.

  4. Change: You may change the name of a PlaceMarker or change whether it applies to one specific URL or to an entire domain. Simply put the PlaceMarker in focus from within the PlaceMarker List Box, then press Tab until you hear Change. You may also press Alt + C to move to the Change Button. Once pressed, a dialogue box very similar to the Add PlaceMarker dialogue. You may change the name of the PlaceMarker or change whether it applies to the specific URL or the whole Domain. You may not choose to anchor it to text when it has not already been done.

  5. Remove: With a PlaceMarker in focus from within the List Box, navigating to this button using Tab then pressing Enter or pressing Alt + R will remove the PlaceMarker from the list and from all web pages with which it is associated.

  6. Remove All: With the PlaceMarker Dialogue open, you may remove all PlaceMarkers either by pressing Alt + V or pressing Tab to navigate to this button and pressing Enter or Space.

  7. Display PlaceMarkers: This area of the dialogue is not a button, it is an area with three radio buttons.

  • Selecting the Domain radio button will display all PlaceMarker for the current domain (i.e. or the WCBVI Website)

  • Selecting the URL Radio Button will display only PlaceMarkers tagged for the specific page you are on.

  • Selecting the All Radio Button will display both PlaceMarkers specific to the URL or the page you are on and all PlaceMarkers for the current domain.

Creating a PlaceMarker

Once you have your cursor on a location to which you’d like to add a PlaceMarker, follow these steps:

  1. Press Control + Shift + K to display the PlaceMarker list.

  2. Press Enter to choose the Add button. You may also press Alt + A or simply Tab to that button, whatever is most comfortable for you. An edit box appears, containing the text JAWS took from the cursor’s location to create a name. You may type over the selected text and name the PlaceMarker with whatever name you’d like.

  3. There are two additional checkboxes you may choose to navigate to using the Tab Key:

  • Define for All Pages in the Current Domain – If the item you are marking is something that appears in multiple pages in a domain (for example, a link or button that is on most pages of a domain such as or the WCBVI Website) you may choose to have that PlaceMarker placed in any page of that site domain. If left unchecked, the PlaceMarker will only appear on that specific URL address.

  • Anchor to Text – If this box is checked, the PlaceMarker will anchor to the text surrounding the place you mark rather than the physical location of the cursor. This option is great for websites that update often where items get moved around a lot. News sites are constantly updating their content and this can cause some PlaceMarkers to shift if not anchored to text. You may choose to change text by pressing Tab. Adding text to make the anchor more specific or removing some text to make it more general. You may wish to work with the PlaceMarker as it is and only change the Anchor Text if the PlaceMarker is not holding to the correct text for some reason.

  1. Press Enter to close the PlaceMarker dialog box, or you may press Tab until your cursor is focused on the OK button before pressing Enter or Space

Navigating to a Specific PlaceMarker

To navigate to a specific PlaceMarker you have created:.

  • Method 1: Use the Hot Keys K and Shift + K to quickly navigate to PlaceMarkers

  • Method 2: Open the PlaceMarker Dialogue. You are placed in the PlaceMarker list. Use Arrow Keys to navigate the list and when you hear the PlaceMarker you would like to have in focus, press Enter or Tab to the Move To Button..

Temporary PlaceMarkers

Temporary PlaceMarkers can be added to a page or document quickly without having to negotiate a Dialogue Box. They can be quite useful but they do have one major limitation. There can only be one Temporary PlaceMarker per document or webpage.

There are also some advantages to Temporary PlaceMarkers:

  • Temporary PlaceMarkers, unlike standard PlaceMarkers can be added to a word processing document, such as Microsoft Word.

  • They can be used to mark a specific place you left off reading or editing in a long document and remain in place when the document or browser is closed.

  • They can be used to help select text.

To add a temporary PlaceMarker, press Control + Windows Key + K. JAWS will Say “marking place” or “temporary PlaceMarker set” depending on the type of document or file you are in.

To move to a Temporary PlaceMarker, press Alt + Windows + K in a word processing document or simply K in an HTML page such as a page on the Internet. JAWS will say “returning to marked place” or may simply say the text that next to which you have set the Temporary PlaceMarker.

Selecting Text with a Temporary PlaceMarker

You may also use Temporary PlaceMarkers to more easily select text. This is helpful if you want to select text between a Temporary PlaceMarker and a specific location and do not want to concern yourself with inadvertently unselecting text or canceling a selection when navigating your document.

To select text between a Temporary PlaceMarker and your current location, simply press Insert + Space followed by the letter M. Please note this is a layered keystroke, so you would press the Insert and Space together, but press M after releasing those keys. To speak selected text, the command is Insert + Shift + Down Arrow.

Key Takeaways

  • Use PlaceMarkers to mark specific or hard to find areas of a webpage

  • Permanent PlaceMarkers can be used only in HTML documents such as web pages, but Temporary PlaceMarkers can be used in editable text documents as well.