How to use your keyboard to control the mouse in Windows Vista

This page explains step-by-step how to customise your computer setup so you can use your keyboard's number pad in place of the mouse. In Windows Vista, this feature is called 'Mouse Keys'. 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:

Note: The 'Ease of Access Center' has replaced 'Accessibility Options' (which was used in earlier versions of Windows) in the 'Control Panel' of Windows Vista. For more information, read the Introduction to the Ease of Access Center.

Video how to guide

Text version

Using your keyboard to control the mouse in Windows Vista

Set up your keyboard to control the mouse

Step 1: Turn on Mouse Keys

Open the 'Ease of Access Center' window by pressing the Windows key + U, or by clicking the 'Start' button, followed by 'Control Panel', then 'Ease of Access', then 'Ease of Access Center'.

Under the 'Explore all settings' header, click on 'Make the keyboard easier to use', or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to open the window shown in Fig 1.

Under the 'Control the mouse with the keyboard' header, tick the box next to 'Turn on Mouse Keys' by clicking on it or by pressing Alt + M.

Fig 1Detail from 'Make the keyboard easier to use' window

Step 2: Customise Mouse Keys

To customise your settings, click on 'Set up Mouse Keys', or press Alt + Y, to open the 'Set up Mouse Keys' window (shown in Fig 2).

Fig 2Detail from 'Set up Mouse Keys' window

The box next to 'Turn on Mouse Keys' should be ticked. If it is not, click on it or press Alt + M to tick it.

To use the keyboard shortcut to turn Mouse Keys on and off, tick the box next to 'Turn on Mouse Keys with left ALT + left SHIFT + NUM LOCK' by clicking on it, or press Alt + K to tick it.

(Note: if you have difficulty holding down three keys at the same time, see the Use the keyboard with one hand guide.)

If you want the additional features listed, tick the box next to 'Display a warning message when turning a setting on' by clicking on it, or press Alt + A to tick it. Then tick the box next to 'Make a sound when turning a setting on or off' by clicking on it, or press Alt + U to tick it.

Step 3: Adjust the mouse pointer's speed

You can customise the pointer speed when using Mouse Keys by moving the sliders (shown in Fig 2 below the 'Pointer Speed' header) to slow down or speed up the rate at which the pointer moves.

Click on the slider below 'Top speed', and move it to set the maximum speed the pointer will move across the screen when one of the direction keys is held down. Alternatively, press Tab until the slider is highlighted and then use the arrow keys to move the slider to the maximum speed you want.

In the same way, you can adjust the slider below 'Acceleration' to set how quickly the mouse pointer will accelerate to the maximum speed.

When using Mouse Keys, you can use the Ctrl (faster) and Shift (slower) keys to temporarily control the mouse pointer's speed, by holding one of them down while pressing a direction key on the number pad. To turn this option on, tick the box next to 'Hold down CTRL to speed up and SHIFT to slow down', or press Alt + W to tick it.

Step 4: Further options

Scroll down to the 'Other Settings' header (shown in Fig 3), where you can set how you want to be able to use the numeric keypad when you are not using Mouse Keys.

Fig 3Detail from 'Set up Mouse Keys' window

Below the 'Use Mouse Keys when NUM LOCK is:' header, click the radio button for the setting you want. If you want to be able to use the number pad for data entry, click 'Off'. If you instead want to use the number pad for navigation and for the Insert and Delete keys, click 'On'. Alternatively, press Alt + O to use Mouse Keys when Num Lock is off, or press Alt + N to use Mouse Keys when Num Lock is on.

Tick the box next to 'Display the Mouse Keys icon on the taskbar' by clicking on it, or press Alt + Y to tick it. A small icon will appear in the bottom right corner of your screen to remind you that Mouse Keys is on. It is also useful because it shows whether the primary or secondary mouse button is currently active.

Click the 'Save' button, or press Alt + S, to save your changes.

Note: If this does not work it could be because your computer settings cannot be changed due to local IT policies - contact your local IT support for further help.

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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