How to Use PC Without Mouse – Part I
Sometimes it so happens that you switch on your PC and find that your mouse is not working. The first thing you do is to restart your computer, in case that doesn’t work, you replace your mouse. But what if this happens at that moment when you desperately needed to send that email. Or what if after long hard day’s work, you were really looking forward to that movie. It these cases, you need to use your PC and you need to use it right now, no time to buy a new mouse.
Or you might be like me and hate the touchpad of laptops so much that you want to avoid it at all costs.
In such cases you will need to use your computer totally from your keyboard. Now, there are hundreds of articles on the internet about keyboard shortcuts for windows. But the thing is, how do you find the one that you need to use right now? So this is not another article listing keyboard shortcuts. I am actually going to teach you how to use your computer with your keyboard.
The Windows Key and Context Menu Key
Let me start by giving you some simple tips about the keyboard (yes about the keyboard). There are 2 keys on your keyboard which I am very surprised to know that many people have never noticed. One is the Windows key, generally located between the left Ctrl and Alt key. This key opens the start menu and is also used in many keyboard shortcuts. The second is the Context Menu key or commonly called right-click key (although that is incorrect). This one is located generally between the right Ctrl and Alt keys. The function of this key is to bring up the context menu of the active item on the screen.
So the first thing you need to remember while trying to operate your computer with your keyboard is that whenever you need to right click, you use the context menu key and whenever you need to open the start menu, you use the windows key.
The Arrow Keys
Second important thing is to understand the power of the arrow keys on the keyboard. Now that you have no mouse that can help you move around on the screen, arrow keys are your only support. Wherever there is a list or array of items, like the desktop which has icons, the only way to move the highlight from one icon to another is the arrow key. Using the start menu, use up and down arrow keys. Using the desktop, use any arrow key you like.
Always remember that arrow keys in combination with shift key are used for selection, whether it is while using windows explorer or while using a word processor. And while the enter key invariably triggers an item to open, you can use the spacebar to highlight objects (for example while selecting a file or highlighting a check box).
The Tab Key
Another important thing that needs to be known is the function of the Tab key. Inside a window or a dialog box, the tab key is used to navigate between sections. To understand what this means, do the following. Open Windows Explorer by selecting Computer from the start menu (try doing this with the keyboard). Now click on the address bar at the top. Now press the tab key on your keyboard. You will see that the search box is highlighted. If you press the tab key again, the toolbar is highlighted, then the navigation pane on the left and then the main window. This works everywhere. Shift+Tab will cycle in reverse order. Ctrl+Tab is used to cycle between tabs inside a window.
The Escape key
Next in line of importance comes the escape key. Many a times you will find that while working with the keyboard, you will trigger menus accidentally. Once this happens, the tab key and the arrow keys get limited within that menu. All you need to do is press the escape key to come out of that menu.
Let’s summarise the long article above:
- Windows key triggers the start menu
- There’s a dedicated key for right click called the context menu key
- Arrow keys let you move around inside a section of a window
- Tab key lets you cycle between sections of a window or dialog box
- Escape key is used to close menus
While using your computer without a mouse, you need to remember all the above mentioned tips. And not only remember, they should come naturally to you. What has been said above is not rocket science and does not even require you to remember much. These things are the basic rules. No matter how many keyboard shortcuts you memorise, if you are not aware of these things, it will hardly be of any use. You will still miss your mouse a lot.
In part II, I will take you step further and explain some common keyboard shortcuts (yes, they are unavoidable). Once again, it will not be a list of keyboard shortcuts. I will explain what shortcuts will let you handle all the common functions of your PC easily.
Till then, keep practicing.
This article is a part of a Series explaining how to use a computer with your keyboard. To read other articles in this series visit http://digisheets.in/series/keyboard