Microsoft Word 2016

Last modified
Sunday, March 12, 2017

Description of App

The uber-juggernaught word processor that has long been a staple in the corporate world and universities. Part of Microsoft Office 2016 and Microsoft Office 365, and the first Mac version written with the potential for Voiceover accessibility .



Free or Paid


Version Of macOS App Was Tested On


Accessibility Comments

Although the app elements are accessible, some limitations remain in this version, particularly when working with book-length documents with complex formatting. Microsoft has posted a <a href="… help page</a> specific to Voiceover in Word 2016. At the time of writing, there seem to be some glitches with some of the navigation keystrokes.


There are some accessibility issues with this app, but it can still be used if you are willing to tolerate these issues and learn how to work around them.

Other Comments

Although Text-Edit and Pages are adequate for most individuals, Word features a huge range of enterprise-level capabilities, such as preparing mass mailings, inclusion of mathematical equations, creation of complex Visual Basic scripts, direct access to OneDrive and collaborative project authoring, production of camera-ready book manuscripts, and much more. Many corporate and educational settings incorporate Office applications at a level that makes it essential for students and employees to use it. Microsoft Office 365 is available as a free trial. Additionally, many University students have access to the software free of charge through their information technology departments, depending on whether or not the University has an agreement with Microsoft.


4 people have recommended this app

Most recently recommended by Michael Babcock, Your Own Pay 2 months ago



Submitted by smhy on Monday, December 14, 2015

Do we know if any accessibility work has been done on the iOS version of word? Last time I checked, that was still totally unusable.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Monday, December 14, 2015

In reply to by smhy

Depends on what one calls "accessible." I thought there was an IOS app directory for it, but maybe I was reading a discussion forum... Some folks find it fairly usable. With a keyboard, obviously. No quick nav or rotor support, as in the Mac version. I had no luck writing with the onscreen keyboard. Then again, I'm not likely to write a doc without a keyboard. For reading without a keyboard, the lack of keys or gestures to jump by paragraph or word make it unusable for me, personally, and I haven't tried connecting the keyboard. For accessible document READING, I asked the VoiceDream reader guy to implament reading of Word documents with headings integrated as bookmarks or section starters, but he didn't seem interested.

Submitted by Ro on Friday, January 1, 2016


I have a very overactive thumb. Is there a way in this app to tighten up extra spaces the way one can in Word and Windows? I still can't believe this isn't an option in Pages.


Submitted by Ro on Saturday, January 2, 2016

What just type a space in the find and replace? In Word for Windows, my friends tell me there's a specific option for tightening up extra spaces.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Friday, April 15, 2016

So, I authored the directory entry for this app with high hopes several months ago. Since then, I've seen one or two minor improvements, either resulting from OS X iterations or because of Word, I'm not sure which; but I would still never be able to use this for document authoring or even reading. I've followed it from 15.17 to 15.19.x. Contrary to their claims to be working hard on accessibility, I suspect that enhanced accessibility in Word 2016 came strictly as a byproduct of rewriting the apps in KoKo, and that little to no actual usability testing has been incrorporated into the development process. I have sent feedback from within the app with each new version, but who knows if it lands on anyone's desk or if they're interested. It's a terrible shame, since I'm sitting here on my MBA (in Bootcamp) while my Dell won't boot at all, and it'll take sight assistance to figure out what it's doing. That, and a general downgrade of usability in Windows 10 (IMO) make me crave a switch-over. I downgraded the language used in the directory entry, but hopefully it still reads as "objective" and others find it accurate--if not, I would want to correct it. Otherwise, I give up. Anyone with a genuinely positive experience with future versions of this software, please let us know. I mean, working with multi-page documents with styles and the like.
Other Office apps (Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint) fare better, but none of it counts for me without Word.

Submitted by Mustafa Dogus on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In reply to by Voracious P. Brain

MS Word still have accessibility issues. It is not possible to navigate in large document. To navigate in tables neither... Nevertheless, some little developments occurred. VO read more inflexibly sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph and magnification area follows the cursor on fullscreen magnification.

You must have checked a very long time ago concerning the iOS version. I've been using it for more than a year on my iPad.

Submitted by Jake on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In reply to by Voracious P. Brain

Try 15.22 or later. There have actually been some good work done in these releases. It's not perfect yet, but text navigation works much more reliably in large documents now at least. This is Microsoft. Progress has always been slow with them. I still prefer Pages anyway, but I can at least use this if I need to. Oddly enough, Microsoft's iOS team seem to make faster progress with VoiceOver accessibility.

Submitted by Mustafa Dogus on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In reply to by Jake

I'm using the version Word 15.23.2. It is a bit more reliable to work. But I still do not go from any page to another page. After I go to "Go" window (Opiton+Command+G), use any of Page or Section and press the ESC button to exit, I cannot go to the area I want. VO goes to the first page of document. What do you recommend? Which view type more accessible?

I am generally using Pages. However, because I'm writing my Master's thesis, I cannot convert from Pages to Word. It is too long and some areas become bad after converting (Contents table, tables, styles etc.).

