FreakoutITGeek's Blog

Random IT postings from Freakz

Of Mice (or Trackpads) and Men

I have always had an interest in how to use computers without using the mouse / trackpad.

I guess this is not a normal obsession for some, but I grew up using the IBM and Microsoft command line Operating System DOS as well as the Graphical interface of the Amiga and Atari operating systems.  As Windows [and IBM’s OS2] took over and PCs became more usable for non technical users, the tide turned but there were occasions where knowing how to work without a mouse was handy, especially as a support person.

My interest used to come in handy in the old days of Windows, where you had to load drivers before Windows actually knew that a mouse was present.  Without knowing how to use the keyboard to navigate and load the drivers the PC was pretty much just a beige box with some glowing lights and a big screen illuminating the room.

More recent versions of Windows, Linux and Apple operating systems automatically detect most mice and trackpads without needing any additional software to be loaded, but there are still times where the knowledge comes in handy.

On one occasion I was lucky enough to help a customer who was blind. As such they did not use a monitor or mouse, navigated around their Windows PC only using the keyboard, something that opened my eyes to the issues affecting people with disabilities who use a computer in their day to day lives.

More recently, I was in the Braehead Apple store and found that the Mac Mini and the Mac Pro had been set up but the Magic Mouse on the Mac Pro and the Magic Trackpad on the Mac Mini were not responding.  Being the type of person I am, I decided to try and figure out how to get them running, but I soon found the basic attempts to switch them off and back on did not allow them to be re-detected by OS X.

That’s when I found the secret…

You can use the FN key and the F4 key to open the Applications folder and go to System Preferences (using the arrow keys)

Once there you can use Search to choose “Bluetooth” which should start searching for bluetooth devices.

By resetting your mouse or trackpad (I had to remove and reseat the battery compartment on the Magic Trackpad – Luckily no one noticed and they didn’t think I was stealing the batteries) it should try reconnecting with your Apple OS X system and you should be ready to go.

Once I got home I decided to have another look at the accessibility tools on my MacBook and as I already knew how to log in by choose the account by pressing the CMD key and the first letter letter of the amount name (shift key will also work) it was easy to get to the desktop.

By repeating the above to get to the System Preferences and choosing Accessibility you can also “Enable Mouse Keys” from the “Mouse and Trackpad” option.
This sets keys on your keyboard to move the mouse left[u], right[o], up [8], down [k] and diagonally [7 9 j l ] and select [i]

You can even toggle the Mouse Keys no and off by pressing the Option key five times (if this option has been pre selected) which can be handy to enable and disable the feature as having it enabled makes typing practically impossible.

In order the keys should be:

7 8 9
u i o
j k l

Fore more information on “Mouse Keys” on a Mac try Apple’s support site pages here (Mavericks) or here (Yosemite)

For More information on “Mouse Keys” on a Windows PC try Microsoft’s website here (Windows XP), here (Windows 7) or here (Windows 8) [ Unfortunately there’s no info on “Mouse Keys” on Windows 10 at time of writing this]

For More information on “Mouse Keys” on Linux try here (Ubuntu) or here (RedHat) [or here for other accessibility keys if you don’t have a RedHat Support subscription]

There’s also a good general description on Wikipedia with relevant links.

I hope that someone finds this information useful.

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