Learn how to navigate in Excel using accessible features

Learn how to navigate in Excel 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.

Excel 2016 for Windows desktop in Office 365 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 Excel keyboard shortcuts and function keys for Windows, a screen reader such as Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, or JAWS, or a speech recognition tool such as Windows Speech Recognition to work with Excel 2016.

Many accessibility features, like screen readers, speech recognition tools, and color contrast tools, are specific to a platform, such as Windows, Mac, or Android. For more information about accessibility settings and features that work in your device, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365. To find help for doing common tasks in Excel for Windows desktop, refer to Accessibility support for Excel.

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Get to know the Excel layout

In Excel, the name of your workbook is centered at the top of the screen. App controls, such as Minimize and Close, are in the top right corner. By default, the Quick Access Toolbar resides at the upper left side of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo.

Below this toolbar is a set of ribbon tabs, such as Home, Insert, Formulas, Data, Review, and Power Pivot. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears below the tab. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, if you select the Insert tab, a ribbon appears. From that ribbon, you can pick different items, such as tables, charts, hyperlinks, or illustrations, to insert into your worksheet.

The cell grid of the active worksheet appears under the ribbon and makes up the majority of the page. Some commands, such as Review or Find, open a window in the center of the worksheet. Other commands, like Share, open a pane to the right or left of the worksheet..

Below the cell grid is a bar that contains a sheet tab for each worksheet in the workbook. You can scroll through this row of tabs to select a worksheet. The currently selected worksheet is referred to as the “active worksheet.”

At the bottom of the Excel window is the status bar. At the right of the status bar are commands for viewing the worksheet (for example, in Normal view or Page Break Preview) and a Zoom level slider control and button. When you select a group of cells, the status bar displays the average, count, and sum of the numbers in the selected cells. You can change what is listed on the status bar by customizing the way Excel summarizes the data. To customize the status bar, press F6 until you hear “Status bar, Toolbar.” (In Narrator, you hear “On, Normal button.” Press Shift+F10. On the Customize Status Bar menu, to select the options you want (for example, Numerical count, Max, Min, and Scroll Lock), use the Up the Arrow key and the Down Arrow key and press Enter.

Navigate using just keyboard

To navigate in Excel through screen elements (worksheet, ribbon, task pane (if open), and status bar/toolbar), press F6 (forward) and Shift+F6 (backward).

  • To switch to the next workbook window when more than one workbook window is open, press Ctrl+F6.

  • To move between cells or columns in a table, press the Tab key (forward) and Shift+Tab (backward) or use the arrow keys. To select a cell, move the focus to the cell.

  • 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.

  • To move to the next or previous worksheet in an open workbook, press Ctrl+Page Down or Ctrl+Page Up.

Tip: To quickly move the focus to the first floating shape such as a text box or an image, press Ctrl+Alt+5. Then, to cycle through the floating shapes, press the Tab key. To return to the normal navigation, press Esc.

For more details, read Excel keyboard shortcuts and function keys for Windows.

You can use Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows, or a third-party screen reader, such as JAWS. For information on using Excel with a screen reader, see Get help for using a screen reader with Excel 2016.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

See also

Use a screen reader to sort or filter a table in Excel 2016

Excel keyboard shortcuts and function keys for Windows

Use a screen reader to do basic tasks in Excel 2016

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Excel 2016 for Mac in Office 365 has tools and features that can help people with disabilities. You can use Excel 2016 for Mac with your keyboard and VoiceOver, the built-in Mac OS screen reader.

For more information about accessibility settings and features that work in your device, see Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365. To find help for doing common tasks in Excel for Mac, see Accessibility support for Excel.

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Get to know the Excel for Mac layout

When you open Excel 2016 for Mac, the Excel menu appears at the top of the screen, with its menu items added after the Apple menu. Below this, in the toolbar, the name of your document appears, centered. The Quick Access Toolbar sits in the top left corner of the screen. This toolbar contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, and Redo. The Search box and the sharing options icon are on the same line and on the right side of the screen. Below them is the Help Improve Office menu.

