There may be other accessible email
clients out there on the web, but the most accessible that I have
found so far with the NVDA screen reader is Mozilla Thunderbird.
In this tutorial, I am going to cover the basics of
downloading and installing Mozilla Thunderbird. The
tutorial will also be covering how to send and receive
emails, attachments and so on. If there is no email client
on your computer, Mozilla Thunderbird is a good free alternative
for sending and receiving your emails.
If you would like to try Mozilla
Thunderbird, you can get a copy from http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/.
There will be different versions for the different operating
systems. The default is English for Windows, so to get
Mozilla Thunderbird for Mac or Linux, or in another language
other than English, click on the link called Other Systems
and Languages and choose the correct one for your system.
(Please remember that NVDA only works on Windows and this is
the version I am using for this tutorial). Once you have
found the correct file, download
a copy to your desktop, so it is easy to find when you go to
set it up.
How to install additional
Migrating to NVDA from
other screen readers
Once you have downloaded the latest
Mozilla Thunderbird from the link above, you will need to click on the file to set
it up. Follow the prompts
on screen. Setup may give you the option to import email
addresses from another mail client - if you already have one
on your computer (For example Outlook or Windows Mail). If
it doesn't, just follow the on screen prompts until it says
that it has been successfully installed. It should
automatically load once the setup process is successful.
Remember to familiarise
yourself with the layout of the programme so you
know where menu items are.
Have you just started using Mozilla Thunderbird and miss jumping to each folder quickly (rather than arrowing down or up the tree) to locate the folder that you want? There is an add on that can be installed into Mozilla Thunderbird that will do this.
The link to where you can get the extension can be found at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/quick-folder-key-navigation/?src=cb-dl-created and will need to be installed into Mozilla Thunderbird. Mozilla Thunderbird will then have to be restarted for it to work.
Click on the link below to go to Mozilla
Thunderbird's help page on automatic
Click on the link below to go to Mozilla Thunderbird's help page on manual account configuration.
Below will be an example of setting up an Outlook.com account in Mozilla Thunderbird. This is done after you have signed up for an Outlook.com account and have your user details ready.
The same process will be used to set up another account from another email client (for example Gmail). Doing it this way will save you going to the online web platform (which might be hard to navigate); and doing it this way will bring the emails down to your Thunderbird email client where you can send and receive those same emails.
1. Open Thunderbird.
2. Press the Alt key until the file menu comes up, then arrow right until you hear NVDA say tools. Next, arrow down until you hear NVDA say account settings, then press the Enter key. You will then be put into a tree view. You can arrow up and down this section. You will be given a list of options. You will need to use the Tab key until you hear NVDA say account actions. This is a combo box. Use the Alt key + the down arrow key to open it. Arrow down until you hear NVDA say “Add mail Account” then press the Enter key.
3. Input your account information (such as your username, email address and password).
4. Tab to Continue.
5. Tab to Manual config.
6. You will need to set the Incoming settings as follows. (The following sections can be tabbed through to enter your information and the Shift/Tab key can be used if you miss a section):
a. Server hostname: imap-mail.outlook.com.
b. Port: 993.
c. SSL: SSL/TLS.
d. Authentication: Normal password.
7. Set the Outgoing settings as follows:
a. Server hostname: smtp-mail.outlook.com.
b. Port: 587.
c. SSL: STARTTLS.
d. Authentication: Normal password.
8. Click Done.
For more information on connecting your app to Outlook.com, visit this link: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/outlook/send-receive-from-app.
choose to use another email address, then you will need to
grab the settings to set up that account (for example
Have you just bought an Android phone (and it wanted you to setup a Gmail account so that you can get your emails on your phone)? Or, maybe you set up a gmail account for spam emails or generic emails. Whether you have it as a main account or as a secondary account, if you are using Mozilla Thunderbird instead of using a phone, you can have these emails brought down to your computer in Mozilla Thunderbird.
