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

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 XP, this feature is called 'MouseKeys'. 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:

Set up your keyboard to control the mouse

Step 1: Turn on MouseKeys

Open the 'Start' menu by clicking on the 'Start' button, or by pressing the Windows key or Ctrl + Esc.

Click on 'Control Panel', or press C until it is highlighted and then press Enter if necessary. (Note: in earlier versions of XP, you will need to click on 'Settings' or press S first.)

You need to be in Classic view. If you see the text 'Pick a category', as shown in Fig 1, click on 'Switch to Classic View' or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

Fig 1Detail from Control Panel window

Double-click on 'Accessibility Options', or press A until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to open the 'Accessibility Options' window shown in Fig 2.

If it is not already selected, click on the 'Mouse' tab, or press Ctrl + Tab to cycle through the tabs until it is selected.

Fig 2'Accessibility Options' window

Tick the box next to 'Use MouseKeys' by clicking on it, or press Alt + M to tick it.

If you want to customise the MouseKeys settings, continue to Step 2. Otherwise, click 'OK' or press Enter to exit the 'Accessibility Options' window. For instructions on using MouseKeys, see the How to use the keyboard to control the mouse guide.

Step 2: Customise MouseKeys

To customise your settings, click on the 'Settings' button, or press Alt + S, to open the 'Settings for MouseKeys' window (shown in Fig 3).

Fig 3'Settings for MouseKeys' window

The keyboard shortcut to turn MouseKeys on and off is to press Left Alt + Left Shift + Num Lock at the same time. To turn this feature on, tick the box next to 'Use shortcut' by clicking on it, or press Alt + U 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.)

Step 3: Adjust the mouse pointer's speed

You can customise the pointer speed when using MouseKeys by moving the sliders below the 'Pointer speed' header to slow down or speed up the rate at which the pointer moves.

Click on the slider beside '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 Alt + T 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 beside 'Acceleration' to set how quickly the mouse pointer will accelerate to the maximum speed, by clicking and dragging it, or by pressing Alt + A and then using the arrow keys.

When using MouseKeys, 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 + H to tick it.

Step 4: Further options

You can set how you want to be able to use the numeric keypad when you are not using MouseKeys. Next to 'Use MouseKeys when NumLock is:' click the 'Off' radio button if you want to be able to use the number pad for data entry. If you instead want to use the number pad for navigation and for the Insert and Delete keys, click the 'On' radio button. Alternatively, press Alt + F to use MouseKeys when Num Lock is off, or press Alt + N to use MouseKeys when Num Lock is on.

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

Click 'OK' or press Enter to return to the 'Accessibility Options' window. Click 'OK' or press Enter again to finish and return to Windows.

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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