Use Gmail with a screen reader

Use the tips on this page to get the best Gmail experience with a desktop screen reader.

Note: If you're using Gmail in basic HTML, follow these tips.

Turn on keyboard shortcuts

Note: If you use JAWS, turn off the visual cursor first by pressing Insert + z. You can turn the visual cursor back on by pressing again.

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Open the Settings menu, then select Settings.
  3. In the "Keyboard shortcuts" section, select Keyboard shortcuts on.
  4. At the bottom, select Save changes.

You can see full list of keyboard shortcuts, or press ? (Shift + /) while you're in Gmail.

Screen readers & browsers you can use

Gmail works with these browsers and screen readers:

  • Chrome with VoiceOver on Mac
  • Chrome with ChromeVox on Chromebooks
  • Firefox with NVDA or JAWS on Windows

Learn what's new in Gmail

Gmail has new ways to organize your inbox, view upcoming events, and take action on emails.

Quickly take action on your messages

Organize emails from your inbox

You can quickly take action on a message without opening it.

  1. Press g then i to move focus to the inbox.
  2. Press the down or up arrow to move through messages.
  3. Press x to select the message, then press the space bar to take an action.
  4. Press Shift + Tab until you reach the options to act on the message, such as Snooze, Mark as unread, Delete, or Archive.

Snooze emails until later

Postpone emails to a future date or time that's more convenient for you. Learn more about how to snooze emails.

Use suggested replies & follow-ups

Quickly reply to emails using phrases that'll show up based on the message you've received. Suggested replies are listed at the end of a conversation page. Learn more about how to use Smart Reply.

You might find old emails at the top of your inbox with a suggestion to reply or follow up. Learn more about how to show or hide these reminders to follow up.

Customize your inbox view

Change your display density

Change how spacious or compact you want your inbox view. Go to Settings and then Display density.

Tip: If you choose Default, you'll get a preview of your attachments from your inbox.

Show or hide the menu

You can expand or shrink your inbox view with the main menu Menu.

View Calendar, Tasks, Keep & Add-ons

You can now use Google Calendar, Keep, Tasks, and Add-ons in a side panel while using Gmail. The tools in the side panel are collapsed, by default. To go to the side panel and expand one of the tools, follow these steps:

  1. To go to the side panel, use these shortcuts:
    • Windows: Ctrl + Alt + . (period) or Ctrl + Alt + , (comma)
    • Chromebook: Alt + Shift + . (period) or Alt + Shift + , (comma)
    • Mac: ⌘ + Option + . (period) or ⌘ + Option + , (comma).
  2. In the side panel, press the up or down arrow to move through the list of tools: Calendar, Keep, Tasks, and Add-ons.
  3. Press Enter to expand the tool that you want to use.
  4. In the side panel, you can now do the following actions, without leaving Gmail:
    • Calendar: View your daily schedule, click events to edit them, create new events, and jump to upcoming events.
    • Keep: Create checklists and take notes.
    • Tasks: Add to-do's and deadlines.
    • Add-ons: Get extra Gmail tools to help manage your mail.
  5. To move back to Gmail while the side panel is open, use these shortcuts:
    • Windows: Ctrl + Alt + . (period) or Ctrl + Alt + , (comma)
    • Chromebook: Alt + Shift + . (period) or Alt + Shift + , (comma)
    • Mac: ⌘ + Option + . (period) or ⌘ + Option + , (comma).
  6. To close the side panel, press Shift + Tab until you reach Close, then press Enter.

Learn more about how to use Calendar, Keep, Tasks, and Add-ons with Gmail.

Send emails & attachments confidentially

Turn on Confidential mode to protect sensitive messages and documents. 

To use Confidential mode: 

  1. Compose or reply to an email.
  2. In the compose window, use Tab or other navigation to find Turn confidential mode on/off, then press Enter.
  3. In the Confidential mode dialog, you can:
  • Set an expiration date
  • Require a passcode
  • Prevent forwarding, downloading, copying, and pasting

Learn more about sending emails & attachments confidentially.
 

