How to use the Mail app in Windows 10 with NVDA

When you import your email accounts into the Windows 10 Mail app, your contacts are automatically imported into the People app. So, if you want to work with your contacts, you have to do so in the people app and not the mail app. Think of it like this. Three apps work together to give you that Microsoft Outlook client experience. The People app has all of your contacts. The Mail app is where you work with and send your email messages. The Calendar app has all of your appointments and much more. Now, while you are in the Windows 10 Mail app, you can switch to the Calendar app or the People app. Many of the commands are the same as in Windows Live Mail.

Please note: At present when typing up an email in Mail, NVDA will not speak out the individually typed characters in the edit fields, however you should be able to use the arrow keys to see what the characters were that were typed, and you can use Ctrl + left arrow to go back a word, or Ctrl + right arrow to go forward a word. NVDA will also read the contents in the body of the email. The NVDA developers are currently working to fix this.

Help for using a screen reader with Mail for Windows 10

Here is the out of date help website for using the Windows 10 mail app, in case you want to refer to this website.

Microsoft accounts that can be used with Mail for Windows 10

Mail for Windows 10 supports most types of email services.  You can add any of these Microsoft accounts:  Exchange, Office 365,, Hotmail,, and  You can also add any of these accounts: Gmail, Yahoo Mail, iCloud, or an account with a POP or IMAP server.

Launching the Mail app for the first time

The first part of this tutorial can be done with all four screen readers: NVDA, JAWS, Narrator, and Window Eyes.

So, let us consider how you can launch the Mail app for the first time. The way I did it, was to press the Windows key and type Mail. I heard something like: Windows Mail app trusted Windows store app or something close to that. Now, press Enter, and the Mail app will open. There you go, you have launched the Mail app for the first time. The first time you open Mail, you'll land on the Welcome screen. Press Enter to select Get Started. Now, close the Mail app, and let us pin three apps on the task bar.

Another way you can launch the Mail app, is to press the Windows key, and tab to and arrow to All Apps, and open that to show all apps on your computer. Just type the letter M until you get to the Mail app and press Enter. Now, you will use the People and Calendar apps along with the Mail app very often, so let us pin all three apps to the taskbar. I will also tell you how to add them as shortcuts to your desktop as well if you would like to do that. To add them to the taskbar, just type the name of each app in the search edit box, and press the applications key or Shift + F10 and arrow down to pin to taskbar, and press Enter. Do this for the Mail, Calendar, and the People app. There you go, you should have those three apps on the taskbar. You can also find all three apps in the all apps, and do the same thing to pin them to the taskbar.

Here is how you create a shortcut on your desktop for all three apps. You could put just the Mail app on your desktop or however you want to do it. First, press Windows + R to open the run dialog. Type shell:appsfolder and press Enter. Do not space between words in that phrase you type into the run dialog box. A list of all apps will come up, most of them will be the Win 10 apps. When you get to one of the apps, press the applications key (or Shift + F10 keys), and arrow down to create the shortcut. You will hear something like: You cannot create a shortcut here, do you want to put it on the desktop instead? Press Enter, and a shortcut will be placed on the desktop. This is how you add a shortcut for any of the Win 10 apps to your desktop. Wow, now you have the apps pinned to the taskbar, and also they are on your desktop. Finally, let us begin to learn how to use these three apps.

A few commands to use with the Mail app

Here are a few commands to use with the Mail app. Tab key: The tab key will get you anywhere you need to go in the mail app. Also, F6 will take you to different sections of the app. You do not ever need to use the touch cursor to use the mail app. These three apps, Mail, People, and Calendar have been made so accessible, that you can use the PC cursor. When a message is opened with a screen reader, you are put in a virtual viewer so you can use the virtual cursor, just like in a web page. In NVDA, this will open into browse mode so you can read your message. If you choose to create a new message, reply to or forward an existing message, you will then be put into focus mode in NVDA. This is where you can type in or add in some new information. Now, to work with messages: to send your message, press Alt + S. To reply to a message, press Ctrl + R. To forward a message, press Ctrl + F. To create a new message, press Ctrl +N. Those key commands and the Tab and F6, is about all you need to know to navigate the Mail app.