When Mozilla Thunder bird is open, press the Alt key until the File menu comes up. Arrow to the Tools menu, then down to Account settings, then press the Enter key. You will now be put into a tree view. If not, then you might have to look for the following. You will need to tab once and you should hear NVDA say account actions sub menu button. This is a combo box. Use the Alt key + down arrow key to open it up (or the space bar will do the same thing to open it up); then arrow until you hear the following… Add mail account… then press the Enter key. It will then ask for your name. Here, you can enter in a nickname for the account (for example: Accessibilitycentral.net). This will make it easier to find if you have more than one account set up in Mozilla Thunder bird. When done, tab once and it will ask for your gmail email address. Enter this in here (for example: email@example.com). Tab once again, then enter in your password for your gmail account (for example: nvdarules1). You will need to tab a couple of times. You can leave the check box that says remember password checked. Tab to the continue button, then press the Enter key, then tab to the done button, then press the Enter key.
Now all of your
gmail emails will come down to Mozilla Thunder bird, and you
can then send and receive them like normal (instead of
having to navigate the web interface).
Please note: There is
now an extra step, where you have to enable Imap and Pop (up
on the gmail servers). For more information about setting up
gmail with Mozilla Thunderbird, please see the following
If you want to set up more accounts please follow the steps above for setting up a new email account.
When the extra accounts have been set up (when you first open Mozilla Thunderbird), you will need to tab about 3 times until you hear NVDA say tree view. You should hear the name of your account. You may hear it say collapsed. If so, you can arrow down to hear the names of the other accounts. Use the right arrow twice until you hear NVDA say the name of a folder (for example inbox).
Here you can arrow up and down the tree view to hear the names of the other folders for example drafts, sent, and so on.
To go into any of the folders, press the Tab key, then arrow down or up the messages to see what is there. Press the Enter key on a message that you want to read. The Escape key should close the message if it has been set to a new Window.
Using the left arrow key twice (when you are on the folders name) will collapse the branch where again you can arrow up or down to your other accounts.
When you first open Thunderbird, you will need to tab 3 times to get to the list of messages.
The layout of Thunderbird is similar to Outlook and Outlook Express. You have a treeview of folders, so as you're tabbing listen out for treeview.
Arrowing up and down navigates you to the different folders such as inbox, sent, trash, junk etcetera.
Unfortunately, you cannot use Control + Y, or the first letter of a folder to jump to a particular folder. You have to arrow through all the folders to get to the one you want.
Control + N = Create a new message
Control + Shift + A = Attach a file to a message
Control + R = Reply
Control + Shift + R = Reply to all
Control + L = Forward
Control + Enter = Send
Control + Shift + B = Address book
If you have set up other email accounts in Mozilla Thunderbird, when you first open it you will need to tab about 3 times. You should hear NVDA say tree view. Here you can arrow down to the other accounts and hear their names.
You can then either open the branch with the right arrow key (to see the other folders there under that account), or use the left arrow key to collapse the branch.
You can then use the shortcut key Control + N, to start a new message.
NVDA will default to the To: field. This is where you can enter in an email address or press a letter to bring up a list of names starting with that letter. Use the down or up arrow keys to pick the name you want. Next, tab to the subject field and type in what the message is about. Tab again and this will put you into the message body. Here, type in whatever it is about.
Use the Ctrl key + the Enter key to send the email from that account.
Press F7 and the spell checker will be displayed.
NVDA will spell out the word that is wrong.
You will then need to Tab to the list of suggestions, arrow to the one you want to change and then press the Enter key on it.
You can also tab to ignore if you do not wish to make any changes.
Arrow to the message you wish to move.
Press the applications key, and a context menu will appear.
Arrow down to the “move to” menu, then press the Enter key. You will now be given some options - the first one is recent. This is where you last moved your messages to. Underneath the recent menu will be your account (or if more than one account/s).
You can use the arrow keys to navigate these menus.
