Dead Mouse for Chrome: open links with your keyboard

Melanie Gross
Jul 24, 2012
Updated • Jul 24, 2012
Google Chrome, Google Chrome extensions

I often prefer to use the keyboard instead of the mouse for operations in the operating system. This begins with simply things such as copying and pasting, but also moving the cursor into the browser's address bar or forms on the website, or scrolling down a page with the space bar or page up and down keys.

When it comes to opening links in the browser, you can't really do comfortably only with the keyboard. While there are options in browsers like Firefox to search through links on a web page - using the ' key - it is not really the most comfortable thing to do.

I'm not sure if the link-only search feature exists in the Chrome browser as well. Help me out here, will you?

Chrome users can however install an extension like Dead Mouse to open links only with the keyboard in the browser. The extension is dead easy to use: all you need to do is type link text in the browser window to make the extension search for it on the page.

If it finds a link it animates the link which acts as a selection indicator. All that is left then is to tap on the enter key to load the link in the current browser tab, or use Shift-Enter to open it in a new tab in Chrome. If you have only a few tabs open, you can then switch to the new tab using the Ctrl-Number keys shortcut.

The Dead Mouse extension works fine on most web pages but not on all. You can't get it to work on most search engine pages for instance, as text that you enter is automatically added to the search form on the page. It may also break keyboard navigation on some pages.

The extension lacks a key to turn it on or off, and an exceptions list that is using a whitelist or blacklist approach. Other than that it can be useful for Chrome users who would like to have an option to open links using only the keyboard.


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  1. Edson said on July 25, 2012 at 3:41 am

    The Opera browser has, by default, spatial navigation (that’s the name given by them, I think).

    This way, you may freely navigate the page with your keyboard only, accessing all comands and NOT only those available through the mouse.

    That’s one of the reasons I am unable to freely embrace Chrome or Firefox.

    To jump from link to link, you have to press SHIFT and the directional keys: the selection will jump UP or DOWN or RIGHT or LEFT according to the original selection.

    1. Edson said on July 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Forgot to say: the very same behaviour “Dead Mouse” can be replicated in Opera by pressing COMMA and then typing whatever text you want your link to have.

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