If you’ve been reading my articles for quite some time, you’ll know that I am quite keen on keyboard shortcuts. But the one thing that has eluded me until now was being able to abandon the mouse altogether and use the keyboard to “click” on webpage links. Well now you can, thanks to a Firefox extension called “Mouseless Browsing”.
I’ll be honest upfront and say that it can be a little irritating at first to use. It’s also not very visually appealing as you can see below. But if you persevere with it and work with it, you’ll start to realise that it can be quite a useful tool that can save you time by not having to reach for the mouse everytime you need to click on a link.
As you can see from the screenshot, it works by assigning a number to every link on a page. You can choose in the options to either have those numbers showing all the time or you can toggle those numbers to appear on and off. I chose to toggle them on and off with the use of the key combination CTRL + ALT. Then whenever you want to go to a particular link, just type the link number on your keypad, press “return” and your browser takes you to that page! Quick, easy and no mouse necessary!
So how does it get a little irritating? Well for a start, if you specify a bad key combination to toggle the feature on and off, you can also accidently switch the feature on if you use those keys for something else. For example, I initially chose CTRL + ALT for my toggling so when I then did CTRL + ALT + DEL to bring up the Windows Task Manager, that also turned on “Mouseless Browsing”. If I pressed the ALT key to then press another key to type the @ symbol, that also started the “Mouseless Browsing” feature. So I needed to change my key combination to stop all of that. So choose your key combination carefully otherwise whenever you start other processes, your screen is suddenly filled up with numbers!
I’ve also noticed that certain other webpages are messed up design-wise if this extension is switched on. Google Reader doesn’t respond too well to “Mouseless Browsing” for example. But I’ve noticed that if you toggle the extension off, refresh Google Reader then toggle the extension back on again, everything is OK again. There seems to be a bug somewhere.
One other piece of advice – in the options, don’t choose “use numpad exclusively for Mouseless Browsing”. If you choose that, your keyboard numberpad will be frozen out for all other functions you need it for.
If you’re a keyboard shortcut fan, this is the Firefox extension for you! Once you get used to it, you’ll be whizzing through pages, your hands a blur, and your mouse will be sitting there looking forlorn and neglected.