Somebody call for an exterminator?
November 27, 2005 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Help me break up with my mouse.

I'd be extremely happy if I didn't have to use a pointing device to do anything other than edit images or music. A bit idealistic, maybe, but something to aim for.

Two main sub-questions: Are there ways to mouse less while web browsing? And what OS would you subjectively say is best for that specific consideration, and what are the ways you use it which most exemplify why (or alternatively/additionally list some of your favourite qwerty-licious tips/apps/hacks for your chosen OS). I like GUIs but am not opposed to a bit of judicious command line use, or a hybrid thing like Start>Run. File manipulation, within the OS itself and apps as well, is especially sought.

I am comfortable with my Win98 and leery of (but open to) switching, so Win98 advice will quickly earn a special place in my heart. If I were to swich, I would need access to or pretty damn good equivalents to: Firefox, Winamp, Photoshop, Quark. Willing to double boot or whatever if necessary for extreme cases.

Still reading? Super. Have at it.
posted by poweredbybeard to Computers & Internet (26 answers total)
Having one of those mouses with the scroll thing in the middle helps a lot.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:50 PM on November 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

Browser: Links.

In Linux:
Firefox = firefox, galeon, konquerer
Winamp = xmms
Photoshop = gimp (still subpar)
Quark = ?????
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 5:52 PM on November 27, 2005

Best answer: I run many of my Windows servers mouseless. Unless I'm panicing, it's no problem at all. Microsoft publishes a very rigorous set of guidelines for the "Designed for Windows XP" logo program. I can't cite chapter and verse, but the spec mandates keyboard shortcuts for pretty much every operation in the application. Commercial vendors all strive to meet the spec; it's the more community-developed things that tend to break the keyboardable rule.

Switch to XP. Set the Startbar and Desktop to 'Classic' mode, and it will be like Win98, except it will actually function properly.
posted by Triode at 6:04 PM on November 27, 2005

Opera is good at this. Shift+arrow keys moves between the visible links on the page, Tab alone moves between in-page data entry fields and Ctrl+Tab switches between tabs much as Alt+Tab switches between applications.
posted by springload at 6:39 PM on November 27, 2005

Opera can go totally mouseless, better than the rest of the browsers (and it works in XP, OSX, and Linux)

Ok, since you're going to hear from the linux guys...try OSX

Using Keyboard&Mouse you can go totally mouseless and tab through most things...that plus Quicksilver.

=no virii, no malware
posted by filmgeek at 6:39 PM on November 27, 2005

Any UNIX environment can be totally mouseless. Its just not very fun to work in. That said, there are some window managers that are meant to be mouseless. fvwm, windowmaker, icewm, and blackbox can all be controlled only by the mouse if you play around with config a little bit.
posted by devilsbrigade at 7:00 PM on November 27, 2005

I'm a Mac user, but thanks to QuickSilver, I'm very close to mouseless.

I'm not aware of any QS-like apps for Windows.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:03 PM on November 27, 2005

Best answer: Oh, and QS for OS X is fantastic because it provides a simple, keyboard-based way to quickly launch applications, and find files.

It can do more than that (it's entirely too configurable and has a very active community), but I can't imagine using a computer without those two features.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:06 PM on November 27, 2005

Try getting a keyboard with an integrated touchpad. If you like to keep your hands on the keyboard it's handy to have the touchpad there for occasional use without actually taking your hand off the keyboard.

If you switch to linux there are essentially endless options because linux was written by compulsive keyboard/CLI junkies. Different window managers have different levels of mouse friendliness, all the way from full to none.

Win98? Good god you couldn't pay me to use that. You do know that you can disable all the visual crap in XP right?
posted by Rhomboid at 7:13 PM on November 27, 2005

Best answer: The "Windows Quicksilver" for app-launching (but not file-launching) is Find and Run Robot, which is awesome.
posted by evariste at 7:33 PM on November 27, 2005

Response by poster: Browser: Links.

Do you mean Lynx, or are they different? If Lynx, the only version of Lynx I've ever used wasn't graphical. It sure was keyboard friendly, but also pretty useless with all but the most basic pages/sites. Maybe I could use it for certain sites, to reduce overall mousing...

Microsoft publishes a very rigorous set of guidelines for the "Designed for Windows XP" logo program.