Under the toolbar, you find a set of ribbon tabs, such as Insert and View. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you pick different items, such as tables or pictures, to insert into your document.

Under the ribbon, you find the Name box and the Formula bar. The Name box shows the name or location of the currently selected cell in the worksheet. The Formula bar contains the contents of the current cell and lets you enter text or formulas that Excel follows to do calculations.

Below this is the workbook, with the current worksheet open. The worksheet takes up most of the screen. A new worksheet consists of a grid of blank cells. Along the top of the worksheet are the column headers, letters or letter combinations designating the column. To the left of the worksheet and running the length of it are row numbers, one for each row, starting from 1. The Name box, mentioned previously, identifies cells by column letter and row number, such as C3.

Finally, at the bottom left of the worksheet is a set of tabs, one for each worksheet in the workbook plus a button to add a new worksheet, and on the right is a status bar with buttons for changing the page layout, magnification, etc.

Navigate in Excel for Mac

When you open a workbook, by default the focus is in the current worksheet. To access other areas, press Fn+F6. Or, with VoiceOver on, press VO+Left Arrow and VO+Right Arrow. Pressing Fn+F6 loops through areas of the interface:

  • Open button/top toolbar

  • Current tab on the ribbon

  • Name box on the toolbar

  • The worksheet

  • “Ready button” on the status bar

Many keyboards assign special functions to function keys, by default. To use a function key for other purposes, you have to press Fn+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.

Navigate in a workbook

  • To insert a new worksheet, press Fn+Shift+F11. (This combination only works if you have unassigned the default function for the F11 key.)

  • To move to the next worksheet in a workbook, press Option+Right Arrow.

  • To move to the previous worksheet in a workbook, press Option+Left Arrow.

Navigate in a worksheet

To move into the worksheet to begin work, press Fn+F6 until you reach the worksheet.

  • To move between cells in a worksheet, press the arrow keys. (Note that VoiceOver does not necessarily name the cells as you move between them.)

  • To enter text or a formula in the current cell, type the text or formula.

  • To edit the current cell, press F2 and then use the arrow keys to move to the place you want to edit. When you are finished editing, to exit the cell, press Return.

  • To select a range of cells, place the focus on the cell where you want to start the range, and then hold down the Shift key while pressing the arrow keys to select the cells.

Use the context menu

The context menu contains a variety of common actions like cut, copy, paste, and clear. To open the context menu, with the focus on a cell, press Fn+Shift+F10.

The context menu closes automatically after you select an action. To exit the context menu without selecting an action, press Esc.

See also

Keyboard shortcuts in Excel 2016 for Mac

Basic tasks in Excel 2016 for Mac with a screen reader

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Excel on iPad and Excel on the iPhone for Office 365 work with accessibility features of your device, such as VoiceOver, the built-in iOS screen reader. You can use gestures or an external keyboard.

For more information about accessibility settings and features that work in your device, refer to Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365. To find help for doing common tasks in Excel for iOS, refer to Accessibility support for Excel.

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Get to know the Excel for iOS layout

When you open a workbook in Excel 2016 for iOS in Office 365, its name appears at the top of the screen, centered below the status bar screen. Below that is the Excel menu bar, which includes the ribbon tabs. Your workbook is below the formula bar.

  • When you work with cells and formulas, to select a cell, tap.

  • To display the on-screen keyboard and move the insertion point into the formula bar where you can edit the cell contents, double-tap.

  • To go to other worksheets in the workbook, use the tabs at the bottom of the screen.

Navigate in Excel for iOS

You have several ways to navigate in Excel for iPad or iPhone: keyboard shortcuts, VoiceOver, and the on-screen keyboard. You might also find the context menu of shortcuts helpful.

Navigate with keyboard shortcuts

If you want to use keyboard shortcuts to navigate, here are some helpful articles about using external keyboards that include lists of shortcuts:

Navigate when using VoiceOver

VoiceOver helps you move within Excel by naming the items on the screen. For example, to orient yourself, swipe your finger near the top center of the screen until you hear the workbook name. Below that, the Excel menu bar and ribbon appear. As you move the VoiceOver cursor, you hear the name of the buttons and ribbon tabs.

