The information on this page is aimed at those who find it difficult or uncomfortabe using a mouse and therefore rely on the keyboard.
Using the keyboard to navigate
Navigation means moving through web pages in a site by selecting links and using browser buttons. All browsers enable you to do this using the keyboard alone, and the following table provides a summary of the keys used in Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox and Opera browsers. (Mac users substitute the Command key in place of Ctrl.)
|Next link||Tab (or A in Opera)|
|Previous link||Shift + Tab (or Q in Opera)|
|Activate a link||Enter|
|Go back a page||Backspace or Alt + Left Arrow|
|Top of page||Ctrl + Home|
|Bottom of page||Ctrl + End|
|Scroll page down||Page Down or Space|
|Scroll page up||Page Up|
|Close window||Ctrl + W|
Visual browsers highlight the current link with a "focus". In IE and Firefox it appears as a dotted border around the link, in Opera reversed colours. It is the link with the focus that will be acted upon when you press Enter.
For more information please see the following web pages (links open in a new window):
- Firefox keyboard shortcuts (with Opera and IE equivalents)
- IE keyboard shortcuts (for IE 5.5 but also applies to IE 6)
- Using Opera without a mouse (tutorial)
Access keys - why haven't we used them?
Access keys are keyboard shortcuts that jump the focus to a particular part of the page. We haven't used them on this site for two reasons:
- They potentially conflict with assistive technology such as screen readers and screen magnifiers.
- There is no accepted convention on how they are used which makes assigning meaningful shortcut keys difficult.
However, if people feel they would benefit from their introduction we will certainly reconsider this decision.