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Use a screen reader to explore and navigate Access

This article is for people with visual or cognitive impairments who use a screen reader program such as Windows Narrator, JAWS, or NVDA with Microsoft 365 products. This article is part of the Microsoft 365 screen reader support content set where you can find more accessibility information on our apps. For general help, visit Microsoft Support.

Use Access with your keyboard and a screen reader to explore and navigate the different views and move between them. We have tested it with Narrator, JAWS, and NVDA, but it might work with other screen readers as long as they follow common accessibility standards and techniques.


In this topic

Navigate the main view

To navigate in Access and to cycle through the main screen elements, press F6. The elements are, in order:

  • The main content area

  • The navigation pane

  • The status bar

  • The ribbon tabs

Navigate inside a screen element

To move within the current screen element, press the Tab key (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward). To select an item, press Enter.

To browse within menus or tables, press the arrow keys. For example, to move from column to column in a table, press the Right and Left arrow keys.

Navigate the ribbon tabs

The ribbon tabs group options by different categories. The tabs in Access include, for example, the Home tab with options for adding records and formatting text, the Create tab for inserting new queries and reports, and the External Data tab for importing and exporting data.

  • To navigate to the ribbon tabs, press F6 or Shift+F6 until you hear the currently selected ribbon tab, for example: "Ribbon tabs, Selected, Create tab."

  • To move between the ribbon tabs, press the Left or Right arrow keys until you hear the tab you want. The tab is selected, and the ribbon is displayed below the tab.

  • You can also use the keyboard shortcuts to move to and select a ribbon tab. For more information, refer to Keyboard shortcuts for Access.

Navigate the ribbon

The ribbon sits below the row of ribbon tabs (JAWS calls it the "lower ribbon"). When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears below the tab. Each ribbon includes options organized into groups. For example, if you select the Insert tab, you can pick different items, such as pictures or charts to insert into your slide from the ribbon.

  • To move to the ribbon from the selected ribbon tab, press the Tab key. You hear the first option on the ribbon.

  • To navigate the ribbon and move between the options on the ribbon, press the Tab key.

  • To select an option, press Enter or Spacebar.

  • To expand a collapsed menu, press Alt+Down arrow key.

  • You can also use the keyboard shortcuts to move to work with the ribbon. For more information, refer to Keyboard shortcuts for Access.

Switch between views

In addition to the main view, Access has the following commonly used views:

  • The File menu, which contains options, for example, for creating a new database, and opening or saving an existing database.

    • To open the File menu, press Alt+F. You hear: "File, info."

    • To navigate the File menu, press the Up or Down arrow key until you hear the menu item you want, and then press Enter to open the tab with further options.

    • To navigate inside the further options tab, press the Tab key or Shift+Tab until you hear the option you want.

    • To exit the File menu and return to the main view, press Esc.

  • The Options window, which contains Access settings, such as personalization, proofreading, and language preferences.

    • To open the Options window, press Alt+F, T. You hear: "Access options window." The focus is on the option categories pane.

    • To navigate the option categories, press the Down arrow key until you hear the name of the category you want.

    • To move the focus to the options of the selected category, press the Tab key.

    • To navigate the options, press the Up and Down arrow keys until you hear the option you want and then press Enter to select it.

    • To exit the Options window and return to the main view, press the Tab key until you hear "OK," and press Enter. To return to the main view without making changes, press Esc.

Use Tell Me

To find an option or perform an action quickly, use the Search text field. To learn more about the Search feature, go to Find what you need with Microsoft Search.

Note: Depending on the Microsoft 365 version of you are using, the Search text field at the top of the app window might be called Tell Me instead. Both offer a largely similar experience, but some options and search results can vary.

  1. Select the item or place in your document, presentation, or spreadsheet where you want to perform an action. For example, in an Excel spreadsheet, select a range of cells.

  2. To go to the Search text field, press Alt+Q.

  3. Type the search words for the action that you want to perform. For example, if you want to add a bulleted list, type bullets.

  4. Press the Down arrow key to browse through the search results.

  5. When you've found the result that you want, press Enter to select it and to perform the action.

See also

Use a screen reader to start Access

Keyboard shortcuts for Access

Use a screen reader to create tables in Access desktop databases

Use a screen reader to create a query in Access desktop databases

Technical Support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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