How to Operate Your Computer Without a Mouse

published May 6, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Last night we were confronted with a predicament we never could have imagined possible: we went to use our desktop computer and our mouse was gone! Immediately we remembered that we had brought the mouse to school for a presentation but left it there overnight. But what were we to do? Our laptop was also at school which left us only with our iPhone. It was quite a paralyzing experience to be sure! But not for long. We quickly did some research and found excellent ways how you can control your computer entirely from your keyboard in case you ever run into such a catastrophe.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Before we get into the nitty gritty, we should say it would be beneficial to keep a spare mouse laying around the house. Just like that extra toilet paper hidden under the sink for that emergency situation, an extra mouse could be a crucial addition to a well functioning workspace. If you have roommates or a family this is less likely to be an issue.

To start, lets mention the most general (and perhaps obvious) shortcut keys on the keyboard which will help you increase productivity on a daily basis if you learn to adopt them. Here is the full, official list provided by Apple for keyboard shortcuts and here are the shortcut keys for Windows users.

By law, all operating systems must be fully functional without using a mouse. This is thanks to Universal Access rights for people who are only able to use a keyboard. Knowing this, we can figure out how to enable what is called Mouse Keys on a Mac or a PC. Mouse Keys is a program which allows you to use the numeric keypad to adjust the motion of the cursor as you would a standard mouse.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Mac: Under the Universal Access panel in the Systems Preferences, navigate to the Mouse tab. Here you can find the option to turn on/off Mouse Keys.

PC: Navigate to the Accessibility Options in the Control Panel. Once there, select the Mouse tab. There will be an option to select “Use MouseKeys”. Once enabled you can also access the MouseKeys settings from the same tab. Microsoft also provides an efficient way to enable MouseKeys if you don’t have a mouse in the first place.

Another (more simple) method of using your computer without a mouse is to transform your smartphone into a wireless mouse! There are actually numerous applications which allow you to do this.

iPhone: We like the iMouse app (despite its terribly unoriginal name). The interface is simple and it does exactly what you would expect it to do to. In order to make this work, however, you need to download the software from their website first. Once the software is installed you must enter your IP address in order for your iphone and your computer to communicate. Once setup you now have the ability to click, scroll, and access a full keyboard straight from your mouse.

Android: For the Android user we recommend using the RemoteDroid application. It again has a nice interface and has a straight-forward install along with the same functionality as the iMouse.