Using atom without the mouse?


Is there any way to use atom without having to use the mouse?

I want to start using atom* but am finding it hard to use nothing but the keyboard (which is kinda strange for an editor that claims to be for this century :wink: ). Luckily, atom also claims to be hackable to the core, so I guess creating a keyboard only atom is possible.

I am willing to stick it out, wash the dust off my old mouse, ignore the arm pain and learn coffeescript if someone can confirm that it should be possible to hack atom to not use the mouse given the right codez.

I am thinking that it should not be hard at all. What I am thinking is that you could use a jumpy-ish (vimperator style labeling of links) to access any clickable element / link / input-field on the atom screen.

So I guess my question boils down to:

  1. Are all the clickable elements in atom reachable in some sane way so that it is possible to create a text label “overlay” for them and select them with the keyboard (that is, is atom really “hackable to the core”)?
  2. Is it possible to turn off GUI popups from OS X?

(It is easy to reach most things in atom by keyboard, but not the settings / install packages menus.)

*(I pay a premium for the beauty of a Mac, but am using emacs all day which looks meh. Atom is gorgeous though!).


What specifically are you finding yourself unable to do in Atom with the keyboard? Atom ships with keyboard shortcuts for most things, and anything that doesn’t have a shortcut can generally be activated from the Command Palette (Cmd-Shift-P, which is also a great way to discover keyboard shortcuts for commands).


I don’t remember the last time I clicked on something within Atom.
It’s definitely a matter of familiarizing yourself with existing key bindings, and if anything’s missing, create new bindings for that.


This is the part that I don’t understand about some demands that things be navigable by keyboard. Keyboards and mice are good at different things. For example, keyboards are great for typing text … mice suck at it. So lets take the task of opening a file.

  • Using a mouse, I might find the file in the tree view and double-click it.
  • Using a keyboard, I might press Cmd+T to bring up the fuzzy-finder, enter part of the file name and press Enter

The best answer is not to press Ctrl+0 to swap to the tree-view, press arrow keys a bazillion times to find the file I want and then press Enter. It would be faster to use the mouse. That’s why file pickers like the fuzzy-finder were created.

I understand the desire to keep one’s hands one the keyboard. But the answer is not to try to create a keyboard method of navigating a GUI. The answer is to create tools that work well with the keyboard’s strengths.

Having worked with computers since well before GUIs were commonplace, keyboard-only interfaces with no other option is last century … not this one. Some people feel they are more efficient only using the keyboard (though there is research to show that isn’t true except in highly-specific situations) and that is fine. But lets leave the snide remarks about “editor for the 21st century” and “hackable to the core” at the door, ok?


Thanks for all the replies.

To answer the question of examples of what I am unable to do:

If I save my keymap file and there is an error, a pop-up appears that I cannot seem to remove with my keyboard. Would be neat with a possibility of removing it with a keypress.
I cannot browse packages or themes easily with only the keyboard, nor install/uninstall and so on.
I also can’t navigate the filesystem easily with only the keyboard, the fuzzy finder does not find all files (it seems).

I did not mean that it should not be possible to use the mouse.


You can dismiss popins with escape (or core:cancel command)


It would be kind of cool if the file tree had the fuzzy-finder features. Best of both worlds.


The tree-view-filter package does something similar


The Settings page can’t be used with the keyboard only. Or if it can, I haven’t found out how.

I hate it but I suck it up because I don’t have to change my settings every day.


It’d be really nice to have a more keyboard sentric settings I agree. I also still find the tree view to be a bit aggravating with the keyboard. I think mostly because it doesn’t remember where I was. There are a few other small issues like this I’ve stumbled upon.


I think you’re searching an editing experience closely like Emacs, right?
Emacs is COMPLETELY mouse free: when editing, configuring or hacking it, etc. I think endrebak is right: and editor of 21th century could be totally accessible with keyboard in first place.


This is one of the things that I wish to happen. Being mouse free does not mean you can’t use the mouse. Emacs is a good example of that, you can use the mouse for most everything you see on screen but everything can also be done without a mouse.

To be honest I think is just a matter of speed, since I don’t do drawing while I code, I think text input is the fastest way to achieve things in a text editor.