Using Gmail with screen readers

Gmail (standard view) Guide

Notes

The standard view of Gmail works best with screen readers and browsers that support ARIA.

Background

Standard view of Gmail uses Java script. It has some advanced features such as chat which uses liveregents.

Signing in

Once you have a Gmail account, you can follow the following steps to sign-in to the standard view of Gmail:
  1. Go to https://www.gmail.com
  2. The initial focus is in the Username edit box. Press ENTER to go into Forms mode, type in your username, and then TAB to the Password edit box.
  3. Type in your password, and press ENTER. You are taken to your Inbox in the standard view. Note: If you have "basic Html" set as your default view, you would need to switch to the "standard view" after logging in.

Page Structure

Almost all the Gmail web pages use the same overall page structure. So before going on to describe how to read and send messages, this section describes this overall structure and how to navigate it. Each page in the standard view contains the following elements or sections — it's only the main content section which varies from page to page, everything else is present on every page:
  • Your email address and the email address menu that has Accounts Settings and Sign out. Next to your email address is an Options menu where you can access Settings, Help, and Labs.
  • A level 1 heading: either Google Mail logo, or Gmail logo, depending on which country you live in. Underneath the logo are Mail, Contacts, and Tasks links.
  • Search controls: followed by an edit box, Search Mail button, Search the Web button, a Show search options link, and a Create a filter link. These are described in the Searching section.
  • Navigation section, which is described in the next section. Chat window: A level 2 heading containing an edit box for searching, adding, or inviting a buddy, your name, status of your contacts in your buddy list, names of your contacts, and an options menu. Note that chat window is only open if Chat is turned on.
  • Name: containing an edit/combo box for searching/adding/inviting someone for chat. Note that if Chat is turned off, this section has the user's name and the edit box. However, if chat is turned on, the h2 is "chat" and the edit box is part of the chat window.
  • Labels: A section containing a list of existing labels. There is a menu button next to each label that allows you to edit it.
  • Invite a friend: followed by "give Gmail to" edit box, send invite button, number of invites left, and preview invite link.
  • Main content section. This varies from page to page.
  • A link to Terms and Privacy.

Navigation section

The navigation section contains the following elements:
  • A Compose Mail button.
  • Inbox: for conversations which contain incoming messages.
  • Buzz: for sharing updates with your Gmail contacts and follow items your friends have share.
  • Starred: for conversations which you've marked as especially significant.
  • Important: for messages Gmail predicts are important to you.
  • Chats: for chat history.
  • Sent Mail: for conversations which contain messages which you've sent.
  • Drafts: for conversations which include a message you were writing and haven't yet sent because you saved the message as a draft, the internet connection failed, or the computer crashed.
  • All Mail: This contains a list of conversations which include all the messages which you've received, sent, or archived, and which haven't been deleted.
  • Spam: For incoming messages which have been judged to be spam by Gmail or messages that you've marked as spam. After 30 days in this label, a message is automatically deleted completely.
  • Trash: When you delete a conversation or a message (except from this label), it's moved here. After 30 days in this label, it's automatically deleted forever.
  • Labels. A level 2 heading, followed by links for any labels you've created.
    Some of the label links can have a number in parenthesis after them, the significance of these numbers is:
    • A number after Inbox indicates the number of conversations containing unread messages.
    • A number after Drafts indicates the number of conversations in the Drafts label. All these conversations contain a draft message.
    • A number after Spam indicates the number of conversations containing unread messages in the Spam label.
    • A number after a label indicates the number of conversations with that label which contain unread messages.
  • Chats: a level 2 heading followed by an options menu, your name, a combo box for searching/adding/editing, a menu for setting your status, any chat invite requests from others, list of contacts and their status. Note that this window is only shown if chat is turned on.

Page navigation

  • Following Landmarks are provided to make navigation easier
  • Landmark Section content
    Banner Google logo
    Search Search controls, create a filter, and compose mail links.
    Navigation compose mail, labels, and chat link.
    Complimentary Chat window, sending invite controls, webclip.
    Main List of conversations and first set of action buttons (archive, delete etc).
    Content info Terms and Privacy, turn off Buzz, and miscellaneous bits and bobs.