Here are some VoiceOver navigation tips:

  • To find text in the worksheet or to find and replace text, use the Search button to the right of the ribbon.

  • When the VoiceOver cursor is on the formula bar, which is below the ribbon, VoiceOver says, “Formula content.”

  • To hear the worksheet’s row numbers, slide your finger down the left edge. To hear the column letters, below the formula bar, slide your finger to the right.

  • To work with cells, tap anywhere inside a worksheet. You hear the cell name.

  • To scroll in a worksheet, use three fingers to swipe up and down or left to right. VoiceOver identifies the cell range as you scroll.

  • To locate all the sheets in the current workbook, use the sheet tabs in the lower-left side of the screen. In the lower-right corner, the Sum option indicates the total of the currently selected cell range.

Use the on-screen keyboard

When you edit a cell, the keyboard is displayed in the bottom half of the screen. Two keyboards are available: the standard Apple keyboard and a custom formula keyboard you can use to quickly access numbers and symbols for your formulas.

Use the two keyboards as follows:

  • To switch to the formula keyboard, on the middle-right side of the screen, tap the 123 button. If you’re using VoiceOver, swipe until you hear “Formula keyboard, Button” and then double-tap.

  • To switch to the standard keyboard, double-tap the Abc button. If you’re using VoiceOver, swipe until you hear “Standard keyboard, Button” and then double-tap the button.

  • To close the keyboard, in the lower-right corner of the screen, double-tap the keyboard icon. If you’re using VoiceOver, when this button is selected, you hear “Hide keyboard.” Double-tap the button.

Use the context menu

The shortcut menu (also called the contextual menu) pops up when you tap and hold a cell, the formula bar, a text box, or other objects. It gives you quick access to common commands, such as Cut, Copy, Paste, and Clear.

When VoiceOver is on, to open the shortcut menu, move to the to the cell or object you want to edit and then double-tap with two fingers. You can use standard VoiceOver swiping gestures to move through the menu and then select various options.

The shortcut menu closes after you choose an option or if you select another cell.

See also

Use an external keyboard with Excel for iPhone

Use an external keyboard with Excel for iPad

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Excel for Android includes accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities like limited dexterity or low vision to create spreadsheets, filter data, work with charts, and more. You can use Excel for Android with TalkBack, the built-in Android screen reader. 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.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • For touch capabilities in Excel for Android, go to Excel for Android touch guide.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Android screen reader, TalkBack. To learn more about using TalkBack, go to Android accessibility.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with an Android phone. Some navigation and gestures might be different for an Android tablet.

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Get to know the Excel for Android layout

When you open Excel for Android on Office 365, the name of your file appears on the top bar. The Excel menu bar appears under the name and contains the ribbon tabs, such as File, Home, and Insert. On the same bar at the right-hand side, you’ll find the Share, Undo, and Redo buttons.

When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, the Insert tab switches to a ribbon that lets you insert tables or pictures into your document.

Under the ribbon, you find the Name box and the Formula bar. The Name box shows the name or location of the currently selected cell in the worksheet. The Formula bar contains the contents of the current cell and lets you enter text or formulas that Excel follows to do calculations.

Below this is the workbook, with the current worksheet open. The worksheet takes up most of the screen. A new worksheet consists of a grid of blank cells. Along the top of the worksheet are the column headers, letters or letter combinations designating the column. To the left of the worksheet and running the length of it are row numbers, one for each row, starting from 1. The Name box, mentioned previously, identifies cells by column letter and row number, such as C3.

Finally, at the bottom left of the worksheet is a set of sheet tabs, one for each worksheet in the workbook plus a button to add a new worksheet. On the right-hand side is a status bar with buttons for changing the page layout, magnification, etc.

