How to Use iMac Without Mouse

At first glance, using your iMac without a mouse might sound tricky, if not impossible. However, there are some tricks to control your iMac even if the mouse suddenly dies on you. This write-up assumes that everything is fine with your keyboard.

Needless to say, the following hacks are simple and they are mostly about using the keyboard shortcuts. However, if the keyboard lets you down as well, it’s best to find the replacement since you won’t be able to use your iMac. Without much further ado, let’s dive right in.

Mouseless Navigation

Before You Start

It’s advisable to make sure “Full Keyboard Access” is enabled. With this, you can use the Tab key to toggle between dialog box controls. Otherwise, you’d just be able to switch between lists and text boxes. A lot of the mouseless navigation works without this step, but it’s better to enable it anyway.

Access the Keyboard from System Preferences. Press Cmd + Space, type keyboard, and hit Enter. Navigate to the Shortcuts tab and press Ctrl + F7 to check “All controls.” (On some iMacs, it might be Fn + Ctrl + F7.) Now, you can use the Tab key to switch between options and select them by pressing Space.

Before You Start

Switching Through Open Apps

Press Cmd + Tab and you’ll be able to cycle through all the apps that are running. Keep pressing Tab to reach the app you’d like to access. You can press the Down key to reveal all the opened windows within a particular app. Navigate to the window you want to access using the arrow keys and hit Enter to select.

Switching Through Open Apps

If you want to switch between full-window apps, hold Ctrl + Left or Right arrow. To preview all the opened windows (not full screen), you should press Ctrl + Up or Down key.

Navigating in Finder

Chances are you’ll need to use Finder without the mouse. To launch Finder, access Spotlight by pressing Cmd + Space, then type Finder, and hit Enter.

Navigating in Finder

Use the arrow keys to navigate to the Go menu in the Menu bar. Press the Down arrow to select a specific destination, like Recents, Downloads, iCloud Drive, etc. Press Enter to get inside and use arrow keys for further navigation.

To access a specific folder, you should use the arrow keys again, Up and Down to navigate and Left and Right to open the folder. If your folders are in the thumbnail preview, use Cmd + Down to open a folder and Cmd + Up to go back. This also works in other types of folder preview.

Reminder: Use Spotlight (Cmd + Space) to access any app, file, or folder without the mouse.

Navigating in Safari

Again, you can open Safari via Spotlight or switch to it using the window navigation tricks. To access a website from the bookmarks bar, press Cmd + Bookmark number. For example, if the TechJunkie website is the first bookmark on your list, press Cmd + 1.

A new tab will open if you press Cmd + T and you can switch between with the tabs with Cmd + Shift + Left/Right arrow.

The Dock and App Menu Bar

App menu bar is easy to select and navigate with arrow keys and you can choose an item by pressing Enter or Space. To directly access the app menu, press Fn + Ctrl + F2, then move ahead with arrow keys as described.

The Dock is accessed with Fn + Ctrl + F3 combination on newer iMacs. For older models, it’s just Ctrl + F3. And again, move left and right with arrow keys and select with Enter or Space keys.

How to Deal with Text Documents

Once you get the hang of it, you might prefer to use shortcuts rather than the mouse to move around a text document. Here’s a shortlist of the most useful shortcuts.

Cursor Movement

  1. Cmd + Up – top of the document.
  2. Cmd + Left – start of a line.
  3. Cmd + Right – end of a line.
  4. Option + Up – start of a paragraph.
  5. Option + Left – start of a word.
  6. Shift + Arrow keys – text selection.

Copying and Pasting

  1. Cmd + C – to copy selection.
  2. Cmd + V – to paste selection.
  3. Cmd + X – to cut it.
  4. Cmd + A – to select all.

Change Text Style

  1. Cmd + U – underlines selected text.
  2. Cmd + B – bolds the selected text.
  3. Cmd + I – italicizes the text.

Other Useful Shortcuts

The following list of shortcuts is system-wide and they work in most applications, though there are some variations.

  1. Cmd + , – to access app preferences.
  2. Cmd + O – to open a file.
  3. Cmd + W – closes a tab or window.
  4. Cmd + N – to open a new window (new playlist in iTunes).
  5. Cmd + S – saves a file.
  6. Cmd + P – to print a file.

Magic Trackpad

Long-term iMac users know that the Magic Trackpad is sometimes better than a mouse. It doesn’t take much time to get used to all the navigation swipes and you get to customize most of the trackpad functions. This is why you may want to consider getting a trackpad even if your mouse is just fine.

Magic Trackpad

Tom Ate Jerry

Navigating your iMac with just your keyboard takes some getting used to. But you should be patient as the shortcuts are sometimes the quickest way to reach the desired destination.

Anyway, what happened to your mouse? Do you use Apple Magic Mouse or some other model? Share your troubles with the rest of the TJ community in the comments section below.

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