Use Outlook Web App email with a screen reader

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

You might want to use the Light version of Outlook Web App. It has a simple HTML interface that some people prefer when using a screen reader. For more information about the Light version of Outlook Web App, see Outlook Web App Light.

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

This article is for Outlook Web App, which is used by organizations that manage email servers running Exchange Server 2013 or 2010. If you're using Office 365 or Exchange Server 2016, your email program is Outlook on the web. For help with Outlook on the web, see Get help with Outlook on the web.

Welcome to Outlook Web App. We're still working on making Outlook Web App 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 select r until you arrive at the region of the page that contains the message.

The Outlook Web App 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 use the Tab key to move to different elements of the Outlook Web App 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 Web App email are:

  • Office 365 App Launcher

  • Search

  • Toolbar

  • Message list

  • Reading pane

For the most accessible experience with email in Outlook Web App, we recommend that you turn the Reading pane off before you begin to read your messages. This simplifies navigation and control of the message list.

To turn off the Reading pane

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

  2. Select the Tab key until you reach the Settings button, then select the Enter key to open the Settings menu.

  3. Use the Down arrow key to move through the menu to Options, then select the Enter key 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 the Tab key or Shift+Tab key combination to navigate to the Shortcuts node.

  5. Select the Tab key to move to the Shortcuts to frequently used options pane.

    Select the Tab key until you reach Rearrange the Reading pane, and then select Enter.

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

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

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

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

  • Use Enter to open a message and read it.

  • Use ESC to return to the message list.

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

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