Reading messages

This is an outline of how to read the messages in one of the labels:
  1. Open one of the label links. After you first sign in, you're automatically taken to your Inbox label, so to immediately read the messages in your Inbox, you can omit this step.
  2. You're taken to a page which contains a list of conversations in that label, and pages like these will be referred to as Conversation list pages. The list of conversations is, in fact, formatted as a table, with the columns giving various details about the conversations. To view a particular conversation, move to the subject of the conversation and open it by pressing enter.
  3. You're taken to a page which contains all the messages in the conversation, and these pages will be referred to as Conversation pages. On this page you can easily navigate to the messages which you want to read.

The next two main sections describe Conversation list pages and Conversation pages in detail.

Conversation list page

When you open any of the labels, you're taken to a page containing a list of the conversations in that label. This section describes the structure and navigation of a Conversation list page. In fact, as described later in the guide, when you choose to view the conversations with a particular label, or search for messages, you're also taken to page containing a list of conversations, and these pages all have the same structure. A Conversation list page has a title which describes the list of conversations, for example, Inbox. Its main content section contains the following elements:
  • A level 2 heading: a name for the list of conversations, "conversations". The same name is used for all views.
  • A series of action buttons, which are described in the Action buttons section below.
  • Select options: links for the following are available, all, none, read, unread, starred, and unstarred.
  • More actions menu: which can be used to star/unstar messages etc.
  • Refresh button.
  • The range of conversations shown in the table which follows, for example “1 - 50 of 402”. In addition, when appropriate, there are links to take you to other ranges of conversations. The links which may be present are: « Newest, < Newer, and Older >, and Oldest ».
  • A table containing details of the conversations, which is described in the Conversation table section below.
  • A repeat of the action buttons, the refresh link, and the range of conversations displayed.

Conversation list page navigation

  • To move to the start of the Conversation table, press CTRL + HOME, then X, since the checkbox on the first row of the table, is the first checkbox on the page. Navigating around this table is described in the next section.

Conversation table

Each row in the table contains the details of a conversation. The table has six columns, and up to 100 rows. The columns of the table are as follows:
  1. A checkbox, which by default is unchecked. These checkboxes are used together with the Action buttons as described in the Action buttons section below.
  2. A blank column.
  3. In most lists of conversations, the third column contains the names of the senders of the messages in the conversation. If there is more than one message in the conversation, then the number of messages is given in parentheses after the names.
  4. A blank column.
  5. The subject of the conversation, which is a link. To open a conversation, you press enter, and you are then taken to a Conversation page. If you're viewing the conversations other than those in the Inbox, then if the conversation is also present in the Inbox, then the subject is prefixed with the word Inbox.
  6. A list of names of the attached documents in the conversations.
  7. The last column contains either a time if it refers to today, or else a date. The meaning of the time depends on which label is being viewed. For example, for the Inbox, the date/time refers to when the latest incoming message in the conversation was sent. For the Sent Mail label, the date/time refers to when the latest outgoing message in the conversation was sent. The conversations in the table are ordered by this date/time.

Conversations which contain unread messages are highlighted to sighted users by making the background color of the row a different color, and using bold text. This information is not available to screen reader users, and screen reader does not announce if a conversation contains unread messages. However, if needed, you can easily get a list of the conversations containing unread messages by clicking on the unread link located below the first conversations heading or by using Gmail's search, which is described in detail in the Searching section. To get this list:

  1. Move to the search edit box.
  2. Press ENTER to go into Forms mode for JAWs, type is:unread, and then press ENTER. You're taken to a Conversation list page containing the conversations which have unread messages.

Conversation page

When you open a subject link in the Conversation table of a Conversation list page, you're taken to a Conversation page. On this page, you can read all the messages in the conversation, and both act of the conversation as a whole, and the individual messages in the conversation.

The title of a Conversation page is the subject of the conversation, and the main content section contains the following elements:

  • A button back to the Conversation list page, for example « Back to Inbox.
  • Actions buttons. These are often the same set of Action buttons which appeared on the Conversation list page. These buttons are used to apply actions to the whole of the conversation.
  • The number of the conversation in the list of conversations, eg “4 of 314”. In addition there are < Newer, and Older > links, when appropriate, which take you to the next newer or older conversation in the list respectively.
  • Two or three buttons which act of the whole conversation. If there is more than one message in the conversation, then there's either an Expand all or a Collapse all button, as described in the Messages section below. There are always Print and New Window buttons, which print the conversation and open the conversation in a new window respectively.
  • A level 1 heading: the subject of the conversation. This is followed by an Inbox label if the conversation appears in the Inbox, and any labels.
  • The messages in the conversation, which are described in detail in the next section.
  • Repeat of the Action buttons, and the number of the conversation in the list of conversations.
  • People widget table which includes buttons to start a group chat with the contacts in your conversation, email the group, or schedule a meeting with the group. Below the buttons are the contacts in the conversation which you can select to view recent activity with the contact.

