How to use your keyboard to control the mouse in KDE 4

This page explains step-by-step how to customise your computer setup in KDE 4 for Linux so you can use your keyboard's number pad in place of the mouse. Many people who cannot use a standard mouse find this the easiest option, rather than using an alternative input device such as a head-mouse or joystick.

Areas in this guide:

Video how to guide

Text version

Using your keyboard to control the mouse in KDE 4

Set up your keyboard to control the mouse

Step 1: Open the 'Mouse Settings' window

Click on the 'K' icon on the menu bar, or press Alt + F1, to open 'Kickoff' as shown in Fig 1.

Fig 1'Kickoff' menu

Click on 'Computer' and then 'System Settings', or use the arrow keys to select these and then press Enter, to open the 'System Settings' window shown in Fig 2.

(Some setups may vary. In this example, 'System Settings' is also available from the 'Favourites' tab, as shown in Fig 1.)

Fig 2'System Settings' window

Click on 'Keyboard & Mouse', or press Tab to enter the main part of the window, then use the arrow keys to select 'Keyboard & Mouse' and press Enter.

In the 'Keyboard & Mouse' window, click on 'Mouse', or press Tab until the pane on the left of the window is highlighted, then use the down arrow key to move to 'Mouse', as shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3'Keyboard & Mouse' window

Click on the 'Mouse Navigation' tab, or press Alt + M, as shown in Fig 4.

Fig 4'Keyboard & Mouse' window showing the 'Mouse Navigation' tab

Step 2: Set up the number pad to control the mouse

Tick the box next to 'Move pointer with keyboard' by clicking on it or by pressing Alt + M.

Once the box is ticked, you can change any of the options below to suit your needs.

For example, you can change the length of time between the first key press and the repeated movement of the cursor. To do this, click on the up and down arrow buttons next to the box beside 'Acceleration delay' to select a time, or press Tab until the box is highlighted and then use the up and down arrow keys to increase or decrease the values.

Click on the 'Apply' button or press Alt + A to save your changes.

Click on the 'Overview' button or press Esc to return to the 'System Settings' window. Click the 'Close' cross or press Alt + F4 to return to the KDE desktop.

How to use the keyboard to control the mouse

After you have set up your keyboard to control the mouse, you can use the number pad to move the mouse pointer, as well as click, double-click and select and drag, as shown in Fig 1.

Fig 1Number pad layout showing the mouse functions

Step 1: Move the mouse pointer

You can move the mouse pointer in any direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal) by using the number keys as shown in Fig 1. Press 4 and 6 to move left and right. Press 2 and 8 to move down and up. Press 1, 3, 7 and 9 to move diagonally.

Step 2: Click the mouse

Before you can click the mouse using the number pad, you need to let it know what type of click you want to make. Press '/' (slash) for a primary click, which is the same as a left-click on a standard mouse. Press '-' (minus) for a secondary click, which is the same as a right-click on a standard mouse. Press '*' (asterisk) for the middle button of a mouse.

(Note that if you have your mouse set up for left-handed use, the primary and secondary buttons will also be reversed on the number pad.)

Once you have selected a click type, press 5 to click the mouse. The click type will stay the same until you change it, so if you have chosen a left-click, every time you press 5 it will make a left-click until you choose another option. (If you have set it up so that the mouse icon appears in your status bar, the icon should show which click type is currently active.)

Step 3: Double-click the mouse

While you can press 5 twice in a row quickly to make a double-click, it is much simpler to press '+' (plus) to double-click the mouse automatically.

Step 4: Select and drag

Move the cursor to the starting point of the area you want to highlight, or place it on the item you want to drag. Make sure the primary button (left-click) is chosen by pressing '/' (slash) and then press 5 to make a left-click.

Press 0 to start selecting or dragging - this is the same as holding down the mouse button. Use the number keys (as described in Step 1) to move the pointer to the end of the area you want to highlight, or to where you want to drag the item. Press '.' (full stop) to release the mouse button.

Back to How to guides - I find a keyboard or mouse hard to use

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