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What is Outlook?

Microsoft Outlook is used mainly to send and receive emails. It can also be used to manage various types of personal data including calendar appointments, tasks, contacts, and notes.

It is Microsoft’s premiere email platform and is available via it’s office suite or as a stand-alone software. Visit the Microsoft website here, to see plans and purchase options.

Getting started

In Outlook, you will be prompted to Add Account.

You will need to add your full email and the password you use to login to that email.

Once you’ve logged into your account, your home screen will be populated by your most recent emails. This will be your inbox.

When a new email has arrived you will hear a sound.

Email basics

When using a screen reader like JAWS, it will announce the sender, subject, received date and time, and if the email is unread.

Navigating the inbox:

  1. To browse the message list, press the Up or Down arrow key.
  2. To open an email, press Enter.
  3. To read the email from top to bottom, press the Screen Reader key + Ctrl + R.
  4. To stop reading, press Ctrl.
  5. To move to the next email, press Alt + 5.
  6. To move to the previous email, press Alt + 4.
  7. When you are finished reading the email, to return to Inbox, press Esc.


Drafting a new email:

  1. In Inbox, press Ctrl + N. You should hear: "Untitled, message," followed by the message format, and "Window, To, editing."
  2. Use the Tab key to focus on the To field. Type the names/email addresses of the recipients.
  3. To add a subject for the email, press the Tab key until you hear "Subject, editing," and then type your message.
  4. Write your email by pressing the Tab key until you hear the subject of the email, followed by "Message, editing," and then type your message.
  5. When you are finished composing the message, press Alt + S to send the email.


If you don't send or discard your email, it's automatically saved in your Drafts folder. The good thing about Windows Mail is it has the capabilities of Word built in, so formatting an email is simple if you’ve use the program before.

You can also use Tab to send a copy (Cc) or a hidden copy (Bcc). Remember, a BCC doesn’t disclose who also received the same email. You should hear "Cc, editing." or "Bcc, editing," to prompt you to add recipients. If you don't hear "Bcc, editing," the Bcc field is hidden. To unhide it, press Alt + P, B.


Email quick actions – Reply, Forward, Delete, mark as unread/read:

To reply to an email:

  1. Press Ctrl + R to reply to just the sender. You hear: "Re," followed by the message subject.
  2. If the message has multiple recipients and you want to reply to all, press Ctrl + Shift + R.
  3. A new email opens with the same subject with a Re: at the start. Use Tab to navigate and type your message.
  4. Press Alt +S to send email


To forward an email:

  1. Press Ctrl + F while in the email you want to forward. You hear: "Fw," followed by the message subject.
  2. Use the Tab key to add in your recipients, message and press Alt + S

Note: When you move from one email to the next, Windows Mail will automatically mark the message as read.
To do this yourself, press Ctrl + Q.
To mark as unread, press Ctrl + U.

To delete messages, press Alt + H + D.


To add an attachment:

To add an attachment to your email, like a word document, photo or PDF, you can:

  1. In your email, press ALT + N, A, F. It will bring up your most recent files. To browse for a file on your computer, press B (or in full, ALT + N, A, F, B)


Opening attachments

To open an attachment in an email you’ve received

  1. Open the email with the attachment.
  2. Press Shift + Tab. If using a screen reader, you will hear "Message header. Download," followed by the file name and size, and "Attachment."
  3. To open the attachment, press Enter.



One of the most useful aspects of Outlook is its calendar. You are able to schedule and set reminders.

Open and navigate the calendar:

  1. In Outlook, press Ctrl + 2 to open the calendar. You hear the name of the current view, for example, "Work week view."
  2. Press Ctrl + Alt + 3 to show the full week view or Ctrl+Alt+4 to show the month view.
  3. Press Ctrl + Right or Left arrow key to move to the next or previous day.
  4. Press Alt + Down or Up arrow key to move to the next or previous week.
  5. Press Alt + Page down or Page up key to move to the next or previous month.

New appointment:

  1. Press Ctrl + N to create a new appointment
  2. It will prompt you to add a date, time and subject matter.

New meeting:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Q to create a new meeting
  2. It will prompt you to add a date, time and subject matter.


Frequently used shortcuts

This table lists the most frequently used shortcuts in Outlook.

To do this Press
Close a window or a menu Esc
Go to the Home tab Alt + H
Create a new message Ctrl + Shift + M
Send a message Alt + S
Insert a file Alt + N, A, F
New task Ctrl + Shift + K
Delete an item (when a message, task, or meeting is selected) Delete
Search for an item Ctrl + E or F3
Reply to a message Alt + H, R, P
Forward a message Alt + H, F, W
Select the Reply All option Alt + H, R, A
Copy an item Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert
Note: Ctrl + Insert is not available in the reading pane.
Go to the Send/Receive tab Alt + J, S
Go to Calendar Ctrl + 2
Create an appointment Ctrl + Shift + A
Move an item to a folder Alt + H, M, V, and select a folder from the list
Open the Save As dialog on the Attachment tab Alt + J, A, A, V
Check for new messages Ctrl + M or F9
Go to a different folder Ctrl + Y
Move item to a folder Ctrl + Shift + V

Looking for more advice or training?

The Vision Australia Access Technology (AT) team is here to support you and can organise personal training.

Our AT Helpdesk team are available Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm EST to troubleshoot your accessible technology issues.

Give them a call on 1300 84 74 66 (and ask for the AT Helpdesk), or send an email to [email protected]