Use Slack with a screen reader

You can use a screen reader to navigate conversations, read messages, and access information in your sidebar from the Slack desktop app and Slack in a web browser.

Tip: Slack offers keyboard shortcuts for many common actions you may need to take. To view all keyboard shortcuts, press / (Mac) or Ctrl/ (Windows/Linux).

 

Top-level navigation

You can navigate through the top-level sections of Slack with ARIA landmarks or by pressing F6. Each top-level section has a label identifying its purpose.

Note: If you're using Slack in a browser on Windows, press Ctrl along with F6 or ShiftF6.

Top-level sections

  • Message list 
  • Message field
  • Workspace menu
  • Sidebar
  • Workspace switcher
  • Channel header
  • Search


Keyboard shortcuts for ARIA landmarks

The keyboard shortcuts for navigating between ARIA landmarks vary across the common screen readers below.

  Mac Windows/Linux
JAWS : or Shift:

To list all landmarks Insert:
: or Shift:

To list all landmarks CtrlInsert:
NVDA D D
VoiceOver OptionU CtrlOptionU

 

Jump to any conversation or page

The easiest way to open a channel, direct message (DM), or page in your left sidebar (ex., All unreads, Threads, Mentions & reactions, and more) in Slack is with a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Press K (Mac) or CtrlK (Windows/Linux)
  2. Type the name of a channel, person, or page.
  3. Press Enter.

Tip: You can also take a number of actions in Slack by typing slash commands.


Navigate the sidebar

You can also navigate to conversations and pages in Slack from the channel list in your sidebar. If you'd like, you can take actions to manage the information in your channel list as well. 

Open a conversation or page

  1. Press F6 to move focus to the channel list.
  2. Press or to navigate to a channel, DM, or page.
  3. Press Enter to make a selection.

Tip: If the list of conversations in your sidebar is long, you can use the Page Up, Page Down, End, and Home keys to navigate more quickly.


Take action on conversations

Each conversation in the sidebar has an associated context menu you can use to take actions, like changing notifications, muting, and more.

  1. Press F6 to move focus to the channel list. 
  2. Press  or to navigate to a channel or DM.
  3. Press ShiftM (Mac) with VoiceOver running or ShiftF10 (Windows/Linux) to open the context menu. 
  4. Press  or to navigate between options, then press Enter to select an option.

Note: From the context menu, anyone using Slack can move conversations to the Starred section in the sidebar. If you’re on a paid Slack plan, you can also organize conversations in custom sections.


Read messages

Mac

Windows/Linux

  1. Press F6 to move focus to the message list. 
  2. Press  or to navigate between individual messages. A summary of a message will be read when it's in focus. If you're using VoiceOver, you can navigate within messages as well.
  3. Press F6 if you'd like to continue navigating between messages using and ↓.
  1. Press F6 to move focus to the message list (this will also toggle the virtual cursor off). 
  2. Press  or to navigate between individual messages. A summary of a message will be read when it's in focus.
  3. To read message content using the virtual cursor, press Tab. Focus will move to the name of the person who sent the message.
  4. To resume reading or navigating between messages using  and , press F6. Focus will move back to the message list.


Mark as Read preferences

Slack offers three options in Preferences for reading messages and marking them as read

  • Start me where I left off, and mark the channel read (default)
    Read messages chronologically from oldest to newest. The initial point of focus will be the first unread message in a conversation. If all messages are read, the focus will move to the last message you focused on in the conversation. Press to read the next message.
  • Start me at the newest message, and mark the channel read
    Read messages in reverse chronological order. The initial point of focus will be the most recent message in the channel.
  • Start me at the newest message, but leave unseen messages unread
    Read messages in reverse chronological order. The initial point of focus will be the most recent message in the conversation, but the conversation will remain marked as unread until you’ve read every message.

 

Navigate between messages

You can navigate between messages quickly using the following keys:

  • Page Up and Page Down to move up and down.
  • End to move to the most recent message.
  • ShiftPage Up to move to the first message in the previous day.*
  • ShiftPage Down to move to the first message in the next day.*

*These keys can’t be used to navigate between messages in your Threads or All unreads views.

 

Write messages

In Slack, there are two ways to write a message:

  • Type a message in the message field of any channel or DM to send a message, start a thread, or reply to a thread.
  • Use the  compose button to send a message in a channel or DM. 

Type in the message field

  1. To write a message in a channel or DM on Mac, start typing. Slack will automatically move focus to the message field. On Windows or Linux, press F6 to move focus to the message field, then begin typing.
  2. Press Enter to send your message.


Use the compose button

  1. Press CmdN (Mac) or CtrlN (Windows/Linux). 
  2. Focus will move to the To: field. Type the name of a channel or person to select a conversation for your message. 
  3. Press Enter. The primary view will switch to the selected conversation and focus will move to the message field. 
  4. Type your message, then press Enter to send it.


Start or reply to a thread

  1. Press F6 to move focus to the message list.
  2. Press and to navigate to the message you’d like to start or reply to a thread from.
  3. Press or T to open the threads pane. The focus will move to the message you’re starting or replying to a thread from. If there are any existing thread replies, press to read them in chronological order.
  4. To start or reply to a thread, press End. The focus will move to the message field.

Tip: Press to move focus back to the original message that thread replies have been added to.


View all your unread messages

The All unreads view lets you catch up on messages you missed while you were away, grouped by conversations. 

Mac

Windows/Linux

  1. Press CmdShiftA to open All unreads. Focus will move to the header for the first group of unread messages.
  2. Press to navigate between messages in the group. A summary will be read when a message is in focus. If you’d like, you can navigate within messages using VoiceOver navigation.
  3. If you’re navigating within a message using VoiceOver, press F6 to resume navigating between messages using and .
  4. To mark an entire group of messages as read, press Esc. The messages will be collapsed, and focus will move to the header for the next group.
  1. Press CtrlShiftA to open All unreads. Focus will move to the header for the first group of unread messages (this will also toggle the virtual cursor off).
  2. Press to navigate between messages in the group. A summary will be read when a message is in focus.
  3. To read message content using the virtual cursor, press Tab. Focus will move to the name of the person who sent the message.
  4. To resume navigating between messages using and , press F6. Focus will move back to the message list.
  5. To mark an entire group of messages as read, press Esc. The messages will be collapsed, and focus will move to the header for the next group.

Tip: To collapse a group of messages without marking them as read, press when focus is on the group header.