Use Outlook Web App email with a screen reader

Outlook for the Web works in a browser, and lets you get your email whenever you are online. Keyboard shortcuts and navigation for the online experience are different from Outlook 2016 desktop. If you use a screen reader, this article can help.

Alternatively, you can decide to use the Light version of Outlook for the Web. It has an HTML interface that some people prefer to use with a screen reader. For more information about the Light version of Outlook for the Web, see Outlook for the Web Light.

The information in this article works only with Outlook for the Web. It doesn’t apply to the Light version

Quick tips for using JAWS

Welcome to Outlook for the Web. We are still working on making Outlook for the Web as accessible as it can be.

  • If you use JAWS, you’ll get the best experience for all tasks if you turn off the virtual PC cursor except when reading message text.

  • When you want to read the text of a message, turn the JAWS virtual PC cursor on, and press r until you arrive at the region of the page that contains the message.

Landmarks and navigation

The Outlook for the Web email page has three panes under a banner and a toolbar: the folder pane, the message list pane, and the reading pane. The toolbar is between the banner and the three panes.

You can Tab to different elements of the Outlook for the Web page.

In addition, you can use Ctrl + F6 to navigate using ARIA landmarks (Ctrl+F6 jumps to the next landmark, Shift+Ctrl+F6 jumps back). The landmarks used in Outlook for the Web email are:

  • Office 365 App Launcher

  • Search

  • Toolbar

  • Message list

  • Reading pane

Set up the Inbox to read your email

For the most accessible experience with email in Outlook for the web, we recommend that you turn the Reading pane off before you begin to read your messages. That way, navigation and control of the message list is simplified.

To turn off the Reading pane

  1. Press Ctrl+F6 until you reach the Office 365 App Launcher.

  2. Press Tab until you reach the Settings button, then press Enter to open the Settings menu.

  3. Use the Down arrow to move through the menu to the Options item, then press Enter to open the Options pane.

  4. In the Options pane, you usually arrive on the Shortcuts node in the tree. If you arrived at a different node, use Tab or Shift+Tab to navigate to the Shortcuts node.

  5. Press Tab to move to the Shortcuts to frequently used options pane.

    Press Tab until you reach Rearrange the Reading pane, and then press Enter.

  6. Tab through the radio button options until you hear Hide Reading pane, then use Spacebar to select it.

  7. After you make your selection, press Ctrl+F6 to move to the Save button, and select it. You can also tab to select Discard.

  8. Press Ctrl+F6 until you reach the Options button, and then press Enter to return to the Inbox.

Read your email

The message list in Outlook for the Web is a simple list. Use the up and down arrow keys to move from one message to another.

  • Press Enter to open a message and read it.

  • Press ESC to return to the message list.

Keyboard Shortcuts

To read the keyboard shortcuts for Outlook for the Web, go to Keyboard shortcuts in Outlook for the Web.

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