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Is there a keyboard shortcut for right clicking in Mac OS X?

If not, when using the built in spell check, is there a way to drive spelling correction via the keyboard?

Also if not, is there a third party application that can give you a keyboard shortcut that allows to you right click?

If your answer is "press control while clicking the main mouse button", you're not paying attention.

4
  • What do you mean by a keyboard shortcut? As in, a key combination that can simulate a right-click at the location of the cursor? Jan 10, 2010 at 19:37
  • Yes, exactly that. Ubuntu and Windows both have this, and I"m curious if it's available in Mac OS X, specifically for the use case of using cmd-; to jump to the next misspelled word, invoke this shortcut, select the right spelling, and then move to the next. Jan 10, 2010 at 19:49
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    You can kinda do this with alfredapp.com Shift+Alt+leftarrrow to highlight word. CTRL+X to cut, CTRL+Space then type "spell <CTRL+V>" to paste word into alfred, and enter assuming the 1st match is correct it will copy it to your clipboard. Then you can paste over the current word in your current text edit with CTRL+V Dec 18, 2017 at 16:11

4 Answers 4

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Right Click via Keyboard

  • Activate “Mouse Keys” (in System Preferences, search for “mouse keys”, turn it on).
  • Position the mouse cursor.
  • Hold Control.
  • Press and release the keypad's 5 key.
  • Release Control.

Spell Check via Keyboard

There are standard shortcuts for the built-in spell checking. Not all applications may have these menu items.

  • ⌘; — Edit > Spelling > Check Spelling
    • This selects the next ‘misspelled’ word.
  • ⌘: — Edit > Spelling > Spelling…
    • This selects the next ‘misspelled’ word and opens the Spelling floating window.
    • To focus the floating window without using the mouse, you can use the “full keyboard access” shortcuts (enable them in System Preferences, search for “full keyboard access”, it (and the extra shortcuts it enables) are under the “Keyboard Navigation” subtree.
      • You may need to reassign the shortcuts.
      • The default for “move focus to the floating window” is ⌃F6, but that seems to be used by the editor here on SO, so I needed to change it to test it while composing this answer (I used ⌥F6).
      • Once focus is on the Spelling floating window, you can
        • dismiss it with Escape, or
        • use Tab to move to the various controls, and
        • with the replacement textbox focused, you can
          • use Up and Down to select replacements, and
          • type a replacement, and
          • use Return to activate the default button: Correct
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    Warning: You probably don't want to activate Mouse Keys on a Mac without a separate numpad (e.g. MBP) as it disables the rest of the keyboard!
    – xyz
    Jul 25, 2010 at 15:41
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    so what do we do in a MBP? Mar 21, 2013 at 7:28
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    @flow: It seems fairly usable (on a MBA, anyway) if you enable the “Press the Option key five times to toggle Mouse Keys” option so that you can easily toggle between the modes (also disable “Ignore built-in trackpad when Mouse Keys is on”, so you do not lose your normal trackpad). The (QWERTY layout) keys 7 8 9, u i o, and j k l form the directional “keypad” and yield the movements NW N NE, W click E, SW S SE (↖ ↑ ↗, ← click →, ↙ ↓ ↘). Mar 21, 2013 at 8:09
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    So, in 2019, on a Macbook, to right-click via the keyboard you: Press the touch ID button 3 times, move the mouse to click on "Enable Mouse Keys", click Done (or press return), hold control and press i. I was hoping for a shortcut that saved moving my hands to the trackpad, but this is nuts! Oct 23, 2019 at 18:22
  • Great answer!! Behaves similar to windows "menu" key aka key number 0x76
    – Tomachi
    Feb 12, 2020 at 3:18
25

TL;DR: Ctrl+enter using Shortcat.

