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Use a screen reader to explore and navigate Excel

Use a screen reader to explore and navigate Excel

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.

Use Excel with your keyboard and a screen reader such as JAWS or Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to explore and navigate the app main views and elements, and to move between views and functions.

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 can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • For keyboard shortcuts, go to Keyboard shortcuts in Excel for Windows.

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

In this topic

Cycle through the main areas

To navigate between the main areas in Excel, press F6 (forward) and Shift+F6 (backward). The main areas are:

  • Worksheet table grid

  • Sheet tabs

  • Status bar

  • Ribbon tabs

Navigate the ribbon tabs

The ribbon tabs are the main menu bar of Excel. To reach the ribbon tabs, press F6 until you hear "Ribbon tabs," followed by the current tab's name. With JAWS, you hear "Upper ribbon." To move between the tabs, use the Left and Right arrow keys. When you reach a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears below it. To learn how to browse the selected ribbon, go to Navigate the ribbon.

Here's a list of the most common tabs and some examples of what you can do on each tab:

  • Home

    Format and align text and numbers, and add new rows and columns.

  • Insert

    Insert tables, pictures, shapes, and charts into your worksheet.

  • Page Layout

    Set the margins, orientation, and size of the worksheet page.

  • Formulas

    Add various functions and formulas to your worksheet.

  • Data

    Import data from various sources, sort and filter it, and use data tools such as removing duplicate rows.

  • Review

    Check the spelling and accessibility of your worksheet, and collaborate with others using comments and notes.

  • View

    Select a view such as Normal View or Page Layout view, and set the page zoom level.

  • Help

    Open the Microsoft Excel Help, contact support, and leave feedback.

In addition to the ribbon tabs, you need to access the File menu for some important commands. To open it, press Alt+F. The File menu opens in a new pane. To navigate the main commands, use the Up and Down arrow keys, then use the Tab key and Up and Down arrow keys to navigate the options for that command.

In the File menu, you can start a new workbook, open an existing workbook, save, share, or print the file you're currently working with, and access Excel options. To close the File menu and return to your worksheet, press Esc.

Navigate the ribbon

After navigating to the right ribbon tab as described in Navigate the ribbon tabs, press the Tab key to move to the ribbon and browse its commands and options. You can press Shift+Tab to move backwards. Press Enter to make a selection or press Esc to leave the ribbon and return to your worksheet.

Tip: It is often faster to use keyboard shortcuts to access the commands and options on each ribbon. For more information, go to Keyboard shortcuts in Excel for Windows.

Navigate the worksheet

When you open an Excel workbook, the focus is on the worksheet table grid. If you have moved the focus out of the worksheet, press F6 until your screen reader announces a table grid cell location. Here's how you navigate inside the worksheet and between other sheets and workbooks:

  • To move between cells in the table grid, use the arrow keys. Your screen reader announces the column and row of each cell as well as its contents.

  • To open the context menu for the current cell, press Shift+F10. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate the menu, and press Enter to make a selection or press Esc to return to the worksheet.

  • To move to the next or previous worksheet in your workbook, press F6 until you hear the name of the current sheet tab, use the Left and Right arrow keys to find the right sheet, and press Enter to select it.

  • To switch to the next workbook when more than one workbook is open, press Ctrl+F6. Your screen reader announces the name of the workbook.

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.

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

Keyboard shortcuts in Excel for Windows

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Excel

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Use Excel for Android with TalkBack, the built-in Android screen reader, to explore and navigate the app main views and elements, and to move between views and functions.

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 can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • 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.

In this topic

Navigate the landing view

When you launch Excel for Android, create or open a workbook from the landing view. Swipe left or right to move between the elements in the landing view, and double-tap to select an item. The landing view contains the following elements:

  • Top menu

    The top menu contains the Search and New buttons.

  • Main content area

  • Tab bar

    The tab bar is located at the bottom of the screen, and contains the Recent, Shared, and Open tabs.

Cycle through the main screen elements

To navigate between the main areas in Excel for Android, swipe right (forward) and left (backward). The main areas are:

  • Top menu

  • Worksheet table grid

  • Toolbar or ribbon

Navigate the top menu

The Excel for Android top menu bar allows you to access various commands:

  • Back button

    Close the file and return to the landing view.

