How to Use Keyboard as Mouse on Mac

Aug 11, 2021 - 6 Comments

How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac

Did you know you can use your Keyboard as a mouse for Mac? This is an excellent accessibility feature, but it has some other uses too. For example, did your MacBook’s trackpad stop working all of a sudden? Or did your Magic Mouse battery go out? Whatever the case, you can control your Mac with just a keyboard.

For some users, using a keyboard is more practical than using a mouse, and that’s an excellent Accessibility centric use case for this feature. But there are also other scenarios where this feature can become useful. Perhaps you’re busy working on your Mac and suddenly your Magic Mouse stops working due to low battery, for example, and since you can’t charge and use the mouse at the same time due to the Lightning port being located at the bottom, you may need to temporarily use the Keyboard to navigate through your Mac. Additionally, some power users prefer to keep their hands on the keyboard.

Here we’ll explore navigating macOS by using just a keyboard, and without a mouse.

Using the Keyboard as a Mouse on Mac

Using your Mac’s keyboard as a trackpad or mouse (or thought of as another way, to control the mouse) is available in most versions of MacOS, here’s how it works:

  1. Head over to “System Preferences” on your Mac from the Dock or  Apple menu.

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac
  2. In System Preferences, click on “Accessibility.”

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac
  3. Next, scroll down, and choose “Pointer Control” from the left pane.

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac
  4. Now, click on “Alternative Control Methods” as shown in the screenshot below.

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac
  5. Here, check the box to enable Mouse Keys and click on “Options” to customize its settings.

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac
  6. In this menu, you’ll have the option to adjust the initial delay for the cursor movement after you press the key. You can change the maximum speed of the cursor here too. If you want to quickly enable or disable Mouse Keys at your will, check the box at the top to toggle Mouse Keys by pressing the Option key five times. Click “OK” to save the changes.

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac
  7. Now, you’ll be able to use the following keys on your keyboard to control the mouse cursor movement on your Mac.

    How to Use the Keyboard as Mouse on Mac

Now that you’ve learned how to control the Mac with just the keyboard, go ahead and try it out yourself.

How do you click the mouse cursor with only the keyboard?

At this point, you might start wondering how you can click the mouse. In the schematic diagram in the last step, we’ve shown the keys you can use to move the cursor.

To perform the click action, you can either press the “I” key or the “5” key in the numeric pad.

If you want to right-click, hold the “Control” key while pressing the “5” or “I” on your keyboard.

Quickly navigating macOS with the keyboard as a mouse

At first, you might notice that the cursor movement is very slow when you use these keys. While you can click each key to move the mouse cursor in a particular direction, another option is available to speed things up: you can long-press on these keys to make the cursor move faster in a desired direction.

Aside from using the keyboard as a mouse, you can also take advantage of various Mac keyboard shortcuts to navigate through macOS without having to use a mouse. Although this greatly improves your workflow, there’s also some learning curve to it, as you might have trouble finding the Mac keyboard shortcuts at first. Keyboard shortcuts can really speed up your workflow, particularly after you memorize ones you use most often.

What do you think of using the keyboard as a mouse with the Mac? Do you have a particular use case for this feature? Let us know your thoughts and experiences with using the keyboard as a mouse cursor or trackpad replacement in the comments.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks

6 Comments

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  1. John Furlong says:

    Very useful – EXCEPT it disables the O and M keys on macOS 10.14.6 !!!
    There may be others, but I haven’t tried exploring the keyboard further

  2. Steve says:

    Cursor movement works but I can’t get the mouse click to work which makes this technique useless.

  3. Richard Wexelblat says:

    The first thing you tell us to do is to open system preferences. But how do you open system preferences if the mouse isn’t working?

    • Paul says:

      You can access all of the settings through keyboard if you’d like:

      Command+Spacebar brings up Spotlight

      Type “System Preferences” and hit return to open System Preferences

      Typing “Accessibility” and return opens that control panel

      You can then use the Tab key to navigate around and enable preferences if you need to

  4. BuffyzDead says:

    Nice One ! Thank you.

    I am assuming once set up, it will work at the install, initial setup screens ?

    This is where, at times, some iMacs/Mac mini’s don’t recognize a bluetooth mouse for some reason.

    I would set this up, for that reason alone.
    Thanks again

    • Daniel says:

      You don’t need to use accessibility features to choose a boot disk, or enter system restore, but you do need a working keyboard AND mouse on newer versions of MacOS because you Can’t access any of the setup or repair dialogs until you have a working keyboard and mouse connected to the system anymore.

      Its always a good idea to keep a cheapo set of each (wired is the most foolproof) for emergencies.

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