Setting focus to text entry box in Storyline

Hi.  I think I know the answer to this, but I need to ask to make sure.  I'm updating a simulation of a mainframe data system, originally recorded in Captivate six years ago.  To correctly mimic the system, I need the focus of the screen to be on the text entry box from when the timeline for the slide starts, so that the student can input the data without clicking on the text entry box.  In searching the forums, I found a similar query regarding Quizmaker, and this functionality was not supported in that program.  I'm guessing that Storyline won't support it either.

90 Replies
Bob Browne

Hi, All-

I know this is an old thread, but I found it now that I need help with this issue.

After much frustration trying all of the above without success, my one last attempt at a solution worked. HOWEVER, the problem for me appears to be Storyline 1 vs. Storyline 2. All of my frustration was in SL2. When I attempted the manual steps stated by Tessa Maki (in SL1), it worked beautifully!

1. Create a layout on the slide master that includes the background image you want.

2. Insert the new layout on your desired slide.

3. Insert text entry box;format so it blends with background.

4. If you have any other objects on the slide, make sure the text entry box is at the bottom of the list in the timeline or it won't be the focus when timeline starts.

5. Preview - the text entry box should default to a cursor.

All of my current projects are SL2 and I don'twant to recreate in SL1 if it's not necessary.

Has anyone else found this? Is this a bug in SL2?

I'll appreciate any help!


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Bob,

Yes, this has been reported to our QA team for review in Storyline 2, as I mentioned in this other thread.

I'll add this thread to the existing QA report as well so that they're aware of how many users are being impacted and so that when there is additional information to share I can update you here.

David Manning

Hi Ashley, 

To clarify, this thread is originally about Storyline 1...

Yes, I use the workaround of putting the text entry field at the bottom. But that behaviour is a clumsy workaround. In simulators, you use text boxes on top of images to simulate text entry fields. Yes, you can create a new master with a unique background image for each simulator slide. But then you have these problems:

  • The work effort is significantly higher to create each master
  • Backgrounds can't have their position adjusted, removing your ability to control the course appearance
  • Background images get significantly compressed, resulting in lower quality products
  • Master slides aren't intended to be used this way, so when you want to properly use master slides for templating, you have to sift through long lists of workaround master slides

Can you see why I'm asking for this issue to be addressed? 

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi David,

Yes the original thread is about SL1, and the information in terms of the text box being at the bottom of the timeline is operating as designed. If you'd like to see a different behavior to that it would have to be a feature request, and I don't believe new features are being added to Storyline 1, although it could be considered for Storyline 2. 

Chris Ammon

This is a great thread, thanks everyone. I just wanted to add that I didn't need to create unique makser slides to get it to work. It's true you need the text box on the lowest layer, so any images that need to be behind the text box can't be on the slide timeline, but you can just put images in the slide background versus creating a new master slide for each slide. 

For example, I created 3 freeform text entry quiz slides all in a row, and I used the tab key as the submit. For each slide I used the black master slide. On each slide, I right-click the slide and select Format Background. Then change the fill to be a picture and use whatever background image you need as the background fill. With that method I'm able to tab to each slide and I see the blinking cursor on each slide AND they all have uniques background images. Cheers!

Chris Ammon

For the text box to show the blinking cursor as soon as the slide starts it must be the first object in the slide tab order so it is the object that has focus, to use web development speak. Storyline sets tab order basically from the top left of a slide to the bottom right--each time you press the tab key you'll see a yellow box around each item that has focus. That's why you are having success by putting images in the slide background or master, they are not jumping ahead of the text entry box in the tab order. And by putting the text entry box at the bottom of the timeline you are putting it first in the tab order UNLESS you have anything else on the slide positioned higher on the slide.

We discovered that if our text entry slide includes other elements on the slide AND those elements are positioned on the slide higher on the slide, those elements take the focus when the slide starts. It's easy to test. Put an element upper left of your text box and you get no flashing cursor. Move the element to bottom right of the slide and you get blinking cursor. you can also press tab and watch the yellow box jump.

The exciting part is we found a fix, so long as you give up keyboard control (tabbing to elements) on that slide. If you have elements on the slide that are stealing focus before your text entry box, you have to turn off their accessibility visibility. You do that by selecting the element, going to Size and Position, going to the Alt Text tab, and unchecking the box "Object is visible to .....". That removes the object from tab order (so keyboard users can't access it), but it will let you position things on the slide while still keeping your text entry box as the first focused object.

Needless to say, it would be awesome if we could set tab order.


Chris Ammon

Awesome, thanks. The tab order feature is great, and the list of features and fixes is impressive.

What's odd is that even if I set the text entry field to be first in tab order it still has to be the lowest layer on my timeline to be active when I land on that slide. So you still have to put all background graphics in the slide background or on a master slide. That's kind of a bummer for this specific project I'm already well into, but not a big deal going forward.

Greg Tomsho

This thread is somewhat old and although it was helpful to know that placing  a text entry box at the bottom of the timeline automatically sets the focus to that text box, this only works with the previewer and in Flash. It does not work when using the HTML5 output. Very annoying since so many are moving away from Flash. The HTML5 operation should be as far as reasonably possible identical to the Flash, but it is not. Even some of the spacing is different so I am finding I have to choose either Flash or HTML5 to get it to look right. 

I have decided to focus on the HTML5 output, but would really like the automatic focus with blinking cursor. I'm basically emulating a Windows command prompt and students shouldn't have to click in the box before beginning to type commands. If anyone knows how to get the automatic focus with HTML, I'd love to hear the solution.

Amy Rice

Is there any recourse for software captures? Storyline isn't capturing text-entry action--entering a phone number into a field, which is a key function of the software. So I'm having to manually create text entry pages, but i can't get the cursor to be active. I'm almost certain I got this working when building software exercises manually, using screen shots on a master. It was awesome. But this has screen recordings as the bottom-most item in the timeline.  

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Amy,

This discussion is a bit older, but I'd love to try and help!

What version of Storyline are you using? The screen recording should capture text entry, but it may not work 100% of the time depending on the software or browser you're recording.

If you're recording something browser based try running it with Internet Explorer as that will allow for more data to be captured by Storyline (browsers such as Chrome block some of that data being reported to Storyline.) 

If you're recording a particular program installed on your computer that could also be blocking access. An easy way to see if the text entry is captured would be to record typing into something like an MS Word doc. 

Let me know if you need anything else or can test out those! 

Chelsea Thibodeaux

I'm having the same problem. In preview, everything works fine, but when I upload the HTML to our LMS, the text entry boxes are not focused when the slide begins. This is problematic because it's supposed to be a timed quiz, and the students will be slowed down if they have to click in the text box on every slide. Have any resolutions been found for this?