Tutorial: Configuring Outlook 2013 and 2016 for easier viewing

The following tutorial has been written by our Technical Support Officer Paul Traynor and outlines steps that you can take when you first open up MS Outlook versions 2013 and 2016 in order to make folders such as the Inbox and any sub folders easier to view with a screen reader.

Important: Make sure you are in the “Main Inbox” prior to carrying out the below tasks and have no emails open up.

If you find that the “Preview pane” is automatically opening up emails try using “Alt + F4” to close out of this screen back to the Inbox first.

  1. Turn off the reading pane, “Use keys, “Alt, V + P + N” then arrow down to Off and press enter key.
  2. Next turn off the “Arrange in groups” for the Inbox with keys, “Alt, V + a + b + W”
  3. Make sure that your messages are to show in the list by “Date” as follows, Use keys;

“Alt, V + A + B” and make sure that date is checked use the enter key if it is not.

  1. Also make sure to turn off the following items which are usually contained in the “View menu”; *. The To Do Bar.

Use keys, “Alt + V followed by B” to access it and choose “Off” using “Arrow keys” followed by “Enter key” to turn it off.

*. Next check for the, “people pane” and turn this off also. To do this use keys: Alt, V, P, P, O.

Important as far as the views go you will need to perform most of the above tasks on any particular mailbox that contains emails in order to use that mailbox effectively.

  1. Tip: When in your “Main Inbox” and you wish to access other folders such as “Outbox, Deleted items” etc use keys, “Control + Letter Y” to open up the list of available folders. Use “Arrow keys” to move to a particular folder or just use “First letter navigation” to reach a particular mailbox quickly.
  2. Setting the sort order of your mails can be done by the following keys;

Alt, V, A, B. Then from the resulting menu choose first item, “Date” and press enter on it. Then again go into this menu and choose “Show in groups”. If this option is checked then “Uncheck” it using the “Enter key”.

(Setting the format of your mails)

Make sure that your messages are set to “Plain text” as follows;

  1. Press keys, “Alt + F” to open up the file menu then arrow down to “Options” and press the enter key.
  2. In the list of catagories arrow down to “Mail” and then tab over to where it indicates to you which format your mail is in, yours is possible in “HTML” down arrow to Plain text and tab over to “Apply” and press the spacebar.
  3. Tab back over to the catagories list and arrow down to “Trust center” then press keys, “Alt + t” and you are in the trust center settings.
  4. Press the Up arrow once to “Email security” and then tab over to the following two items; *. Show all mail in plain text checkbox and check it.

*. Show all digitally signed mail in plain text, checkbox checked.

  1. tab to the ok button and press the spacebar then tab to the OK button again and press the spacebar to complete.

Notes: If you create any further “Sub folders” within this main Inbox environment then you will need to do much the same set of settings to each one of them in order to make them like the main Inbox.

Attaching files to outgoing emails

Here are the steps used to attach a file to an out-going outlook 2016 email:

  1. Press keys, “Left alt + n”.
  2. Press the “Down arrow” once and then press “Enter key”.
  3. Press letter, “B” for browse this computer.

Notes: The browse this computer mode places the user in a “Filename edit box” and then He or She can, “Shift + tab” into their main “Documents folder.

  1. Once in the Documents folder use “Up or down arrows” to pick up the file you wish to have attached to your email.
  2. When on the specific file you wish to send then press the, “Enter key” once on it to have it attached to your out-going emails.
  3. Once back in the main body of the email now press keys, “Alt + S” to send the email to its intended recipients.

Saving Attachments From Emails into a Specific Folder

In the following instructions I am going to save an attached file from an email in Outlook into a specific folder I have created within my “Documents” folder. I have called the folder I will save my email attachments in, “Attachments”. You can go ahead and create a folder within your “Documents” folder and call it anything you like.

  1. Open up the email that contains the attachments.
  2. Press keys, “Alt + F” then down arrow about three times to “Save attachments” and press “Enter key”.
  3. On the next screen an “OK” button will appear, press the “Enter key” once on this to continue.

Notes: On the next screen you will hear a message, “Save all attachments, folder edit”.

