Learn how to navigate Word 2016 for Mac using accessible features

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 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.

Word 2016 for Mac includes accessibility features that make it easy for people with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with documents. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts and VoiceOver, the built-in Mac OS screen reader to work with Word. For more information about accessibility settings and features that are platform-specific, refer to Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.


In this topic

Get to know the Word 2016 for Mac layout

When you have a document open in Word, the name of your document is centered at the top of the screen. App controls, such as Minimize and Close, are at the upper left corner. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides next to them at the upper left of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo. The Search field and the Share button are at the upper right of the screen.

Below this row is a set of ribbon tabs. It includes tabs such as Insert, Design, and Review. Selecting a tab brings up a tab-specific ribbon that includes commands organized in groups. The ribbon sits below the row of tabs. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you pick different items to insert into your document, such as hyperlinks or pictures.

Document content appears under the ribbon and makes up the majority of the page. Some commands, such as Review or Find, open panes to the right or left of the document body.

Navigate using the keyboard

To cycle through the main areas of Word 2016 for Mac, press Command+F6 (forward) or Shift+Command+F6 (backward). From top to bottom, these are the main areas:

  • Toolbar

  • Ribbon tabs

  • Document content

  • Status bar

To browse within the toolbar or ribbon tabs, press Left or Right arrow key. You hear the name of the current button or tab. To select, press Control+Option+Spacebar. To browse the commands on the selected ribbon, press Tab (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward). You hear the name of each command as you land on it, and if you wait a moment, VoiceOver also tells you how you can interact with the current command.

When focus is on the document body, press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow to interact with the content:

  • To move one line down or up, press the Down or Up arrow key.

  • To move one word left or right, press the Left or Right arrow key.

  • To move to the first line of the next or previous paragraph, press Control+Option+Down or Up arrow.

To select text, press Shift+an arrow key in the direction of the text you want to select.

Tip: When focus is on the document body, press Control+F to use the Search field.

Navigate using the navigation pane

You can quickly move between whole pages with the help of the navigation pane, which opens to the left of the document body.

  1. Press Command+F6 until you hear the name of the tab you're on, for example, "Home, selected, tab."

  2. Press the Right arrow key until you hear "View, tab" and then press Control+Option+Spacebar.

  3. Press Tab until you hear "Navigation pane, unchecked, checkbox" and then press Control+Option+Spacebar to turn the pane on.

  4. To move focus to the navigation pane, press Command+F6 until you hear "Thumbnails pane, selected."

  5. To open the thumbnails pane that lists the document pages, press the Down arrow key once, and then press Control+Option+Shift+Down arrow. VoiceOver tells you how many pages there are and which page you're on.

  6. To move between pages, press the Down or Up arrow keys until you find the page you want, and then press Control+Option+Spacebar to navigate to it.

The focus moves to the text of the selected page.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert a hyperlink in Word 2016

Keyboard shortcuts in Word 2016 for Mac

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Word

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Word documents 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.

Expand your skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.