Now, let us work with the Mail app. Open the Mail app, and you will be on the list of inbox messages for your Microsoft (MS) account. If you have an MS account, that account (and its email, contacts, messages, and calendar info) will already be imported into the mail app, and you can work with all messages in that MS account. Remember, to work with those contacts, you will have to open the People app as well. Now, let us import all of your other email accounts into the Mail app. If you use another client, this will not affect your other clients at all. If these are all IMAP accounts, the Mail app and your other clients will be synced so you can open and work with your messages in any client or the Mail app on any device.

Adding an account

Now, let us add our first account. From the list of messages for your MS account, tab to manage accounts and press Enter. Next, tab to the Add account button. You will be in a list of account types you can add. In the Choose an account dialog, use the Down Arrow key to go through the list of account types (, Exchange, Google, Yahoo Mail, and so on). When you hear the name of your account type, press Enter. For example, if you want to add a Gmail account, press enter on Google. Next, enter the email address for the account that you want to add. Now, tab to the password box, and enter your password. Lastly, Press the Tab key to move to the Sign in button and press Enter and then press Enter again on the done button. Now, if it does not work to import an account by choosing Google, for example, any account will import into this choice: Go to the account choice other account, IMAP or POP. No matter what account you are trying to import, just enter the email address and password for that account, and you should be able to import the account.

The last account choice, is the advanced account. Enter on this last choice if you need to enter in all of the settings for an account by hand. This is the choice you would use to import your Internet Service provider account. After you add your accounts, notice in the manage accounts, you will see a choice to link accounts. This means, that you could have all messages from all of your accounts go into one inbox. I would not do this. Each account should have its own inbox. Now, let us press Enter on one of the accounts that you just added and see what happens. If you press Enter on one of your accounts, there is a choice to delete the account if you decide you do not want it in the mail app anymore. Also, if you press Enter on the sync settings, you will see that your emails from three months ago will import. You can change this if you want. Also, you can change some settings of how the emails are synced in the Mail app, but I would not mess with that at all. Now, just press Escape to get out of that, and you will be back in your list of accounts. Press Esc to close the manage accounts pane. The cursor moves to the Inbox pane for the account you last entered on and your messages, contacts, and calendar info will all be imported.

Now, just keep opening manage accounts and go to add account to keep adding or importing new accounts.

Settings in the Mail app

Now, let us look at the settings in the Mail app. There are some settings that you might want to change or work with in these settings groups. So, Tab to settings and press Enter. The two groups of settings you should open are the reading and signature settings. Do not mess with the other groups of settings.

The reading settings have two choices you might want to change. You can check or uncheck caret browsing. With NVDA, you have to have caret browsing turned on to read the message. However, instead of checking this to always have caret browsing on, you can toggle the caret browsing on and off with F7. I would leave this caret browsing turned off in the reading settings group. Now, in this reading group, there is also a button that turns on and off conversation view. If the button is checked, messages will be grouped by conversation in your inbox. I would uncheck this so it just says conversation view button. This way, you will get each message individually in the list of messages. However, if you want your messages to show up as conversations, then have that button say conversations view checked.

Adding a signature

Press Enter to close the reading group, and Tab to signature and press Enter. In here, you can add a signature, or check all accounts to have the same signature work for all accounts. If you check to have a signature and tab, there is a signature that is there by default. It is the sent from mail for Windows 10 that appears at the end of each message. You can uncheck the signature, and that will not appear after each message. If you want to create your own signature, check the signature, and overwrite that default signature (to add your own signature you want to appear after every message that you send). You can have different signatures for each account, or have the same signature for all accounts by checking all accounts. Press Escape to get out of settings. That is pretty much all I would worry about in settings.

Now, we can start working with our email messages for whichever account you pick from the list of accounts. All the accounts will be in a vertical list, and you just press Enter on whichever account you want to work with, and you will be placed in the inbox and the messages will load. Up to this point, all screen readers have worked the same. From this point on, there will be some differences depending on which screen reader you work with. I will point out these differences for all three screen readers minus Window Eyes, because I have never used that screen reader.