Arrow to the section or account you wish to move the message to and press Enter.
Next, arrow down to the folder you wish to move the message to and press Enter.
Now your message is in the folder you moved it to.
If you would like to move more than one message at a time, highlight the messages you want to move and repeat the process.
Control + N = New message.
Select the first person you want to send a message to (by typing the first few letters of their name). Then, press Enter (once you have the right person).
A second box will be displayed and your screen reader will say: to edit combo blank.
To tell thunderbird we want this box to be a CC box, press Shift Tab once and use your arrows to select the option you'd like CC, BCC, etcetera.
When you have selected the right option, press Tab to go back to the edit box.
Instead of to edit combo, your screen reader should now say, BCC edit combo, or the option that you picked.
Find the person you'd like to add to the email by typing their name, and press Enter again if you'd like to select a third person to send it to.
Keep doing this until you've selected all the people you'd like to send it to.
Then, tab to Subject, fill in the subject field and Tab to the main message body.
Type your message
and press Control + Enter to send.
There may be times when you join groups etcetera and you want your emails filtered into other folders. This might be in the case where your emails from the NVDA list come into your inbox and you want them filtered into another folder called NVDA emails.
In your email account you will need to setup a folder first. Make sure a folder is not highlighted as it will create a sub folder off it. So, when you look down the branch you should be able to see the folder by itself. When it has been created, you will then need to go to the inbox. Here is where you will create your filter in the inbox. Tab into it where your messages are. To have all emails from the list go to the folder you created in the header of the email, tab until you hear NVDA say to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next, push the Windows application key until the context menu comes up. Arrow down until you hear NVDA say create filter from, then press the Enter key. A new screen will come up giving you different options and you will hear NVDA say message rules.
The details below will need to be followed and are basic settings.
Filter name. You will need to give it a name (for example NVDA emails).
Apply filter manually. Uncheck this box with the spacebar.
Getting new mail. Leave this one checked.
Filter before junk classification. You can leave this one.
Archiving. Leave this one unchecked.
After sending. Leave this one unchecked.
Match all of the following. There is a table after this where you can specify if you want, but this was left blank. The edit box after them had the following in it email@example.com
There is then a plus button (add a new rule). Tab past this one and the next option will be combo box which will give you two options. You will need it to say move message to. The next option will be combo box and will be the name of your account. Open it up then you will need to use the arrow keys to navigate to the folder you want the emails to go into (for example NVDA emails).
Tab to the ok button, then press the Enter key. The next screen it comes up with will have the name of the filter you gave it (for example NVDA emails). Here, there will be other options. As you tab, these will be: new, edit, delete, and run selected filter. When you find the run now button, press the Enter key or space bar on it. There will be a couple of other options but do not touch them. Press the Escape key and this should put you back into your inbox.
The filter must be done on the inbox of the account you are using for it to work. You can also go through the tools… manage filters way as well to get to the same screens.
To listen to an
audio tutorial on setting up a basic filter in Mozilla
Thunderbird please go to https://www.dropbox.com/s/gbjdzcw2pazkrh6/creating%20a%20basic%20filter%20in%20mozilla%20thunder%20bird.MP3?dl=0
For information on
how to create filters for your messages when they come in
please go to the following web page at https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/organize-your-messages-using-filters
In Mozilla Thunderbird there are a whole host of ways you can sort your emails as they come into your inbox. In most cases people will sort them by date and usually have the newest emails at the top of the inbox and have the rest of the emails in descending order in the inbox. The emails may be threaded or unthreaded.
Mozilla Thunder bird can sort them according to your preferences. To locate the sort menu press the Alt key (until the file menu comes up), then arrow to the View menu, then down to the Sort by menu. A sub menu will appear. Any of the items that are checked under this section, will be how they are sorted. So if you want to sort your emails by date, this menu will need to be checked, and if you want them in descending order, then this menu will also need to be checked. If you would like the emails to be unthreaded, then check the unthreaded menu item. Press the Enter key on any of the menus you want checked.
