Mouseless Firefox

· by Steve · Read in about 2 min · (325 Words)

I’ve been trying to use the mouse on my main desktop machine less, because it’s awkward to use when I’m typing away in my ‘recliner’ position which has been helping my back. On my MacBook, the trackpad is a joy, and while it’s possible to get keyboards with in-built trackpads, I like my current keyboard and don’t want to get rid of it, or to get a separate trackpad / trackball which will be awkward.

I don’t need the mouse most of the time anyway, VisualAssist makes it particularly easy to get around Visual Studio without the mouse (ALT-M to jump to a method, ALT-O to flip between header / source file, SHIFT-ALT-O to jump to a file, etc) and XCode is already pretty good in that regard, but navigating around Firefox with only a keyboard was a problem. Sure there’s CTRL-L and CTRL-K for the location and search boxes, CTRL-B for bookmarks, CTRL-TAB to flip between tabs etc, but once you’re on a page, following links was awkward - your only option was to tab through the links laboriously, trying to keep an eye on where the focus was going. Not fun.

Luckily, the Mouseless Browsing plugin solves all that. It places numerical ID boxes next to every link, and all you have to do is type the number to follow the link. It looks like this:

So by default you can type ‘6 Enter’ to get to the ‘About Me’ page for example. If I want to open that in a new tab, I type ‘6 Plus Enter’ (the numpad is the most convenient). There’s a bunch of configuration options, such as allowing you to turn off the IDs and just have them toggle on when you press a button, which is what I generally prefer (so site styles are not interfered with), or to remove the need to press Enter at the end of the sequence based on some timings. All in all, very useful.