Accessibility in Office 2016 for Mac

Office 2016 for Mac products, such as Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, support the built-in accessibility features in the Mac and provide additional features to help make the products easier to use for people with disabilities.

In this topic

Use accessibility settings

Office 2016 for Mac uses the universal access features of Mac OS X. Assistive technologies and accessibility features make it easier to zoom in on your screen, use keyboard shortcuts to move around your screen, and hear menu commands or text in your documents.

Use Full Keyboard Access

Full Keyboard Access is a feature on the Mac that enables you to press the Tab key and Shift+Tab to move the keyboard focus between controls when you are in a window or dialog.

Turn on Full Keyboard Access
  1. On the Apple menu, press System Preferences.

  2. Press the Keyboard button.

  3. On the Shortcuts tab, under Full Keyboard Access, press All controls.

Use F1, F2, and so on as standard function keys

To make the most of keyboard shortcuts in Office 2016 for Mac, you can change the behavior of the function keys on your Apple keyboard. Icons printed on the top row function keys perform special (hardware-related) functions. They also work as standard function keys in Office 2016 for Mac when you press the Fn (Function) key along with the function key. If you don't want to press the Fn key every time you use a function key, you can change your Apple system preferences.

Note: A change in this preference affects how the function keys work for your entire computer, not just for the Office 2016 for Mac applications. After you change the preference, to use built-in functions for your computer (the special features printed on the keys), press the Fn key. For example, F12 has a sound icon. To use the key to change your volume, press Fn+F12.

Change function key preferences with the mouse
  1. On the Apple menu, press System Preferences.

  2. Select Keyboard.

  3. On the Keyboard tab, select the Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys check box.

Before you can change this setting with the keyboard, first turn on full keyboard access and turn on VoiceOver (press Command+F5).

Change function key preferences with the keyboard
  1. Press Command+Spacebar. You hear “Spotlight System dialog,” and you’re instructed to type.

  2. Type sys, and then press Return. You hear “System Preferences,” and the focus is in the search window.

  3. Type a, and then press the Down arrow key until you hear “Accessibility, Completion selected.” Press Return. The Accessibility window opens, where you can set preferences.

  4. Press the Tab key until you hear “Accessibility features table” and then “Keyboard image selected.”

  5. Press the Tab key until you hear “Open Keyboard Preferences button,” and then press Spacebar.

  6. You should hear “Keyboard selected, tab.” If you don’t, you may need to press the Left arrow key until you hear that phrase. Then, press the Tab key until you hear “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.” The focus is on a check box.

  7. To select the check box, press Spacebar.

  8. To save your changes and close the dialog, press Command+W.

Shortcut conflicts

Some shortcut keys referenced in the keyboard shortcut topics for individual Office 2016 for Mac products may conflict with default Mac OS keys. To use these shortcuts, you may have to change your Mac keyboard settings.

Change system preferences for shortcut keys with the mouse
  1. On the Apple menu, press System Preferences.

  2. Press Keyboard.

  3. In the tabs, press Shortcuts.

  4. Press Mission Control.

  5. Clear the check box for the shortcut key that you want to use.

Before you can change this setting with the keyboard, first turn on full keyboard access and make sure that you have turned on VoiceOver (press Command+F5).

Change system preferences for shortcut keys with the keyboard
  1. Press Command+Spacebar. You hear “Spotlight System dialog,” and you’re instructed to type.

  2. Type sys, and then press Return. You hear “System Preferences,” and the focus is in the search window.

  3. Type a, and then press the Down arrow key until you hear “Accessibility, Completion selected.” Press Return. The Accessibility window opens, where you can set preferences.

  4. Press the Tab key until you hear “Accessibility features table.” If necessary, press the Up arrow key or Down arrow key until you hear “Keyboard, Keyboard image.”

  5. Press the Tab key until you hear “Open Keyboard Preferences button,” and then press Spacebar.

  6. Press the Tab key until you hear “Keyboard selected tab, One of four,” and then press the Right arrow key until you hear “Shortcuts tab.”

  7. To open the Shortcuts tab, press Spacebar.

  8. To go to the Shortcuts category table, press the Tab key.

  9. If necessary, press the Down arrow key until you hear “Mission Control image selected.”

  10. Press the Tab key, and then press the Down arrow key until you hear the assigned shortcut that you want to replace. For example, to change F11 to perform a different function than Show Desktop, press the Down arrow key until you hear “Show Desktop check box.” Then, to clear the check box, press Spacebar. After that, you can assign F11 to a different function or use the function that Office for Mac has assigned to the function key.

  11. To close the dialog, press Command+W.

Zoom with keyboard shortcuts or scroll gestures

To enable accessible methods for zooming, use the following steps:

  1. To open the Accessibility Options dialog, press Command+Option+F5. You hear “Application Accessibility Options.”

    • To be able to zoom with keyboard shortcuts, press the Tab key until you hear “Enable zoom using keyboard shortcuts” and, to select the check box, press Spacebar.