You will be able to arrow down and up this section with the arrow keys. Some sections will only let you make the one choice when trying to sort them.
When you first download a copy of Mozilla Thunderbird and set it up, your messages will go to your inbox. The information being read out will be in the column headers (for example the time, subject, etcetera).
These will be set to a default, which is read out by NVDA. To add in extra columns or hide them, locate your inbox, then tab into it. Here is where your messages are and you could arrow up and down these messages. If you choose the first message, make sure your review cursor is set to simple review mode. This menu can be found under the NVDA preferences section called review cursor menu. This box will need to be checked.
Next, you will need to go into object navigation mode in NVDA. Use the NVDA key + the number 1 on the numeric keypad to do this.
Next, you will need to use the NVDA key + the number 4 on the numeric keypad. Do this until you hear NVDA say List. Next, use the NVDA key + the number 2 on the numeric keypad to go down a level, and you should hear NVDA say thread column header display message threads. Next, you will have to press the NVDA key + the number 6 on the numeric keypad until you hear it say select columns to display button. When you hear NVDA say this, press the NVDA key + the Enter key on the numeric keypad. A menu will drop down and here you can arrow down and up the list. The columns that are checked are the ones you hear in the column header being read out. The ones that are not checked are not read out. If unchecked, and you want it to be read out, press the Enter key on it to check it. If it is checked and you do not want it to be read out, press the Enter key on it to uncheck it. The above process will need to be done each time for each column you want to show or hide.
So, if I wanted NVDA to tell me when I have read emails, have unread emails, attachments, or the status of an email, I would make sure these are checked. If the status one is done as well, it will tell you when they are forwarded, replied to and so on.
If you would like to move a column from one area to another in the email header, you will need to tab from tree view into your email message list. Next put NVDA into object navigation mode. Use the NVDA key + the number 1 on the numeric keypad to do this.
If I wanted to move a particular column to another location (IE before or after the current column) I would do the following in the header of the email.
From the message list, I would press the NVDA key + the number 4 on the numeric keypad until I heard the name of the column I wanted to move (for example Status). I would then press NVDA + Numpad divide (above the number 8 on the numeric keypad) to route the mouse pointer there. Then you would press Shift + Numpad divide again to lock the left mouse button. Press the NVDA key + Numpad 4 again a number of times until you hear the name of the column immediately before the column I want to move the selected column to (for example next to unread). Press the NVDA key + Numpad divide to put the mouse pointer there, and press the Shift key + Numpad divide to unlock the left mouse button.
Please note: You can also use the NVDA key + the number 6 on the numeric keypad to move it back the other way then unlock it in that position.
Now, when you arrow down or up your messages,
you will notice the difference when NVDA reads it out.
For an audio tutorial on how to insert and remove columns in Mozilla Thunderbird, as well as moving your column from one position to another using drag and drop with NVDA, please visit the following link
There are a
couple of ways to add a person to your address book. The
first way is if someone gives you an email address and you
would like to add it to your address book. Press the Alt key to bring up the
File menu, then
arrow right to the Tools
menu, then arrow down to Address
Book and press Enter.
The next screen that comes up will be your address
book. In the address book, you could either use the
existing address book or add another one later on if you
want it for a specific purpose (For example for work
contacts). To add a person to the existing address
book, press the Alt
key to bring up the File
menu, arrow down to New,
then arrow right to Address
Book contact, then press Enter. Here you can fill in the
details for that person. (For example name, email and
so on). Once they have been entered and saved, more can be added at a later date
following the same process.
If you have
received an email and wish to save the persons email
address, firstly find the
message you want. While it is closed, Tab to the From: field.
It should say their email address. Next, press the Insert and Numpad divide
keys to route the mouse to that area. Then, right click with
the Numpad Multiply
key (which can be located above the numeric number 9). A
menu will appear, then arrow
down to Add to Address Book, then Tab to Ok. That person
should now be in your address book.