Reading messages

Here we go LOL!!!!!!! Let us arrow through the messages in the inbox and read some of our messages. Let us say we are using JAWS or Narrator at this point. Just enter on the message you want to open. Now, with JAWS, you are put in a virtual environment just like on the net. The virtual PC cursor, allows you to select and copy info that is right in the message. If you are done, just press Escape to get out of the message and back to the list of messages. With Narrator, you can arrow through the message, but it is not as easy to select and copy, so let us just do that with JAWS. Now, with NVDA, press F7 in the message to turn on caret browsing to arrow through the message. This is a toggle, so you can press F7 again to turn it off. When you turn on caret browsing in a message, you will have an insertion caret follow along as you read and type, just like in a Word document. This is the only way you can read a message with NVDA. Now, let me give you some key commands right here. Tab gets you anywhere in the Mail app you want to be. Tabbing will get you to the list of your accounts, list of folders in that account, and so on. When you get to the list of folders, press the more button to open up all folders, like the sent folder, for example.

Creating a new folder

If you Shift Tab once from the list of folders, you can press the folder button, and tab to new folder. Press Enter on the new folder button. You will be in an edit box right away. Type the name of the folder you want to create, and press Enter. Tab to Create new folder button and press Enter on that, and there you go! You have created a new folder for the account you are working in. To create a sub folder, press the more button in the list of folders, and arrow to which folder you want to create the sub folder for. Next, press the applications key or Shift + F10, and arrow to create sub folder and press Enter. Now, you can type the name of the sub folder you want, and press Enter. That is how you create a sub folder of a folder that is already there. When you are on a message in the list, you can press the applications key or Shift + F10 and get choices of what you can do with that message. One of these choices is move. If you enter on move, you will get a list of folders you can move that message to. I created a folder called saved messages. So when I want to save a message, I just move the message to my saved messages folder. If you press Delete, the message goes in the trash folder.

To send a message

To send a message, press Ctrl + N. You are put in the To: edit box. Just type in the email, tab to subject, and tab to write your message. To send a message, press Alt + S, and you are back on the list of messages in your inbox. After you open a message and read it, you can reply to it by pressing Ctrl + R. Just type your message, and press Alt + S to send your reply. You will be in the list of messages, and just press the Delete key to delete that message. To forward a message, just press Ctrl + F.

Tabs on the ribbon of the Mail app

Here we go with the ribbon. When you are in a message, three tabs show up on the ribbon. Just press the Alt key to get to the ribbon. The first tab you will hear is the format tab. Right arrow to the Insert tab, and right arrow again to the third and last tab, the options tab. Now, if you press Alt a second time while you are still in the Mail app, you will be on the tab that you were last working with. If you were working with the options tab lastly, the options tab will show up, and you will have to left arrow to get back to insert and format. You do wrap around in a circle with a couple of other choices in there as you wrap. On any of these tabs, just press the down arrow key to get to all of the choices for that tab. Then, press tab to tab through all of the choices.

To add an attachment

For example, to insert an attachment into an email, press the Alt key, and arrow to the Insert tab. Then, press the down arrow, and you are right on the files choice. It will not say attach, this is very important. Pressing down arrow on the Insert tab, allows you to insert different things into your email. You want to press Enter on files to attach a file or attachment to your email. Other choices are table, link, and so on. These are different things that you can insert in your email. Press Enter on files, and you can browse your computer to find a file to insert or attach, and press Enter on the open button. Now, you are put back on the message you are composing. If you press Shift + tab one time, you will be on your file that you attached to your email. That is how people will find your attachments. They will just shift tab to hear all of the files you inserted or attached to your email. Now, Use Shift + Tab again to move focus to the subject line, and press Shift + Tab again to hear the sender’s name. In other words, when you are in a message, press Shift + tab to hear all of the information like the subject, the sender, the time and date, and so on.

Formatting choices

There are not key commands to read this information to you like in other clients. When you finish reading the message, press the Esc key to return to the message list. That is the key. If you just press Escape, you go back to your list of messages. If you press Delete on a message in the list, it goes to the trash folder right away. Now, if you select some text in your email, just press Alt, and arrow to the Format tab, and press down arrow to the format choices if you want to format your email. Just Tab through the choices. There are many, you can do just about anything here to format your email text. For example, if you down arrow on the format tab, there will be choices to bold, underline, and to do other things to the text that you select in your email that you are composing. Now, for the options tab, the third and last tab if you are composing a message, press the Alt key and arrow to the options tab and press down arrow and tab through these choices.

