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What is Windows Mail?

Windows Mail is the free, out-of-the-box program that Microsoft offers to users on all its computers, laptops and other technology.

It’s designed to manage one or multiple email accounts – and supports all the popular services, such as Outlook, Exchange, Yahoo, Gmail, iCloud.

You might have heard of Microsoft Outlook which is its own separate email program, but that is part of the Microsoft Office product range which you will need to buy.

Getting started

Add your email credentials to populate Windows Mail

In Windows Mail, you will be prompted to add account.

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

If you have two or more emails, for instance, you have a Gmail and a Hotmail account, you can add both and toggle between the two (use the Shift - Tab key to select each inbox). To add another account, you will have to access settings, then manage accounts, add account then select the email service you would like to add (Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud).

Email basics

Compose a new email

  1. Select new mail (Ctrl + N)
  2. To add recipients, type an email address in the to field.
  3. Underneath the to field, are the Cc and Bcc fields. Cc will send a copy of the email to the recipient, while Bcc will send a hidden copy without it showing who has also been sent the email.
  4. You can now start composing your email. Add any attachments by pressing Alt + I.
  5. Once you have finished you can send the email (Alt + S).

If you don't send or discard your email, it's automatically saved in your draft 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 used Word.

Note: When you compose a new email, it will open a new message with whatever email account you're currently viewing. You can pick your preferred email address by editing the from field.

Email quick actions – reply, forward, delete, mark as unread/read

To reply to an email:

  1. Select the email you would like to reply
  2. You can either reply (Alt + H, R + P) or reply all (Alt + H, R+A)
    a. Note: Reply only replies to the sender, but reply all replies to all the emails included in the original email.
  3. Draft your email
  4. Select send (Alt + S) once you’re happy with your reply

When you reply, reply all, or forward a message, the original message is included.

Note: When you reply to a message, any attachments in the original message are not sent. If you forward the message, the entire message, including attachments, is sent to the recipient.

To forward an email:

  1. With the email open, select forward email (Ctrl + F). A new email will open with the same subject.
  2. In the to field, type your recipients.
  3. Type your message.
  4. Select send (Alt + S) to forward the message.

Note: When you move from one email to the next, Windows Mail it 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.

Adding attachments

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

  1. Press Alt + I.
  2. Browse to the file you want to attach, and press Enter once you’ve found the attachment you’d like with your email.

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.


Alongside Windows Mail, there is a separate calendar option. It is a good place to add any appointments and meetings, and is designed to help you manage your schedule. You can view your day, week or month. Calendar will remind you with prompts near to the appointment’s start time.

To switch to the calendar in Windows Mail, you can click CTRL + 2. To toggle back to mail, press CTRL + 1.

Keyboard shortcuts for navigating mail with a screen reader

Navigation quick steps

Action Press
Create a new email (from Mail view), new appointment (from Calendar view), or new task (from Task view) Ctrl + N
Check for new emails Ctrl + M or F9
Move down and up between emails The down arrow and up arrow keys
Delete email Alt + H + D
Reply to email Alt + H, R + P
Reply all to email Alt + H, R + A
Forward email Alt + H, F + W
Open email Enter
Print email Ctrl + P
Add an attachment Alt + I
Send email Alt + S 
Mark as read Ctrl + Q
Mark as unread Ctrl + U
Mark to download Alt + S, M, and then T (mark to download) or C (mark to download copy)
Move down and up between messages The down arrow and up arrow keys
Switch to Inbox Ctrl + Shift + I
Switch to Outbox (sent items) Ctrl + Shift + O
Create a new folder Shift + F10, N
Go to a different folder Ctrl + Y
Move message to a folder Ctrl + Shift + V
Go to the Search box F3 or Ctrl + E
Open the File tab, where you can change account settings and options Alt + F
Jump to Tell Me Alt + Q


Navigate between Mail, Calendar, and other views

To do this Press
Switch to the Mail view Ctrl + 1
Switch to the Calendar view Ctrl + 2
Switch to the Contacts view Ctrl + 3
Switch to the Tasks view Ctrl + 4
Switch to the Notes view Ctrl + 5
Open the Navigation pane with the Folder list Ctrl + 6
Open the Shortcuts Ctrl + 7
Switch to the Journal view Ctrl + 8
Go back to the previous view Alt + B or Alt + Left Arrow
Go forward to the next view Alt + Right Arrow
Open the Address Book Ctrl + Shift + B

For more information on how to use Windows Mail with a screen reader, Microsoft has its own basics tutorial site.
Accessibility support is also available with Windows Mail.

Technology advice from Vision Australia

Vision Australia Access Technology (AT) team can help set up and teach you to use Windows Mail.

The team is available Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm (Eastern Standard Time) to troubleshoot your issues.

Contact the AT Helpdesk at Vision Australia:

Phone: 1300 84 74 66
Email: [email protected]