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In reply to by Mustafa Dogus

The support link included in the app description above goes to their list of things that supposedly work and don't work. Print view is the only one ostensibly supported, and the find/goto dialog you asked about is not supported.
I don't think 15.23.2 is out yet, unless it's a beta. 15.23, though, still flips back to page one randomly if I page through a document. I think what happens is that it exits interaction mode. This also happens whenever any dialog box is opened, which would account for your experience.
Also, the File>Open dialog hangs whenever it has to access OneDrive online. In other words, entering the file browser element or cursoring dow in the list will both hang for maybe 10 seconds.
Love ot hear about it if any of you are *not* having this experience.

Submitted by Mustafa Dogus on Thursday, June 30, 2016

In reply to by Voracious P. Brain

Thank you for replying. I experienced that you mentioned, but I rarely use OneDrive, so I have no more knowledge... Thank you again...

Submitted by mestomba on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I need enlargement on my Ipad. About a year ago I tested Microsoft word with enlargement on an Ipad at an Apple store. It did not follow the cursor as I typed, Making it next to impossible to compose a document.
Just for clarity: Does it align itself with the cursor as you type a document when you use zoom for enlargement? Has this issue been resolved? (If the issue has not been resolved, can you recommend a word processor that tracks the cursor on an Ipad) - - Thanks in advance.

Submitted by Jennifer W. on Monday, January 23, 2017

I am new to using MS Word. I am used to using pages. Is there a good free guide to using MS Word 2016 on Mac with Voice Over that anyone can recommend? I used MS Word on PC several years ago and seem to remember there being a shortcut to interact with different elements of the Ribbon. I have yet to find this for the Mac version. When I interact with the Ribbon using VO and the arrow keys.
I would like to be able to easily change the alignment of paragraphs and such and have voice over tell me that it has been moved. I used command L and it says aligned left, but does not tell me what was aligned left.

Thank you for your help.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Sunday, March 12, 2017

[Update: I've spent considerable time trying to narrow down the source of my Word issues, since others don't seem to be experiencing the freezes or random jumps back to the top. #1 Very large and complex docs of roughly 200+ pages seem to be a no-go, and it's not a Voiceover-specific issue: many other users are experiencing it. I am getting it whenever I open a book scanned by Kurzweil 1000, which is probably retaining things like text boxes and putting in loads of formatting in its efforts to reproduce the printed page. These docs are 500Kb or larger in docx format. Furthermore, I can't navigate past the first couple of pages if the document is in Compatibility Mode. File>Convert Document at least fixes that part. #2, The VO cursor seems to get unsynced from the keyboard focus at times and the keyboard focus jumps to the top of the document. If I start arrowing, I'm on page 1. But if I interact, I'm back where I was. So, sometimes when navigating to a new page, it leaves interaction mode. Finally, I have run into the issue where attempting to launch the file open dialog locks Word up entirely. I had to do a complete uninstall/reinstall to make it operable again, which meant redoing all my customizations (very few). Sometimes, page down works as expected; other times, VO+down moves to the next page as Microsoft claims it should. Sometimes, neither key combination does anything. Sometimes, VO will not read text until I exit/restart Voiceover. Some of this might be my computer, although I did a clean install in an attempt to get rid of the issues. VO acts unpredictably at times in Safari as well, so it's hard to tell how much of the above is about Word vs Sierra vs user error. When it works, Word is a fantastic program, much cleaner and more usable than on the PC, even.]
BTW: people asking about Ipad/IPhone, please note this is the Mac app directory, and that Word has a separate IOS entry. Haven't used it myself, since it lacks the document navigation map and so I can't navigatee in it by heading in the IOS version yet.

Submitted by Chuck Winstead on Thursday, March 9, 2017

I downloaded a trial of Microsoft Office 365. So far I've not ran into any issues, though i've not had a chance to test out Tables, and so on. I wrote a memoir a few months ago about getting my guide dog, and I decided to put it inside of Word. I didn't see any problems navigating the text. Though I was using the arrow keys with quick nav turned off.
I haven't got a chance to check out everything as far as accessibility goes, as I've only had it for a few days. However, so far it look OK. I'll check out the tables and see if I still run into that problem.

Submitted by Chuck Winstead on Friday, March 10, 2017

Hello What was the issue with the table?
I was looking at a job list Which was in a DOCx format.
There was a table inside of the document. I had no issues interacting with the table and looking at the elements.
I was using the Latest from the office 365 Subscription so someones experience may vary.
Let me know if there is another part of Microsoft Word you would like to see tested.

Submitted by Voracious P. Brain on Thursday, September 28, 2017

Very hesitantly, I will say that the combination of High Sierra and the latest build of Word for Mac (15.38) seems much less glitchy and is now usable. I'll modify the app directory entry if that turns out to still be true after a few weeks of usage.
Note that I still wouldn't recommend subscribing to Office unless you are compelled to use it for school or work, but that's really very commonly the case. Excel still doesn't read column and row headers. That would take custom code, either from Microsoft or Apple, and I don't see either one happening. Outlook presents the mailbox list as a grid, so that VO users need to cursor up and down within specific columns, rather than hearing an entire line at a time. I also couldn't edit text in a PowerPoint slide when I tried, but I didn't get into it very deeply. If Word actually doesn't go back to its old ways, though, then it would be more usable on Mac than it is with Jaws or NVDA, save for the lack of quicknav. Much of the quicknav functionality, though, can be reproduced directly in Word through its 1,400 possible keyboard shortcuts.

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