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.

The web as I see it: little yellow labels on things I can “click”

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!

Originally published at on October 22, 2020.



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