Weaning Yourself From The Mouse

Jon Galloway writes in his blog about Mouseless Computing. Writing from a programmer’s perspective, Jon discusses tactics such as mousing goofy (switching mouse hands) and using a tablet in place of a mouse.

But the meat of the article discusses ways to bypass the mouse, by using the keyboard. He discusses a Firefox extension called Search Keys, which adds a number shortcut next to each search result when using search engines such as Google and Yahoo. To navigate the search results, you just press a number key, rather than moving and clicking the mouse. Another extension, called Hit-A-Hint, which works similarly on other web pages (not just search results).

In addition, there are keyboard shortcuts that work in both Firefox and Internet Explorer, such as:

Control-T (new tab)
Control-Tab (next tab) / Shift-Control-Tab (previous tab)
Control-F4 (close current tab)
Alt-D (address bar)
Alt-Left or Backspace (Browse Back) and Alt-Right (Browse Forward)
F5 (refresh current page)

And of course, there are all the standard keyboard shortcuts such as Control-C (copy), Control-V (paste), Control-X (cut), Control-P (print), plus dedicated keys such as Page-Up, Page-Down, Home, End, and the arrow keys, which can be used in all programs.

For a complete list of available keyboard shortcuts, refer to the help file for the particular application (which can be accessed with another standard keyboard shortcut: F1).

There is really a great deal you can accomplish on your computer using nothing but the keyboard. Learn, experiment, and try to use these handy keyboard shortcuts more often. Your mouse hand will thank you.

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.


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  2. Good tips. I would add that ctrl+k jumps to the search bar in Firefox. Google has an experimental search results page with keyboard shortcuts. I installed this FF extension to make it my default search:

    Google’s mail and news reader programs have great keyboard shortcuts, too.

    Finally, hit the ‘ key in FF and start typing the text of a link. The link will be highlighted and then you can hit enter to click the link.

  3. I use a kinesis advantage keyboard and the manual tells me that using keyboard shortcuts can be dangerous, because trying to press 2 keys at once as in Ctrl-C for copy, can cause more damage than using the mouse. So when using keyboard shortcuts it’s important to use 2 hands rather than stretching one hand across the keyboard.

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