  1. Now press the “Enter key” once and you will have saved any attachments into the “Attachments” folder in your “Documents” folder.
  2. To access the attachments, just go onto your desktop and look for the attachments folder.

Adding A Contact Into Your Outlook Address Book

In this tutorial we will look at how to add a contact to the “Outlook 2016” address book.

Let’s get started:

  1. Open up Outlook into your Inbox.
  2. To open the address book press keys, “Control + Shift + B” once. After a few seconds the address book window will open up.

Notes: When the Address book opens up you will be placed in a “Search edit box” where you can type in a name of a particular contact you are looking for should you wish to do so.

  1. If you wish to move onto your main list of contact addresses then just press the “Tab key” once and you are now on the list of contacts you currently have in that address book.

Notes: Use your “Arrow keys” to move through the list of contacts.

  1. To begin adding in a new contact we will now press keys, “Alt + F” and then press “Enter key” once on “New entry”.

Notes: When the new entry opens up there will be two choices;

*. New contact.

*. New contact group.

  1. In this tutorial we will choose “New contact” by arrowing to it and then pressing the “Enter key” once.
  2. The next screen that comes up will be a page filled with “Form fields” requiring various details. We are only going to be interested in the following form fields for our lesson;

*. Full name, “Edit box”.

*. Company, “Edit box”.

*. Job title, “Edit box”.

*. File as, “Edit box”.

*. Contact photo, “Button”.

*. Email, “Button”.

*. Email, “Button”.

*. Email address, “Edit box”.

*. Webpage address, “Edit box”.

*. IM Address, “Edit box”.


Phone Details:

*. Business, “Button.

*. Phone Number Type, “Button”.

*. Phone 1, “Edit box”.

*. Home, “Button”.

*. Phone Number Type, “Button”.

*. Phone 2, “Edit box”.

*. Business Fax, “Button”.

*. Phone Number Type, “Button”.

*. Phone 3, “Edit box”.

*. Mobile, “Button”.

*. Phone Number Type, “Button”.

*. Phone 4, “Link”.


*. Business, “Button”.

*. Address Types, “Button”.

*. Address.

*. This is the mailing address, “Checkbox”.

*. Notes, “Edit”.

Notes: You can move through the form fields mentioned above using the “Tab key” and for any buttons that you need to access just press the “Spacebar” once on them.

  1. Now fill in the following “Form fields” only;

Notes: You can fill in as many or as little of the above form fields as you wish. For now we are just going to fill in the following.

*. Full name, “Edit box”.

*. Company, “Edit box”.

*. Job title, “Edit box”.

*. File as, “Edit box”.

*. Email address, “Edit box”.

Notes: Remember to use the “Tab key” to move through the above mentioned fields.

  1. Once you have filled in the last of the above mentioned form fields which is the actual “Email address” you are now ready to save that contact into your address book. To do this just press keys, “Left alt + F4” once.
  2. After pressing the “Left alt + F4” you will be asked if you wish to “Save” the contact details, press the “Tab key” till you are on the “Save button” and press “Spacebar” once to finish.
  3. After having saved the new contact details you will be back in your main “Address book” and the newly added contact will be among all the other contacts.

Replying Or Forwarding Emails

In this group of instructions we will look at replying or forwarding an email as follows;

  1. To reply to an email, first highlight an email in the Inbox which you wish to reply too.
  2. Now with the email simply highlighted or indeed fully open up on screen, press keys, “Control + letter R” once.
  3. Now the email will be in what I call “Reply mode” and all you need to do is write in your cover text just up at the top of the particular email
  4. When you are ready to send off the email press keys, “Left alt + S” once and the email will be sent on its way.

In order to forward an email;

  1. First using your arrow keys, move onto the closed message in your Inbox.
  2. Now you can press “Enter key” to open the message or from a closed email position just simply press keys, “Control + F” once.
  3. Your email that you wish to forward is now in “Forward mode”. Once again simply type in your cover text at the top of the message.
  4. Once your cover text has been written now press keys, “Left alt + S” once and your message will be forwarded on its way.