Conversation page navigation

  • The subject of the conversation is the first level 1 heading on the page. Immediately before this heading are the links and Action buttons which are used for applying actions to the whole conversation.
  • In all the expanded messages, the name of the sender is a level 3 heading, so you can use these headings to browse through the expanded messages.
  • If you need to read any of the collapsed messages, rather than expanding them individually, it's often easier to open the Expand all button, and then use the level 3 headings of the expanded messages to find the ones you want to read.

Action buttons

The Action buttons which appear both before and after the Conversation table are used together with the checkboxes in the Conversation. For example, to delete one or more conversations in the Inbox:
  1. In the Conversation table, check the checkboxes of the conversations you want to delete.
  2. Move to the 'Delete' button and press it.

The number and the actions of these buttons depend on which list of conversations is being viewed. The general pattern is:

  • There may be one or more buttons for the most frequently used actions.

For example, for the Inbox, there are buttons for Archive, Spam, Delete, Move to, Labels, and More. The More menu allows you to mark messages as read or unread, star items, mute, and filter messages..

Messages

Messages can be in one of two formats: expanded or collapsed. In the expanded format, the message text and all relevant information is given, whereas in the collapsed format only the sender, date, and whether the message has one or more attachments is given.

When you first move to a Conversation page, the last message and all unread messages are expanded — the rest are collapsed. Because only expanded messages have a heading, this makes it easy to find the unread messages in a conversation.

If one or more of the messages is collapsed, then there's an Expand all button, which expands all the collapsed messages. If all the messages are expanded, then there's a Collapse all button, which collapses all but the last message.

Expanded Message

An expanded message contains the following elements:
  • The name of the sender and the email address of the sender in parenthesis.
  • "to" followed by the email address/addresses the email was sent to.
  • "Show details" which is keyboard accessible. Clicking enter on the "show details" icon will expand the following details; from field, to field, date, subject, list of any mailing lists if the email was sent to any mailing lists, mailed-by, and signed-by.
  • The date and time when the message was sent. If the email was not sent the same day then the number of day/days ago the email was sent is also shown.
  • An attachment graphic, if the message has one or more attachments.
  • A link, Reply.
  • The text of the message.
  • If the message has one or more attachments, then there are links for viewing and downloading attachments. These are described in the Downloading attachments section below.
  • There is a repeat of the series of links: Reply, Reply to all, Forward, etc.

Collapsed message

A collapsed message contains the following elements:
  • The name of the sender which is clickable (but not a level 3 heading). If you press ENTER on the sender's name, the message is expanded.
  • An attachment graphic, if the message has one or more attachments.
  • Starting of the content of the email.
  • The date and time when the message was sent.
  • Note that when there are a large number of collapsed messages, these are sometimes merged into a single collapsed message.

Downloading attachments

As described above, whether a message has one or more attachments is indicated by an attachment icon. In an expanded message, the links for viewing and downloading the attachments appear after the text of the message.

The following information and links are given for each attachment:
  • Name of the file.
  • Size of the file.
  • For some file types, for example .html and .txt, there's a View link, which opens a new window, and displays the attachment. For some other file types, for example .doc and .pdf, there's a View as HTML link, which opens a new window, converts the file to HTML, and displays the attachment. For some other file types, for example .mp3 and .zip, there is no such link.
  • Either a Scan and download link, or a Download link, depending on what browser you're using. If you open this link, then a dialog opens which gives you the choice of either saving the file or opening it with its default program.

In addition, if there's more than one attachment, then before the information about the individual attachments, there is the number of attachments, followed by either a link to Scan and download all attachments, or Download all attachments, depending on what browser you're using. If you open this link, then a dialog opens which allows you to either open or save a zip file containing all the attachments.

If you're in a message that contains one or more attachments, then a useful method of moving to the links to view or download the attachments is to use the links list dialog, to find the next link beginning with Scan or Download.

Sending messages

There are a number of ways to compose a message. Most of these use the Compose Mail page, which is described below.

