Translations of this page: English, Portuguese Brazil


  • Description: is a full-featured office productivity suite that provides a near drop-in replacement for Microsoft(R) Office.
  • URL:

  • Summary: Accessible as of version 2.03. Versions prior to 2.03 are known not to be accessible. At present, Openoffice Calc and Openoffice Writer have been extensively scripted and are undergoing testing. Currently Accessible functions in this suite include: Document creation and editing, spell checking, manipulation of tables and forms, as well as the ability to work with spreadsheets.
  • Details



  • One of the problems you will run into when using large spreadsheets is that as you scroll off the page you can no longer see your column or row headers. OpenOffice makes it easy to solve this problem with the window freeze function. The "freeze" feature for spreadsheets that allows you to split a window, keeping one portion of the window frozen while you scroll through the other portion of the window.

  • The setting of dynamic rows and columns in Orca with Spreadsheet with the ORCA_MODIFIER+r and ORCA_MODIFIER+c commands will not work correctly if there is already row or column headings frozen in the spread sheet. This can be determined by seeing if the Window->Freeze menu item is checked. To use Orca's dynamic rows and columns, this menu item must be unchecked.

  • You should use the OpenOffice dialogs and not the native dialogs. Otherwise, OpenOffice might crash (see To use the OpenOffice dialogs, select the "Tools -> Options -> -> General -> Use dialogs" option.

  • You should find that your distro includes all of the packages you need as part of the standard installation of OpenOffice. However, if the Impress Presentation Wizard hangs when using Orca, find out if your distro has an "" meta package which was not installed. If so, install it and the problem should go away. (see

  • Getting to the "Help" content requires you to press F6 several times. When in the Help content (or in any other read-only text for that matter), you can make the caret position visible by going to Tools/Options/Accessibility and enabling "Use text selection cursor in read-only text documents".

See also the OpenOffice Bugs page for a list of OpenOffice bugs that prevent Orca from doing as good a job as it could do.

Spell Checking

The spelling dictionary might not be installed properly on your machine. The symptom of this will be that you've pressed F7 and no words are marked as being misspelled even though you know there are misspelled words in your content. Here's a fix:

1) First, find the dictionary:

wwalker@laptop:~$ find /opt/* -name \*oxt

2) Then, add the dictionary using the "Add..." button available from the dialog you get with the Tools -> Extension Manager... menu option. Choose the desired *.oxt file you found in step #1. 

Special Keyboard Sequences

It's been found that quite often, getting to a specific component in one of the OpenOffice applications, requires the use of a key sequence that wasn't obvious. In fact, to discover these special sequences, we've had to file bugs against OpenOffice and get one of the engineers to close them as "worksforme" and provide the required information.

To save others having to do this, this section will try to document these unusual commands.

Document Content (swriter and oowriter)

Enter a Special Character

Press Alt+CTRL+u. Type the hexidecimal unicode value for the character you wish to insert. Press either space or enter.

This inserts the unicode character with the given hexidecimal value into your document. This also works in gedit, so it's not just an open office thing.

For a degree symbol the unicode is 00B0 so you'd type "ALT+CTRL+u" type "00B0" (or just "B0") and enter.

Spreadsheet Content (scalc and oocalc)


Presentation Content (simpress and ooimpress)


Database Content (sbase and oobase)

Select "Project Manager" database column entries

  • You can select the "Tables" with ALT+a in an English version.
  • Or with an other pair of ALT+key in an other languages.

See OpenOffice issue 80540 for more details.

Delete a record in a database

Select the row with CTRL+SPACE and press DEL key.

See OpenOffice issue 80542 for more details.

  • Press CTRL+F5 to go to the first control in a form.
  • Then you can use the table form.

See OpenOffice issue 80544 for more details.

Reorder the column heading in the "spreadsheet-like" form of a database

  • Mark the grid control.
  • Press Enter to, well, "enter" the control.
  • Press Shift-Space to select the first column's heading.
  • Press Ctrl-Right to move the column to the right.

See OpenOffice issue 80545 for more details.

The information on this page and the other Orca-related pages on this site are distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Projects/Orca/OpenOffice (last edited 2013-12-28 19:24:49 by WilliamJonMcCann)