The most important choice is spelling. If you press Enter on spelling, that will begin a spell check just like in MS word. You will hear the mispelled word, and you can arrow to choices and all of that and press Enter on the right choice for the spelling. The Mail app will take you word by word, and it will tell you the spell checking is done. You have to press Enter on the done button or whatever it is to go back to your message. That is the only choice under the options tab that you will want to use. Now, here is the thing about spell checking in the mail app. You can go to settings by pressing Windows + I to have win10 correct much of your spelling as you type. This only works though, in a Win 10 app. The Mail app qualifies for that. So, in settings, arrow to the devices group and press Enter. Then, go to the type choice and press Enter. Check two check boxes. The first says something like correct spelling, and the second one says something like highlight words that are misspelled. Check those two check boxes and press Enter. Now, when you are in the Mail app, most of the words will be automatically corrected as you type them. However, this feature will not correct all misspelled words. This is where you press Alt, arrow to the options tab and down arrow, and tab to the spell check choice to really spell check the email just like in Word. Now, I do not think there is a way to have the Mail app spell check every message automatically when you send it (like with WLM). I think that you have to spell check every message that you compose, before you send it, just like with each document in Word.

Well, I think we have covered everything with the Mail app itself. Now, I will show you quickly how to use the People app and Calendar app, and then you can use all three apps together as one email client.

People app

Launch the People app, and tab a few times. You will tab by a new button, where you can manually enter the information for a new contact. If you tab past the new button, you will come to a list of contacts. You cannot use first letter navigation to jump to a certain contact, but here is what you can do. Tab one more time, and you will be in a list of letters of the alphabet. Again, you cannot use first letter navigation, like you can now use in the all apps. Just arrow down to the letter you want, and Shift + Tab back to the list of contacts starting with that letter. Find the name you want, and tab a few more times. There will be an edit where you can edit the contact's information. Tab past that, and you will come to profile. Tab one more time, and you will be on their email. To copy that email, you have to press the applications key, or Shift + F10, and press Enter on copy. You will then have that person's email copied to the clipboard. You can go to the Mail app, and paste that into the To: edit box to send them an email. That is it with the People app. Remember that your contacts are imported into the People app. As you type an email into the Mail app, the populated choices come from the People app.

Calendar app

Launch the Calendar app, and press Alt + Ctrl + 4 to get into month view. You are put on a grid of days of the week. You will land on today. It will say the date as well. For example, you will hear Friday, October 28. You also hear how many events are linked with that day, like birthdays of your contacts and so on. Tab to each event, and press Enter on the event to get the details of that event. If you press Shift + Tab you will go back to the day of those events. If you press right and left arrow, you will go forward a day or back a day. Up arrow takes you a week ahead from that day, and down arrow takes you a week before that day. If you want to schedule an event for a certain day, just press Enter on that day, and a dialog will come up for you to enter all of the information for the appointment or event, and there is an okay or done button. There you go! That is how you read days, the events for those days, and how to schedule an event for that day. That is about it for the Calendar app.

Here are many keyboard shortcuts to use with all three apps

Account Manual Sync (Send and retrieve new mail)

Ctrl + M or F9

Mark as read

Ctrl + Q

Mark as unread

Ctrl + U

Toggle the important property in a conversation

Ctrl + Shift + G

Delete a conversation

Ctrl + D or Delete

Archive a conversation


Reply to current mail

Ctrl + R

Reply all

Ctrl + Shift + R

Forward current mail

Ctrl + F


Ctrl + E or F3

Create a new email

Ctrl + N or Ctrl + Shift + M

Add Attachment

Alt + I

Send mail

Alt + S or Ctrl + Enter

Switch to Inbox

Ctrl + Shift + I

Switch to Outbox

Ctrl + Shift + O

Zoom in

Ctrl + + (Plus key on numpad)

Zoom out

Ctrl + - (Minus key on numpad)

Move between regions


Toggle Caret Browsing


Key commands for the Calendar app

Accept Meeting Invitation

Alt + C

Decline Meeting Invitation

Alt + D

Tentative Meeting Invitation

Alt + N

Move to View

Ctrl + Shift + V

Switch to the calendar in the mail app

Ctrl + 2

For the People app, the Tab and arrow keys are about all you need.

Well, I hope you get so much good out of this post, and you can get a lot out of using the Mail app, People, and Calendar apps. You can do a lot with three apps. I would pin all three of them to the taskbar, and have them all opened at the same time.

Take care, David Moore