How do I use Perusall with the keyboard?

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Perusall's interface can be navigated using the keyboard. Press the Tab key to move between buttons or links, and press Enter to "click" the currently highlighted button or link.

On this page, keyboard shortcuts for the Mac are listed. On Windows, press Ctrl instead of .

Setting up your account

If your Perusall account is a standalone account (i.e., not connected to your institution's Learning Management System), you'll be prompted to set up your account immediately after signup. The account setup form contains a number of steps and the content of each step is determined based on your action in the previous step. Once you make a selection, the next step will appear below your current selection.

Navigating the text and starting conversations

Navigating the text with a keyboard requires caret mode in your browser, which is supported by the Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers. To toggle caret mode on or off, press F7. (In Firefox, the settings option Always use the cursor keys to navigate within pages will also need to be checked for caret mode to work.) Other browsers, including Safari, do not support the use of the keyboard to highlight text to create annotations.

To create highlights, enable caret mode in your browser, and then use the arrow keys to navigate the text. Hold down Shift and use the arrow keys to create a highlight, and then press Enter to start a conversation based on that highlight.

To move the focus to the main content area, press ⌘ + Shift + Z.

Using the table of contents

Many books and articles have a hierarchical table of contents that can be used to quickly navigate a long document. When using the keyboard, press the Left or Right arrow to collapse or expand a section, respectively, and press Enter to jump to that section in the text. (If you use a screen reader, you may need to disable the default shortcuts for your screen reader to avoid a conflict.)

Using read-aloud

Perusall has a built-in read-aloud feature which can be opened using the read-aloud panel on the right navigation bar. Scroll the text to anywhere in the document and then click the start button to start reading aloud. Click the Start thread button while text is being read to start a conversation based on text you just heard.

The Start Thread button is between the Next button and Read-aloud speed controls, on the Read aloud panel.

Selecting hover options

Perusall uses hover options for editing bookmarks; to edit or delete an existing bookmark, mouse users would hover over the option and select the Edit or Delete icons. As a keyboard user, you can work with these lists by using Tab to move focus to an element of the list, and then press the E key to edit the currently-focused item or the D key to delete it.

A screenshot of the Bookmarks panel, with the button to create a new bookmark at the current text position at the top, and with existing bookmarks listed below it.

For instructors creating a table of contents for materials they have uploaded, the same keyboard shortcuts work: E to edit an existing entry in the table of contents, and D to delete it. will also indent the entry in the outline (move it to the right), and O will outdent it (move it to the left).

Using keyboard shortcuts

Perusall also contains a number of keyboard shortcuts to make it faster to move around; to see a "cheat sheet" for the the keyboard shortcuts for the current page, click View keyboard shortcuts for this page on the toolbar:

A screenshot of the button to show keyboard shortcuts in the top navigation bar.

The cheat sheet is context-aware and will show only those keyboard shortcuts that apply to the current context. A master list appears below:

  • ? - Toggle the cheat sheet
  • Esc - Close the cheat sheet when open
  • then D - Open document
  • then A - Open assignment
  • then C - Open group or one-on-one chat
  • then H - Go to Course Home
  • Left arrow - Navigate to previous page/section
  • Right arrow - Navigate to next page/section
  • ⌘ + Shift + Y - Read next thread
  • ⌘ + Shift + U - Read next unread thread
  • ⌘ + Shift + C - Open current conversation panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + A - Open all conversations panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + S - Open starred conversations panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + M - Open thumbnails panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + O - Open table of contents panel
  • ⌘ + F - Open search panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + I - Open notifications panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + K - Open bookmarks panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + X - Open notes panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + E - Open read-aloud panel
  • ⌘ + Shift + H - Toggle focus between highlighted text and comment editor
  • ⌘ + Shift + Z - Move focus to main content area

Using a screen reader

If you are using a screen reader, use the "browser mode" or "pass next key through mode" to avoid conflicts between your screen reader and Perusall's keyboard shortcuts.

When selecting a highlight within the text to open that conversation, Perusall will shift the keyboard focus to the reply entry box. If you would like to read the conversation instead, navigate to the Current conversation heading to start reading from the beginning of the thread.

Customizing your screen

The left navigation panel (My Courses, Course Home, etc) which appears in each course can be resized using the keyboard. To do this, press Tab until the keyboard focus rectangle is on the vertical divider between the left navigation panel and the main content. Then press the Left or Right arrows to move the divider and resize the panel. The same process can also be used to resize the right navigation panel inside of a document or assignment.

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