Getting to know your mouse

 

On a PC, just about every mouse will have at least 3 buttons: left click, right click, and the middle mouse wheel. The left click is the main button used for most tasks on a computer, and typically, when someone asks you to "click" on something, they mean left click.  

Right click:

 

The average user can sometimes forget about the right mouse button. It's useful when you need more options. A single or double left click will execute a default action. For instance, double clicking an icon will execute that icon, or if you single click the start menu, it will open the start menu. If you right click, however, you will get a drop down menu, giving you more options.

 

Most people have a shortcut on their desktop for Internet Explorer, so let's use that as our example.  If you double click the icon for Internet Explorer, it will launch Internet Explorer and you can start browsing the web. If you right click instead, you'll get a drop down menu with more options.

 

 

 

 From here, we can still open Internet Explorer by clicking "Open", but you'll see other options as well, like "Properties" or "Delete". The "Properties" option is useful if we need to know the particulars about a file, like it's size, or if it's a shortcut, where the target file is. Probably the most used right click option is "Delete" which, as you may have guessed, would delete the icon. And if you notice, we can also cut and copy from the right click menu.  

We can even right click on empty desktop space, which will give us options to change view settings, as well as change screen resolution and other display settings. Right clicking on the Start Menu, then left clicking on "Properties" brings up the Start Menu properties window, which will allow us to customize what is displayed in the Start Menu, as well as tweak other settings. Right clicking on the C drive in Windows Explorer, then left clicking on "Properties" again, will display a window with a small pie graph, showing how full the computer's hard drive is. Many programs will integrate the right click button to allow users to do more.  Highlight text within Microsoft Word and right click on it. The drop down menu gives you options to change the font type and size just for the highlighted text. Pretty cool.  The right click menu has a seemingly infinite amount of uses.

Middle mouse wheel:

 

The middle mouse wheel is mainly for scrolling. There are some other pretty neat, application specific things we can do with the middle mouse wheel, though. Most mouse wheels can be depressed like a button. This is called middle mouse clicking, or clicking the mouse wheel.  With Internet Explorer, we can middle mouse click on a link in a web page, which will open the link in a new tab, instead of navigating away from the current web page. Are you using Windows 7? You can use this same feature with most programs pinned to your taskbar.  Open your libraries by left clicking the libraries icon in your taskbar. Open another libraries window by middle clicking the same icon.

 

Of course, we all scroll with the mouse wheel, but did you know you can scroll much faster by clicking the mouse wheel? While on a web page, clicking the mouse wheel will cause a circular icon to appear with arrows pointing up and down.



 

 

Move your mouse up or down in relation to the icon, and the screen will scroll accordingly. To stop scrolling, click the middle mouse button again.  This is very useful for scrolling through a large document or web page.

 

Side or thumb buttons:

 

A lot of mice today are now coming with two thumb buttons on the side of tmouse. If your mouse comes with additional software, you can program these buttons to do pretty much anything. However, if you don't have additional software, or just can't be bothered with it, Windows will still put these buttons to use. By default, Windows assigns these as navigation buttons for backwards and forwards. Browsing the web and want to move back one page? Instead of moving your mouse all the way up to the back button, simply click the lower side button on your mouse. Want to move forward? Click the upper side button. This function also works in Windows Explorer when navigating through folders.

Even more buttons?!?

 

Believe it or not, you can buy a mouse with even more buttons than what was mentioned here. I've seen mice go as high as 17 buttons! This would be overkill for most users, but for those who are dealing with programs that require a lot of key presses, having a mouse with a lot of extra buttons can be indispensable. Hopefully though, you've learned to get a little more functionality out of your 3 or 5 button mouse from this article!

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