To compose a message using the Compose Mail page:
  • Click the Compose Mail button to go to the Compose Mail page and write a new message.
  • Replying to a message. Any expanded message on any Conversation page has a reply link just above the message text and a series of links below the message text. If you open the reply link, then you're taken to the Compose Mail page, where the To: and Subject: fields have been filled in for you. In addition, the message edit box already contains a copy of the message to which you're replying.
  • Forwarding a message. This is similar to replying to a message, as described in the previous option. Open the Forward link, and you're taken to the Compose Mail page, where the Subject: field has already been filled in, and the message edit box contains a copy of the message, preceded by the words Forwarded message.

Compose Mail page

The main content section in the compose mail page contains the following elements:
  • Send, Save now, and Discard buttons.
  • The Compose Form.
  • To and subject edit boxes.
  • "Attach a file" link
  • Message edit box.
  • Send, Save now, and Discard buttons.
So to send a message:
  1. Once you're taken to the Compose Mail page, jump to the To: edit box. As you start typing the address, suggested email addresses from your contacts list are read by the screen reader. Once the desired email address is read, you can press enter and tab to the next field or type the complete address.
  2. Continue pressing TAB to move between controls, and typing into the edit boxes. Adding attachments is covered in the next section.
  3. After you've typed your message in the message edit box, simply TAB to the Send button and press it. Note that the label for the message edit box is read as "change language".

Adding attachments

To add attachments, you click on the link "attach a file" which is between the subject: and message edit boxes: You will now see the choose file window.

If you want to attach only a single file to a message:
  1. Move to the attach a file link and press enter.
  2. An edit box as well as a 'browse' button shows up.
  3. Enter the location of the file in the edit box or click on the browse button.
  4. A Choose File dialog opens, which has the same format as a standard Open dialog. Select a file, and press ENTER.
  5. You are returned to the Compose page, with the focus on the subject edit box.
If you want to attach multiple files to a message:
  1. Press enter on the Attach another file link . Note this text only shows after you have clicked on the "attach a file" link and added the first attachment.
  2. A series of edit box, browse buttons, and remove links are present.
  3. Either enter the location of the file or click on the browse button.
  4. Once you have attached all of the files, click on the done button.
  5. Below the subject edit box there are now a series of checkboxes for the attached files.

Drafts

If you open a conversation in the Drafts label, then what happens depends on the number of messages in the conversation:
  • If the conversation only contains a single message, which is the message you were writing, then when you open the conversation you are taken to the Compose Mail page.
  • If the conversation contains one or more messages, then you're taken to a Conversation list page. The message you were replying to is expanded, and has A compose mail form following it, even if it isn't the last message in the conversation. This is always the first reply section on the page, so the easiest way of continuing to write the message is to press ctrl+home and then use the e key till you find the to: edit box.

Searching

Gmail’s powerful search feature helps you find messages quickly.
  1. Move to the Search edit box, which is the first form control on the page.
  2. Press ENTER to go into Forms mode, type in one or more words, and press ENTER.
  3. You are taken to a page which contains a list of the conversations which contain messages which match the search words.
When you perform a search:
  • All the messages in the All Mail label are searched. These are all the messages you've sent or received, but have not deleted. However, the Spam and Trash folders aren't searched.
  • The matches are case insensitive
  • The search words are matched against words in the subject, To, and From fields, and in the message text.

To perform more advanced searches, you can either use search operators in the text you enter into the search edit box, or you can use a form for entering various search options. Both of these search methods are described in the following two sections.

Search operators

By default, words used for searching are matched against the words in all the fields of the message and in the message text. Search operators allow you to specify a single field of the message and other attributes of the message. For example: you can specify whether it's been read, which folder it's in, etc.

Most of the operators are fairly straightforward, but the use of parentheses can be more difficult to grasp. The following sections give some simple examples, then some examples using parentheses, and finally the definitions of all the search operators.

Simple examples

  • is:unread, matches messages which are unread.
  • from:david, matches messages whose sender includes the name David.
  • from:pluto@disney.com, matches messages from the email address pluto@disney.com.
  • from:david subject:concert, matches messages whose sender includes the word david, and whose subject contains the word concert.
  • rock OR concert, matches messages which contain either rock or concert. Note that OR must be spelled with capitals.
  • "audio books from librivox". Messages containing the exact phrase "audio books from librivox".

Examples using parentheses

Parentheses are used for grouping words to ensure that your search works properly. Here are some examples:
  • subject:(rock concert), matches messages in which the subject contains both rock and concert.
  • subject:"rock concert", matches messages in which the subject contains the exact phrase "rock concert".
  • (rock concert) OR bananas, matches messages which either contain the words rock and concert, or contain the word bananas.
  • from:( (mickey mouse) OR (donald duck) ), matches messages in which the from: field either contains mickey and mouse, or contains donald and duck. Both sets of parentheses are necessary.

