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Display drop-down list in IE via keyboard? F4 does not work

Posted on 2003-03-28
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Is there a standard way in Internet Explorer to get a drop-down list to display its contents using only the keyboard? For a standard Windows app, "F4" expands a drop down list the same as clicking on the down arrow, but in IE "F4" changes focus to the URL address bar and drops it down -- not what I want.

The only option I can find is to tab into the drop-down and use the cursor up & down arrow keys to go through each entry one at a time, but this is very inconvenient, plus it triggers JavaScript on some pages (like our corporate HR app) with each change.

The reason I need this function is I am writing voice recognition scripts for people with hand related disabilities, and most of the voice recognition program's actions are taken via simulating keyboard entry by voice command. In general, mouse clicks are not an option (with some exceptions). If version matters, we use IE 5.5 & 6.


Thanks in advance,
parkerea
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Question by:parkerea
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9 Comments
 
LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 8226410
Umm as far as I know you can't map keyboard inputs for IE. The input for IE is pretty much hard-coded into IE. The drop down boxes in IE are not the same as the ones you see in programs. There may be a plug-in that can be used to do this with but I don't know have any knowledge of one. But some other Expert might.


The Crazy One
0
 
LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 8231215
I'm not sure if this will help you or not, and if it does it is IE only AFAIK

You can assign an access key to elements in a form such as a select.  When the combination of alt and the specified key are pressed, it causes the browser to set focus to the element designated for that accesskey:

<select name="one" accesskey="x">
a bunch of options
</select>
<select name="two" accesskey="y">
a bunch of options
</select>

alt+x will result in focus going to select "one" and alt+y will result in the focus shifting to select "two"

I hope that helps, because I don't know of any other way to set hotkey focusing.

Cd&
0
 

Author Comment

by:parkerea
ID: 8232453
Thanks, COBOLdinosaur, but I was probably not clear in my original note -– I am looking for a keyboard (non-mouse) method to drop-down a list as a user, not as a web developer. Your method would work if I had control over the web pages the user visits, but unfortunately I do not.

The voice recognition program basically does the equivalent of I called "stuffing the keyboard buffer" in the old DOS days. As a user talks into it, it recognizes the words as text to type, which are pushed into event buffer for the active window (like "SendKeys" if you are familiar with VB). The voice recognition is actually quite sophisticated, and can execute commands, macros, and certain kinds of mouse clicks, but I do not see any method to use them here.


Thanks again,
parkerea
0
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LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 8232740
Yeah like I said IE isn't very open to changing the way it behaves to keyboard input. :>(
0
 
LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 8232742
Not sure but you might be able to do this using the IEAK. But that would mean the user would have to use the browser you built from the IEAK.

ieak.microsoft.com
0
 
LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 8234112
If IEAK won't let you do it, it probably only leaves something custom in JAVA, or perhaps a DLL that can be installed as an activeX object.

Cd&
0
 
LVL 7

Accepted Solution

by:
inxil earned 1000 total points
ID: 8241450
It can be done, but you have to Tab through the form objects and links on the page.  If you open up a page, hitting tab repeatedly will toggle through all the "interactive" items on the page.  Once you have the drop-down selected, hit Alt+DownArrow to expand the dropdown menu.

It's not a great way to browse the web, but it's probably the best you can do with the keyboard in this manner.

P.S. Shift+Tab if the item's closer to the bottom of the page.
0
 
LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:inxil
ID: 8241463
Oops, didn't notice that you mentioned the Tabbing.  Alt+Down will expand the dropdown menu.
0
 

Author Comment

by:parkerea
ID: 8241943
BINGO! Yep -- Alt+DownArrow did the trick. That simple command is conspicuously missing from the "Internet Explorer keyboard shortcuts" in the IE help.


Thanks!
parkerea
0

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