Navigate in Excel for Android

Excel for Android is optimized for touch. To get help with using touch in Excel, see Excel for Android touch guide.

To learn about the keyboard shortcuts in Excel for Android that you use with an external keyboard, refer to Use an external keyboard with Excel for Android.

See also

Use a screen reader to insert a table in an Excel worksheet

Use TalkBack to sort or filter a table in Excel for Android

Use TalkBack to do basic tasks in Excel for Android

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

The Excel Mobile app for Windows 10 includes accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities to create spreadsheets, filter data, work with charts, and more. For example, people who are blind or who have low vision can use Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to have information about the user interface (UI) read aloud to them. If you have an external keyboard you can use keyboard shortcuts.

To find help for doing common tasks in Excel Mobile for Windows 10, refer to Accessibility support for Excel.

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Get to know the Excel Mobile for Windows 10 layout

When you start Excel Mobile, a navigation pane is displayed in the left side of the app window where you can select an existing file. If you want to create a new workbook, a list of templates appears in the right side of the window. After you select a template or open an existing file from the navigation pane, you can move through the main areas of Excel Mobile to choose the actions that you want.

When you open a workbook in Excel Mobile, a title bar is at the top. It contains the names of the ribbon tabs, such as File, Home, and Insert. It also contains the Tell Me search box, which you can use to find commands or to get help. At the right-hand side of the top bar, you'll find Share, Undo, and Redo buttons.

Under the top bar are the Name box and the Formula bar.

  • The Name box shows the name, if one has been assigned, of a selected cell, table, chart, or other object. If no name is assigned, is gives the location of a cell (such as "C2") or a generic label, such as "Table3".

  • The Formula bar shows the cell contents, which can be a value or a formula.

Under the Name and Formula boxes is the main workbook. The workbook is a grid, where rows are labeled with numbers and columns are labeled with alphabetic characters. The row and column labels locate cells, so that cell "C2" is located at the cross of column C and row 2.

Finally, at the bottom of the page and below the workbook grid, you find a row of sheet tabs. There is one tab for each worksheet in the workbook, although typically only a few are shown. Next to the sheet tabs is a button that adds additional worksheets and their associated sheet tabs. There is also a function bar, with functions such as Sum.

Navigate by using the keyboard

The following are some frequently used keyboard shortcuts for Excel Mobile:

  • To move forward through UI elements, press the Tab key. To move back, press Shift+Tab. For some elements, you can also use the arrow keys.

  • To select the currently displayed tab on the ribbon, press Alt. Immediately after you press Alt, to move directly to the File menu, press Shift+Tab. To move between tabs on the ribbon, press the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys or press Ctrl+Tab. To move to the options for each tab, press the Down Arrow key and, to move back to the tab, press the Up Arrow key. To select an option, press Enter or Spacebar.

  • To display the shortcut menu for a cell, press Shift+F10.

For information on the keyboard shortcuts specifically for Excel Mobile, go to Use keyboard shortcuts with an external keyboard in Excel Mobile for Windows 10. For information about using a screen reader with Excel Mobile, refer to Get started using a screen reader in Excel mobile for Windows 10.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

See also

Use keyboard shortcuts with an external keyboard in Excel Mobile for Windows 10

Get started using a screen reader with Excel Mobile in Windows 10

Excel Online 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 such as narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, or a speech recognition tool to work with Excel Online.

To find help for doing common tasks in Excel Online, see Accessibility support for Excel.

Notes: 

  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you could get new features faster, visit When do I get the newest features in Office 2016 for Office 365?.

  • For keyboard shortcuts, go to Keyboard shortcuts in Excel Online.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Windows screen reader, Narrator. To learn more about using Narrator, go to Get started with Narrator.

  • This topic makes note of the JAWS functionality as well. To learn more about JAWS for Windows, go to JAWS for Windows Quick Start Guide.

  • This topic assumes you are using this app with a PC. Some navigation and gestures might be different for a Windows phone or tablet.

