Let's say you would like to control your computer partly with your feet: how do you go about it? This wasn't something that I was especially interested in before my wrists started hurting, but now I have it set up I like it a lot and I would definitely keep it even if my wrists were completely better. I have three pedals, set for scroll down, scroll up, and "archive this email message and take me to the next unread message." You could possibly use foot controls for different things in different programs, but I haven't gotten into that.

I got a cheap no-name three pedal foot switch for $35 shipped. I suspect it's not the most durable option, but it's cheap enough that if it breaks I can easily replace it. It comes with (useless-to-me) Windows-only software to program it, but out of the box the three foot switches send a, b, and c. I installed the open source tool Karabiner-Elements to remap them. First I needed to tell Karabiner to only affect the foot pedals:

USB vendor id 1452 (0x5AC) is Apple, so I could tell that the foot pedal was the remaining device. Then I needed to configure what I want it to happen:

The reason for using open square bracket ([) is that it's the gmail keyboard shortcut for "archive this email message and take me to the next unread message."

By itself this is definitely not enough to make my wrists happy again, but it takes a substantial load off them, and lets me handle my email mostly hands-free. If I had a one-off repetitive task I needed to do, I would consider setting up a temporary remapping just for that task. At some point I also might consider setting up something to let me use this hardware to control my rhythm stage setup.

Comment via: facebook


1 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:09 PM
New Comment

Thanks for writing this—just a couple of days ago I thought it might be a good idea to get food pedals.

Since you use Karabiner, have you considered using goku to create "complex modifications"? It might help you make your keyboard more ergonomic and hence ease your wrist pain. I personally like to use the spacebar as a modifier key, and control the arrow keys with spacebar-j / k / l / i. You can also set spacebar-a / s / d / f to delete letter/word forward/backward. I actually have hundreds of modifications, but these are amongst the most useful.

Also, you may already know this, but just in case: on Gmail, you can enable 'auto-advance' under preferences/advanced, and then use 'e' instead of '[', which is easier to reach on the keyboard (so perhaps that pedal is best used for some other function).