25 Time-Saving Ways to Use a Computer Mouse

shiny black computer mouse with two buttons and a scroll wheelYour mouse has a lot of potential.

It can run through tubes, climb ladders, gobble food…

Oops. Wait. Wrong kind of mouse.

Seriously, though, your computer mouse can be used for much more than a pointing device that sometimes clicks on things.

I’ve compiled a list of things that I use my mouse for, and I would love to try out any suggestions that you leave in the comments.

It should be noted, for reference, that with the exception of the middle button, mouse functions are basically the same whether they are performed with a mouse, or with laptop touch pad buttons.

But, as you will see from this list, the middle button is so useful that I recommend using a mouse with your laptop whenever possible.

Single-Click (Left Mouse Button)

1. Select a program or file (in Windows) by clicking on it.

2. Open a program or file (in Linux) by clicking on it.

3. Jump up or down a full page/screen in a program/document by clicking the empty space above or below the window’s right-side scroll bar.

Double Click (Left Mouse Button)

4. Open a program or file (in Windows) by double-clicking it.

5. Highlight a word instantly by double-clicking the word.

6. Maximize a smaller window, or re-size a maximized window, by double-clicking the title bar at the top of the window.

Triple Click (Left Mouse Button)

7. Highlight an entire paragraph by triple-clicking somewhere in the paragraph.

Right Click

8. Bring up a menu of actions that can be performed by right-clicking a space/object/etc.

Right Click + Drag

9. Right-click and drag an object (file/folder/etc.) to copy or move it.

Shift + Click

10. Select all objects or highlight all text between two points clicked, by holding down the Shift key while clicking.

11. Reduce or expand selection of objects or highlighted text by holding down the Shift key again, and clicking before or after the last point clicked.

12. In browsers, holding down the Shift key while clicking a link, will open the link in a new window.

Ctrl + Click

13. Select multiple objects by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking each one.

14. Deselect one of multiple selected objects by holding down the Ctrl key while clicking a selected object.

15. In browsers, holding the Ctrl key while clicking a link, will open the link in a new tab.

Scroll Wheel

16. Scroll up and down on a page, or in a program, etc. by rolling the scroll wheel.

Scroll Wheel Click (Middle Click)

17. In a browser, middle-clicking a link will open the link in a new tab.

18. In a browser, middle-clicking an open tab will close the tab.

19. In a browser, middle-clicking a folder of bookmarks will open all bookmarks in that folder in separate tabs.

20. In many Linux programs, middle-clicking will paste copied text.

21. In many Windows programs, holding down the middle button will allow you to scroll through a document just by moving the mouse.

22. In Windows, you can open a new instance of an already-opened program by middle-clicking the program’s icon on the Taskbar.

23. In Windows, you can close an open window by middle-clicking the thumbnail that pops up when you hover over its Taskbar icon.

Ctrl + Scroll Wheel

24. Hold down the Ctrl key and roll the scroll wheel up/down to zoom in/out in many programs.

Shift + Scroll Wheel

25. In browsers, hold down the Shift key and roll the scroll wheel up/down to go forward/backward one or more pages while browsing.

Putting It All Together

Once you have mastered some of these options, try putting a few together.

You can select multiple paragraphs, for example, by triple-clicking the first, then holding down the Shift key to select additional paragraphs afterward.

Or, you can select a range of objects/files while holding down the Shift key, and deselect a random few of them while holding down the Ctrl key.

Try out some combinations that will be useful to you.

What’s the worst that could happen?

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