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Use Gmail with a screen reader (basic HTML view)

Use the tips on this page to get the best experience using Gmail in basic HTML view with a desktop screen reader.

Note: These steps only work for the US English version of basic HTML view. If you use Gmail in another language, switch to standard view for a better experience, then follow these tips.

Get to know the Gmail layout

To search your messages, move to the Search box, the first form on the page.

Here are the other sections you'll use in Gmail:

Navigation list

This section includes the following links and headers:

  • Compose Mail: Send a new message.
  • Folders: Go to your Inbox, Sent Mail, Drafts, or other folders.
  • Labels: View or create labels to organize your messages.
  • Contacts: View and edit your contact list.

Note: If there's a number next to a folder or label, that's how many unread messages you have in that folder or label, such as "Inbox (2)."

Main section

Browse and read messages in two ways:

Conversation list

If someone replies to a message you send, the messages are grouped into a conversation with the same subject.

When you open Gmail, the "Main" section will show your Inbox folder. Conversation subjects are listed in a table. To read a conversation, open the subject link.

If you select a different folder or label in the "Navigation" list, the "Main" section will show conversations in that folder or label.

Conversation page

When you open a subject link, you'll go to a conversation page.

  • To open all messages in the conversation, select Expand all. To hide them, select Collapse all.
  • To go to the previous or next conversation, select Newer or Older.
  • You can also select links, like Archive, Delete, or Report as Spam, to take action on an entire conversation.

Send and reply to messages

Compose a message

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the "Navigation" section, select Compose Mail.
  3. In the "To" field, add recipients.
  4. Add a subject.
  5. Write your message.
  6. At the bottom of the page, select Send.

Reply to a message

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the "Quick Reply" section, write your message. To edit your recipients or subject, or to add an attachment, select More Reply Options.
  3. At the bottom of the page, select Send.

Search messages

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the Search box at the top of the page, write what you're looking for.
  3. Select Search Mail.

If you can't find the messages you're looking for, inside the Search box select Show search options. This opens up a page with more ways to filter your search results.

Tip: You can also use search operators to filter your search results.

Find unread messages

Screen readers don't announce if a conversation contains unread messages. To search for unread messages:

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the Search box, type is:unread.
  3. Press Enter.

Find messages in a folder or label

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the "Navigation" list, select a folder or label, like Sent Mail.
  3. Go to the "Main" section for a list of conversations in that folder or label.

Organize messages with labels

You can organize your emails by setting up labels. Labels work like folders, but you can add more than one label to a message.

Create a label

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the "Navigation" list, select Edit labels.
  3. In the "Create a new label" box, type a label name.
  4. Select Create.

Add a label to messages

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. Select the messages you want to label.
  3. Select More Actions, then choose a label.
  4. Select Go.

Vivian is a Gmail expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback about this help page.

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