Is it possible to completely work with Windows with no mouse? So tabbing everywhere and giving focus to UI elements, etc. Is there anything which would be hard to do with just a keyboard (this is in the case of writing code not playing games or using graphics software).


  • very much possible. But computers are there to make task easier so if you can do a work easily don't make it hard anyway. – kaykay Apr 13 '11 at 19:09

The short answer is "yes, but you really, really don't want to".

Windows will literally let you tab, shift-tab and alt-tab to virtually anything clickable, so it's doable even in programs that do not have traditional keyboard shortcuts. But really, you only want to do this if your mouse is broken and for some reason you can't get another one, because it's a huge pain in the neck.

Edit: If your problem is that you do not have a mouse, you can always turn on "mousekeys" which basically lets you control the mouse with the number-pad.

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  • Boo bad answer. Just Ctrl + f and type the link, hit esc then enter. My carpal tunnel thanks me – Kolob Canyon Feb 3 '17 at 0:50
  • @KolobCanyon: are you aware that this question and answer are from August 2010? Doubtless Widows accessibility features have changed somewhat in the last 7 years. – Mala Feb 11 '17 at 1:01
  • what? Ctrl f was around in 2010 – Kolob Canyon Feb 11 '17 at 2:23

No, it's not possible

Everything in the operating system itself has a keyboard-only method (sometimes it means using the command line instead), but some applications don't follow through with this as well.

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Jeff Atwood blogged about this on CodingHorror once; the post and ensuing comments are interesting. In my personal experience, it's totally possible, just horribly inefficient. While some things are much more efficient when done with a keyboard, it's not efficient to only use the keyboard, because of that 2% of things which are just so much easier with a keyboard; especially when browsing the web.

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  • 1
    That's an interesting spelling of Atwood's name. Is it some kind of in-joke? – boot13 Aug 29 '10 at 1:20
  • Whoops! Nope, not at all. It's just me not paying attention to what I'm typing :P – nhinkle Aug 29 '10 at 1:33

Pretty much anything can be done, although using a mouse is much, much easier. Hotkeys definitely help.

Browsing websites would be a big nuisance. Especially highly interactive web 2.0 sites that almost require mouse input.

If the problem is that you don't have room to operate a mouse, there are notebook, mini, or ultra-mini mice available.

Is there a reason why you don't have access to a mouse?

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Well, with a few small exceptions (some of which you've mentioned).

And it is not so big a deal - for example; you have a laptop, and you don't wish to carry a mouse (quite normal, expecially in those cases where people opt for smaller laptops) - you in the beginning depend somewhat on the touchpad (hey, you said no mouse - didn't say anything about touchpads ;) , or that little red dot IBM models used to have in the middle of their keyboards. First, you set all your often used programs in the quicklaunch toolbar - from there you can easily start them with the touchpad. Then that becomes annoying. Launchy or something similar to the rescue. Suddenly, you have the power to start most of your programs from a keyboard.

With the notable exception of graphics, CAD, games and Solitaire (which is not a game, but an addictional drug) most things you can control just using keys. Word/Excel all have pretty usable keyboard shortcuts. Fast when you get used to them.

WinKey+E starts Explorer. WinKey+R+"cmd" gets you commandprompt, from where if PATH is configured right, you can do wonders.

... running out of ideas by now

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It's both possible and in many cases much more efficient than using a mouse. Obviously there are exceptions: you mentioned gaming and graphics software as obvious examples. Also, as pointed out by Force Flow, web browsing effectively requires a mouse. But many other activities are both faster and physically easier with a keyboard; the main drawback is the need to remember the keystrokes required, whereas with the mouse you just point and shoot. People who use computers for any kind of data entry inevitably toss the mouse aside once they learn how to do everything with the keyboard. There's also a backlash against mice because of the additional strain caused by extended mousing (is that a word?) I know as a developer that the more I stay away from the mouse, the better my right shoulder will feel at the end of the day. Anyway, thankfully most operating systems will continue to have baked-in keyboard support for the foreseeable future, because it increases accessibility.

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It has been a while, but since you have all these brilliant WIndows gurus giving you half wrong answeres...

There is a mode called MouseKeys-- google it. You can check it out via Control Panel-Accesibitiy. What it does is when you press some weird key sequence -- something like CTL-ALT-Num Lock. Then you will be able to use the numeric keypad to act as the mouse.

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