How to control the mouse with the keyboard on macOS

MacBook on a desk with a mouse and keyboard

In the old days, before computer mice and trackpads were invented, people had to use keyboard keys to navigate computer screens. While that changed when new, more ergonomic pointing devices hit the market, mouse keys remained.

Today, this accessibility feature is still present in macOS. You can use it to your advantage if your trackpad or mouse isn’t working or if you just don’t want to take your hands off the keyboard. In this guide, we’ll show you how you can do this.


How to enable and enable mouse keys

Mouse keys on macOS can be found by going to System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Alternative Pointer Methods. Tick ​​the first option to Activate mouse keys. Now you will see a popup on your screen that says Mouse Keys.

Once the feature is active, the keys dedicated to moving the cursor just won’t type anything. To type, you will have to disable Mouse Keys.

One way is to do this manually every time by going to System Preferences to toggle the feature on and off. The other (fastest) way to do this is by clicking the options button to the right of mouse keys feature and enabling the Press Option key five times to switch mouse keys selection box.


That way, instead of manually toggling the feature, you can conveniently press the button Option key five times to turn the feature off and on whenever you need to use keyboard keys normally.

Using mouse key controls

When mouse keys are active, macOS converts a set of keyboard keys to “mouse keys”. If your keyboard has a numeric keypad, you can use the 7, 8, 9, 4, 6, 1, twoand 3 keys to move the cursor. But if you don’t have a numeric keypad, you can use the 7, 8, 9, you, O, J, Kand I keys. If you press and hold a key, the cursor will move continuously in that direction.

When you need to click, just press the key in the middle of this grid. With a numeric keypad, this is the 5 key. With a normal keyboard, it’s the I key.

Customize mouse keys to suit your needs

Apple includes three sub-features in the Mouse Keys settings, each of which can help you adapt it to your needs. You can find these options by going to System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Alternate Control Method > Enable Mouse Keys > Options. Then choose from the options available to you.


  • Initial delay: This slider lets you control how long the system takes after you press a mouse key to move the cursor. Longer delays prevent the cursor from moving if you accidentally press a key.
  • Speed: This slider lets you decide how fast you want the cursor to move when you press and hold a key.
  • Disabling the trackpad: This feature allows you to disable the trackpad when using mouse keys. It also prevents unnecessary cursor movement that tapping the trackpad can cause. To enable it, check the Bypass the built-in trackpad when mouse keys are enabled option.

If you’re using mouse keys because the trackpad isn’t working, it could be because you’ve already used these settings to disable it.

Using a mouse is better than using mouse keys

While Mouse Keys are an easy fix when your mouse isn’t working, it usually only fits in as a temporary fix because it’s slower and more inconvenient than a mouse or trackpad. Fortunately, you can get your mouse or trackpad working again without too much trouble.

Have you thought about recharging your mouse or trackpad or replacing the batteries? Or have you tried pairing it again with your computer? Most of the time these two solutions are all you need to do to get a mouse, the reasons why a mouse or trackpad works with your Mac again.

#control #mouse #keyboard #macOS

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