Accessibility in PowerPoint Online

PowerPoint Online includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to create, edit, and give presentations.


  • PowerPoint Online is a web-based application. Presentation files open in your web browser. Because of this, keyboard shortcuts and navigation may be different from those in PowerPoint 2016.

  • This topic assumes that JAWS users have the Virtual Ribbon Menu feature turned off. When you use PowerPoint Online, we recommend that you use Internet Explorer as your browser.

  • When you use PowerPoint Online, we recommend that you use Internet Explorer as your browser. Learn more about Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts.

In this topic

Explore the PowerPoint Online user interface

The PowerPoint Online user interface exists within your web browser. Within that window, PowerPoint Online and the name of your current presentation file show in the title bar. At the left edge of the title bar is the control that contains the list of Microsoft services and Office Online applications, including, Excel Online, OneDrive, and more. On the right side of the title bar are commands to share your document and sign out.

PowerPoint Online operates in three views: Reading view, Editing view, and Slide Show view. In Reading view, you can view, share, print, and comment on the presentation. In Editing view, you can modify the document. In Slide Show view, your slides enter full-screen presentation mode.

In Editing view, under the title bar is a ribbon with several tabs, including File, Home, Insert, and Design. Tabs include related tools and functions organized in groups. For example, the Insert tab has tools that you can use to insert pictures, videos, or shapes into your presentation.

Centered under the ribbon is the current slide and its content. The slide takes up the majority of the screen space. To the left of the slide is the thumbnail pane, which shows a miniature version of the current and surrounding slides. Beneath the slide is the Notes pane, for speaker notes and reminders. If the Show Comments command is given, the Comments pane appears to the right of the slide.

At the bottom of the PowerPoint Online window is the status bar, which indicates the current slide number and which includes controls for activating the Notes pane or switching to the Reading or Slide Show view.

Use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts

PowerPoint Online includes accessible names that can be read by screen readers as you work in the application. You can also use Windows Speech Recognition or a third-party speech tool to operate PowerPoint Online with voice commands.

PowerPoint Online works with the popular screen reader JAWS, and with Narrator, the screen reader that comes with Windows. These screen readers convert text to speech to read the contents of your PowerPoint presentations. For tips and exceptions, read Use PowerPoint Online with a screen reader.

Refer to the comprehensive list of Keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint Online, or choose from the following basics:

  • Accelerator keys. PowerPoint Online runs in your web browser, so it does not use accelerator keys or KeyTips. For example, if you press Alt, the focus moves to the browser menu bar, and familiar shortcuts, like Ctrl+P (Print) and F1 (Help), run browser commands rather than PowerPoint Online commands.

  • Switching views. PowerPoint Online has three views: Editing view, Reading view, and Slide Show view. You can make changes to the presentation only in Editing view. When you first open a file in PowerPoint Online, the presentation is in Reading view. Tab to Edit Presentation, press Enter, and then select Edit in PowerPoint Online. While in Editing view, to switch to another view, press Ctrl+F6 until the status bar is active, tab to Reading View or Slide Show, and then press Enter.

  • Navigation. To navigate commands in PowerPoint Online, use Tab (forward), Shift+Tab (backward), and Enter. To move the focus to different parts of the PowerPoint Online interface (from the ribbon to the thumbnail pane, for example) and to move in and out of the content of a slide, use Ctrl+F6 (forward) or Ctrl+Shift+F6 (backward). The cycle order is:

    • Slide panel

    • Comments pane (if open)

    • Notes pane (if open)

    • Status bar (which includes the Notes pane toggle and the different views)

    • PowerPoint Online title bar

    • Ribbon

  • Thumbnail pane. To switch the focus to the thumbnail pane, press Ctrl+F6 and then, to move through the slides, press the Tab key or use the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key. To move to and edit the selected slide, press Ctrl+F6.

  • Slide text. Screen readers read the type of placeholder and its content. When you press Caps+0, Narrator reads text formatting, such as background color, font color, size, and style.

  • SmartArt. Screen readers read the content of the SmartArt. To edit SmartArt text, press Enter.

  • Slide objects, such as shapes, text boxes, images, and charts. Screen readers read text box shapes and information about images.

  • Comments. To open the Comments pane, move the focus to the ribbon: press Ctrl+F6. Tab to the View tab, press Enter, tab to the Show Comments command, and then select Comments Pane. When the Comments pane is open, move the focus to the pane: press Ctrl+F6. Type a comment, and press Enter.

  • Speaker notes. To activate the Notes pane, press Ctrl+F6 until the focus is on the status bar and you hear “English.” Tab to Notes, and then, to hear the notes in the Notes pane read aloud, press Enter. To add a note, start typing. When the Notes pane is activated, to cycle to it, press Ctrl+F6.

Do Common tasks

For steps to accomplish common tasks in PowerPoint Online, read the following articles:

For information about the accessibility features of your browser, go to your browser’s website:

Switch to Accessibility Mode

Accessible Mode presents slides in an outline view that screen readers can read. To enter Accessible Mode:

  1. In Reading view, tab to the More button, and then press Enter.

  2. In the More menu, move to the Accessibility Mode command, and then press Enter. Or press Ctrl+; (semicolon).

You can also open Accessibility Mode by pressing Ctrl+; (semicolon) while in your presentation.

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.

Note: Tell me is available only in Edit mode.

  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.

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 visit the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find the contact details for your region.

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