Which, unfortunately, makes cost pretty prohibitive. I'm also not a huge fan of MS just on principle, but it's an interesting tidbit nonetheless...

OSX... I still don't know how to interact with dialog boxes and click buttons, though.

Ooh, that's a big issue.
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:48 PM on November 27, 2005

Response by poster: Somewhat related, I remember with fondness an old version of Wordperfect - like, version 3 or something. It wasn't designed for a mouse, so it had to be keyboard friendly. No menu bar, just a big old text entry field and a status line at the bottom, activated by hotkeys and function buttons. Is it available anywhere? Or are there any free progs that are equivalent? I like pared down interfaces.

Possibly not-related, when using an old monochrome 286 "back in the day," I had some frontend that was just text based menus - a menu in the centre, with number-activated "links" that would either launch an application or a batch file or go to another page, basically a sub-menu. I think it was called Fido. Anyone remember it? Know if it can be found?
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:56 PM on November 27, 2005

Best answer: Get one of these, or a variant. When you absolutely have to use a mouse, but don't want to remove your fingers from the keyboard.

I will only work on a Thinkpad because of this. I also have 2 of the external keyboards, which I use when I can't work without a mouse. I revert to the Model M most of the time.
posted by bh at 8:18 PM on November 27, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks bh - I had to acquaint myself with what trackpoint is. Sounds like it could be a good combo with some of the tips so far... Also interesting that according to that page there are laptops with both touchpad and trackpoint out there...
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:26 PM on November 27, 2005

Best answer: Links and Lynx are both text-based browsers. The former has more features IIRC.
posted by maledictory at 8:52 PM on November 27, 2005

Find as you Type in Mozilla Firefox (combined with the normal Firefox keyboard shortcuts) has dramatically reduced my use of the mouse while browsing.

In a nutshell: Press the apostrophe (') key and then start typing the text of a link. As soon as you type a few letters, the first matching link is highlighted. Press "return" to activate the link. (It's easier than it sounds -- try it!)
posted by mbrubeck at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2005

Response by poster: yes, tis true. also if you hit ctrl-g it searches for the next iteration.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:10 PM on November 27, 2005

OSX... I still don't know how to interact with dialog boxes and click buttons, though.

Assuming you have Full Keyboard Access turned on, just tab to the control you want to manipulate and hit Space to activate it.
posted by kindall at 10:41 PM on November 27, 2005

There's an extension for Firefox called Mouseless Browsing that inserts unobtrusive number nexts to all clickable elements (links, form inputs, etc) in web pages so you can quickly navigate using only Alt and number keys. I became very reliant on it for a while and miss it now that I've switched to a pre-release candidate of Firefox for which it isn't available.

And I'll second the recommendation of the Thinkpad Trackpoint device. Once you get the hang of it it's very nice. I can even do fine Photoshop tool manipulation with it more easily than I can with a standard mouse. I now feel lost when I sit down at a desktop without Trackpoint.
posted by TimeFactor at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2005

Best answer: TimeFactor: I bow before your suggestion-related mightiness, incorrect hyperlink notwithstanding :)

Thank you, I'm using that extension right now and I love it.
posted by poweredbybeard at 6:51 PM on November 28, 2005

Response by poster: And I just discovered it also makes gmail more useful... now I can trash things without touching the mouse. Wonderful.
posted by poweredbybeard at 7:29 PM on November 28, 2005

"Mouse-less Firefox" on Lifehacker. Some good stuff in the comments as well.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:39 PM on November 29, 2005

Response by poster: From that LH thread: Hit A Hint is an extension similar to Mouseless Browsing.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:42 AM on November 30, 2005

Best answer: re the links browser... i found that elinks, which forked from it, may have even more to reccomend it, such as tabbed browsing.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2005

Response by poster: in writing that last comment i also found a problem i'm not sure how to get around.... how to copy the url of a link without using the mouse? i did a link search on the text of the link i wanted in firefox, then pressed shift-F10 assuming an appropriate context menu would pop up... but it didn't. anyone have suggestions?
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2005

shift-F10 works for me. Do you have an extension that overrode that keymapping? The Keyconfig extension will show you key-mappings and allow you to redefine them, if that's the problem. (google. Mozilla site is all screwed up due to 1.5 and their redesign)

(I assume you don't have the "context-click" key on your keyboard?)
posted by misterbrandt at 1:00 PM on November 30, 2005

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