The computer mouse is an incredibly nifty device, which unfortunately, a lot of people do not use to its full potential. There are many more things the mouse can do than left-click to move and select things or right-click to bring up context menus. Many of the tricks are easy to learn as they depend on no more than three keyboard keys. However, they can turn out to be huge time savers and making some tasks much easier.
I have to admit up front that the title of this article is not entirely accurate. As you will see, the list below has a dozen items, not just three. Well, my logic is that if you are slightly geeky and know your way around with computers, you have probably heard of a few of these tricks or maybe even most of them. However, I’m sure that the average person will find at least three Windows mouse tricks they have never heard of before. I have included some simple tricks to offer a somewhat complete list for those who are not as experienced.
Left Mouse Button Tricks
You hopefully know that you can use the [SHIFT] key to select multiple items in a folder. Now, you can do the same for text on a website or in a document. Just click the start point of the paragraph you want to select, then hold the [SHIFT] key, while you click at the end point of what you want to select. Et voilà, that whole chunk of text has been highlighted and can now be copied or edited.
- To select text, left-click first character, then hold [SHIFT] key and select last character.
If you are a little more advanced, you probably know that you can also select a random series of items in a folder by holding down the [CTRL] key as you select the items. Again, the same can be done when you want to select multiple random chunks of text in a document. Just hold onto the [CTRL] key as you go and highlight whatever you want to select. This will not work everywhere, but it does work very nicely in Office documents.
- To select pieces of text, hold [CTRL] key as you make your selection using the left mouse button.
Now here is a very advanced text selection trick. This one allows you to select text vertically. As the previous trick, this will not work everywhere, but does work inside word. Simply press the [ALT] key and select text using the right mouse button.
- Vertically select text by pressing [ALT] key while selecting text with right-mouse button.
We all know that we can use the mouse to drag and drop items, even multiple ones. Did you know that is makes a difference what keyboard keys you are pushing while you use the mouse to drag and drop items? Hold down the [CTRL] key to copy items. Use the [SHIFT] key to move items.
- [CTRL] + left mouse button to drag&drop item/s = copy item/s
- [SHIFT] + left mouse button to drag&drop item/s = move item/s
The next two tricks are a little silly. You already know that you can use your mouse to click the buttons in the top right to close or maximize a window. But did you know you could double-click the center of the title bar to maximize a window? Well, if you knew that, try to double-click the top left corner in the title bar to close it? How is that? This may come in handy in case your mouse happens to be far from the top right corner and you can’t be bothered to move it there. Other than that, me thinks this is about as useful as your appendix.
- Double-click title bar of any window to maximize it.
- Double-click top left corner in title bar of any window to close it.
Right Mouse Button Tricks
Above I showed you how you can use different keyboard keys to copy or move items while dragging and dropping items with your mouse. If you ever forget which keys to hold for what effect, just try to drag&drop items with the right mouse button instead of the left mouse button! Once you release the mouse button to drop the items, this will bring up a context menu that asks you what you want to do, i.e. copy here, move here, or create a shortcut. Handy, eh?
- Drag&drop with right mouse button for action menu.
Everyone knows that the right-mouse button is used to open context menus for files and folders. Did you know that holding the [SHIFT] key as you do so will often reveal hidden options? Below is an example of right-clicking into the Library folder. Can you come up with more exciting revelations?
- To open extended right-click context menu, hold [SHIFT] key as you right-click.
Scroll Wheel or Middle Mouse Button Tricks
Many people don’t realize that the scroll wheel often functions as a button. This is true for most mice, that otherwise lack a middle mouse button. And that combination of scroll wheel and middle mouse button has skills!
Since you are probably all excited about this one if you just discovered it, let’s start with the middle mouse button. If you already knew, the first trick will be old news for you, but hang on for the second one! The middle mouse button can be used to open links in a new tab in your browser. So instead of left- or right-clicking a link, try to middle-click it.
- Open links in new tab by clicking them with middle mouse button.
The second middle mouse button trick is also done in your browser. Open a new tab. And now to close it, simply click it with the middle mouse button.
- Close open tabs by clicking them using the middle mouse button.
Now here is a trick for the scroll wheel. Did you know that in many Windows applications, including your browser, you can use this awesome button, to zoom in and out? This even works in Windows Explorer, i.e. folders? Open a folder and hold the [CTRL] button while scrolling. Inside folders, it actually scrolls through the various view options, but at some point it also zooms in, until you have giant icons. More importantly, however, this trick can help you read better, when the font on a website or in a document is too small.
- Hold [CTRL] button and scroll up to zoom in (enlarge text size) or scroll down to zoom out (reduce text size).
Do you know of any other mouse tricks that I missed? Please share them with us! Also, which of the above were new to you or which one is your favorite?
Looking for more cool tricks? Check out the following articles:
- How To Set Up Shortcuts for Your Mouse using StrokeIt
- 25 Cool Windows 7 Keyboard Tricks That Will Impress Your Friends
- Discover The Hidden Features Of Your Touchpad [Windows]
- Just Gestures Lets You Use Mouse Gestures To Control Windows