Closeup of a backlit MacBook keyboard.
Dedi Grigoroiu/

If your Mac’s touchpad or mouse stops working, or if a mobile disability is impairing your movement, you can enable a feature that lets you use your keyboard to control the cursor on your screen.

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How to Enable Mouse Keys on Mac

Similar to moving your cursor without a mouse on Windows 11, you’ll need to enable Mouse Keys before you’re able to begin. First, click the Apple icon in the menu bar, and then select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu.

Select System Preferences.

Next, select the “Accessibility” option.

In the left-hand pane of the next screen, scroll down to the Motor group and select “Pointer Control.”

Select Pointer Control.

Click the “Alternate Control Methods” tab and then check the box next to “Enable Mouse Keys” to turn on the feature.

Turn on the mouse keys feature.

Mouse Keys is now enabled. You can customize a couple of things before you start using it, though. To do so, click “Options” next to the feature.

This screen provides a few options for you to choose from. The top two options lets you press the “Option” key on your keyboard five times to toggle Mouse Keys on and off, as well as disable the trackpad when Mouse Keys is enabled.

You can also set the initial delay, which is the amount of time it takes the cursor to react once you press a key, and the maximum speed, which is how fast the cursor moves.

Mouse Keys options.

Once you’ve set these options to your liking, press “OK” to close the window.

RELATED: How to Adjust the Speed of Your Mac's Arrow Keys

Moving the Cursor

Here are the keys you need to press to move the cursor. Pressing and holding the keys will make your cursor move quicker.

Cursor Direction Key
Up 8
Down K (2 if using numeric keyboard)
Left U (4 if using numeric keyboard)
Right O (6 if using numeric keyboard)
Up and left 7
Up and right 9
Down and left J (1 if using numeric keyboard)
Down and right L (3 if using numeric keyboard)

Clicking Items

Here’s how to click with either the primary or secondary mouse buttons.

Mouse button Key
Primary i (or 5 on numeric keyboard)
Secondary Control + M (0 on numeric keyboard)

RELATED: How to Swap Left and Right Mouse Buttons on a Mac

Dragging and Dropping Items

You can also drag and drop items with Mouse Keys.

Action Key
Drag an item Hover your cursor over the item and press M (0 on numeric keyboard). After that, use the keys to move the cursor to drag the item.
Drop an item Navigate to the location on the screen that you would like to drop the item and then press Period (.).

Mouse Keys has been around for a while and is still a great accessibility feature on Mac. However, Mac is always looking at ways to improve accessibility on its platform. Not a fan of Mouse Keys? Try using your face and head to control your Mac.

RELATED: How to Control Your Mac Using Your Head and Face

Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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