Definitions of all search operators

Operator Definition
is:unread, is:read messages which are unread or read respectively
from:someone Specifies the sender. “someone" can be either one or more names, or an email address. Examples: from:susan, from:(mickey mouse), and from:pluto@disney.com.
to:someone Specifies the recipient. “someone” can be either one more names, or an email address.
subject:something subject includes “something”.
label:something label is “something”. If the label consists of more than one word, you have to put hyphens between the words, for example label:donald-duck.
has:attachment messages with one or more attachments
filename:some filename messages with the attachment “some filename”, for example, filename:jokes.txt.
filename:some file type messages with an attachment of the type “some file type”, for example filename:pdf. OR matches something or something else. OR must be in capitals
quotes matches an exact phrase, for example, "paris in the spring"
parentheses used for grouping words, for example subject:(blues OR jazz).
Hyphen not. For example, -bananas, messages which don't contain the word bananas.
in:anywhere messages anywhere in your account, including spam and trash which are excluded by default.
in:inbox, in:trash, in:spam messages in inbox, trash, or spam
is:starred messages which are starred
cc:someone, bcc:someone Specifies either cc: recipient or bcc: recipient. “someone” can be either one or more names or an email address.

Search options

To use the search options:
  1. Open the Show search options link, which comes shortly after the Search edit boxes.
  2. You are taken to a page with the title Search Options. In the main content section there are a number of form controls for setting various search options, starting with a From: edit box. After these controls, there's a Search Mail button. Set some options, and then either press ENTER if you're in an edit box, or TAB to the Search Mail button, and press it.
  3. You're taken to a page containing a list of the conversations which contain messages which match your search options. The level 2 heading of the main content section is "conversations”, where the search options are expressed in terms of the search operators described in the previous section. Note that the main content section also includes the form controls for setting search options — they are before the level 2 heading.

Archiving

In addition to being able to delete conversations or individual messages, Gmail allows you to archive conversations from your Inbox. If you archive a conversation, the conversation is removed from your Inbox, but can be found in your All Mail label, or by searching.

Settings

The settings for Gmail are divided into a number of different categories, and each category has its own page. This section gives an overview of these pages, and how to navigate to them. The Labels and Filters pages are described in detail in the Labels and Filters sections of this guide.

The settings categories are:
  • General
  • Labels
  • Accounts
  • Filters
  • Forwarding and POP/IMAP
    • This includes settings which allow you to connect an email client, such as Outlook Express, to your Gmail account.
  • Chat
  • Web clips
  • Labs
  • Inbox
  • Offline
  • Themes
  • Buzz
  • There may be additional tabs depending on what features are enabled in labs.Gmail

To move to the Settings:general page, open the Settings link.

All the settings pages have the title Settings. The main content section of all the settings pages contains the following:
  • A level 2 heading: Settings
  • The categories: used for moving to the various category pages.
  • Various elements which vary from category to category.
So, for example, to move to the Settings:Labels page:
  1. First move to General settings page, as described above.
  2. On this page, move to the level 2 heading Settings.
  3. Read through the categories, until you get to the Labels link, and open it.

Labels

Gmail enables you to create your own labels, apply one or more labels to conversations, and use these labels for finding conversations.

The labels which you've created appear in the navigation landmark right after the search landmark. In addition, in any Conversation table, if a conversation has one or more labels, then these appear before the subject of the conversation.

The Settings:Labels page

On the Settings:Label page, you can view, rename, remove, and create labels (how to go to the various settings pages is described in the Settings section above).

The main content section of the page contains the following:
  • A level 2 heading: Settings
  • A list of the settings categories; used for moving to the other category pages.
  • Details about each existing label as follows:
    • The name of the label: This is followed by the number of conversations having this label.
    • Links, rename and remove.
    • A Create a new label edit box, followed by a Create button.

Create a label

On the Settings:Labels page, to create a new label:
  1. Move to the Create a new label edit box.
  2. Press ENTER to go into Forms mode, type in a name for the label, and press ENTER. The page refreshes, and the new label appears.

Searching using labels

You can get a list of the conversations with a particular label by using the label links which are in the second navigation landmark. If you open one of these links, you are taken to a page containing a list of the conversations with this label. The title of the page is Label:name.

