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A day with only the keyboard - no mouse!

darksmile92 profile image Robin Kretzschmar ・2 min read

Today I forgot my mouse at home and thought it is a perfect fit to challenge myself at the office today to only use my keyboard!

I have a notebook with a docking station and an external keyboard I use, so just in case I could have used the touchpad.

In fact, I am writing this article the same way - using only my keyboard!

Here is the summary of my challenge to

Only use the keyboard for one day, no mouse

Accessibility of websites

I noticed googles great way to support keyboard navigation for the first time after pressing Tab on the search results:

Accessibility feature google

Same goes for dev.to!
Accessibility feature dev.to

Some not so great experiences were with popup windows / modal dialogs on websites that do not care about accessibility.

Intrusive dialogs / modals on websites

For example this dialog:
ZDnet popup

I couldn't manage to close this dialog! How the hell am I supposed to close it, when I can't focus on anything in it only using the keyboard?!
What I did was opening the Dev Tools in Chrome (F12), focused the Elements Tab, Ctrl+F searching for the popup HTML element, Shift+F10 to right click on it and deleted it from the DOM. Felt like a way too big effort only to close this dialog 😩

Scrolling, selecting, navigating - getting around

Fortunately scrolling, selecting stuff and navigating was very easy. What enhanced my speed was the Vimium extension for chrome I installed after reading this very good post about it:

With the help of Vimium I was able to get around even faster with even less keystrokes because I didn't need to tab through all the elements to the wanted one but could select it with a combination of maximum 2 keystrokes!

Vimium Interface


Heres a short GIF:

GIF of navigating with Vimium

Shortcuts I used the most this day

  • Win+B accesses the windows tray icons! (on Windows)
  • Win+1 or any number from 1-9 starts whatever program is pinned to the taskbar at this index.
  • Win+Tab gives an advanced application switcher interface
  • Win+L/F6 Focus the address bar in a browser or windows explorer.
  • Shift+F10 to simulate a right click (if you don't have a dedicated key on your keyboard)
  • F in chrome to use Vimium
  • Ctrl+W to close tabs
  • Win+Shift+Right Arrow or Left Arrow to move a window from one screen to the other fast
  • Win+Ctrl+Right Arrow or Left Arrow to switch between worspaces

🗨Tell me about your experience preventing the use of a mouse and how successful or unsuccessful you were!

Discussion (7)

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leojpod profile image
leojpod

I'm a bit of a cheat... I do use vimium and tmux+nvim so I can do most things right from my keyboard but I also have a UHK as keyboard and that cones with a "mouse" layer which in my configuration turns hjkl into mouse motions and sdf into left, middle and right clicks (well the space bar is split too so that also allows me to have something to accelerate/decelerate the mouse motions)

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

Oh nice! Saw the hacking keyboard quite a few times in videos but never met anyone who uses it.
Would you say it makes you faster overall in your day?
And how long did it take you to get used to it?

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leojpod profile image
leojpod

I think I was more efficient with it like ten minutes after opening it :)

It got even better after I customized it a bit to be more vim style.

I do still code directly with my laptop keyboard but I do feel slower. Its hard to quantify but I like how it let me be in the zone without interfering. The sound of it though is quite relaxing :)

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar Author

Thanks for the insight, seems like I should try it sometime :)

Right now I am using a KLIM™ Domination mechanical keyboard and I love it.
I don't plan on switching but I think of using one at home and maybe the UHK at the office or something.

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leojpod profile image
leojpod

I'd borrowed a KLIM ten-keys-less from a co-worker last year, it felt quite nice (I was still waiting for my UHK to be made) and it convinced me that I had been right in ordering it :D

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itsjzt profile image
Saurabh Sharma • Edited

I was in a same situation for some time a few days back.

I can't even find the way for goToDefinition in VS code.

Going to a button was a lot of work. TAB TAB TAB SPACE

Jumpy helped in editor but there were a few things i can't do without mouse or trackpads.

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Robin Kretzschmar Author

Yes I can totally relate!
There are shortcuts we use very often in our favorite editor like Copy-Paste, Move a line up or down (Alt+Arrow up/down), duplicate a line (Alt+Shift+Arrow up/down) and opening a file (Ctrl+P) but there are a lot more shortcuts that could make us quicker or ease some tasks.

Finding those is most of the time a quick search with google away but like you said in times where we need the ones we don't use daily, it would be nice to know them right away.

A tip:
Did you know you can show the keyboard reference in visual studio code with a combination?
Ctrl+K Ctrl+R will bring up the keyboard reference as PDF file (opens the browser).