Cell co-ordinates and contents not speaking in Microsoft Excel

macOS and Mac Apps

With the release of Office for Mac 2016 there was a definite improvement in accessibility using Voiceover. In particular, I found that I was able to navigate spreadsheets in much the same way as I have always done using Windows and JAWS, with the co-ordinates and content of cells being read aloud as I navigated the sheet using the cursor keys. Admittedly, this capability was somewhat inconsistent, and was certainly impacted by the verbosity settings applied within Voiceover.

18 months on, however, and the situation appears to have deteriorated. While the latest release of Office for Mac (version 15.29) which appeared in December, trumpeted improvements to accessibility, moving the cursor keys now results in complete silence. Of course, it's possible to navigate to a limited degree in quicknav mode, but this is unsatisfactory for working in large sheets. Strangely, it is possible to navigate the full extent of an Excel spreadsheet using Tab, Shift-Tab, Enter, and Shift-enter, but this approach is also hardly a satisfactory way of working. So what worked for me with OS 10.11 and Office for Mac 15.14 no longer works with OS 10.12.2 and Office for Mac 15.29.

As I do a lot of spreadsheet work I am keen to understand what's going on here. Having been able to build and navigate large workbooks using Windows and JAWS over a period stretching back some 20 years, I came to take it for granted that moving the cursor keys would yield feedback about the cell co-ordinate and content. Is this a temporary glitch that will be fixed in an imminent Sierra or Office update; Have I done something daft and inadvertently disabled a critical checkbox; or is there a fundamental issue with the way in which Voiceover functions in a spreadsheet environment?

My Macbook Air is a thing of tactile beauty, but if it can't handle big spreadsheets then it's about as much use to me as a chocolate teapot. :-)

Any suggestions or observations from the Applevis community would be much appreciated.



Submitted by Philippe de wit on Wednesday, December 27, 2017


On the go I use my macbook in function to work further on large excel-files for my work etc. but in my current version of excel 365 the data + cordinates of the cells aren't read out true the speech of voice-over. So for the moment it isn't possible to work further on my excel-worksheets and is a part of my macbook totally not usefull!! I'm happy with the switch to a macbook 12" for on the go, but when I cant use excel on the go, then... I do hope that Microsoft will do something at this?! I have tried to open a ms excel on my synology nas via numbers and this works. But when you like to save the changes, then you have to save in a numbers-extension. This you can't open then with a ms excel for example on the laptop of my workstation. So I do hope that this very big problem can be resolved asap.

Submitted by Philippe de wit on Thursday, December 28, 2017


Yesterday I have posted a message about that in my ms excel the data + cordinates also aren't read out true voice-over. But after checking my programs, I have noticed that I'm running a older version of Ms office. The auto.-updater was disabled. I have updated just my office on the macbook and now does it work well! So no problems to work on the go in large files and work on my workstation or home-pc further on them.