Mouseless Monday #2 - Keyboard-Friendly Web Apps

Last time for Mouseless Monday, I reviewed the wonders of Google Chrome and Vimium. Vimium is great for bringing keyboard shortcuts to the Web, but it’s a general tool. What if, like on the desktop, we could have site-specific keyboard support? There’s no extension that supports this yet (it would require quite a bit of custom scripting), but the good news is that several popular web apps do natively support keyboard shortcuts.

For all of these apps, hit the question mark (? a.k.a. shift+/) to bring up an explanatory overlay, much like Vimium.


Gmail was probably the first widely used web app to support keyboard shortcuts, and set the standard for others to follow. Like Vimium, the key bindings are Vim-esque.

Gmail Shortcuts

For this and other Google products, keyboard shortcuts need to be enabled in the Settings.

Google Reader

Google’s feed reader closely followed suit, with many of the same bindings, but added some subtlety with the Shift key:

Google Reader Shortcuts

Google Calendar

Google Calendar has a very succinct set of shortcuts, but navigation works surprisingly well. However, I have not been able to figure out how to navigate to and edit a single event.

Google Calendar

Pivotal Tracker

Moving away from the Google products, I use Pivotal Tracker to manage agile software projects. The shortcuts are a bit simple, like Google Calendar, so I still find myself using the mouse quite often.

Pivotal Tracker

GitHub Issue Tracker

GitHub’s issue tracker is also great for managing software projects. Anyone familiar with Gmail’s shortcuts will find the interface familiar.

GitHub Issue Tracker

Excluding URLs in Vimium

To take advantage of these keyboard-friendly web apps, you’ll need to exclude their URLs in Vimium Settings from chrome://extensions.

Vimium Excluded URLs

Rolling Your Own

If you’re a web developer looking to incorporate keyboard shortcuts in your own apps, consider using the jQuery Hotkeys plugin.

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