When you are browsing through your emails, are you getting the message “the remote content has been blocked”? If so (and if this is driving you crazy) press the Alt key (until the File menu comes up). Next, arrow right to the Tools menu then arrow down to the Options menu; and press the Enter key. The next screen that comes up will be broken up into different sections (for example general, display, and so on). These are tabs. Under each of these tabs, it will give you some options. You can arrow left or right through the tabs, but you need to use the Tab key to go through each section.
Locate the privacy tab, then use the Tab key to go down to one called Allow remote content in messages. Check this box (using the spacebar). Next, tab down to the OK button, then press the Enter key. You should not get this message now.
To send an email, press the Alt key (to get to the
file menu)... arrow down to New (where a submenu will come up). You will
need to find the word Message...
press enter (and a
new window will come up). NVDA will default to the To: field. In this
field, type in the email address you wish to send your email
to. For example firstname.lastname@example.org Once done,
Tab down to the Subject:
area and type in a general topic for your email. (For
example: Have you heard of the NVDA Screen reader?).
The next time you tab, you will be put into the body of the email; this
is where you will type the information you want to send.
(For example: Hi Freddo, I have come across a neat screen
reader that works well with Thunderbird if you want to try
it. Regards, Jiminy Cricket). Once your email has been
typed up, it is time to send it. You can press the Alt key (to bring up the
File menu)... arrow down to Send now... then press Enter to send it.
In most cases, when you open Mozilla
Thunderbird, it will automatically get your new emails for
you. The other way to get your emails, is to press the
Alt key (to bring up
your File menu), arrow down to Get new messages for... all accounts... and
press Enter. This
should bring down your new emails from the server if there
are any there. You may or may not have any new emails.
Assuming you have just downloaded your
emails to your Inbox, to read any of the new emails, locate
your Inbox if you are elsewhere within Mozilla Thunderbird.
(For example you may be in the Trash folder or in the Sent
folder and need to get back to your Inbox). Press Shift + Tab until you
hear tree view (and whatever the name of the folder is that
you are in). Next, arrow
up until you hear Inbox. Once you have found it,
you may have to Tab
a couple of times to get into your messages. Press the
Enter key to open
the message. Use your
arrow keys (either the up or down) to locate
the emails you are looking for. Once found, press the
Enter key and a new
window will come up. NVDA will automatically start
reading your email for you. If it doesn't, use the Insert and down arrow
keys to read out the email for you. Once read, you can
use the Alt and F4
keys to close the email.
Locate the email you wish to reply to and press Alt... (to get into the File menu)... arrow right to Message... arrow down to Reply. Press the Enter key. A new window will come up; here will be where you will type your reply in the body text of the email. NVDA will automatically default to this area. Type in your message and then send it. (You can press the Alt key (to bring up the File menu)... arrow down to Send now... then press Enter to send it).
Assuming that you are still in the message
area of your Inbox (and you would like to forward on a email
to someone else), you will need to do the following. Locate the message you
want to forward on, then press the Alt key (to bring up the
File menu)... arrow right to the Message submenu... then arrow down to the Forward tab... and press
Enter. A new
window will come up. Type in the persons email address you
want to send it to (this should be in the To: field). When
you Tab, it will
say fwd, short for forward and the subject line it used
before. When you Tab
again, you will be in the body text. Here you can
type whatever it may be. (For example: I thought you
might like this email). Then, it is ready to be sent.
(You can press the Alt
key (to bring up the File menu)... arrow down to Send now... then press Enter to send it).
