Working with Westnet Webmail using JAWS for Windows


You are probably familiar with how to use Westnet’s email service using an email program such as Outlook or Thunderbird. It is also possible to use Westnet’s Webmail when you need to access your messages on a device which does not have your email configured. This means you can check email at friend’s houses, libraries, and blindness organisation computer labs that have JAWS for Windows installed. This guide will cover the basics of working with Webmail using JAWS for Windows 15.0. It covers how to log in, manage, and send emails using Webmail.

Please note that these instructions are for JFW 15.0 using Internet Explorer and have not been tested with any other screen readers. These instructions assume you are familiar with the JAWS cursor.

Logging in

To log in to Webmail, open Internet Explorer and visit:

You will be presented with a login screen. You can press E to jump to the first edit field which will ask you for your email address. Once you have entered this, press tab to get to the password field. Enter your password and then press Enter to log in.

Main screen layout

There are several different areas of the screen which this guide will explain starting from the top and going down. At the top of the page you will find your email address followed by the word Webmail. Below this you have a heading which says Westnet. Moving down the page you are presented with a list of four links. These links take you to the different parts of webmail which include Email, Contacts, Calendar, and settings. Below this are a search box and a link to sign out of Webmail when you have finished.

Next, there is a list of links to create new emails, contacts, and calendar events. Below these is a list of links to manage your emails. The only link that will work when no messages are selected is the top link called Get Mail which refreshes the page to show you new emails that have arrived since the last time the page was refreshed. The options Reply, Reply All, Forward, Spam and Delete all say unavailable at this point because no message is selected. Just underneath this list are links that will allow you to select or deselect all emails on the current page.

The next two links are very important as they control how the rest of the page is presented to you. You have a choice of 2 Pane and 3 Pane View. It's recommended to work with the 2 Pane View, and the rest of this guide assumes that you are using 2 Pane View.

Below the 2 Pane and 3 Pane View links are your messages. In 2 Pane View these are in table for quick selection and deletion. This table will be explained in more detail in the next section of this guide. Below this table are links to create and delete folders. The final item of note is a list of your folders which are links that you are able to click to move from folder to folder.

Working with Emails

To get to your list of emails quickly from the top of the screen, simply press X which will take you to the checkbox of your newest email. You can use ALT, Control and the Left/Right arrow keys to move from field to field. The fields you will encounter are Selection checkbox, From, Subject/preview, Sent time, Attachments, and Size. If you do not wish to read the message simply check the checkbox. To move to the next message, hit ALT, Control and the Down arrow. If you need to go back, use ALT, Control and the Up arrow.

To delete emails, selected all of the email you wish to delete, and then press Control F to enter JAWS Find and search for "delete". When you find this, click the link and your selected emails will be deleted. At the bottom of the table, you may find a Combo box. You will only see this if you have more than 25 emails in your inbox. This Combo box allows you to move between pages of email - each page has a list of 25 emails. If you want to see older emails, select the page you would like to see and press Enter.

Reading Emails

Once you have cleared out any clutter in your inbox, you can read emails by pressing Enter on the Subject/preview field. Once you have done this, wait a few seconds and then press Insert, Escape to have JAWS redraw your screen. To get to the body of the message, press M to jump you to the next frame.

You can click on any links in the email message and it will open in a new window or tab depending on your internet browser’s settings. When you are done exploring the link, simply close it to return to Webmail.

If there is an attachment for you to open such as a Word, Excel, or PDF document, you will find this just below the message. Under the file name you will find two links called View and Download. To download the attachment to your computer, click the Download button. You will then either have a standard Windows file download dialogue box or a notification in the notification bar depending on which version of Internet Explorer you are using.

To delete the email and move on to the next one, simply press Control F and enter the word "delete". Once there, press enter on the delete link and you will be taken to the next message. To exit the message without deleting, Press Control F and enter the word "back". You will land on the Back to Folder link and you can press Enter to return to the folder of emails you were looking at previously.

Replying to Emails

Webmail allows you to reply to any message right from the window you are reading it in. To find the Reply options, press H until you hear "Options". The first thing you will find is a checkbox which if checked will allow you to reply to all recipients. Below this, there are three links which allow you to see all recipients, Edit the subject, and add a BCC. The next thing is a tool bar for formatting, but unfortunately this is not accessible in any Webmail Client when using JAWS.

After the tool bar you will find the Edit field to type your reply. If you have auto-forms mode turned on, you will be put in Forms mode to type your reply. When you have finished, use Tab to get to the priority combo box. If you need to add an attachment, press the Plus key to return to PC cursor. Otherwise, press Tab once more and then hit Enter on Send my reply. Below Send my reply, you have a Save as draft link. This will save your email as a draft so you can finish it later. To find a draft again, you can visit your Drafts folder and it will be waiting for you to continue where you left off.

To send an attachment you will need to route your JAWS cursor to PC and left-click the Add attachment link. You will be presented with a normal file browser view where you can select a file and press Enter to select it. If you made a mistake and selected the wrong file, simply press M to go back to the top of the message frame and scroll down until you get to the attachment. Press Enter on the Remove attachment link to remove it.

Composing Email

To compose a new email, click the link called New Email near the top of the main screen. You can use the Find feature as previously discussed or press Insert F7 to get a list of links which allows you to browse using either arrow keys or first letter navigation. Once found, press Enter on this link.

On this screen press H to jump down to the main area of the screen. You will not hear a subject because at this point you have not entered a subject for the email. You will find a link to request a read receipt, a link to send the email, and one to close the compose window and return to your inbox. Just under this is a More options link which if pressed will reveal CC and BCC fields in the next section. Below this is the To field where you can type in the email address of the person you wish to send your email to. If you want to send an email to a person or people in your address book, you'll need to go to Contacts and select the people from there as the input of names from the address book does is not accessible. If you clicked the More Options button, you'll also have a CC field and a BCC field below the To field. Next is the subject field where you will be able to give your message a title.

The next section is the same as the one that you would get if you were composing a reply. You have the inaccessible toolbar and then the field where you can compose the body of your message. Since the priority combo box is at the top, simply Tab to the Send email link and then press Enter. You also have the Save as draft and an attach from computer link which both operate the same way as the ones in the previous section.

Organising mail

You may already have folders that you use to keep your email organised. If you use IMAP these folders are already set up on the mail server for you. If you use POP I would advise you to leave email in your inbox until you are on your main computer as POP only downloads email from your inbox.

To create a folder, Find the text that says Add folder and left click on it. You will be placed in an Edit field where you can type in the folder name. Press enter when done and this folder will be created for you.

Moving email to folders in Webmail is done in an unusual way. People who do not use a screen reader use their mouse to drag messages to a new folder and then drop them. JFW allows us to do the same thing. First find the message you want to move. Then, route the JAWS cursor to your PC cursor and use the arrow keys to make sure you are on the subject of the message. On a desktop press Control, Insert / or on a laptop press Shift, Caps lock 8 to start drag and drop. Find the folder you would like to move the message to and then press the Drag and drop keystroke a second time to drop the message. This method can take some getting used to but, once you get the hang of it moving messages is quite fast.


This guide is not a comprehensive guide to all of the features in Webmail. For more information please visit: