Basic tasks using a screen reader with Excel 2016 for Mac

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Excel 2016 for Mac

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.

Basic tasks, like entering data and printing your work, are easy to perform with a screen reader, such as VoiceOver, the built-in Mac OS screen reader, in Excel 2016 for Mac.

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 2016 for Mac, see Accessibility support for Excel.


  • 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 2016 for Mac.

  • This topic assumes that you are using the built-in Mac OS screen reader, VoiceOver. To learn more about using VoiceOver, go to VoiceOver Getting Started Guide.

  • This topic assumes that you have turned on full-screen keyboard access and that you have VoiceOver turned on and are familiar with the VO command. (To use the VO command, press Control+Option.)

  • 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. For information on using the ribbon and other commands, or to learn how to change your function key preferences, refer to Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365.

In this topic

Create a new workbook

You can create a new workbook from a template or from scratch.

Create a blank workbook

In Excel, press Command+N. Excel opens a new workbook in a separate window, placing focus in the first cell in the sheet. You hear “Excel ready.”

Create a new workbook from a template

  1. Press Command+Shift+P. You hear “New from template” and Excel opens a gallery of templates.

  2. To search for a template, press the Tab key. You hear “Search all templates.”

  3. Enter search text indicating the type of template you want to find. Excel searches as you enter text and then changes the grid to list the templates that match your search.

  4. To review the available templates, press the Tab key. You hear “Grid, Zero items selected.” Use the arrow keys to move between templates. You hear a description of each template.

  5. To start a new workbook with the currently selected template, press Enter.

Using the template, Excel opens the workbook in a new window and places the focus on the first logical cell in the workbook.

Enter your data

  1. To move between cells, press VO+Arrow or VO+Down Arrow. You hear the cell names as you move between them. Cells are referenced by their row and column location on the worksheet, cell A1 is in the first row of column A. If the cell has text in it, the screen reader reads that text.

  2. To enter or replace text in a cell, type the text, number, or formula.

  3. To move to the next cell, press Enter or the Tab key to move to the next cell.

Use AutoSum to add your data

When you’ve entered numbers in your sheet, you might want to add them up. A fast way to do that is by using AutoSum.

  1. Move to the cell to the right of or just below the numbers that you want to add.

  2. To insert the AutoSum formula, press Command+Shift+T.

AutoSum adds up the numbers and places the result in the cell you selected.

Create a simple formula

Excel can do a lot of other math besides just adding numbers. Here are instructions for creating simple formulas to add, subtract, multiply, or divide your numbers.

  1. Move to a cell, and then type an equal sign (=), which tells Excel that this cell will contain a formula.

  2. To create the formula, type a combination of numbers and calculation operators, like the plus sign (+) for addition, the minus sign (-) for subtraction, the asterisk (*) for multiplication, or the forward slash (/) for division. For example, enter =2+4, =4-2, =2*4, or =4/2.

  3. To save the formula and run the calculation, press Enter. Or, to run the calculation while keeping the cursor in the active cell, press Ctrl+Enter.

Excel runs the calculation and places the result in the cell.

Apply a number format

You can display different types of numbers in Excel by applying a format, like currency, percentage, or date.

  1. Select the cell or cells you want to format. (To select a sequence of cells, press Shift+arrow key.)

  2. To display the Format Cells window, press Command+1. You hear “Format cells.”

  3. To move through the list, press the Tab key.

  4. To move through the list and select a type of formatting, press the Up Arrow or the Down Arrow key. You hear the category name, such as Currency or Date.

  5. Some categories offer a variety of formats. For example, you can select the specific Date format such as 3/14/15 or 14-Mar-15. To hear the types of formatting for a given category, press the Tab key. To hear the format options, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow .

  6. To select a specific format and apply it to the selected cells, press Enter.

Save your work

  1. Press Ctrl+S. If you’ve already saved your work, you’re done.

  2. If this is the first time you've save this file:

    1. The focus is in the Save As text box. Type the name you want to use for your workbook.

    2. To save the file on your computer, press VO+Down Arrow until you hear “Where.” Press VO+Spacebar and then use the list to navigate to the location where you want to save your workbook:

      • To hear the names of folders, press the Up Arrow or the Down Arrow key.

      • To select a folder, press VO+Spacebar.

    3. To save the file online, press VO+Down Arrow until you hear “Online Locations button.” Press VO+Spacebar.

      • To move to list areas, such as the list of OneDrive and SharePoint locations, press VO+Right Arrow.

      • To move through items in a list, press the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow key. To view the items within an online location, press the Right Arrow key. To select a folder or file name, use the Up Arrow key or the Down Arrow keys.

    4. Press Enter.

Print your work

  1. Press Command+P.

  2. To select a printer from the printer list, press VO+Right Arrow, and then, to hear the names of printers in the list, press the Down Arrow key.

  3. To select a printer, press Return.

  4. Press VO+Right Arrow until you hear “Print button.”

  5. Press VO+Spacebar.

Give feedback about Excel for Mac accessibility

We’re still working on delivering great accessibility features, and we have more work to do.

We’d love to hear about the things you like and the things that you’d like for us to improve. Here's how to send us feedback. In a Excel file:

  1. To move to the ribbon tabs, press VO+Right Arrow or VO+Left Arrow or F6 until you hear “You are currently on a tab…inside a tab group.”

  2. Press the Tab key until you hear “Help improve Office.”

  3. To open the menu, press VO+Spacebar, and then, to select either “Tell Us What You Like” or “Tell Us What Can Be Better,” use the Down Arrow key. To select an item, press Return.

  4. To enter your feedback, use the dialog. To move between controls, press the Tab key. There are three fields: a text field for your feedback, a toggle to either include a screenshot or not (which is set to include by default), and a field where you can provide your email address (optional). The focus is in the text area where you can type your comment.

So that we can easily find it, please include the word Accessibility in your feedback.

See also

Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible

Keyboard shortcuts in Excel 2016 for Mac

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Learn how to navigate in Excel using accessible features

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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