Try the new Gmail

  1. On your computer, open Gmail.
  2. In the top right, click Settings Settingsand then Try the new Gmail.

If you change your mind, you can click Settings Settingsand then Go back to classic Gmail.

Note: If you use Gmail with your work or school account, ask your admin to allow you to get the new Gmail.

Send feedback

If you'd like to send feedback about our new look, go to the top right, then click Settings Settingsand then Send feedback.

Get to know the Gmail layout

Main section

Browse and read emails. The landmark for this section is "Main."

If you're viewing a conversation list, the heading is "Conversations." If you're viewing an individual conversation page, the heading is the subject.

Conversation list

When someone replies to a message you send, the messages are grouped into a conversation with the same subject. Conversation subjects are listed in a table. To read a conversation, select the subject.

  • Switch categories: Your messages will also be organized into categories, like Social, Promotions, and Forums. To switch to another category, press Tab, then select a category.
  • Select messages: Press x to select a conversation. When you select a conversation, you can also use the Archive, Report spam, or Delete buttons.

Conversation page

  • The last message and any unread messages will be expanded.
  • To go to the next and previous conversations, use keyboard shortcuts j and k.
  • To go to the next and previous messages within the conversation, use keyboard shortcuts n and p.

Navigation list

This section includes the following:

  1. Compose button: Send a new message. If you've turned on keyboard shortcuts, press c.
  2. Folders and labels: Go to your Inbox, Sent Mail, Drafts, Trash, or labels you've created. To create a new label, select More, then select Create new label.

If you select a different "Navigation" section, such as Inbox, Drafts, or other Gmail labels, messages in those labels will show up in the "Main" section.

Tip: To switch back and forth between "Navigation" and "Main," press the right and left arrow keys.

Chat

The landmark for this section is "Complementary." Start chats, phone calls, or video calls.

If your heading is "Chat," you're using the old version of chat. For the best experience with a screen reader, upgrade to the new Google Hangouts:

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Under the "Chat" heading, select Options.
  3. Select Try the new Hangouts.

Google Account options

The landmark for this section is "Banner." Find links and menus related to your Google Account:

  • Apps: Go to other Google applications, like Drive, Calendar, or Maps.
  • Unread notifications: View notifications (for example, if someone adds to a Google Photos shared album).
  • Account: Sign out, add an account, view your account details, or read Google's privacy policy.

Search

The landmark for this section is "Search." To move focus to the Search box, press /.

Send a message

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. There are two ways to compose a new message:
    • If you've turned on keyboard shortcuts, press c.
    • On the left Navigation list, go to Compose, then press Enter.
  3. In the "To" field, add recipients.
  4. Add a subject.
  5. Write your message.
  6. At the bottom of the page, select Send.

Spell check

Check for misspelled words before sending a message.

  1. After you finish typing your message, press Tab until you hear "More options," then press Enter.
  2. Select Check spelling.
  3. To find a misspelling, press Ctrl or ⌘ + '.
  4. To open the list of suggested spellings, press Ctrl or ⌘ + m.
  5. Select the correct spelling.

Search messages

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. To move to the Search box, press /.
  3. In the Search box, write what you're looking for.
  4. Press Enter.

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

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. To move to the Search box, press /.
  3. In the Search box, write is:unread.
  4. Press Enter.

Find messages from a specific sender

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. To move to the Search box, press /.
  3. In the Search box, write sender: followed by the sender's name.
  4. Press Enter.

Find messages in a folder or label

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. In the "Navigation" section, 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 using 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. Open Gmail.
  2. In the "Navigation" section, select More.
  3. Select Create new label.
  4. Enter a new label name.
  5. Select Create.

Add a label to messages

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Select the messages you want to label.
  3. Select the Labels button, then choose a label.
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