Basic tasks using a screen reader with Search

Read out loud symbol with the label Screen reader content. This topic is about using a screen reader with Office

This article is for people with visual impairments 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.

Use Microsoft Office with your keyboard and a screen reader to quickly find what you're looking for with Microsoft Search. We have tested it with Narrator, JAWS and NVDA, but it might work with other screen readers as long as they follow common accessibility standards and techniques. Microsoft Search lets you directly access ribbon tab commands, files, other users, and help by simply typing what you want.

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In this topic

Use Microsoft Search

The Search box consists of the text box for typing your search term, and the drop-down menu of suggestions that is automatically opened when the focus moves to the Search box. To move the focus to the Search box, press Alt+Q.

The list of suggestions can contain suggestions in several categories, such as Find in Document, Recently Used, People, Documents, Suggested, and Help. Your screen reader announces the name of each category as you browse the list. The content of the suggestions menu updates automatically as you type your search term.

To browse the suggestions, press the Up and Down arrow keys until you hear the one you want, and press Enter to select it.

Use Search to work with contacts

You can use Microsoft Search to browse recent contacts, or to search for other contacts. You can easily view the contact card for each contact or share the current document with them.

Note: This feature is only available for Office enterprise customers.

  1. To move the focus to the Search box, press Alt+Q. The list of suggested actions, people, and documents is automatically opened. If you want to search for a specific contact, type the name of the one you want. Otherwise, the suggestions menu lists recent contacts.

  2. Press the Down arrow key until you hear: "People."

  3. Press the Down arrow key until you hear the name of the contact you want. Press Enter to open the context menu for the contact.

  4. In the context menu, press the Down arrow key until you hear the option you want, and press Enter to select it.

Use Search to work with files

You can use Microsoft Search to browse recent files, or to search for other files. You can open the files directly.

Note: This feature is only available for Office enterprise customers.

Note: Depending on which Office application you are using, you can also perform other file operations in the Search suggestions menu, such as inserting content from the selected document into the currently open document.

  1. To move the focus to the Search box, press Alt+Q. The list of suggested actions, people, and documents is automatically opened. If you want to search for a specific file, type the name of the one you want. Otherwise, the suggestions menu lists recent contacts.

  2. Press the Down arrow key until you hear: "Files."

  3. Press the Down arrow key until you hear the name of the file you want. Press Enter to open the context menu for the file.

  4. In the context menu, press the Down arrow key until you hear the option you want, and press Enter to select it.

Use the Search pane

The Search pane lets you access even more resources based on your search term. The pane contains the All, Files, Web, and Pictures tabs. To use the Search pane:

  1. Press Alt+Q to move the focus to the Search box and type the search term you want to use.

  2. Press the Down arrow key until you hear "See more search results for," and then press Enter. The Search pane is opened, and the focus is moved to the All tab in the pane.

  3. To navigate between tabs, press the Left and Right arrow keys until you hear the name of the tab you want, and press Enter to select it.

  4. To browse the contents of the tab, press the Tab key until you hear "Showing <tab name> results for <search term>," and then use the arrow keys to move between the tab contents.

  5. To select an item in the tab, press Enter.

  6. Do one of the following:

    • For Files tab results, you can move between Open, Link, and Reuse Content with the Left and Right arrow keys, and select the one you want by pressing Enter.

    • For Web tab results, you can move between Open, Link, and More Actions with the Left and Right arrow keys, and select the one you want by pressing Enter.

    • For Pictures tab results, you can insert the picture into your document by pressing Enter.

See also

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

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.

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