You can search using labels by using the search operator label:, as described in the Search operators section. For example, here's an alternative method for getting a list of conversations with a particular label:

  1. Move to the search edit box, which is the first control on the page.
  2. Press ENTER to go into Forms mode, type label:name, where “name” is a label, and then press ENTER.
  3. You are taken to a page containing a list of the conversations with this label. The title of the page is Search results for: Label:name.

Filters

In Gmail, you can create your own filters, which help you to organize your incoming messages. A filter automatically applies one or more actions to incoming messages which match some criteria.

The Settings:Filters page

On the Settings:Filters page, you can view, edit, delete, and create filters (how to get to the various settings pages is described in the Settings section (above).

The main content section of the page contains the following:
  • A level 2 heading: Settings
  • The categories. All categories are links, and are used for moving to the various other category pages.
  • For each filter which you've created there are:
  • “Matches:” followed by the criteria, which are expressed using the search operators.
  • “Do this:” followed by one or more actions.
  • edit and delete decorated buttons which are keyboard accessible.
  • A Create a new Filter link.

Creating a filter

Creating a filter involves two stages: specifying the matching criteria, and then specifying one or more actions that will be taken on the messages which match the given criteria.

On the Settings:Filters page
  1. Press the Create a new Filter link.
  2. The page is refreshed. The main content section remains unchanged, but a group of elements for specifying the filter criteria now appear after the heading level 1, Gmail logo. These elements are:
    • 5 edit boxes, and a check box for specifying criteria.
    • Cancel, Test Search, and Next Step buttons. Enter the criteria using one or more of these controls.
  3. If you want, you can check which existing messages match this criteria. To do this, press the Test Search button, and the page refreshes. In the main content section there is now:
    • A level 2 heading: conversations: “criteria” where criteria are your filter criteria defined using the search operators described in the Search operators section.
    • A Conversation table containing the conversations which contain messages which match the criteria.
  4. Once you are happy with the criteria, press the Next Step button.
  5. You're taken to a page where you can specify the action to be taken on the messages that match your criteria. After the heading level 1, Gmail logo is:
    • 5 checkboxes for selecting actions. After the Apply the label: checkbox, there's a Choose label combo box, and after the Forward it to: checkbox, there's an email address edit box.
    • A checkbox for also applying the filter to the existing messages which match the criteria. The conversations which contain these messages are shown in the Conversation table which is in the main content section of the page.
    • Cancel, Back, and Create Filter buttons. Specify one or more actions using the controls, and press the Create Filter button.
  6. You are returned to the Settings:Filters page, where the new filter is now listed.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are provided in Gmail for power users. However, they can be used by screen reader users as well.

Turning on Keyboard shortcuts

If keyboard shortcuts are not turned on, they will not work.

  1. Sign in to Gmail.
  2. Click on the Options menu, then Mail settings.
    • Settings section has an h2.
  3. In the general tab, which is the tab that is open by default, navigate to the "keyboard shortcuts option.
  4. Select the "keyboard shortcuts on" radio button and click on "save changes" button.

Using keyboard shortcuts

Once the keyboard shortcuts are turned on, any of the shortcuts can be used by following these steps:
  1. Turn off virtual cursor.
  2. Press any of the shortcuts.
  3. Either turn on virtual cursor and navigate normally. Or keep the virtual cursor off and navigate by tabbing.

