keynav - retire your mouse.

Keynav is a piece of an on-going experiment to make pointer-driven interfaces easier and faster for users to operate. It lets you move the pointer quickly to most points on the screen with only a few key strokes.

Note that I said pointer, not mouse. The mouse simply drives the pointer. We can drive the pointer with other devices too. keynav turns your keyboard into an fast pointer mover.

What does it do?

You select a piece of the screen. The screen is initially wholely selected. One move will cut that region by half. A move is a direction: up, down, left, and right.

Once you’re done moving, you simply indicate (with a key stroke) that you want to move. Boom, cursor moves.

Why it is fast?

keynav is geared towards selecting a piece of the screen very quickly.

Recall from above that you are selecting a region by cutting the previous region by half. This gives us logarithmic scaling. High resolution screens incur about the same number of moves to select an area as smaller screens do.

For example, to select any pixel on a screen with resolution 1920x1200 it would take 21 moves. 21 moves is horrible. There is a bright side!

How often do you really want to click on a single specific pixel on your screen using your mouse? Never, right? Well, maybe almost never. Most of the time you want to:

Mailing list

The keynav users mailing list is: [email protected]

I’ll be announcing new versions on this mailing list. Additionally, if you want help or want to contribute patches to keynav, the mailing list is a good place to go.

Supported Platforms

keynav is currently written in C and only works in X11 (Unix graphics environment).

Known working:

Download it!


Looking for an older version? Try the keynav releases archive


Build instructions

make keynav

The above should be all you need to do. Keynav comes with xdotool (required library) and will build static if is not found on your system.

How to use it

Run keynav, and activate it by pressing Control+Semicolon. You should see a thin frame on the screen with a cross in it.

The following is the default configuration:

Your config file must live in ~/.keynavrc. Such as /home/jls/.keynavrc

The config file format consists of a keysequence followed by a comma-separated list of commands. For example:

space warp,click 1,end

This would move the mouse, click left mouse button, and finish (close the keynav selector) when you hit spacebar while keynav was active. A sample config file comes with the distribution as ‘keynavrc’.

The following is a list of key modifiers: shift, ctrl, alt, or any valid X Keysym, such as Shift_L, etc.


You can find the documentation for keynav as keynav.pod in the source, or by viewing it online