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How do I click a link on a web page if I have no mouse?

I suffer from mouse related RSI if not very careful and so have to find
keyboard shortcuts for as much as possible. However one drag has always been
the need to locate by mouse the “next page” box in internet articles. I can
imagine the complexities, but do you know if anyone has created any software to
locate this on a page and allow one to move to the next page by key press
etc?

There is a way already built into most browsers, but it is most definitely
not pretty.

There’s also a pretty slick way for some types of links if you use
Firefox.

There may be other solutions out there that perhaps my readers are aware of,
but in the meantime let me tell you what I do know.

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It’s unfortunate, but using the web pretty much assumes you have a mouse.
That poses a problem for a lot of people. We normally consider more severely
impaired folks, but as you point out it’s a problem for many people suffering
from RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).

So one solution, of course, is to get a different mouse. Trackballs, even
foot-mice are often alternatives that work well for many people.

But that’s not your question.

“… using the web pretty much assumes you have a
mouse.”

What if there’s no mouse at all?

The keyboard interface for web pages is simple: hit the TAB
key. A lot. I mean A LOT. The tab key will move the focus from one link on the
page to the next, and when it finally reaches the link you want you can press
RETURN to take the jump. SHIFT+TAB takes you
backwards through the links, and it may be faster if the link you’re going to is
near the bottom of the page.

The problem is that most web pages have lots of links. Sometimes
hundreds. A Google search result, for example, has something like 8 links per
result. With a default of 10 results per page, that’s 80 links right there. Add
to that Google’s own navigation links, ads, and more and you’re quickly well
over 100 links on a single page.

That’s a lot of TABbing. Heck, I suppose all that TAB pressing could result
in RSI.

Firefox’s built in quick search capability is pretty cool, and extremely
simple.

As long as you’re not in a form field that needs the keyboard to capture its
input, typing “/” followed by text does a search on the page for that text. In
real time, as you type, it moves you to the first instance of the text you’ve
typed so far.

So while on that Google results page with 100 links, I typed this:

/next

And this was the result:

Google navigation list with Next highlighted

The first occurrence of the word “next” on the page is Google’s navigation
bar at the bottom, so Firefox took me there and highlighted it. You can see what
I’m searching for in the Quick Find: box near the bottom of
the page as well, as shown here.

And once “Next” is highlighted, pressing your RETURN key
takes the link.

If there’s more than one “Next” you can press F3 to move to
the next, or SHIFT+F3 to move to the previous.

Of course “next” could be anything you’re looking for, but you were looking
for the next page link. This’ll get you to it quickly and easily.

Sadly, it’s still an incomplete solution.

Firefox’s quick search feature searches for text, and unfortunately
many web sites code their links to use images. So while “/” might be
able to find the word “Next” on a page, it will not find an
image of, say, an arrow containing the word “Next”.

One last thing I’ll point out is the “MouseKeys” functionality that’s
available in Windows. (Go to Control Panel,
Accessibility Options, Mouse). It
might be overkill, but it allows you to control the mouse pointer with
the numeric pad keys on your keyboard.

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12 comments on “How do I click a link on a web page if I have no mouse?”

  1. Firefox also has caret browsing. Press F7 and you can navigate the page using your arrow keys. Also, there are a number of accessibility extension for Firefox.

    Reply
  2. If you’re using Firefox:
    There’s a cool add-on that might help at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1341

    The premise is that (if you’re not in a form), you can hit the ‘h’ key and a number will appear beside every link on the page. Just type in the number and hit ‘enter’.

    It’s just 3-5 key hits per link generally, instead of searching or tabbing allover, so it should take like a second to navigate. Pretty easy. You could probably find more complete instructions on Google if you want.

    Reply
  3. An expensive but easy solution is to purchase dragon naturally speaking professional 9. It is used by a lot of people for rsi and in my case dyslexia. Takes a bit of training but all commands are voice activated. Good when you get used to it

    Reply
  4. OK,

    So how do you find the “MouseKeys” functionality on a mac that’s similar to Windows. for example, you said, for windows users ,Go to Control Panel, Accessibility Options, Mouse.how do i do this same task on a mac?

    Cheers/Seed.

    Reply
  5. To answer Seed about finding the same ability on the Mac:

    Under OS X (I’m using Tiger but it should be similar regardless of version):
    Open System Preferences
    Look for Universal Access under System
    Select the Mouse tab
    You’ll find a setting for Mouse Keys there.

    To add to the RSI part of it, I’ve been using a symmetrical pointing device (a trackball in my case) and I’ll switch hands every so often. This has kept me from having to result to therapy or surgery.

    Reply
  6. I also had serious problems with a conventional mouse, and I’ve ended up with an accommodation that involves a trackball and Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but the most significant help comes from MouseTool. MouseTool is software that clicks the mouse for me. It was given away with a caveat when I got it, years ago — when you downloaded it, you were on your honor to make a donation to a charity of your choice — and now it seems to be for sale (but beefed up) under the name Nib. I don’t know what the price is, but I’m happy to offer a testimonial: it’s been a real career-saver for me, and it’s monumentally unpleasant to imagine what work would be like without it.

    Reply
  7. I also had this problem when i’ve purchased my computer.Actullay my keboard has broken at that time.I can’t live without internet so i decided to work without my keyboard to surf internet.One of mine friend told me that if tab key on your keyboard to move from one option to another one.
    I tried this and it worked.
    we can use shit+tab to move from one secreen to anotherone.

    Reply

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