  • More options button

    Show the ribbon, the main way to access commands in Excel.

  • Find button

    Search for text within the worksheet or workbook.

  • Undo button

  • Share switch

    Share your workbook with others, or send them a copy of the document.

  • Menu menu

    Access important commands, such as Save, Save As, Print, and Settings. To exit the menu, tap the screen with two fingers.

Navigate the worksheet

The worksheet table grid is the main area of the Excel for Android screen. To move the focus into the worksheet, swipe right until your screen reader announces a table grid cell location.

  • To move between cells in the table grid, swipe left or right. Your screen reader announces the column and row of each cell, as well as its contents.

  • To open the context menu for the current cell, double-tap the screen. Swipe left or right to navigate the menu, and double-tap to make a selection. To close the context menu without selecting an item, tap the screen with two fingers.

Navigate the toolbar

The toolbar gives you access to some frequently-used features, such as the Sheets switch, which allows you to switch between worksheets in the same workbook, and the Apply filter, Fill color, Tell me, and More options tools.

Navigate the ribbon

The ribbon is the main way to access commands and options in Excel for Android. They are grouped into various tabs.

  1. To access the ribbon tabs, swipe left or right until you hear "More options," then double-tap the screen.

    The screen reader announces the name of the current tab.

  2. To switch tabs, double-tap the screen. Swipe left or right until you hear the tab you want, and double-tap to select it.

  3. Swipe right to move into the ribbon and browse its commands and options. Double-tap to make a selection.

  4. To hide the ribbon, swipe left or right until you hear "More options," and then double-tap the screen.

Here's a list of the most common tabs and some examples of what you can do on each tab:

  • Home

    Format and align text and numbers, and add new rows and columns.

  • Insert

    Insert tables, pictures, shapes, and charts into your worksheet.

  • Formulas

    Add various functions and formulas to your worksheet.

  • Data

    Sort and filter the data in your worksheet.

  • Review

    Collaborate with others using comments.

  • View

    Select whether to show gridlines and headings, and set the page zoom level.

Use Tell Me

To find a command quickly, use Tell Me. 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. Swipe right until you hear "Tell me," and then double-tap the screen.

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

  4. To access the search results, swipe left until you hear the first result. Swipe left to browse through the results, and double-tap to select one.

See also

Excel for Android touch guide

Use an external keyboard with Excel for Android

Set up your device to work with accessibility in Office 365

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Use Excel Mobile with Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to explore and navigate the app main views and elements, and to move between views and functions.

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 can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • For touch capabilities in Excel Mobile, go to Excel Mobile for Windows 10 Touch Guide.

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

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

In this topic

Navigate the landing view

When you launch Excel Mobile, create or open a workbook from the landing view. You can create a new workbook, browse for an existing workbook, or open a recently-used one. Swipe left or right to move between the elements in the landing view, and double-tap to select an item.

Cycle through the main screen elements

To navigate between the main areas in Excel Mobile swipe right (forward) and left (backward). The main areas are:

  • Worksheet table grid

  • Sheet tabs

  • Quick access commands bar

  • Command palette

Navigate the worksheet

The worksheet table grid is the main area of the Excel Mobile screen. To move the focus into the worksheet, swipe left or right until your screen reader announces "Table grid" and a table grid cell location.

  • To move between cells in the table grid, swipe left or right. Your screen reader announces the column and row of each cell, as well as its contents.

  • To select the current cell, double-tap the screen.

  • To switch between worksheets in the same workbook, swipe right until you hear "Sheet tabs." Swipe right until you hear the sheet you want, then double-tap the screen. To open the context menu for the selected sheet, double-tap with two fingers. Swipe left or right to navigate the menu, and double-tap to make a selection.

Navigate the quick access commands bar

The Excel Mobile quick access commands bar allows you to access various functions:

  • File button

    Open the Backstage page to access important commands, such as New, Open, Save, Print, and Settings. To exit the Backstage page, swipe left until you hear "Go back," then double-tap the screen.

  • Find button

    Search for text within the worksheet or workbook.

  • Share button

    Share your workbook with other people.

