Reducing Mouse Dependency

Imagine a world where computer mice had not yet been invented. Everyone would use their keyboard to move around the screen, run programs, access information, and, of course enter data. Would you feel lost? If so, read on. This is for you.

Understanding Your Mouse Dependency. mouse[1]
A computer mouse is a marvelous tool. While it has only been around computers in any significant way for the last 15 years or so, it help shift us from typing at a command prompt to using a graphical interface like Microsoft Windows or the Apple Macintosh OS. It shaped how we use the Internet. Clicking links on a web page is a function designed specifically for a mouse to perform.

It’s not surprising that a world without such a device would be hard to fathom. However, if you cannot see or do not have the fine motor skills to move a mouse accurately, that world is your reality. The mouse’s essential functions depend on knowing where its pointer is on the screen and positioning it successfully to perform the task you need done.

Given the way most of us have learned how to use a computer, using it without a mouse sounds like a very difficult task. However, people who are blind or less mobile often use a computer more efficiently than sighted people. They use key combinations to move around, start programs, and get things done. We often lose time and sometimes patience trying to find right things on the screen or moving between the mouse and keyboard. If you lose your mouse pointer frequently, have difficulty clicking on the right thing, or are just weary of switching between the mouse actions and keyboard typing, there are great lessons to learn from those who don’t use the mouse at all.

Keyboard Shortcuts
The nice thing about keyboard shortcuts is that you only have to know a few basic ones to start seeing improvements. Some are dedicated keys on your keyboard.  They allow you to move around on screen like the arrow keys or start something like the Enter key. Others are “keyboard modifiers.” Keyboard modifiers provide additional capabilities by pressing one or more modifier keys with another key. The Shift key as an example modifies a regular lower case “a” to be displayed as the capital letter “A”. Both dedicated and modifier keys are listed below for PC systems supporting Microsoft Windows:

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If you are using a Apple Macintosh, there are also dedicated keys there. Most Modifier keys for the Mac are labeled differently from those used in Windows PCs. See the links at the end of this article for more details.

Getting Started with Keyboard Shortcuts.
For people accustomed to using a mouse, using the keyboard may seem strange. If you look at keyboard lists, number of key combinations may seem overwhelming. However, starting simple with a few dedicated keys help you see the advantages and much less effort. You can start with this LegacyTech article on tabbing:

LegacyTech: Using Tabs with other dedicated keys to move around and support keyboard input

For more Information, there is a great article in PDF format by Eduardo De Leon from New York University. It covers keyboard use for both Windows and the Macintosh. If you cannot view PDF files, you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader to see the article.

Keyboard shortcut reference lists are also available from and Apple:

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows
Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts

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