Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Series: Managing Mail May 2024

Looking Out for Outlook Email

Managing Mail May

When we go to school or work full-time, we need to communicate effectively with our colleagues, teachers and employers. Checking our email is part of our morning routine, and we continue to check our email throughout the day. This May, we’ll explore ways to read, write and organize email for our personal and professional lives.

  • May 7: Email on the Go with iOS Mail
  • May 14: Looking Out for Outlook Email
  • May 21: Gmail
  • May 28: Choosing Your Email Client

This week, we look at a common email client for Windows desktops and laptops: Microsoft Outlook.

What is Outlook?

Outlook is part of the Microsoft Office suite. This means that it comes standard with many personal computers (PCs). So, if you have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint installed on your PC, you already have Outlook.

You can also access Outlook through Microsoft Office 365 accounts. Office is the most common suite of workplace applications used by companies and organizations, so Outlook is very common in professional email settings.

Outlook Accessibility

Fortunately for those of us who use screen readers, Outlook is very accessible and intuitive; in fact, many screen reader users prefer it for personal as well as professional use, even if they don’t have an Outlook account. For example, Bridges Project Coordinator Chris Nusbaum uses Outlook to access all his emails: his personal Gmail, his work email here at the IMAGE Center (which is Google-based), the Bridges Helpdesk account (also Google-based), and the account for his assistive technology teaching job, which uses Office 365.

You will benefit from learning the basics of Outlook, even if you choose to use a different client. Looking out into the future, understanding Outlook prepares you to succeed regardless of email clients, especially if you find yourself in an educational or professional setting that uses an email client other than what you typically choose to use.

Getting Started With Outlook

As stated above, Outlook is very intuitive, and that includes the process for setting up an account. But finding the settings can be a bit tricky when you first open the program. For this reason, our project coordinator, Chris, has created “Outlook Email Client for Managing Mail May,” a video on our Bridges Helpdesk YouTube channel that demonstrates setting up an account in Outlook using the JAWS screen reader.

Some Basic Outlook Keystrokes

One important thing to remember: in Outlook, the first letter of an action is almost always in its keystroke. For example, Control F  goes Forward, Control N starts a New message, Control R allows you to Reply, Control + Shift R Replies to all, Control D Deletes, and so on.

When Outlook opens, it takes you to your Inbox. The Inbox displays emails in a simple list from most recent to oldest. Control + Home (key) takes you to the top, and Control + End (key) takes you to the bottom (just like it does in a Word document or a Web page).

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about Outlook is that it is basically like every other Office program. Essentially, it is an Email client that displays emails like Word documents. In the Microsoft environment, the keystrokes work across programs, making the transition seamless.

Dig In!

Starting something new always involves a learning curve, but, as noted above, Outlook is quite intuitive, especially for Microsoft Office users. Also, there are many resources online for how to use Outlook and other Office programs using JAWS. You can just Google the task you want.

And, as always, at the free Bridges Helpdesk, we are eager to provide assistance with anything –  including help with Outlook.

Please check out the Bridges Technical Assistance Center Resource Library today!

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridges Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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