Accessibility in Outlook 2016 for Mac

You can turn on accessibility features in Outlook 2016 for Mac to hear text read to you and take advantage of other helpful features.


  • To learn how to set preferences that make it easier to use Office 2016 for Mac products with the keyboard and with the Mac’s built-in screen reader, VoiceOver, see Accessibility in Office 2016 for Mac.

  • This topic assumes that you have turned on full-screen keyboard access. Some procedures require that you have VoiceOver turned on and use the VO command. To use the VO command, press Control+Option.

  • Refer also to Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook 2016 for Mac.

  • This topic assumes that JAWS users have the Virtual Ribbon Menu feature turned off.

In this topics

Discover the Outlook interface

When you open Outlook 2016 for Mac, the Outlook menu appears at the top of the screen, with its items added after the Apple menu. Centered below this is the name of the current view or folder. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides to the left of the screen; it contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo. On the same line and on the right side of the screen is the Search box and sharing options icon.

Below that is the Help Improve Office menu.

Under this line, you find a set of ribbon tabs, such as Home and Organize. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. Selecting a tab brings up a tab-specific ribbon. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, the Tools tab switches to a ribbon that lets you add accounts or import data.

Below the ribbon, your inbox and emails appear for the selected folder or view. For example, if you are in the Inbox, the view contains a list of messages for reading and a preview pane with the contents of the currently selected message. If you’re in People view, you’ll find a pane on the left with categories of people, a pane in the middle with the people in that category, and another pane on the left with the contact details for the currently selected person.

At the bottom of the screen, under this main area, is a Navigation bar with views:

  • Mail

  • Calendar

  • People

  • Tasks

  • Notes

Navigate in Outlook

To move to the ribbon, press F6. If F6 does not work, press Tab. (If you are in an email or a similar editing context, you may need to exit it first, for example by pressing Command+W.) To move between tabs, use the arrow keys.

When you are on the ribbon tab that you want to use (such as Home), press the Tab key again to move to the first command in the ribbon. To move between commands, use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys. When you are on a menu button within a tab group, like font or highlight color picker, to open that menu, press the Down Arrow key. Press Esc to exit. (To open a menu in VoiceOver, press VO+Shift+M.) To select a control in the ribbon, press Spacebar. .

Common tasks in Mail

Read your email

To navigate to the previous or next message in the message list, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow key.

Note: To move between the email list and the folder list, press Shift+Control+Closing Bracket (]).

Reply to or forward email

  1. To reply to the sender of the message or, if the message is from a mailing list, to reply to the mailing list, press Command+R.

  2. To reply to all the recipients of an email, including the sender, press Shift+ Command+R.

  3. To forward a message, press Command+J.

Create and send email

  1. To go to Mail, press Command+1.

  2. To create a new message, press Command+N. The focus is in the To field.

  3. Enter the recipient’s email address, or start typing the name of a contact and the Contacts and Recent Addresses window appears. Press the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys until you see or hear the name you want, and then press Enter. Repeat to add additional recipients.

  4. To check if the recipient’s email addresses are correct, press Control+Command+C.

  5. To type the subject of your email, tab until you get to the Subject field, and then type the subject.

  6. To get to the body of the email, press the Tab key. Type your message.

  7. To send your message, press Command+Return.

Work with the calendar with VoiceOver turned on

  1. To switch to Calendar view, press Command+2.

  2. To create a new appointment, press Command+N.

  3. To open the address book and invite attendees to your meeting, tab to the address book and press Spacebar. Search for contacts in the address book . In the Search People box, type the attendee names and, to go to the results table, press the Tab key. If it’s an empty table, change the directory pop up to All Folders. To go to the results table, press the Tab key and select the attendee.

  4. Tab to the Subject field and type the purpose of your meeting.

  5. Tab to the Location field and type where you’ll be holding the meeting.

  6. Tab to the Starts and Ends fields and specify the Start Date and End Date for the meeting. To specify the Start and End times, press the Tab key again.

  7. To go to the body of the message window, press the Tab key. (In VoiceOver, press VO+Shift+Left Arrow.) Type the context for your meeting.

  8. To send your message, press Command+Return.

Work with people, tasks, and Notes views

  • To go to People view and get a list of all your contacts, press Command+3. To create a new contact, press Command+N.

  • To go to Tasks view, press Command+4. To create a new task, press Command+N

  • To go to Notes view, press Command+5. To create a new note, press Command+N.

Technical support for people with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or have 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.

Give feedback about Outlook accessibility

We’re still working on delivering great accessibility features, and we have more work to do. We’d love to hear about the things you like and the things you’d like us to improve. Here's how to send us feedback. In Outlook:

  1. To move to the ribbon tabs, press VO+Right Arrow or VO+Left Arrow or F6 until you hear “You are currently on a tab…inside a tab group.”

  2. Press the Tab key until you hear “Help improve Office.”

  3. To open the menu, press VO+Spacebar, and use the Down Arrow key to select either “Tell Us What You Like” or “Tell Us What Can Be Better.” To select an item, press Return.

  4. 4. Enter your feedback in the dialog box. To move between controls, press the Tab key. There are three fields: a text field for your feedback, a toggle to either include a screenshot or not (the default is to include), and a field for your email address (optional). The focus is in the feedback text field.

    Important: Please include the word “Accessibility” in your feedback so we can find it easily.

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