I’ve been complaining privately about my mouse lately. I think I could be more efficient if I didn’t have to ever use my mouse, but there seems to be some tasks that are just impossible with keyboard-only. And others that are very cumbersome. I looked at some alternatives, but was unimpressed.
The foot activated mouse seems like the way to go. I can steer my car and operate the petals at the same time, so a mouse on the floor would be as natural as driving a car. I found exactly two foot mice and both were US$300. No thanks. Other mice I found were camera activated, bio activated and all kinds of crap that was too expensive and more hassle than it’s worth. I was looking for the simple, elegant solution. The solution where I don’t have to wear a headband to move my hands-free mouse.
I got some really good suggestions and I thought I would share them:
- Put the mouse on the left side of the keyboard – this is a good idea, but will definitely take some practice. The idea is that you cut down keyboard-to-mouse travel time by not having to go over the numeric keypad. I’m planning on trying this, but I’m not sure which day to do it. My productivity will be at an all time low that day. I liken it to throwing a football with the opposite hand – you get there eventually, but it’s neither quick nor pretty.
- MouseKeys – it’s under Accessibility in the Control Panel. You can use your numeric keypad to control the mouse. I tried this for a couple of days and I’m not sure that I could do it even with practice.
- Built-in Trackpads – I thought this would be a winner, but it didn’t get good reviews from people who’ve tried it. They say the pad is too small and you don’t get the precision you expect. It seems, however, that at least one person who’s tried this uses a regular size, non-built-in trackpad and highly recommends them for ease of use and precision.
A couple of people suggested that I use keyboard shortcuts. Of course, I already use keyboard shortcuts, but I’ll admit that their may be some of which I’m not aware. I think I use them rather extensively.
If I had to guess, I would say that I use my mouse 40 times in a typical 9 hour work day. Fortunately, I don’t have to guess, I can just count. Here’s a list of every time I used my mouse from 4:00PM to 4:00PM and why I felt I had to leave the keyboard. This is only work computing, not home computing. Also, once I’m at the mouse I don’t count multiple tasks that I do there. My only goal is minimizing the times I have to reach over to use the mouse. If I could do everything with a mouse, that would be fine too. After this experiment, I realized that I need to get a laptop with either the trackpad below the keyboard or the eraser head in the middle of it. That pretty much solves my problem, although it introduces another problem – I’m too cheap to buy a laptop.
My contribution to the wealth of useless information on the web: The 26 times I used my mouse in 24 hours.
- 16:01 – SpamBayes – an Outlook add-in to manage spam. No menus, just custom toolbars.
- 16:02 – Moderate comment spam – Everything to do with this blog takes mouse clicks.
- 17:12 – Logon to bank website – I could have hit tab 57 times until I got to the control for username, but it’s just not worth it.
- 17:45 – Scroll in Outlook Express window – I can’t read the subjects in a newsgroup with just the keyboard because as I select each message it marks it as read.
- 07:36 – Click on link in email message
- 07:41 – Click on link on web page
- 07:52 – Scroll in Outlook Express window
- 08:29 – Scroll in Outlook Express window
- 08:34 – Online calculator
- 09:33 – Type in Firefox’s Google Search Bar
- 09:55 – Type in Firefox’s Google Search Bar
- 09:56 – Copy text from website to paste in Excel
- 10:23 – Click on link in Outlook Express post
- 10:48 – MS Access commandbutton – I programmed the form, so the fact that there’s no accelerator is my own fault
- 13:41 – Click on link on web page
- 13:42 – PageDown in PDF – reading a pdf in FireFox, I couldn’t page down without using the Acrobat Reader toolbar to change the cursor to Select Text. Then the arrow keys and PgUp and PgDn worked fine.
- 13:50 – PageDown in PDF – same problem different pdf.
- 13:58 – Click on link on web page
- 14:00 – Click on link on web page
- 14:14 – Scroll in Outlook Express window
- 14:46 – Enter a URL in FF’s address bar – I’m sure there’s a shortcut for this – I’d better learn it.
- 15:32 – SpamBayes (see 1)
- 15:39 – Check the Intellisense on a VBA variable
- 15:43 – Click on link on web page
- 15:51 – Click on link on web page
- 15:56 – Click on link on web page