Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Most web sites pretty much assume that you have a mouse to click on links and navigate. If you don't, there are a few alternatives.
I suffer from mouse related RSI if not very careful and so have to find keyboard shortcuts for as much as possible. However one drag has always been the need to locate by mouse the "next page" box in internet articles. I can imagine the complexities, but do you know if anyone has created any software to locate this on a page and allow one to move to the next page by key press etc?
There is a way already built into most browsers, but it is most definitely not pretty.
There's also a pretty slick way for some types of links if you use Firefox.
There may be other solutions out there that perhaps my readers are aware of, but in the meantime let me tell you what I do know.
It's unfortunate, but using the web pretty much assumes you have a mouse. That poses a problem for a lot of people. We normally consider more severely impaired folks, but as you point out it's a problem for many people suffering from RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).
So one solution, of course, is to get a different mouse. Trackballs, even foot-mice are often alternatives that work well for many people.
But that's not your question.
What if there's no mouse at all?
The keyboard interface for web pages is simple: hit the TAB key. A lot. I mean A LOT. The tab key will move the focus from one link on the page to the next, and when it finally reaches the link you want you can press RETURN to take the jump. SHIFT+TAB takes you backwards through the links, and it may be faster if the link you're going to is near the bottom of the page.
The problem is that most web pages have lots of links. Sometimes hundreds. A Google search result, for example, has something like 8 links per result. With a default of 10 results per page, that's 80 links right there. Add to that Google's own navigation links, ads, and more and you're quickly well over 100 links on a single page.
That's a lot of TABbing. Heck, I suppose all that TAB pressing could result in RSI.
Firefox's built in quick search capability is pretty cool, and extremely simple.
As long as you're not in a form field that needs the keyboard to capture its input, typing "/" followed by text does a search on the page for that text. In real time, as you type, it moves you to the first instance of the text you've typed so far.
So while on that Google results page with 100 links, I typed this:
And this was the result:
The first occurrence of the word "next" on the page is Google's navigation bar at the bottom, so Firefox took me there and highlighted it. You can see what I'm searching for in the Quick Find: box near the bottom of the page as well, as shown here.
And once "Next" is highlighted, pressing your RETURN key takes the link.
If there's more than one "Next" you can press F3 to move to the next, or SHIFT+F3 to move to the previous.
Of course "next" could be anything you're looking for, but you were looking for the next page link. This'll get you to it quickly and easily.
Sadly, it's still an incomplete solution.
Firefox's quick search feature searches for text, and unfortunately many web sites code their links to use images. So while "/" might be able to find the word "Next" on a page, it will not find an image of, say, an arrow containing the word "Next".
One last thing I'll point out is the "MouseKeys" functionality that's available in Windows. (Go to Control Panel, Accessibility Options, Mouse). It might be overkill, but it allows you to control the mouse pointer with the numeric pad keys on your keyboard.
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.