Mouse by Keyboard
Mac Tip #430, 31 March 2010
There are many reasons why you may prefer to move the cursor around your screen with the keyboard, rather than struggling with a mouse, trackpad, or other input device. For one thing, it lets you keep your hands on the keyboard.
In this Tip I show you how to move the cursor around on screen using only the keyboard.
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The Universal Access System Preference Pane
The Universal Access System Preference Pane allows you to set up your Mac in various ways to give you more flexibility about how you interact with the machine.
The Mac can read menus, dialog boxes and text aloud, flash the screen and change its contrast, and you can customise how you work with keyboard and mouse.
Go to the Apple menu and choose
System Preferences…. Once the
System Preferences… window opens click on the
Universal Access item in the
Mouse & Trackpad Preferences
Universal Access preferences click on the
Mouse & Trackpad tab. The
Mouse & Trackpad preferences allow you to set up using the keyboard to move the cursor around the screen.
Turn Mouse Keys on
To use the keyboard instead of the mouse check the
On radio button beside
Use Mouse Keys
If your keyboard has a Numeric Keypad — a separate set of keys just for numbers — you can now use those number keys to move the mouse.
If you have a laptop with a built-in keyboard you also need to activate the ‘secret’ numeric keypad. Look carefully at the following keys. You should see a small number marked in the bottom right corner of the key:
7, 8, 9, u, i, o, j, k, l, m, ..
That set of keys includes the full-stop — not immediately obvious when you view the list.
To type those characters from the numeric keypad on a MacBook keyboard either:
- Press and release the
Num Lockkey. The light in the key shines when it’s engaged. When you type those keys the ‘secondary’ character will be active. Press and release the
Num Lockkey again to release it.
- Hold the
fnkey at bottom left of the keyboard while you type a numeric keypad character.
Which Mouse Keys do what
If you type any of those numeric keyboard characters with Mouse Keys activated the mouse moves around the screen. Here’s how they correspond:
|Move up||8 (8)|
|Move down||2 (k)|
|Move left||4 (u)|
|Move right||6 (o)|
|Move diagonally||1 (j), 3 (l), 7 (7), and 9 (9)|
|Click the mouse button||5 (i)|
|Hold down the mouse button||0 (m)|
|Release the mouse button||Full stop / Period (.)|
If you find the keys move the cursor too slowly use the
Initial Delay and
Maximum Speed sliders in the
Mouse & Trackpad pane to speed them up.
Notice that you can also turn Mouse Keys on and off from the keyboard if you check the box beside
Press the Option key five times to turn Mouse Keys on or off.
Try out Mouse Keys and see how you like using them.
Tell us in the Comments if you use Mouse Keys and how well it works for you.