Use a screen reader with Slack on desktop

You can use a screen reader to navigate conversations, read messages, and access activity on the Slack desktop app and browser. Slack’s screen reader experience is designed to be compatible across most common systems, but differences among screen readers may vary slightly.

Tip: There are different keyboard shortcuts for important actions to help you navigate Slack. To view all keyboard shortcuts, press / (Mac) or Ctrl/ (Windows/Linux).

 

Top-level navigation

Quick navigation through the top-level sections of Slack can be accomplished with ARIA landmarks or by pressing F6. Each ARIA landmark has a label identifying its purpose.

The top level sections include: message list (role main), message input, multi-purpose sidebar, workspace menu, channel sidebar, channel header, and search. The keyboard shortcuts for navigating between landmarks vary across the screen readers below.

Note: If you're using Slack on a browser, press (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows/Linux) with all commands containing F6.

  Mac Windows/Linux
VoiceOver OptionU CtrlOptionU
NVDA D D
JAWS : or Shift:

To list all landmarks Insert:
: or Shift:

To list all landmarks CtrlInsert:

 

Switch to a conversation

The fastest way to switch between channels and direct messages (DMs) is to jump to conversations using the steps below.

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

 

Navigate to your sidebar

You can also switch between conversations by navigating to the channel sidebar where your channels and DMs are listed.

  1. Press F6 to move focus to the channel sidebar.
  2. Press and to navigate to channels or DMs in the list.
  3. Press Enter to make a selection.

 

Read messages

There are three options for reading messages and marking them as read. These options can be found in your Preferences, under Mark as Read.

Note: With any option, you’ll need to press F6 before reading messages. If you're using Slack on a browser, press (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows/Linux) with F6.

  • 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 channel. If all messages are read, the focus will move to the last message you focused on in the channel. 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, and the channel will be marked as read.
  • 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 channel, but the channel will remain marked as unread until you’ve read each message.

To read your messages, use the steps below.

Mac

Windows/Linux

  1. Press F6 to move focus to the message list.
  2. Press and to navigate between individual messages.
  3. To read message content using VoiceOver navigation, press CtrlOption.
  4. Press F6 if you'd like to continue navigating between messages using  and .
  1. Press F6 to move focus to the message list. Your screen reader will automatically switch to focus mode.
  2. Press and to navigate between individual messages.
  3. To read message content using browse mode, press Tab. Focus will move to the name of the member who sent the message, and you can use the screen reader shortcuts from there.
  4. Press F6 if you’d like to exit browse mode and continue navigating between messages using ↑ and .

 

Navigate between messages

Faster navigation between messages can be accomplished 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.

 

Message components

Each component of a message in Slack has a custom label, so it's easy to tell what the content you're reading is. Your screen reader will read messages in full sentences, calling out any present elements in order .Here’s the order they’re read in:

  • Message header: Author and timestamp.
  • Message main content: The message the author typed.
  • Message footer: The number of reactions, replies, and attachments (e.g., files and link previews).
  • State information: Information about whether messages are pinned or starred.
  • Attachments: The description and/or content.

 

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 to open the threads pane. The focus will move to the original message you’re starting or replying to a thread from.
  4. If there are any existing thread replies, press to read them in chronological order.
  5. To start or reply to a thread, start typing. 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.

 

Access your Activity

The fastest way to access Activity to find your recent mentions and emoji reactions is by pressing CtrlShiftM. You can also navigate to Activity using the steps below.

  1. Press F6 to move to the channel header.
  2. Press Tab to move to the Activity button and press Enter.
  3. Press Tab to move your focus to different actions in this view.
  4. Press and to read messages in chronological order.

Tip: To receive notifications using a screen reader, download the Slack for your desktop and enable desktop notifications.