Accessibility in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

You can turn on accessibility features in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac let you hear text read aloud with VoiceOver, and access commands without using the mouse.

VoiceOver comes with the Mac OS X operating system. When you turn VoiceOver on, you use VoiceOver key combinations to access things like windows, text, buttons, menus, and so on. When something has focus, your computer reads a verbal tip about it.


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

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

  • See also Keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac .

In this topic

Discover the PowerPoint interface

When you open PowerPoint for Mac, the PowerPoint menu appears at the top of the screen, with its menu items added after the Apple menu. Below this, the name of your document appears, and it is centered. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides to the left of the screen. This toolbar 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 the sharing options icon. Below them is the Help Improve Office menu.

Under this line, you find a set of ribbon tabs, such as Insert and View. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you pick different items, such as tables or pictures, to insert into your document.

Your presentation contents are below the ribbon. The screen is divided, by default, into two sections:

  • On the left is the Thumbnail pane, which is a vertical list of the slides in the presentation. In the Thumbnail pane, you can insert new slides, delete slides, or select a slide to work with.

  • On the right, the Slide Editor pane contains the current slide. It takes up the bulk of the screen and is the place to work with and change the contents of the slide currently selected in the Thumbnail pane.

Some actions open a additional pane on the right, such as the Comments pane.

Navigate in PowerPoint

When you open a presentation, by default the focus is on the Slide Editor pane, in the layout area. To access other areas, press F6. Or, with VoiceOver on, press VO+Right Arrow .

Tip: If you have VoiceOver on and are currently working in an area, like a slide, you may have to press VO+Shift+Up Arrow to exit the area before using VO+Right Arrow to move to a new area.

Work with a PowerPoint slide

Within the Slide Editor pane, in the layout area, to interact with the elements of the slide, when the Slide Editor pane is selected, press the Tab key. This moves through the items on the slide.

  • To type or edit text in a text box, with the box selected, type text or press F2. To select text within a box, while inside the box, press Shift while you press the arrow keys.

  • To exit a text box or item, press Esc.

  • To move a slide element, with the box selected, press the arrow keys.

Navigate through slides in the Thumbnail pane

You can scroll throughout the slides of a presentation. To move the focus to the Thumbnail pane, press F6. (If you have VoiceOver on, you hear “Thumbnail pane.”) To move to different slides in the presentation, press the Down Arrow and Up Arrow keys.

Read comments by using the keyboard and VoiceOver

This procedure assumes that you have VoiceOver turned on. To invoke the VO command, press Control+Option.

  1. To move the focus to the Review tab, press F6 until you hear “You are currently on a tab…inside a tab group.” (If F6 does not move the focus, press VO+Shift+Up Arrow to exit the area where you are working.)

  2. Press the Left Arrow or Right Arrow key until you hear “Review tab.”

  3. To enter the ribbon, press VO+Spacebar.

  4. Tab to the Next button, and then press VO+Spacebar. The Comments pane opens at the first comment, and the slide containing the comment is on the screen.

  5. To enter and hear the comment, press Return.

  6. Tab to the next comment in the thread.

  7. When you finish with the comment thread, press VO+Shift+Up Arrow until you exit the Comments pane, and then repeat these steps. Step 5 takes you to the next comment in the presentation.

Turn on VoiceOver

Before using VoiceOver, make sure your keyboard has access to all controls. On the Apple menu, click System Preferences > Keyboard. On the Shortcuts tab, under Full Keyboard Access…, select All Controls.

Now you can turn VoiceOver on. On the Apple menu, click System Preferences > Accessibility. On the left under Accessibility features, click VoiceOver. In the Accessibility dialog box, check the Enable VoiceOver box. Tip: You can also turn on VoiceOver by pressing COMMAND + F5

VoiceOver commands

After you turn on VoiceOver (see above) you can use VoiceOver commands. To do this, you hold down the VO keys and then press one or more additional keys. The VO keys are the CONTROL and OPTION keys. For example, to use the menu bar in PowerPoint, press VO + M (or, CONTROL + OPTION + M). That moves the focus to the Apple menu, and your computer will read aloud: "menu bar, Apple." From there, you can use the tab or arrow keys to move to other menus. If you've never used VoiceOver before, we recommend going to Apple's website and learning more. See VoiceOver for OS X.

Important: Throughout the rest of this document, we abbreviate the CONTROL and OPTION keys as "VO."

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.

Give feedback about PowerPoint 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 that you’d like for us to improve. Here's how to send us feedback: Open a file. Press VO and the arrow keys to access the "ribbon, tab group." Press VO + SHIFT + DOWN ARROW to interact with the "ribbon, tab group." Then, press VO + UP ARROW and then VO + RIGHT ARROW to move focus to the "Help Improve Office" menu button. Then press VO + SPACEBAR, and select the option that applies to your feedback.

After selecting Tell Us What You Like or Tell Us What Can Be Better, there will be three fields: a text field for your feedback, a toggle to either include a screenshot or not (which is set to include by default), and a field for you to provide your email address (optional).

Please include the word ‘Accessibility’ in your feedback so we can find it easily.

More information

Keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

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