Software

How to use macOS with only a keyboard

If your Apple computer suffers a catastrophic error and limits you to only use the keyboard, here's how to reinstall macOS without using a mouse.

A friend recently experienced an issue with the trackpad on their MacBook Pro. It suddenly stopped displaying the cursor, and neither a wireless nor a wired mouse resurrected the cursor.

I believed the OS's subsystem files were corrupted, so I tried to reinstall macOS in an attempt to reload a fresh copy of the system to "clean up" any corrupt files that were preventing the mouse from displaying.

SEE: Systems downtime expense calculator (Tech Pro Research)

The process of installing macOS or OS X only requires a few clicks of the mouse—unless you have to work from just the keyboard. That requires additional steps, which I document below.

  1. Boot your Mac to the Recovery Partition or to external boot media.
  2. At the recovery welcome screen, press Command+F5 keys (or Command+Function+F5, if you're on an Apple laptop) to enable VoiceOver's accessibility features.
  3. Use the arrow keys (or Control+Option+Arrow up/down/right/left) to select your language, and then press Enter.
  4. On the macOS Utilities selection screen, use the arrow keys to highlight Install macOS, press the Tab button to highlight the Continue button, and press Enter.
  5. On the first page of the macOS installation wizard, highlight the Continue button using Control+Option+Arrow Down, and press the Space Bar.
  6. Utilize the same keyboard combination to select the Agree button at the EULA display screen. When you're prompted to confirm the selection, select the Agree button by pressing Tab and then pressing the Space Bar.
  7. To select the storage device that you will be installing macOS onto, use the Command+Option+Arrow keys to choose the section where the drives are listed. To select the individual drive, press Control+Option+Shift+Arrow Down to choose the first drive in the list. Continue pressing the arrow keys left/right until you reach your desired selection, and then press Control+Option+Shift+Arrow Down to highlight that drive, and then press the Space Bar to select it.
  8. With the desired drive selected, press the Control+Option keys, and then use the arrow right/left buttons to highlight the Install button. Press the Space Bar to select the Install button. (If you're on a laptop that is not connected to an AC power source, you will receive a prompt informing you of this.) Press the Tab key once to select Continue, and press the Space Bar to confirm acknowledgement. macOS will begin installing on your system.

Also see

If you have experienced any issues similar to this one, how did you resolve your problem and get macOS/OS X installed? Please share your stories below in the comments.

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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto, Denis_Vermenko

About Jesus Vigo

Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from seve...

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