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Outlook using NVDA

Working with Outlook Folders and NVDA.

Your emails are all kept in folders, you will already be familiar with some of your folders namely, the inbox, drafts, sent, deleted, outbox, junk etc. In addition to the folders that are already present when you first use Outlook, you can create your own folders to keep emails in that you would like to group together. For instance you might want a Folder for all of your family emails, or perhaps a folder for emails that are related to a similar subject or interest. Folders can themselves contain folders, when you create a folder in an existing folder you are said to have nested the folder into its parent folder.

To view the contents of a folder you need to switch the system focus to the Navigation Pane.

The Navigation Pane appears on the left side of the Outlook window, you need to switch the system to focus on the Navigation Pane so that you can switch between the different areas of Outlook, such as Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes. In addition, when you are working within a view, the Navigation Pane displays the folders within that view.

When you click a folder in the Navigation Pane, that folder becomes the active folder and you can work with the items within it. For example, in Mail, click the Inbox folder to see new email messages.

As folders can contain folders there is a hierarchy to the folder structure, the folder at the top of the tree is usually referred to as folder at level 1 or sometimes level 0. A folder at say level 3 will be the child folder of a level 2 folder, the level 3 folder is contained within the level 2 folder. At the top of your folder tree is the main folder that contains all other folders, you could think of it as being a cabinet that contains draws (which we call folders in computer speak), and of course the folders in a computer cabinet can themselves contain folders. Unlike a physical filing system a computer can contain many folders, and each folder can contain many nested folders, folders within folders, within folders etc.

In your email system the folder at the top of the tree is usually named the same as your email address, for example Fred Blogs who had an email account with gmail, would probably have his main top level mail folder named fredblogs@gmail.

Under the fredblogs@gmail folder Fred would have the usual folders named, Inbox, Draft, Sent, Deleted and so on. After a time though he might have received several hundred emails, and might want to organise his emails so they are held in named folders that will make it easier in the future for Fred to access his emails by group or folder name.

In order to create a new folder you need to follow the steps below.

Create a new Folder.

Step 1.

To create a new folder. Press CTRL + Shift + E.

(Note, alternatively for Windows 8.1, Pressing ALT V will show all of the available shortcuts, you can use ALT + O, followed by N, to open the Create New Folder dialogue pane.)

Read the next few paragraphs before doing anything else.

Pressing CTRL + Shift + E, will open up a new dialogue box, the dialogue box contains the following fields. At the top of the box is an input box for you to type the name of the new folder, don’t do this yet.

The next field is a selection box, sometimes referred to as a combo box, you will hear the narrator say Folder Contains, Combo box, and then the name of the currently selected value. A combo box is a commonly used graphical user interface widget, (or control). Traditionally, it is a combination of a drop-down list or list box and a single-line editable textbox, allowing the user to either type a value directly or select a value from the list. At this stage you can choose what type of items you are going to place into your new folder, as we are in the mail application you need to ensure the items will be of type, Mail and Post items,

The next or third field, in the Create New Folder dialogue box is another combo box, where you can select where in the current folder structure, you want to create your new folder.

You can move up and down the available items presented in this and the previous combo boxes by pressing the up or down arrows.

Finally at the bottom of the dialogue box you will find two buttons, one for OK and one for Cancel. So let’s now continue onto step 2.

Step 2.

Having already pressed CTRL + Shift + E, the Create New Folder dialogue should be showing, now you need to complete the required fields within the dialogue box. Your cursor should be at the first input field, that is, the Name field, ready for you to enter the name of your new Folder, if you are uncertain you can Press TAB until you hear the narrator announce the Name Field, then enter the Folder name of your choice. Alternatively you can also press ALT + N and this will put you right into the Name field.

Step 3.

Press TAB to move to the Folder Contains, selection field, and use the up and down arrows to select Mail and Post Items.>

So far you have created a new Folder and informed the system that this folder will contain Mail and Post items.

Step 4.

Now you need to tell Outlook where to place your new folder.

Press TAB to move to the next field, wait until the narrator announces Select where to place the folder, after which you will hear the name of the currently selected Folder, if you are at the Inbox the narrator will announce Inbox. Ideally we need to be at the top of the Folder tree, at the Folder which is named after your mail box address. So press the up arrow until you hear the narrator announce level zero, followed by your email address. You are now at the top of the Folder tree and it is OK to create your folder here. Your new folder will sit at the same level as all of your other folders, that is, on the same level at the Inbox, Draft box etc.

Note, you can press the right arrow on any folder that is collapsed, (this means its inner or contained folders are not displayed), to expand the folder contents so that they are accessible to you. Pressing the left arrow button return the folder to its collapsed state.

Step 5.

Having selected where you want your new folder created you can press the Return key to activate your request, or press TAB to get to the OK button followed by the Return key to activate your request.

Your new folder has now been created, and is ready for you to copy emails into.

Moving Mail Items.

To move mail items into your new folder.

Step 1.

Select the email you want to move. You may need to press TAB repeatedly until you get to the Mail Folders tree view, from where you can used the up and down arrow keys to move to the desired folder. Once at the desired folder press the Return key to display the email held within that folder. Now use the up and down arrow keys to select the email you want to move.

Step 2.

Press CTRL + Shift + V, the move dialogue box will now be displayed.

Step 3.

Press the up and down arrow keys until you hear the name of the folder, you want to move your email to, then simply press the Return key to activate your request.

Your selected email will now be moved to your selected folder.

Repeat above steps 1 to 3 to move any other emails to a selected folder.


For Windows 8.1, you can disable the preview or reading pane from the main menu by pressing, CTRL + V, then C followed by V, then arrow right until you hear the narrator announce Preview, then press Return. The Preview screen will now be disabled.

Other useful short cut keys for Outlook.

Move back to the inbox. CTRL SHIFT I.

Switch to Folder List in Navigation Pane. Press CTRL + 6. 

Move between Navigation, Reading, Outlook window, and the To-Do Bar. CTRL + SHIFT + TAB or SHIFT + TAB.

Move back or forward. Alt + right or left arrow.

Switch to Mail. Press CTRL+ 1. 

Switch to Calendar. Press CTRL+ 2.

Switch to Contacts. Press CTRL+ 3.

Switch to Tasks. Press CTRL+ 4.

Switch to Notes. Press CTRL+ 5.

Switch to Folder List in Navigation Pane. Press CTL + 6.

Switch to Shortcuts. Press CTRL+7.

Switch to next message (with message open). Press CTRL + PERIOD.

Switch to previous message (with message open). Press CTRL+COMMA.

Move between, Outlook window, the smaller panes in the Navigation Pane, the Reading Pane, and the sections in the To-Do Bar, and show the access keys in the Outlook ribbon. Press F6.

Move around message header lines in the Navigation Pane or an open message. Press CTRL+TAB.

Move around within the Navigation Pane. Press Arrow keys.

Go to a different folder. Press CTRL+ Y.

Go to the Search box. Press F3 or CTRL+ E.

In the Reading Pane, go to the previous message. Press ALT+UP ARROW or CTRL+COMMA or, ALT+PAGE UP.

In the Reading Pane, page down through text. Press SPACEBAR.

In the Reading Pane, page up through text. Press SHIFT+ SPACEBAR.

Collapse or expand a group in the email message list. Press LEFT ARROW or, RIGHT ARROW.

Go back to previous view in main Outlook window. Press ALT+ B or, LT+LEFT ARROW.

Go forward to next view in main Outlook window. Press ALT+ RIGHT ARROW.

Select the InfoBar and, if available, show the menu of commands. Press CTRL+ SHIFT + W.

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