Use a screen reader to explore and navigate Skype for Windows

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    Screen reader content icon This article is for people with visual impairments who use a screen reader program with Skype and is part of the Skype Accessibility content set. For more general help, visit Skype Support home. Use Skype with your keyboard and a screen reader such as Narrator, the built-in Windows screen reader, or NVDA to explore and navigate the app main views and elements, and move between views and functions. The information provided in this article is for use with the latest version of Skype. For more information please go to How do I update Skype?  


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    Get to know the Skype layout

    Skype is divided into a list pane and a main content pane. The elements included in the list pane change based on the view you select.  

    List pane

    The list pane is on the left of the main content pane. If you’re a person with low vision or visual disabilities, or if you have limited mobility, build a mental model of the Skype list pane. The areas and specific elements of the list pane are described in the following table.

    Area Elements you'll find in this area
    First row: Information about you and options button
    • Display name
    • Skype credit balance
    • Mood message. Shows your mood message if you have set one.
    • More options button. Enables you to access settings, help for the app, and sign out of the app.
    Second row: Search bar and dial pad access
    • People, groups & messages search box. Allows you to search for contacts and chats.
    • Use dial pad button. Shows the dial pad, which enables you to enter a phone number and make a call
    Third row: A tab group that changes the information shown in the list pane
    • Chats tab. Shows information about chats you have participated in.
    • Calls tab. Shows information about your recent calls.
    • Contacts tab. Shows information about your contacts.
    • Notifications tab. Shows information such as whether you have been mentioned in a chat and Skype usage tips.
    Variable number of rows: Information that corresponds to the tab you selected If you select the Chats tab, the following information is shown:
    • Sort menu. Allows you to sort the chats list by most recent message, unread status or show hidden chats.
    • New chat menu. Allows you to create a new group chat, chat, private conversation or SMS.
    • A list of your chats and conversations.
    If you select the Calls tab, the following information is shown:
    • View menu. Allows you to filter the calls list, to show all calls, Skype calls, or phone calls.
    • New call menu. Allows you to search for people or enter a phone number to dial.
    • A list of your recent calls.
    • A list of contacts you can call.
    If you select the Contacts tab, the following information is shown:
    • View menu. Allows you to filter the contacts list to show my contacts, all contacts, or contacts who are active now.
    • Add new contact menu. Allows you to search for people to add to your contacts, send an invitation to Skype or add a phone number as a contact.
    • A list of your contacts.
    If you select the Notifications tab, the following information is shown:
    • View menu. Allows you to filter the notifications list by notification type, mark all notifications as read, or change notification settings.
    • A list of your notifications.

    Content pane

    The content pane is on the right side of the Skype screen.

    • When you select a contact or chat in the list pane, the chat history is shown in the content pane.
    • The content pane contains a row at the top that allows you to access shared media and links from the Gallery, search within the conversation, start a video or audio call with chat participants, or add people to the chat.
    • Under the chat history is a text entry field, which allows you to type and send messages.

    Navigate using the keyboard

    You can use Skype with keyboard shortcuts. To learn more, go to What are keyboard shortcuts and how do I use them in Skype?. The following are some frequently used keyboard shortcuts for Skype:

    • To move forward through the elements of Skype, press the Tab key, or to move back, press Shift+Tab key.
    • To move between tabs in the list pane, press the Right or Left arrow keys.
    • To move between the list items in a list pane, press the Up or Down arrow keys.
    • To select an item, press Enter. To close a dialog or move focus back, press Esc.
    • To open each tab in the main window:
      • Press Alt+1 to open the Chats tab.
      • Press Alt+2 to open the Contacts tab.
      • Press Ctrl+I to open the Notifications tab.
    • To launch the main dial pad, press Ctrl+D.
    • To start a new chat, press Ctrl+N.

    Special considerations for Skype

    Change the text size

    If you want to change the size of text displayed in Skype:

    • To increase the text display size, press Ctrl+Shift+equals sign (=).
    • To decrease the text display size, press Ctrl+minus sign (-).
    • To reset the text display size, press Ctrl+0.

    Note: This changes the text size on your screen but not the size of the text in the messages that you send.

    Operate Skype with speech recognition

    Speech recognition tools are helpful for people who have limited mobility and who need to use voice commands (rather than the keyboard or mouse) to operate Microsoft products, including Skype. You can use third-party speech recognition tools or the functionality called Speech Recognition, which is included with the Windows operating system. To enable Speech Recognition on your computer, please refer to Use speech recognition.  

    Technical support for customers with disabilities

    Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region. If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.