Accessibility in Outlook

Outlook and Windows Mail products for Office 365 are accessible by default. They include accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files.

Many accessibility features, such as screen readers and speech recognition tools, are built-in to the platform, such as Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android. To learn about platform-specific accessibility settings, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

Outlook for the desktop is accessible by default and works with Windows accessibility features. This 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.

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 Toolbar resides at the upper left of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Send/Receive All Folders, Reply, and Forward.

Below this toolbar is a set of ribbon tabs, including Home, Send/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 Delete, Reply, and Forward.

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

Email
  • The first time you use Outlook, it opens in the Inbox. By default, the Inbox contains three panes: Folder Pane, Message List Pane, 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 the message list.

    • Reading pane below the message list.

    • Reading pane turned off.

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

Calendar
  • 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 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

Contacts
  • 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 .

Tasks
  • 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: File, Task, Insert, Format Text, Review, and Tell Me. As always, the ribbon changes depending on which tab you select.

  • For example, in the Task tab, you find Save & Close, Delete, 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 Arrow key or the Down Arrow key, and then, to make a selection, press Enter.

  • To exit a menu or mode, press Esc.

For more navigation options, read Keyboard 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.

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.

Outlook for Mac in Office 365 takes advantage of accessibility features built-in to Mac OSX that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files. You can use keyboard shortcuts, VoiceOver, and Speak tools to work with Outlook for Mac in Office 365. To find keyboard shortcut information, see Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook 2016 for Mac.

To learn about other accessibility settings, such as High Contrast or Zoom, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

In this topic

Get to know the Outlook for Mac layout

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, what you find depends on what is currently selected (folder or view). For example, if you are in the Inbox view, 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 that you can select Mail, Calendar, People, or Task views.

Navigate in Outlook

  • To move to the ribbon, press F6. If F6 does not work, press Tab. (If you are in an editing context, you might have to press Command+W first.)

  • 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 on the ribbon, use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys.

  • To open a menu, such as font or highlight color picker, press the Down Arrow key. (To open a menu in VoiceOver, press VO+Shift+M.)

  • To select a command, press Spacebar.

  • Press Esc to exit.

Technical support for people 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.

Outlook for iOS (iPad and iPhone) includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts, VoiceOver (the screen reader built-in to iOS devices), Speak dictation, and other features such as color contrast that you can set up on your iOS device. To learn about how to use these accessibility settings, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

In this section

Get to know the Outlook for iOS layout

When you start the Outlook for iOS app, your email Inbox opens. The top line of the Inbox includes the Show Navigation Pane button and the Search button on the left side, the heading “Inbox” in the middle, and the Compose button on the right side. Below that is a line of email filters, and below that is a vertical list of your email messages.

At the bottom of the screen, the Outlook app ribbon appears. Use the tabs to navigate to different areas:

  • Mail goes to the Inbox.

  • Calendar goes to the Calendar view

  • Files lets you browse files, including on OneDrive

  • People goes to the People view, which shows your contacts.

  • Settings displays Outlook app settings you can change

Choose settings in Outlook for iOS

To change app settings, move the focus to the Settings tab in the ribbon at the bottom of the screen. Double-tap. The Settings screen appears.

Swipe right to move down through the settings and swipe left to move up through them. To open the setting you just heard, double-tap.

Here are the settings options.

  • Help & Feedback. Select it to hear help topics, contact customer support or provide your feedback to Microsoft.

  • Accounts lets you manage any email accounts that you’ve added to the app. To add a new email account, slide your finger until you hear “Add Account,” and then double-tap.

    Underneath your accounts list, there’s a Mail heading followed by settings related to email, and then a Calendar heading with settings for the calendar section of the app.

  • More offers settings so you can invite others to use the Outlook app or discover additional Microsoft apps for iOS.

Mail settings

You can set Mail options by double-tapping any of these buttons:

  • Notifications. Change things like which emails you’re notified about, the sound used for notifications, and so on.

