Accessibility in Outlook 2016

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Learn how to navigate in Outlook using accessibility features

Read out loud symbol with the label Screen reader content. This topic is about using a screen reader with OfficeThis article is for people who use a screen reader program with the Office products and is part of the Office Accessibility content set. For more general help, see Office Support home.

Learn more and read the full article from Microsoft Office Support here.

WindowsMaciOSAndroidWindows 10 appOutlook Web app

Outlook 2016 for the desktop is accessible by default and works with Windows accessibility features, which means you can use keyboard shortcuts, a screen reader such as Narrator or JAWS, and Windows Speech Recognition.

You can choose the features that you want to use by making settings in the Windows Ease of Access center. To learn about Windows accessibility settings, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.


  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.
  • For keyboard shortcuts, go to Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.
  • As of October 1, 2017, table navigation using a screen reader has been temporarily disabled.
  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Windows screen reader, Narrator. To learn more about using Narrator, go to Get started with Narrator.
  • This topic makes note of the JAWS functionality as well. To learn more about JAWS for Windows, go to JAWS for Windows Quick Start Guide.
  • This topic assumes you are using this app with a PC. Some navigation and gestures might be different for a Windows phone or tablet.

In this topic

Get to know the Outlook layout

In Outlook 2016, the name the email account that you are using is centered at the top of the screen. App controls, such as Minimize and Close, are in the upper-right corner. By default, the Quick Access Toolbarresides at the upper left of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Send/Receive All FoldersReply, and Forward.

Below this toolbar is a set of ribbon tabs, including HomeSend/Receive, and Folder. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears.

For example, if you select the Home tab in email, a ribbon appears. From that ribbon, you can pick different items, such as DeleteReply, and Forward.

Outlook views offer you a range of productivity and scheduling tools.


The first time you use Outlook 2016, it opens in the Inbox. By default, the Inbox contains three panes: Folder PaneMessage List, and Reading Pane.

You can customize these in various ways. For example. the View tab ribbon includes options for the Reading Pane: Reading pane to the right of message listReading pane below message list, or Reading pane off.

You can find more options like this in Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.


To switch to the calendar, press Ctrl+2.

The first time you use the calendar, two panes appear: the Folder pane and the Calendar pane. Above these panes is the ribbon.

To learn more about calendar options, see Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.

In the Home tab, you can choose to show only today’s calendar or switch views to show a week or a month.

To see more options for the calendar, see Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.


To switch to the contacts list, press Ctrl+3.

The first time you use the contacts, two panes appear: the My Contacts pane (which lists folders for each set of contacts you have linked, such as your organization, Skype for Business, and other linked email accounts) and the Contacts pane, which lists names and contact information in alphabetical order. Above these panes is the ribbon.

In the Home tab, with command buttons for creating and managing contacts.

To see options for contacts, see Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.


The first time you use the task view, two panes appear. On the left is the My Tasks pane with a list of your to-do items; in the right pane are the tasks. The top tabs are File, Home, Send/Receive, Folder, View, and Tell Me.

To open a new task, press Ctrl+N. The new task has five tabs: FileTaskInsertFormat TextReview, and Tell Me. As always, the ribbon changes depending on which tab you select.

For example, in the Task tab, you find Save & CloseDelete, and Forward tasks.

Under the ribbon, you can assign a subject, start date, due date, status, percent complete, and priority, and request a reminder for the task.

To see more options for tasks, see Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.

Navigate by using keyboard shortcuts

  • To navigate in Outlook for Office 365 in Windows, press the Tab key (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward).
  • To select an item, press Enter.
  • To browse within menus or lists, press the Up or Down arrow key, and then, to make a selection, press Enter.
  • To exit a menu or mode, press Esc.

For more navigation options, readKeyboard shortcuts for Outlook.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.
  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.
  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type “bullets”.
  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

See also

Use a screen reader to format text in your email in Outlook

Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook

Keyboard shortcuts for navigating mail in Outlook

Keyboard shortcuts for navigating the calendar in Outlook

Basic tasks using a screen reader with email in Outlook

Basic tasks using a screen reader with the calendar in Outlook

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Outlook email accessible

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.