Accessibility in Outlook 2016

Outlook 2016 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, a screen reader, or a speech recognition tool to work with Outlook 2016.


  • To learn how to set accessibility preferences and navigate Office 2016 applications, refer to Accessibility features in Office 2016.

  • This topic assumes that JAWS users have the Virtual Ribbon Menu feature turned off.

In this topic

Explore the Outlook 2016 user interface

You can customize Outlook views to make the user interface work better for the tasks you do most often.

Toolbars, ribbons, and tabs

In Outlook 2016, the name of your open email account 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. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. The ribbons vary depending on whether you’re in email, calendar, tasks, or notes view. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. 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.

For general information about navigating the ribbon, panes, or documents, refer to Accessibility features in Office 2016


The first time you use Outlook 2016, the three-paned default view appears. From left to right are the Folder Pane, Message List Pane, and Reading Pane. There are many ways to customize both the information presented and the order of that information. Many of these customization options are in the View tab ribbon, including the Reading Pane, which you can place to the right of or underneath the Message List pane (or you can turn it off).

For more information, refer to Keyboard shortcuts for Outlook.


To switch to calendar view, press Ctrl+2.

The first time you use the calendar, a two-paned default view appears. On the left is the Folder Pane; on the right, the Calendar pane. In the Home tab Arrange group, you can choose to show only today’s calendar (hours run from earliest at the top to later at the bottom) or switch views to show a week or a month.

For more information, see Keyboard shortcuts for navigating the calendar in Outlook 2016


To switch to task view, press Ctrl+4. The top tabs are File, Home, Send/Receive, Folder, View, and Tell Me.

The first time you use the task view, a two-paned default view appears. On the left is the My Tasks pane with a list of your to-do items; in the right pane are the tasks.

To open a new task, press Ctrl+N. The new task has five tabs: File, Task, Insert, Format Text, Review, and Tell Me. The ribbon sits below the tabs. As always, the ribbon changes depending on which tab you select. In the Task tab, there is an Actions group in which you can Save & Close, Delete, and Forward tasks. In the Manage Task group, you can Mark Complete, Assign Task, and Send Status Report about the task.

Under the ribbon, there is a set of boxes in which you can assign a subject, start date, due date, status, percent complete, and priority, and request a reminder for the task. There is a box at the bottom in which you can type notes about the task.

Use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts

  • To navigate in Outlook 2016 and to cycle through screen elements, 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 details, read Keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Outlook 2013 and 2016.

Do common tasks

For steps to accomplish common tasks in Outlook 2016, refer to the following articles:

Use Tell Me

When you don’t know the keyboard shortcut or when you want to know about more options, use the Tell me what you want to do box.

  1. Optional. Select the text, cell, or other Office object you want to work with.

  2. Press Alt+Q. You hear “Tell me what you want to do.”

  3. Type a keyword or phrase, and then, to browse the search results, press the Down Arrow key. For example, for options related to fonts, such as italics and font size, type font. Some results may be submenus with more choices.

  4. To choose a result, press Enter.

Create accessible email

For tips about how to make email messages more accessible, see Checklist: Create accessible email.

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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