  • Default. Set the default email account that the Outlook app uses.

  • Signature. Set up signatures for different email accounts.

  • Swipe Options. Change what actions the Outlook app takes for right and left swipe.

  • Focused Inbox. Turn Focused Inbox on or off. By default, it’s on, causing Outlook to intelligently place the highest priority emails in the Focus list of your Inbox.

  • Organized Mail by Thread. Turn this option on or off. When it’s turned on, Outlook organizes your messages by subject thread.

  • Badge Count. Select whether Outlooks shows the unread mail only for your Focused Inbox or for all emails.

On each Settings page, slide down to hear options and then follow the instructions for each control to change its setting. When you’re done changing settings on a page, move the focus to the Back button in the upper-left corner, and then double-tap. Repeat as needed to return to the Settings page.

Calendar settings

You can any of these buttons to set Calendar options, by double-tapping the button. Change things like the default notification period for events, the sound used for notifications, and so on.

  • Notifications button. Change things like the default notification period for events, the sound used for notifications, and so on.

  • Default. Specify the calendar to display by default.

  • Week Start. Specify which day to use as the start of the week in the Calendar.

  • Calendar Apps. Connect other calendar apps so their events show up in the Outlook app. When you select this button, a list of available calendar apps, such as Evernote or Facebook, appears. To hear them, slide down or flick right. To add an app, slide or flick to the right until you hear “Connect,” and then double-tap. To connect the app, follow the instructions.

On each Settings page, slide down to hear options and then follow the instructions for each control to change its setting. When you’re done changing settings on a page, move the focus to the Back button in the upper-left corner, and then double-tap. Repeat as needed to return to the Settings page.

Technical support for people 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.

Outlook for Android includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts, Talkback (the screen reader built-in to Android devices), and other features such as color contrast that you can set up on your Android device. To learn about how to use these accessibility settings, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

In this section

Get to know the Outlook for Android layout

When you start the app the first time, Outlook for Android presents a heading at the top, the main content in the middle, and a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. On the left side of the Outlook heading is the Open Navigation Drawer button and the name of the current view, such as Inbox or Files. On the right side of the Outlook heading are the Search and Settings commands.

After the first time, Outlook starts in Inbox.

At the bottom of the screen, a menu bar contains the following four commands:

  • Mail goes to the Inbox.

  • Calendar goes to the Calendar view

  • Files goes to the Files view, where you can browse files from your email accounts, those stored on OneDrive, and more.

  • People goes to the People view, which shows your contacts.

Between the heading at the top and the menu bar at the bottom is the main content for the screen: the Inbox of emails, the calendar, the list of your files, or your list of people or contacts.

Settings for Outlook for Android

To set up Outlook the way you want, use Settings.

  1. To change your Outlook settings, in the upper-right corner of the screen, move the focus to the Settings tab and double-tap.

  2. To hear the available settings, slide down the screen. To scroll down, swipe up with two fingers. To scroll up, swipe down with two fingers. To open and get more information about the setting you just heard, double-tap. To turn a setting on or off, move to the On/Off switch and double-tap. Following are some of the available settings:

    • Help & Feedback opens a screen you can use to contact support, suggest a feature, get answers to frequently asked questions, or troubleshoot a problem.

    • Accounts contains the list of email or storage accounts you’ve added to the Outlook app. To change any account settings, select an account. To add a new email or storage account, slide until you hear “Add Account” and double-tap.

    • Mail contains email-related settings you can use to set your notifications, the default email account, your signature, swipe options, and more.

    • Calendar contains event-related settings you can use to set your notifications, the default calendar, and the week start for your calendar.

    • Preferences contains accessibility settings.

    • More contains commands to invite others to use the Outlook app and to explore additional Microsoft apps for Android.

  3. When you’re done changing settings on a page, in the upper-left corner, move the focus to the Navigate Up button and double-tap.

Technical support for people 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.

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