    • To be able to zoom with scroll gestures, press the Tab key until you hear “Enable zoom using scroll gestures” and, to select the check box, press Spacebar.

      Tip: You can select both zoom options.

  2. To close the Accessibility Options dialog, press Command+Q.

If you enabled keyboard shortcuts for zooming, you can zoom in or out as follows;

  • To zoom in, press Command+Option+Equal sign ( = ).

  • To zoom out, press Command+Option+Minus Sign ( - ).

If you enabled scroll gestures for zooming, you can zoom in or out as follows;:

  • To zoom in, place two fingers in the middle of the trackpad and spread them apart on the trackpad.

  • To zoom out, place two fingers in the middle of the trackpad and squeeze them together on the trackpad.

Set key preferences

  1. To open the Accessibility Options dialog, press Command+Option+F5. You hear “Application Accessibility Options.”

    • To use sticky keys, press the Tab key until you hear “Enable Sticky Keys” and then, to select the check box, press Spacebar.

      Sticky keys let you perform keyboard combinations that require you to press two keys at once by instead pressing the modifier and then pressing the additional key(s) sequentially.

    • To use slow keys, press the Tab key until you hear “Enable Slow Keys” and then, to select the check box, press Spacebar.

      Slow keys require that you hold down a key for a longer period before it takes effect.

    • To use mouse keys, press the Tab key until you hear “Enable Mouse Keys” and then, to select the check box, press Spacebar.

      Mouse keys let you use the keyboard instead of the mouse or touchpad to move on the screen and to make selections. For more information, see Control the pointer using Mouse Keys on the Apple site.

      Important: You can select any or all of these options.

  2. To close the Accessibility Options dialog, press Command+Q.

Change display for better visibility

  1. To open the Accessibility Options dialog, press Command+Option+F5. You hear “Application Accessibility Options.”

  2. To invert the colors in the application’s interface, press the Tab key until you hear “Invert display colors” and then, to select the check box, press Spacebar.

  3. To adjust the contrast on the screen, press the Tab key until you hear “Contrast slider” or “Contrast” and a percentage that indicates which contrast is set. To increase contrast, press the Right arrow key and to decrease contrast, press the Left arrow key.

  4. To close the Accessibility Options dialog, press Command+Q.

Use VoiceOver in Office for Mac products

VoiceOver comes with the Mac OS X operating system and is a screen reader that provides key combinations to access windows, text, buttons, menus, and more and that speaks the content in Office documents and in windows.

Tip: If you're unfamiliar with VoiceOver, learn more about it on the Apple VoiceOver for OS X site.

Turn on VoiceOver with the mouse

  1. On the Apple menu, press System Preferences.

  2. Press Accessibility.

  3. Under Accessibility features, press VoiceOver. In the Accessibility dialog box, select the Enable VoiceOver check box.

Turn on VoiceOver with the keyboard

  • To turn VoiceOver on, press Command+F5.

  • To turn VoiceOver off, press Command+F5 again.

VoiceOver commands

After you turn on VoiceOver, you can use VoiceOver commands. To use a VoiceOver command, press the Control and Option keys at the same time, plus whichever key(s) perform the command. When the Control and Option keys are pressed at the same time, this is referred to as the VO key.

For example, to use the menu bar in Word, press VO + M (Control+Option+M). This moves the focus to the Apple menu, and you hear "Menu bar, Apple." From there, to move to other menus, press the Tab key or the arrow keys; or, to move to other areas of the screen, press Esc or F6.

Note: Throughout the rest of this topic, we abbreviate the keyboard combination Control+Option as VO.

Use the ribbon

The following information assumes that you have turned on full keyboard access and that you have VoiceOver on (press Command+F5).

To access a ribbon tab with the keyboard while in an Office for Mac product
  1. Press F6 (you may need to press Esc first, depending upon where the focus is) until you hear a tab name followed by “You are currently on a tab…inside a tab group.” You can also press VO+Left arrow and VO+Right arrow.

  2. To move between tabs, press the Left arrow key or Right arrow key.

  3. When you hear the name of the tab you want, press VO+Spacebar. The focus moves to the ribbon.

To use the buttons in ribbon with the keyboard while in an Office for Mac product
  1. After you select a tab and move the focus to the ribbon, to move between controls on the ribbon, press the Tab key. You hear the names of each control.

  2. To use the selected control or to open the split button, button, or list associated with a control, press VO+Spacebar. You hear that you have pressed the button. (To close the control, press Esc.)

  3. To leave the ribbon when you are done and to move to a different location, press F6 repeatedly.

More information

You may find the following resources useful:

Technical support for customers 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.

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