Getting started with the Outlook Calendar using JAWS

Olly Anthony

Whether using it to keep track of your work meetings and tasks to complete throughout the day, or for personal use to not miss a doctors appointment or virtual catch up with friends, the Outlook calendar is one of the most fundamental tools that any of us will use on a daily basis. Here, we will introduce you to the basic features of the calendar, including how to navigate, how to create appointments, and how to reply to meeting invites so that you can get started with the Outlook calendar with JAWS.

Table of Contents

  1. Keystrokes Quick Reference
  2. Basic Navigation
  3. Viewing Appointment Details
  4. Calendar Views
  5. Creating a New Appointment
  6. Inviting People to Meetings
  7. Replying to Meeting Invites

Keystrokes Quick Reference

Switch to calendar viewControl+2
Move between appointmentsTab / Shift+Tab
Navigate by 30-minute time slotArrow Keys
Go to todayControl+T
Switch to Day ViewAlt+1
Switch to week viewAlt+Minus
Switch to month viewAlt+Equals
Open an appointmentEnter
Close an appointmentEscape
Create a new appointmentControl+N
Add invitee fieldsControl+Shift+Q
Move to Office 365 function searchAlt+Q

Basic Navigation

The first step to using the calendar is getting to it. When you open Outlook from your Start Menu, it will load the email view by default. To switch to the calendar view, press Control+2 (you can switch back to the email view at any time by pressing Control+1). When you press Control+2 it will switch to the calendar, and put your focus on (or close to) the current time and day.

Once you are in the calendar, there are 2 ways to navigate: If you use the Arrow Keys, you will move between time slots. The Up and Down Arrow will move between 30-minute time slots in the current day. The Right and Left Arrow will move from a 30-minute time slot, to the same time slot on the next (Right Arrow) or previous (Left Arrow) day. This kind of navigation is more commonly used when creating appointments.

The second basic navigation form is to use the Tab key to move between appointments in your calendar. Pressing Tab will move to the next appointment in your calendar. You can move backwards through appointments by pressing Shift+Tab. When an appointment takes focus, JAWS will announce the key information, such as the title of the appointment, the start and end times, who created it, and which appointment it is of the day, e.g. 1 of 3 means it is the first appointment of three on the current day.

Note, when using Tab to navigate, JAWS will not stop at the last appointment of the day. Instead, when you press Tab on the last appointment of a day, it will move to the first appointment of the next day. Similarly, Shift+Tab will move to the last appointment of the previous day when you move past the first appointment of a day.

If you navigate to a different day and want to return to today, simply press Control+T and it will switch to the start of today’s calendar. Note, if you are not in day view (see below) this will put you at the start of whatever view you are currently on which may not be today.

Viewing Appointment Details

When using Tab to navigate the calendar, JAWS will announce the key details of the appointment, but you may want to get more detailed information such as details the organizer has included. You can easily do this by navigating to the appointment you want to view using Tab, then pressing Enter to open it. When you press Enter, it will open the appointment in a new window which will be called the same thing as the appointment title with –Appointment or -Meeting at the end (depending on the type of appointment).

You focus will land in the main body of the appointment details which the organized has written. You can navigate this with your normal reading keys to read the text and find any additional information, phone numbers, or links. Once you have finished reading the details, press Escape to close the appointment window and return to the Outlook calendar.

Calendar Views

Outlook has the ability to display a single day on the calendar, or multiple days up to a whole month. You can change the view by pressing Alt and a key on the number row from 1 to equals. For example, Alt+1 will switch to single day view, Alt+2 will display 2 days, Alt+Minus will switch to week view and Alt+Equals will switch to month view. You can use whichever view works best for you, but one thing to bear in mind is that the more days that are displayed at once, the more appointments there are to display and visually, they often to not always fit onto the screen and get hidden. As a general rule, we normally suggest using Day View (Alt+1) to make sure the maximum number of events (usually all of them except in rare circumstances) are displayed.

Creating a New Appointment

Creating appointments in your calendar is an easy way to ensure you don’t miss anything important in your day. You have two options when creating an appointment. You can navigate to the day and time you want to create it on using the arrow keys, or you can simply type the date and time once you are in the new appointment screen. For now, we will just go through the later as this tends to be much quicker.

From anywhere in your calendar, press Control+N to create a new appointment. This will open a new window and put your focus in the Title field. Type the title for your meeting and then Tab to the next field, which is the Start Date. Type the date you want the meeting to start (Note, you can use dashes, forward slashes, backslashes or full stops between the day, month, and year) and press Tab to move to the next field. Type the time you want your meeting to start using a 24 hour clock and then Tab to the next field. The End Date will automatically be set to the same as your Start Date, but you can change this if you need to in the same way as above. The End Time will be set to 30 minutes after the Start Time, but again, you can change this as you need.

As you continue to Tab through the fields, you will find an All Day checkbox. If you have an all day event, such as annual leave, you can press Space to check this rather than set a start and end time. You will also find a Time Zones checkbox and a Location edit. We won’t cover these for now to keep things simple. By tabbing, you should then come to an edit which is just labelled Edit. This is the main body of your appointment where you can type any details you want to in the same way as an email or Word document.

Once you have finished completing the appointment details, press Alt+S to save it. The new appointment window will close and put focus back in your calendar.

Inviting People to Meetings

If you want to create a meeting and invite people to it as well so it appears in their calendars, the process is exactly the same as above with one extra step. After pressing Control+N to create a new appointment, you need to change the appointment to include invitee fields by pressing Control+Shift+Q. This will change the appointment layout so that after your Title field, you will tab to a Required field. Here you can type a name or email address and select it with Enter just like when adding recipients to an email.

After the Required field, there is an Option field for optional invitees which works in the same way. Other than this, the whole process of creating the appointment is the same as previously described.

Replying to Meeting Invites

If someone invites you to a meeting, you will receive an email invite. You will need to reply to this so that person knows if you can make the meeting or not. You can do this via the ribbon menus in the email you receive. The keystrokes for this tend to be different on different systems, so instead, we recommend using the Microsoft 365 function search (assuming you have Office 365). Open the invite and press Alt+Q to move to the search edit. Type Accept, Decline or Tentative, depending on how you want to reply and then Arrow Down through the functions list to the appropriate reply. You will notice that JAWS will announce “submenu”. This is because there are multiple ways to reply. Press the Right Arrow to open the submenu and Arrow Down to the way you want to respond, e.g. sending a reply, not sending a reply, and then press Enter to respond.