Keyboard-only Web Browser

I haven't used a pointing device in over a decade, and I get a lot of questions about how I navigate the web using only the keyboard. The short answer is: Vimium and funnily enough, it's a productivity tool rather than an accessibility tool. Curious? Let me show you around!

Vimium is available as a plugin/extension for both Chrome and Firefox. Basically, you install it, and then press f.

lornajane.net search results, with vimium labels showing on each link

The little yellow labels pop up on everything you can interact with. If there's anything that "doesn't work", that is almost always an inaccessible web element rather than a fault with Vimium. Yes, the web is a bit rubbish in places!

OK so you know how to click on links or input boxes, what else makes a productive web user? Here are a few tips:

  • Use j and k to scroll up and down gradually. spacebar goes down a page at a time and is good for low-friction reading longer form content.
  • Typing F rather than f opens the link in a new tab.
  • Knowing your browser-level keyboard shortcuts is probably also handy! Try ctrl+t for a new tab, ctrl+w to close a tab and ctrl+pgup/pgdown to move between tabs.

For working one-handed, whether that's a permanent thing or your other hand is currently occupied by either a beverage or a child, tools like this can be a real power up. And for me, two hands but I can't move them a lot, a tool like Vimium is life-changing. Whether you are in it for accessibility or productivity, install it and give it a whirl!

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