I've Got No Mouse But I Must MacOS
By seapegasus on Jul 22, 2006
My Mac's mouse died. Not the fancy green Apple mouse, a plain gray 3-button-mouse that I had bought in the old days when I installed some PPC Linux on a spare partition. (But then I messed up the boot-loader and I haven't seen it ever since. I wonder what became of this partition?) The mouse had already been displaying signs of unwillingness to discern between dragging and clicking for quite a while, so it did not come as a surprise when it stopped clicking for good. Still, I couldn't find the original mouse, and hadn't gotten a new one yet...
So I'm facing the question one night -- how do I use MacOS without a mouse until I get a new one?
I just wanted to check my email, so I hit shift-command-A in the Finder, the shortcut to the Applications directory, where I could select and open the Mail application with the arrow keys and by pressing command-o. (Why not use command-tab for selecting applications in the dock? Well, that only gives focus to applications that are already running.) Luckily, I was reading my main inbox before I quit Apple Mail last time, so the focus was on the right mail folder -- because I had no idea how to select another folder without a mouse...
If you now say "Dude, hit Alt five times and then ctrl-F1" -- you're so clever you're not even kidding! Yes, after a while, I actually remembered that crazy trick. It results in a gear-like sound that makes you expect a Myst linking book to appear in a hidden compartment. But instead it (ta-daa) activates MacOS's hidden Accessibility features. (If pressing those keys doesn't do anything for you, you need to permit its use in the System Preferences.)
Accessibility gives you some pretty cool keyboard shortcuts -- Who needs mice anyway! :-P Need a menu command? Hit ctrl-F2, and then the arrow keys and return to select. Wanna start an App from the Dock? Hit ctrl-F3. Need to switch focus to another window? ctrl-F4. Need to select GUI elements like buttons and textfields within a window? ctrl-F5 and then the spacebar to press a button (But only Apple programs seem to support that feature, e.g. Firefox doesn't).
But for the live of me, I can't figure out how to jump to the next pop-up menu in the preference panels, since the arrowkeys keep on selecting items from the first pop-up -- any ideas? In these cases (and to reach a mail folder or to move a file in the Finder), I still need to move the cursor and click -- I use the numeric keypad and I'm cruising along happily, completely mouseless. Groovy. Did you know MacOS could do that? :-)