I have solved this problem using the free app (edit: it's free now, but looks like it will have to be purchased after the beta) Shortcat. It allows you to use the keyboard to move the mouse cursor to clickable parts of the screen. You type the clickable text of what you want to select, tab if necessary to the correct element, then hit enter to click. The same keyboard shortcuts that work when clicking work with enter, so to right click, just hit Ctrl+enter. By default, you activate shortcat by using cmd+shift+space. So to right click a text area in a browser (okay, in Chrome) and run spell check might look like this:

  • cmd+shift+space activates shortcat
  • Typing . highlights everything -- my text area of interest happens to be labeled 'AP'.
  • Type Ctrl+AP to select the text area. Alternatively, type .text then enter. (see tips below.)
  • shift+enter to right click Now we're done with shortcat, but to finish it off:
  • Type spell to select Spelling and Grammar from the context menu, then Space to drill in, and finally Space again to select.

It sounds complex, but it all takes a fraction of a second with a little practice.


A couple other tips for using shortcat:

  • To enable shortcat to work within pages in Chrome, go to chrome://accessibility and turn on Global accessibility mode at the top of the page (as of Chrome 33). I added this page to my bookmarks bar, so I can activate it without having to use the mouse.

  • Type . in the box to highlight all clickable areas, or narrow to .menu, .input, .button, '.text', or .link. There may be others, but those are the ones I have discovered.

  • To quickly maximize a Chrome window, I can type cmd+shift+p . tab shift+enter. Not elegant, but faster than reaching over to the mouse.

  • Every selectable element gets labeled with a letter or letters. You can go directly to an element at any time by holding down Ctrl and typing the letter combo it is labeled with.

  • Even graphical icons usually have some accessibility text by which they can be selected. For example, if I type apple Shortcat will select the apple menu, and if I type adium Shortcut will select the Adium icon in the menu tray.

There is a little bit of a learning curve, and sometimes there are controls that Shortcat can't find, so sometimes I still have to use my trackpad, but I've found it to be pretty useful and boost my productivity overall. It's infinitely faster than trying to move the mouse around with mouse keys.

5
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    Shortcat is totally worth it. Oct 9, 2015 at 5:19
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    @Brian Mortenson OMG, thank you sooooo much for introducing Shortcat. It's just a gold that I was looking for. I was/am using Vimium for browsers, but I was also looking something similar for other apps too. Again, thank you very much, you made my day ^^
    – whitesiroi
    Apr 27, 2016 at 9:20
  • This is one of the better SU posts I have seen. It introduces a useful utility and does a great job on its uses, merits, and how-to . You need another zero or two on your SU reputation. Aug 25, 2016 at 16:46
  • The link does not seem to work
    – YemSalat
    Jan 10, 2017 at 20:46
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    link seems fine; vimac is a similar/good option Jan 3, 2021 at 19:35
6

TL;DR: Karabiner-Elements can do this.

I already use this to make a few other modifications, and found it can also handle this use case.

enter image description here

3
  • Thanks for this! I use Karabiner-Elements heavily, but hadn't thought of using it to right click. Now I just need to figure out how to get the mouse cursor to move to the text cursor before right clicking. Jun 18, 2019 at 18:35
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    @BrianMortenson this comment is more than a year later but you could checkout vimacapp.com With a shortcut (Control + Space by default) it will put short one or two-letter labels on all the interactive elements on your screen, then you type it and it will focus.
    – Cristian
    Sep 16, 2020 at 16:05
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    @Cristian, thank you! I'll note that this works like Vimium (my favorite keyboard productivity hack ever) outside the browser, and that it supports right clicking by pressing shift while typing the shortcuts. If I can make a habit out of using it, with all my other keyboard hacks, I might be able to go days without ever having to fiddle with a mouse. Sep 17, 2020 at 20:01
3

Cross-posting an answer to a related question: this worked on macOS Catalina and I just verified that it works on macOS Monterey.

System preferences -> Accessibility --> Pointer Control --> Alternate Control Methods -> Enable alternate pointer actions -> Options

Note that this only works when the cursor is already at the desired click location.

macOS alternate pointer actions options

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