Mouseless workflow on the Mac

What do you have against mice and trackpads?

Maybe I have bad mouse technique or maybe it's just the fact that I use a computer for 12 hours a day, but when I do anything that involves using the mouse a lot, I get a sore hand... Something like what I imagine the beginnings of tendonitis feels like.

For that reason alone, going mouseless is a solid idea.

It also happens to be faster to use a combination of keystrokes than to use a mouse for just about anything... For visual programs (like Photoshop, ProTools, etc., I prefer a Wacom tablet, but that's another story).

Most of my day is spent using code editors, browsers and a handful of native applications, so being able to control all of these without touching a mouse keeps me from developing some sort of mouse-relative repetitive stress injury.

Tools of the trade

The following is my toolkit to turn the Mac into a mouseless paradise:

  • Vim: Whether it's MacVim, Vim in the terminal or SublimeText using Vim keymappings, Vim (or at least, the central concept of Vim) keeps my fingers on the home row for most of the day.

  • Vimium: If you're already used to Vim keymappings, you're going to love Vimium... Use Vim keymappings to navigate web pages. Since Chrome is the app that I use almost as much as my text editor, this is crucial.

  • Shortcat: This app allows you to control any native app (including Apple's settings panels) with your keyboard. It takes a minute to get used to and it feels like magic!

  • Alfred: This is the app that even non-nerds can appreciate. Simple and powerful... Application launching... Launching files with applications, looking up documentation, calculations. There is no end to what you can do with Alfred... all with the keyboard.

  • gMail, twitter, and github shortcuts: These are all based on Vim keybindings, with a few tweaks. For each of them, you can press ? to get a full list of commands. Learning the shortcuts for gMail has probably added the most time to my day.