Friday, April 13, 2007

The Elusive Right Click

Since he got his Mac, Venkat Subramaniam and I have been playing around with pushing the envelope on human computer interaction and productivity as hard as we can. He finds a cool new keyboard shortcut and can't wait to tell me, I learn a new QuickSilver bit of magic and can't wait to tell him. The Holy Grail of this kind of pursuit is finding a way to generate a mouse right-click using only the keyboard. Of course, Mac OS X is pretty friendly to use the track pad, but that's not enough for us: total keyboard control is the goal.

And yesterday I stumbled upon the Holy Grail. I was in the process of shaving a yak, and was waiting for something to finish, so I decided to solve this problem Once and For All. I did a bunch of Googling and experimentation and stumbled upon the solution. Go to Universal Access and turn on Mouse Keys. This the the accessibility option that allows you to drive the mouse strictly from the keyboard, using the embedded keypad. Once you turn that on, you can use the FN-I key to click the mouse, which means that you can use FN-CTRL-I to right click. It's not perfect (it clicks where the mouse current resides, not where the keyboard focus lives) and it precludes using the embedded numeric keypad for doing 10-key entry (which I never do anyway). You can turn it on and off by clicking the OPTION key five times (this is a setting on Universal Access as well).

But we're happy. Venkat got as excited as I've ever seen him when I showed him this morning; I was looking forward to show it to him all day. Ah, simple pleasures!


Matt Secoske said...

Thank You!

Olivier said...

So I press OPTION five times, then I move the mouse using the arrow keys to where I want to click, and then I press Fn+Ctrl+I.
Got it!

...But I tink I will continue carrying my USB mouse with my MacBook.

Just kidding! Sounds great. Next time I need to right-click and I am in an intense typing session, I'll try that.