Assuming that you have typed up your email
ready to add an attachment to it, you will need to do the
following. Press the Alt
key (to bring up the File menu)... arrow down to Attach... arrow right to
File... then press Enter. This time a
dialogue box will come up. It will usually default to
where you type your file name. Tab around until you
hear either "Look in" (in Windows XP) or "Address" (in
Windows 7). When locating the folder you want, you may
have to Tab a couple of times to get into it before looking
for the individual file. You will need to locate the file
you are sending by using the arrow keys. Once found,
press the Enter key and the file will be attached for
you. Repeat the process if you want to send more than
If starting an email from scratch it would
be... Alt... File... New... Message. Enter the email address
you wish the attachment to go to. Tab to the subject line and enter a subject for your
email.Tab to the
body text and type
in whatever you would like to say in your email. Alt... File... Attach... File... Tab until you hear "Address" (this is the
address that your folder is at Example C:\desktop\my photos
etc). In Windows XP this will say "Look in". Arrow down if this is not the
correct folder and locate
the folder where the file is that you wish to attach. Tab until you hear the
name of a file and arrow
to locate the file or photo. Once you have found the one
that you want to attach, click Enter and it will automatically attach it.
Press Alt... File... Send Now (or Ctrl +
Enter) to send.
For a full list of Mozilla Thunderbird
shortcut keys, please press the F1 key (while in
Thunderbird) and once the online help page appears, type the
words shortcut keys in the search edit box. You should find
a link which will take you to a page full of shortcut key
combinations for Thunderbird. You may want to bookmark the
page for future reference, or even copy and paste the
information into a text file so you can revisit it later on.
Using this search function is also great for assisting you
to locate help topics.
This Facebook chat client will only work
if you have a copy of the Mozilla Thunderbird email client
set up on your computer. If you haven’t obtained a copy yet
please go to the following link to obtain a copy of it
Once you have downloaded and set up your
copy of Mozilla Thunderbird you are ready to use the
Facebook chat client. Open Mozilla Thunderbird. Press the
Alt key to bring up the file menu. Arrow right to
tools. Arrow down to Chat Status. Right arrow, then
arrow down to show accounts. A chat network wizard will
appear with a list of 5 options. These are: Facebook chat,
Google talk, IRC, Twitter and XXMC. Choose Facebook
chat. Tab to next and press Enter. Have a look under
the (account...settings) section in Facebook to locate your
proper username. Once there, under username, it should say
http://www.facebook.com/freddo.frog12). Enter only this last
bit (for example freddo.frog.12 or whatever yours is). Once
you have entered this, click on next. Be careful that this
is the username (for your Facebook Chat ID) that Facebook
has previously assigned you, not necessarily the alias you
have displayed. Tab to next and press Enter. Enter your real
Facebook password and tab to Next. Press Enter. Next, it
will ask you for an alias - enter whatever you would like it
to appear as (for example freddos text chat). To connect,
tab to connect and press Enter. It will now download your
contacts and connect you to your Facebook friends via text
chat. Tab to close and press Enter to close this screen.
To use Facebook chat from your Mozilla
Thunderbird email client, you will need to press Alt (to
bring up the file menu). Arrow across to the Go menu. Arrow
down to Chat and press Enter. Your chat screen will appear
with a list of online contacts. You can also see who is
offline. Tab until you hear contacts, then arrow up and down
to hear who is online. Press Enter on the name of the person
you wish to chat with. Type in your message and press Enter.
When they reply you will hear their response automatically
read out to you. These are the main keystrokes that you will
need to use (namely tab, shift tab, arrow up or down, Enter
and the applications key to perform certain functions such
as Start A Conversation, Rename, or Remove contact).
To close out of Facebook chat, press Alt.
Arrow right until you hear Tools. Arrow down until you hear
Chat status. Right arrow once, then down arrow until you
hear Show Accounts. Press Enter. It will default to the
Disconnect button if you are connected. Press Enter and it
should disconnect you from Facebook chat.
Please note, as with any
tutorial, there may be many ways to achieve the same goal
using shortcut keys and so on.
This is designed purely as a step by step guide for those using NVDA who are not familiar with Mozilla Thunderbird.
Facebook chat no longer works with Mozilla chat, but there are other programs that you can use with it!