Long ago the Internet could not be accessed ….

I am looking for a word to use in the above sentence. I want it to mean ‘easily’ and ‘quickly’. I remember there was a phrase or proverb which had the word ‘finger’ in it.

  • 5
    "at your fingertips"?
    – Esther
    May 25 at 19:18
  • 2
    "Long time ago, the Internet was not at the touch of a button" seems more appropriate
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 25 at 19:44
  • 1
    Let your fingers do the walking.... May 25 at 19:52
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA - I think you mean 'a long time ago'. May 25 at 20:03
  • 1
    The absolute minimum-effort "finger" idiom in U.S. English is "without lifting a finger." It doesn't seem literally applicable to accessing the Internet long ago, however.
    – Sven Yargs
    May 25 at 20:12

3 Answers 3


How about:

Long ago the Internet was not at everybody’s fingertips.

It’s slightly awkward in this example sentence — it works better when the active agent is more explicit (e.g. “When I was a kid, we didn’t have the internet at our fingertips.”) But otherwise it seems to fit exactly what you have in mind: it means something is easily and quickly accessible at any time, and involves fingers.

(Also suggested by Esther in comments on the question.)


There is a possibility of using a fixed expression that has "fingers" in it, but it would probably be better to use it in the present case as introduced by another fixed expression ("just like that").

(ref.) … turned back over his shoulder but not toward me, stared for what seemed like a whole lot longer than a couple seconds as if he'd tranced out just like that, at the snap of the fingers, as if he was staring suddenly at something in

  • Long ago the Internet could not be accessed just like that, at a/the snap of the fingers
  • 3
    At or in the snap of the fingers?
    – Sasan
    May 25 at 21:41
  • @Sasan Both are used, and you might look up the various contexts found on the pages of examples found here. It seems to me, beforehand, that both are equally correct, but as "in" shows more definitely the idea of a very short lapse of time, it is possibly better in this case.
    – LPH
    May 25 at 21:51
  • @LPH I suspect that 'in the snap of the fingers' is a US usage, only 'at the snap of the fingers' is familiar to me in BrE. To me 'a snap of the fingers' is a command or initiation like 'the press of a button' rather than a specification of a short period of time. The expression for a short period of time is 'in the blink of an eye'.
    – BoldBen
    May 26 at 7:15
  • @BoldBen I am also familiar with the idea that "at" relates to a signal associated with a command, that must be right then, but I can't say anything about US or British usage for either preposition.
    – LPH
    May 26 at 8:28
  • Your Dictionary has: << Snap-of-a-finger definition: Very easily, with little effort. >> But the example they give sounds odd to my (UK) ears. I'm used to 'at the snap of a finger'. eg << "You lose a treasure trove like that, it's not exactly replaceable at the snap of a finger," Ms. Solomon said. >> [The New York Times; LudvigGuru] May 26 at 11:14

"like snapping your fingers" or "at the snap of a finger" or other constructions that refer to snapping fingers, also this. This conveys the idea that it is easy and basically instantaneous. It may also imply that no extra/additional equipment is needed beyond what is already on hand.

  • I think Dave's getting closest, and I think "with the snap of a finger" is about ease as in power or authority, rather than as in simplicity, and to me "quickly" deals with the split second needed to make the decision or give the order, rather than the time taken to achieve whatever it is. May 27 at 12:53

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