  • When you use Excel Online, we recommend that you use Microsoft Edge as your web browser. Because Excel Online runs in your web browser, the keyboard shortcuts are different from those in the desktop program. For example, you’ll use Ctrl+F6 instead of F6 for jumping in and out of the commands. Also, common shortcuts like F1 (Help) and Ctrl+O (Open) apply to the web browser – not Excel Online.

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Get to know the Excel Online layout

Excel Online runs in the browser. You can choose between two views: Reading view and Editing view. The Excel Online window looks slightly different and different commands are available depending on the view you are using.

  • In Reading view, you can view, print, share, refresh data connections, recalculate your workbook, and comment on the workbook. By default, Excel Online opens in Reading view.

    In Reading view, at the top of the window, “Excel Online” is listed in the title bar. At the left edge of the title bar is the app launcher, the control that contains tiles that link to Microsoft services and Office Online applications, including Mail, Calendar, OneDrive, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

    Below the title bar is a toolbar that contains a set of commands on the right (Edit Workbook, Print, Share, Data, and more) and, if browser width allows, the name of your workbook in the center.

  • To switch from Reading view to Editing view, press Ctrl+F6 until you hear "Excel Online". Then press Ctrl+F6 again to move to the name of the folder that contains the workbook. Press Tab to move to the Edit Workbook button, press Enter, and then use the Down Arrow key to select Edit in Excel Online.

    In Editing view, you can make changes to your workbook. In this view, at the top of the Excel Online window, the title bar includes the app launcher on the left, the application name (“Excel Online”), a Share button on the right, and, if browser width allows, the name of your workbook in the center.

    Below the title bar is a toolbar organized into tabs: File, Home, Insert, Data, Review, View, and Open in Excel. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs. When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, if you select the Insert tab, a ribbon appears. From that ribbon, you can pick different items, such as tables, charts, hyperlinks, or comments, to insert into your workbook.

In both Reading view and Editing view, the active worksheet of the workbook follows the set of commands. The cell grid of the worksheet takes up the majority of the page. Some commands, like the Go To command or the Find command, open a window in the center of the worksheet. Others, like viewing or inserting comments, open a pane to the right or left of the worksheet.

Below the cell grid is a bar that contains a tab for each worksheet in the workbook. You can scroll through this row of tabs to select a worksheet. The currently selected worksheet is referred to as the “active worksheet.”

At the bottom of the Excel Online window is the status bar. When you select a group of cells, the status bar lists the current average, count, and sum of the numbers in the selected cells. You can change what the status bar lists by customizing the way Excel summarizes the data. Tab to the Customize Status Bar menu and press Enter. On the shortcut menu, use the Down Arrow key to select an option (for example, Numerical count, Max, or Min) and press Enter.

Navigate using keyboard shortcuts

  • To find information about keyboard shortcuts, see Keyboard shortcuts in Excel Online.

  • To move between the browser address bar and the workbook content in Excel Online, press F6.

  • To cycle through regions in Excel Online—the ribbon, worksheet, Worksheet Tab bar, and status bar—press Ctrl+F6.

  • To move to a different worksheet in the workbook, press Ctrl+Alt+PgUp or Ctrl+Alt+PgDn.

  • To move to a different tab on a toolbar, or among commands on a ribbon, press the Tab key (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward).

  • To select an item, press Enter. To select a cell, place the focus on it.

  • 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 move around the cell grid, use the Tab key, the arrow keys, or keyboard shortcuts.

  • To exit a menu or mode, press Esc.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. To learn more about the Tell Me feature, watch this video: Using Tell Me to get things done quickly with a screen reader and keyboard.

To use Tell Me to find a command, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to perform an action.

  2. Jump to the Tell Me edit field by pressing Alt+Q.

  3. Type the command that you want. For example, type "bullets".

  4. Use the Down Arrow key to browse through the results, press Enter to select one.

See also

Sort or filter a table in a workbook in Excel Online with a screen reader

Keyboard shortcuts in Excel Online

Basic tasks in Excel Online with a screen reader

Make your Excel spreadsheets 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.

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