Available keyboard shortcuts

Escape
Shortcut Key Definition Action
c Compose Allows you to compose a new message. Shift+c allows you to compose a message in a new window.
n Next message Moves your cursor to the next message. You can hit to expand or collapse a message. (Only applicable in 'Conversation View.')
p Previous message Moves your cursor to the previous message. You can hit to expand or collapse a message. (Only applicable in 'Conversation View.')
o or Enter Open Opens your conversation. Also expands or collapses a message if you are in 'Conversation View.'
u Return to conversation list Refreshes your page and returns you to the inbox, or list of conversations.
x Select conversation Automatically checks and selects a conversation so that you can archive, apply a label, or choose an action from the drop-down menu to apply to that conversation.
! Report spam Marks a message as spam and removes it from your conversation list.
r Reply Replies to the message sender. Shift+r allows you to reply to a message in a new window. (Only applicable in 'Conversation View.')
a Reply all Replies to all message recipients. Shift+a allows you to reply to all message recipients in a new window. (Only applicable in 'Conversation View.')
f Forward Forwards a message. Shift+f allows you to forward a message in a new window. (Only applicable in 'Conversation View.')
# Delete Moves the conversation to Trash.
l Label Opens the Labels menu to label a conversation.
. Show more actions Displays the 'More Actions' drop-down menu.
? Show keyboard shortcuts help Displays the keyboard shortcuts help menu within any page you're on.
/ Search Puts your cursor in the search box.
k Move to newer conversation Opens or moves your cursor to a more recent conversation. You can hit enter to expand a conversation.
j Move to older conversation Opens or moves your cursor to the next oldest conversation. You can hit enter to expand a conversation.
e Archive Archive your conversation from any view.
m Mute Archives the conversation, and all future messages skip the Inbox unless sent or cc'd directly to you.
s Star a message or conversation Adds or removes a star to a message or conversation. Stars allow you to give a message or conversation a special status.
Escape from input field Removes the cursor from your current input field.
Ctrl+s Save draft Saves the current text as a draft when composing a message. Hold the ctrl key while pressing s and make sure your cursor is in one of the text fields -- either the composition pane, or any of the To, CC, BCC, or Subject fields -- when using this shortcut.
v Move to Moves the conversation from the inbox to a different label, Spam or Trash.
Shift+i Mark as read Marks your message as 'read' and skips to the next message.
Shift+u Mark as unread Marks your message as 'unread' so you can go back to it later.
( Archive and previous Archives your conversation and moves to the previous one.
) Archive and next Archives your conversation and moves to the next one.
z Undo Undoes your previous action, if possible (works for actions with an 'undo' link).
Shift+n Update current conversation Updates your current conversation when there are new messages.
q Move cursor to chat search Moves your cursor directly to the chat search box.
y Remove from Current View* Automatically removes the message or conversation from your current view.
  • From 'Inbox,' 'y' means Archive
  • From 'Starred,' 'y' means Unstar
  • From 'Trash,' 'y' means Move to inbox
  • From any label, 'y' means Remove the label
* 'y' has no effect if you're in 'Spam,' 'Sent,' or 'All Mail.'

Combo-keys

Shortcut Key Definition Action
tab then Enter Send message After composing your message, use this combination to send it automatically. (Supported in Internet Explorer and Firefox, on Windows.)
y then o Archive and next Archives your conversation and moves to the next one.
g then a Go to 'All Mail' Takes you to 'All Mail,' the storage site for all mail you've ever sent or received (and have not deleted).
g then s Go to 'Starred' Takes you to all conversations you have starred.
g then c Go to 'Contacts' Takes you to your Contacts list.
g then d Go to 'Drafts' Takes you to all drafts you have saved.
g then i Go to 'Inbox' Returns you to the inbox.
g then t Go to 'Sent Mail' Takes you to all mail you've sent.
* then a Select all Selects all mail.
* then n Select none Deselects all mail.
* then r Select read Selects all mail you've read.
* then u Select unread Selects all unread mail.
* then s Select starred Selects all starred mail.
* then t Select unstarred Selects all unstarred mail.

Within settings

Shortcut Key Definition Action
left and right arrow keys Switching between settings tabs Navigating between the settings tabs. Note: Forms mode would first need to be turned on by placing the cursor focus on any of the tabs and then pressing enter.
Tab Navigating within labels Navigating to the specific items in the labels tab.
A complete list of available shortcuts can be found,
  • From Gmail settings:
  • Log-in to Gmail.
  • Click on the "settings" link.
  • Navigate to the Keyboard shortcuts option in the general tab.
  • Click on the "learn more" link located right below the text "keyboard shortcuts",.
  • In the resulting page, a list of commands and their functions are provided.
  • From the Gmail help center:
    1. Log-in to Gmail.
    2. click on the "help" link.
    3. In the resulting window, enter "keyboard shortcuts" in the search edit box and press enter.
    4. One of the search results will be a link to the list of keyboard shortcuts.

    Creating a Gmail account

    To sign up for an account, go to http://mail.google.com/mail/signup. You will be taken to a page with the title Google Accounts. The following sections describe the various sections of the form.