  • Undo button

Navigate the command palette

The command palette is the main way to access commands and options in Excel Mobile. The commands and options are grouped into various ribbon tabs.

  1. To access the command palette, swipe left or right until you hear "Command palette," then double-tap the screen.

  2. To switch tabs, swipe left until you hear "Tab selector," then double-tap the screen. Swipe right until you hear the tab you want, and double-tap to select it.

  3. Swipe right to move into the ribbon and browse its commands and options. Double-tap to make a selection.

  4. To hide the ribbon, swipe left or right until you hear "More options," and then double-tap the screen.

Here's a list of the most common tabs and some examples of what you can do on each tab:

  • Home

    Format and align text and numbers, and add new rows and columns.

  • Insert

    Insert tables, pictures, shapes, and charts into your worksheet.

  • Formulas

    Add various functions and formulas to your worksheet.

  • Data

    Sort and filter the data in your worksheet.

  • Review

    Collaborate with others using comments.

  • View

    Select whether to show gridlines and headings, and set the page zoom level.

See also

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

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Excel

Use Excel Online with your keyboard and a screen reader such as JAWS or Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, to explore and navigate the app main views and elements, and to move between views and functions.

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 can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • 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 Complete guide to 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.

In this topic

Cycle through the main areas

To navigate between the main areas in Excel Online, press Ctrl+F6 (forward) and Ctrl+Shift+F6 (backward). The main areas are:

  • Title bar

  • Ribbon tabs

  • Worksheet table grid

  • Sheet tabs

  • Status bar

Navigate the ribbon tabs

The ribbon tabs are the main menu bar of Excel Online. To reach the ribbon tabs, press Ctrl+F6 until you hear "Ribbon tabs," followed by the current tab's name. With JAWS, you hear only the current tab's name. To move between the tabs, use the Left and Right arrow keys. When you reach a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears below it. To learn how to browse the selected ribbon, go to Navigate the ribbon.

Here's a list of the most common tabs and some examples of what you can do on each tab:

  • Home

    Format and align text and numbers, and add new rows and columns.

  • Insert

    Insert various functions and formulas, tables, pictures, shapes, and charts into your worksheet.

  • Data

    Sort and filter your data, and use tools such as data validation.

  • Review

    Check the accessibility of your worksheet, and collaborate with others using comments.

  • View

    Switch on Reading View, and select whether to show gridlines and headings.

In addition to the ribbon tabs, you need to access the File menu for some important commands. To open it, press Ctrl+F6 or Ctrl+Shift+F6 until you hear "Ribbon tabs" and the current tab's name, and then press F. With JAWS, you hear only the current tab's name. The File menu opens in a new pane. To navigate the main commands, use the Up and Down arrow keys, and press Enter to select one. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate the options for that command.

In the File menu, you can start a new workbook, open an existing workbook, save, share, or print the file you're currently working with, and access Excel Online options. To close the File menu and return to your worksheet, press Esc.

Navigate the ribbon

After navigating to the ribbon tab you want, as described in Navigate the ribbon tabs, press the Tab key to move to the ribbon, and use the Right and Left arrow keys to browse its commands and options. Press Enter to make a selection or press Esc to leave the ribbon and return to your worksheet.

Tip: It is often faster to use keyboard shortcuts to access the commands and options on each ribbon. For more information, go to Keyboard shortcuts in Excel Online.

Navigate the worksheet

When you open an Excel Online workbook, the focus is on the worksheet table grid. If you have moved the focus out of the worksheet, press Ctrl+F6 until your screen reader announces a table grid cell location. Here's how you navigate inside the worksheet and between other sheets:

  • To move between cells in the table grid, use the arrow keys. Your screen reader announces the column and row of each cell as well as its contents.

  • To open the context menu for the current cell, press Shift+F10. Use the Up and Down arrow keys to navigate the menu, and press Enter to make a selection or press Esc to return to the worksheet.

  • To move to the next or previous worksheet in your workbook, press Ctrl+F6 until you hear the name of the current sheet tab, use the Left and Right arrow keys to find the sheet you want, and then press Enter to select it.

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

Keyboard shortcuts in Excel Online

Basic tasks using a screen reader with Excel

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

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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