Can’t remember keyboard shortcuts? Prefer using the mouse at all times? You’ll love what mouse gestures can do for your browser workflow.
Mouse gestures are nothing more than quick flicks and clicks of the mouse to trigger specific actions. You can use them to navigate pages faster, for starters. You can also use them to open links, manipulate tabs, save images, and so on. Let’s show you how you can take advantage of mouse gestures in your favorite browser.
crxMouse Chrome Gestures is probably your best choice for adding mouse gestures to Chrome. As soon as you install the extension, its complex-looking Settings section pops up. Don’t let it faze you. Leave the default settings alone to begin with, but check them out one by one to see what each setting allows you to do.
For example, if you go to Settings > Mouse Gestures > More…, you’ll see that the Which key for mouse gestures dropdown menu shows Right mouse button as the selected option. To see the right mouse button in action, click and drag it on the screen, say, first up and then down.
You’ll get a visual tip telling you that this gesture reloads the page. Now let go of the right mouse button and you’ll see that the page does indeed reload. Go ahead and try this on a proper webpage. You know you want to.
Next, go to Settings > Wheel Gestures. You’ll see that the checkbox next to Tab list is enabled and right below it you have instructions for using the tab list. To test this function, hold down the right mouse button and scroll up and down using the mouse wheel. This takes you back and forth through your list of open tabs. To jump to the tab that’s currently highlighted in the list, let go of the mouse button.
Once you get comfortable using the default gestures, feel free to add custom ones under Settings > Mouse Gestures > New and explore some of the advanced settings. You might also want to fiddle with gesture appearances.
If you’re wary of the permissions that crxMouse Chrome Gestures asks for before installation, you can grab a different extension that’s based off this one — you’ll find a reference to crxMouse in the extension description — from the Chrome Web Store.
Are there any gestures extensions on Safari/Chrome like AllinOne for Firefox? CrxMouse seems to collect your data not fond of that.
— Jenneke (@Puppetbrain) May 7, 2015
Note that mouse gestures don’t work on certain pages such as the Chrome Web Store and internal Chrome pages like chrome://settings and chrome://flags. This has nothing to do with the gesture extension that you’re using; those pages are already under lockdown for security reasons.
You can skip your add-on search and install FireGestures. It has high ratings and is the most popular add-on for mouse gestures in Firefox.
With FireGestures, you can execute a wide range of commands using a combination of mouse buttons, keypresses, and mouse wheel scrolling. If you’re on a Mac, you can also configure 3-finger and 4-finger swipe gestures for the trackpad.
Here’s a snapshot of the gestures that the add-on has already set up for you.
You can access the above list under Tools > Add-ons > FireGestures > Preferences > Mapping. The Preferences section gives you quite a few options to configure mouse gestures to your liking — you can specify which mouse button should trigger a gesture, activate tab wheel gestures, get scripts to add special functions, and so on.
There are alternatives to FireGestures. All-in-one Gestures is one of them and it has done a decent job so far, but its developer seems to have abandoned it and the add-on is glitchy in the latest versions of Firefox. No worries though, because Mouse Gestures Suite has stepped up as an effective alternative to All-in-one Gestures and FireGestures.
You don’t need an extension to use mouse gestures in Opera (or in Vivaldi). All you have to do is activate the built-in mouse gestures feature. To do this, go to Preferences > Browser > Shortcuts and check the box next to Enable mouse gestures.
Click on the Learn more link next to this setting to see a list of the default gestures and the actions that they trigger.
Opera also supports rocker gestures, which involve alternate clicking between the left and right mouse buttons to move back and forth between pages in a tab’s history. Opera is smart that way. It packs some handy features like free VPN and page compression for slow connections by default.
If you’d like to add custom gestures or tweak the actions linked to the default gestures, you’ll have to look beyond Opera’s feature set. Since it’s easy to install Google Chrome extensions in Opera with Download Chrome Extension, we recommend installing crxMouse Chrome Gestures even in Opera for advanced gesture options. For many of us though, sticking with Opera’s default mouse navigation functions will work out just fine.
@karlequin incidentally, re: browsers, I use Opera. It's got quirks, but it's also got MOUSE GESTURES. Fastest browsing in the West!
— ?M? (@Rattify) September 1, 2015
There seems to be no decent extension for using mouse gestures in Safari, so you’ll have to content yourself with using the basic mouse gestures built into macOS. You’ll find the settings for these under System Preferences > Mouse.
In Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge finally supports extensions, and there’s one available for taking care of basic browser tasks with mouse movements. It’s name is hard to forget — Mouse Gestures.
Once you install the extension, click and hold the right mouse button to trigger a gesture and drag the mouse in a random shape to get a preview of the gestures available to you. To access gesture settings, click on the extension’s icon in the More actions menu.
If the gestures aren’t working on a webpage, it could be because you had the page open before you installed the extension. If that’s the case, a page refresh should get the gestures working. Note that mouse gestures won’t work in the Reading view and at times on pages with too much content.
Also, here’s how to install an extension on Edge and excellent ones to try.
Click N Scroll Browsing
We must warn you that with the usefulness of mouse gesture extensions comes the threat of spyware and adware. Didn’t think browser extensions could be risky? Think again. Smooth Gestures, a popular Chrome extension for mouse gestures was involved in a spyware controversy. We recommend doing a little digging of your own before you settle on any extension for regular use.
— Lofe (@adamantiumz) July 30, 2016
Once you get used to mouse gestures in your browser, you’ll want to use them in other applications as well. That’s easy to do if you install the right mouse gesture tools.
Do you use mouse gestures? Which custom ones have you set up that are super convenient? Tell us more about them.
Image Credits:hand holding mouse by leungchopan via Shutterstock