    • Change language combo box..
      • This will probably be set to English, by which it means US English.
    • First and last names
      • When you get to the First name edit box, press ENTER to go into forms mode, type in your first name, then TAB to the next control, which is the Last name edit box. Type in your last name, and then TAB to the next control.
    • Desired login name
      • Your login name is both the name you use for signing in to your account, and the part of your email address which appears before the @ sign. Note that in most countries, your email address will have the form username@gmail.com, but in Germany it will have the form of username@googlemail.com. Your login name has to be at least 6 characters long. Many login names have already been taken by other people, so part of choosing a login name involves checking the availability of potential names:
        1. Type a name into the Desired Login Name edit box, TAB to the check availability! button, and press it.
        2. The page refreshes, you are taken out of Forms mode, and the focus remains on the check availability! button. Read line by line the text that has now appeared below the button. If the name is available, then it says “name” is available. You can then continue to choose a password which is described in the next section.
        3. If the name is unavailable, is says “name” is not available, and displays radio boxes, with suggested names which are available. If you're happy with one of these, just press SPACEBAR to set it, and then carry on reading down to choosing a password, which is described in the next main step. If you want to try another name, press SHIFT + E to move back to the edit box, press ENTER to go back into Forms mode, and try again.
    • Choose a password
      • Your password must be at least 8 characters long.
        1. At the Choose a password edit box, press ENTER to go back into Forms mode, and type in your password.
        2. TAB past the Password strength link to get to the Re-enter password edit box, and type in your password again.
        3. TAB to the Remember me on this computer checkbox, and set as desired.
        4. TAB to the Enable Web History checkbox. The following text appears above the checkbox: “Web History is a feature that will provide you with a more personalized experience on Google that includes more relevant search results and recommendations.” Set the checkbox as desired, and then TAB to the next control.
    • Security question
      • You have to set up a security question and answer which Google will ask you if you ever forget your password.
        1. When you get to the security question combo box, select one of the options for the question. Note that the last option which is immediately after “What was your first teacher's name” is “Write my own question”. When you select that option, Jaws does not read the option, but an edit box is created below the combo box for you to type in your question, and the focus is moved to the edit box. If you want to move back to the combo box, press SHIFT + TAB.
        2. Once you've selected a question, or written your own, TAB past the learn more link to the Answer edit box, and type in your answer.
        3. TAB to the next control.
    • Secondary email
      • If you have another email address, Google can use it to contact you if there are problems with your account. When you get to the Secondary email edit box, type in an existing email address if you have one, and then TAB past the learn more link to the next control.
    • Location
      • The Location combo box, contains a large number of possible locations. It helps to use the first letter of the location to find it more quickly. Once you've found your location, TAB to the next control.
    • Verification
      • To make sure you're a human being rather than a robot, you will have to either type in the distorted characters in a picture, or to type in the numbers which are spoken in an audio recording which also contains a background of distracting speech. In this recording, a series of single digit numbers are spoken, a clear voice says “once again”, and then the series of numbers is repeated.
        1. When you get to the “type the characters you see or numbers you hear” edit box, TAB to the “listen and type the numbers you hear” link graphic, and open it.
        2. You are taken out of Forms mode, and the focus is placed back in the previous edit box. The audio recording starts. Press ENTER to go into Forms mode, and then type the numbers that you hear. Because Jaws talks over the start of the recording as you're moved back to the edit box, and then go back into Forms mode, you may find it easier to wait till the voice says once again before typing the numbers in.
        3. If you don't get the hang of it the first time, just TAB to the “listen and type the numbers you hear” link graphic, open it, and try again.
    • Terms of Service
      • To read the Terms of Service, Press NUMPAD PLUS to come out of forms mode, and then read a line at a time. You'll first pass over some links and text to do with the verification, an introduction to the terms of service, a printable version link which opens in a new window or tab, and then the terms and conditions in an read-only edit box.
      • Once you've read as much as you want in the edit box, navigate to “I accept. Create my account button.”
    • Create an account button
      • Assuming you accept the conditions, press the button. The two cases of the account creation being successful or unsuccessful are described below.
        1. If the account creation is successful, then you'll be taken to a page with the title Introduction to Gmail, and with the words Introduction to Gmail, and Congratulations! near the top of the page. There's also a “I'm ready - show me my account” link, which can take you to your Inbox. There may be messages from the Gmail Team welcoming you to Gmail.
        2. If the account creation is unsuccessful, then you'll be returned to the same page. Possible problems include:
          • You've left one or more of the required fields blank. After one or more of the edit boxes, there will be the words “Required field cannot be left blank”.
          • The entries in the Choose a password and Re-enter password edit boxes weren't the same. After the Choose a password edit box, there will be the words “Passwords do not match”.
          • You have entered the wrong characters in the word verification. Note that after making the corrections, you have to repeat the verification stage, and re-enter your password twice, before pressing the create an account button again.