While becoming familiar and practicing with mouseless computing can often take a bit of practice, it can be worth the effort. Any data entry worker or software developer will tell you that using keyboard shortcuts and keyboard shortcuts can get you done much faster than using a mouse. Today we’re going to look at how you can apply this philosophy while browsing the internet.
An introduction to mouseless surfing
Someone unfamiliar with this may be confused: How do you follow links without a mouse clicking on them? Most mouseless solutions overlay every clickable element on a web page with a unique “hint,” which is basically a temporary keyboard shortcut that you can use to click the element.
Rest assured, though, with most of these apps and extensions, you can still use a mouse if the hints don’t work when you need them.
We’ll first cover some extensions that are available for popular browsers and then examine some alternative browsers that are primarily designed for mouse-free browsing. All are free and most are open source.
Vimium calls itself “the hacker’s browser” and is a free extension for Chrome and one of the most popular Vim-based keyboard browsing tools.
Vimium, as well as a lot of the other software we look at today, will say that it is based on or inspired Vim, a command line text editor mainly used by developers. Vim was first released for the Amiga in 1991 and has since seen cross-platform development that continues to this day, and its influence is productive.
If you have never used command line text editors like Vim before, using Vimium may take some practice. Vimium’s website has a short video demo if you’re curious about the experience.
If you have a Firefox Users and want to try out Vimium, there is an available port called Vimium-FF.
Download: Vimium for Chrome (For free)
Tridactyl is similar to Vimium, but only an extension for Firefox. It was designed to emulate Vimperator, a keyboard-based Firefox Extension that is no longer compatible with the latest versions of Firefox.
If you are a web developer, Tridactyl might appeal to you with its HTML development tools. It’s also very customizable, so you can add your own commands or edit Tridactyl’s standard commands.
To use it quickly, enter F. When viewing a website and notes are displayed as small red symbols. Enter the hint you see on the link or object that you want to click and Tridactyl will click on it for you. Tasks like entering text input mode and navigating tabs can take a bit of getting used to, but the hint feature is a great introduction.
Download: Tridactyl for Firefox (For free)
3. Dead mouse
DeadMouse is free Chrome Extension that takes a slightly different approach than Vimium and Tridactyl. Instead of creating unique clues for each link on the page, DeadMouse lets you just type the text in the link you want to click and the extension tries to identify the link with a wobble animation. You can then either hit Enter to click on it or tab to go to the nearest game.
If that sounds confusing, the DeadMouse website lets you try it out without installing it, and you’ll find that it’s a straightforward approach to keyboard-based browsing.
Some may find DeadMouse’s process more intuitive than the other extensions where the clues it creates aren’t accurate representations of the links that highlight them. Of course, many of the links you find and use on the internet are pictures or icons, not text, and DeadMouse may not handle them properly.
Since it doesn’t have as many features as other options on this list, if you don’t consider yourself a power user and just want the option to quickly select text links when it’s convenient, you can choose DeadMouse.
Download: DeadMouse for Chrome (For free)
Qutebrowser is a free, open source browser that works in the spirit of. was developed Probably, another Vim-based browser that is no longer under development.
As with the other Vim-based browsers and extensions, you need to type F. and instructions for following links on the screen as shown in the photo.
Qutebrowser also has a very minimal user interface. To access most features like bookmarks and downloads, you need to enter the correct command. You’ll also find that it’s very customizable, although you need to be prepared to edit configuration files.
Edbrowse was originally written by the visually impaired developer Karl Dahlke and is unique as the only command line browser on this list. This means that you can surf the Internet line by line via the terminal.
If this sounds slow and awkward, it’s because it is initially. But if you take the time to learn the commands and the user interface, you can change your mind.
As Karl explains in the user guide, most people use their eyes to browse web sites, to sort and get to the information they really want. Edbrowse’s commands transfer the work from your eyes to your computer. If you’ve ever used the usual keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F to quickly find a specific word for a phrase on a page, it is essentially the same function.
You may be wondering how Lynx can be useful for everyone. It is useful if you browse a lot of server files or if you are using a “headless” operating system (like Ubuntu Server) with little or no graphical capabilities. In addition, if you have access to very limited Internet bandwidth, Lynx uses much less than it does when you access the same websites with a traditional browser.
Lynx is free and open source, and its developers have been actively improving it since the 1990s. Therefore, you can be confident that it will achieve its goals and purposes to the maximum extent possible, even if it doesn’t do many of the things that modern browsers do.
Surf the web with just one keyboard
There are more mouseless browsing solutions out there, although many projects no longer exist (often the inspiration for the ones we mentioned) or are extensions that only work with older browsers. Some are still pretty popular, but we didn’t cover them because surfing the Internet with applications that have not been updated is dangerous.
If you want to continue to make your workflow more efficient, there are many ways you can use your computer keyboard more efficiently, including beyond just surfing the Internet.