Edge of an Apple bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad.

How To Click Without Using Mouse Buttons in OS X

One of the numerous obstacles those of us with physical limitations face is how do we perform a right-click with a one-button mouse? Those that are able to use a physical keyboard can simply hold down the control key while clicking and that will emulate a right-click. But what about those of us who can’t use a physical keyboard or have trouble using one? There’s actually several solutions out there to this problem and in this brief article I thought I’d touch on a few of the simple software options.

These solutions will also help anyone else who has trouble manually clicking their mouse or trackpad.

KeyStrokes

AssistiveWare’s excellent KeyStrokes is primarily an on-screen keyboard but it also makes good use of “dwelling” technology that allows people to do this. With dwelling turned on you can right click and perform a wide variety of other actions without having to click your mouse button. Just open the Dwellix floating window, select what you want to do (like right clicking for example), then just hover your mouse cursor over something for a short period of time (specified by the user in the preferences panel) and the action that you have selected will be performed.

KeyStrokes window with Dwellix buttons at the top.
KeyStrokes window with Dwellix buttons at the top.

DwellClick

The most affordable option that I could find is an app called “DwellClick“. It’s only $4.99 on the Mac App Store and operates almost exactly like the Dwellix floating window in KeyStrokes. It was also updated as recently as April 2014 so it’s still supported pretty well.

[This is the main solution I personally use for dwelling clicking and it works very well and Pilot Moon, who wrote it, have been responsive and supportive. Highly recommended! – Ricky]

DwellClick pop-up window.
DwellClick pop-up window.

SmartClick

SmartClick is another floating window application from the good people at RJ Cooper & Associates that makes use of dwell clicking. It’s rather pricey at $119 but there’s a 14 day free trial that you can download from their website and it does appear to offer more clicking options. I couldn’t get the demo to work to see for myself because it kept saying my trial period had ended but don’t let that stop you from trying it if you can get it to work because it looks like it does quite a lot.

SmartClick selection window.
SmartClick selection window.

iTracker

If you want a complete mouse replacement solution, including the ability to right click, then look no further than iTracker. It uses your Mac’s built-in iSight camera to track your head movements for moving the mouse cursor around the screen. Clicking is accomplished through dwell clicking. When you hover the mouse cursor on a particular spot for a predetermined amount of time (that you can set in the application’s preferences) a little floating window will pop up below your mouse cursor and offer you the usual clicking options, including right clicking. You have to be sitting directly in front of your Mac though so the iSight camera can see you properly. I found that moving the mouse cursor around was a bit on the sluggish side but you can adjust the sensitivity to suit your needs. The dwell clicking works pretty well though. The application is $34.95 and there is a free demo that you can download to try it out.

The iTracker welcome screen.
The iTracker welcome screen.

Dragon Dictate

And finally there’s Dragon Dictate. Dragon Dictate is a complete dictation solution for your Mac. You can dictate text into virtually any application with fantastic accuracy. It also allows you to control any of the functions of your mouse, including clicking. Simply speaking “mouse click”, “mouse right click”, etc. will allow you to click like a pro. It helps to be in a relatively quiet environment when using Dragon Dictate but it works rather well.

Dragon Dictate icon

The previously mentioned One Finger Snap and ClickNoMo are now incompatible with modern Mac operating systems.

There are actually other solutions out there to this problem on the hardware side but those tend to be even more expensive. So if you’re just looking for a clicking solution I would start with the suggestions above.

– Paul Natsch

Dragon Dictate for Mac: Simply smarter speech recognition

If you are going to buy or upgrade any version of Nuance's Dragon Dictate, please consider using the links in this article. If you do, I'll get a commission - a small percentage of the sale price. It won't cost you anything and it will help to support me and ATMac.

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