Some Mouse “Tricks”
Posted on: September 13th, 2011
The mouse has been part of a standard computer setup for a few decades now. Everybody knows the basic functions of moving the pointer and clicking but modern mice and operating systems offer more features some of which is extremely useful in certain situations.
Most modern mice have a scroll wheel. This is usually located between the left and right buttons of the mouse. You can roll it up and down and the content on the screen can scroll up or down. One common problem is that people don’t realize that the scrolling will only work if the computer’s “attention” is focused on the particular window or part of a window that needs to be scrolled. Here is an example: you open a really long webpage in your browser and start to scroll down the page. But in middle of this a popup shows up notifying you about an update (annoying, isn’t it?). You click it off and try to scroll further down, but the page doesn’t move any more. What happened? When the notification window popped up it stole the focus from the browser and when it was closed down the focus didn’t go back to the browser but stayed with the general Window user interface or went somewhere else. So all the mouse signals didn’t get routed to the browser. How you can fix that? Pretty simple: do a left click anywhere on the browser window (making sure that you don’t activate something – just use a neutral spot). After that click all future scrolling action will work.
There is another useful feature with the scroll wheel that works in almost all software that handles zooming in and out. If you hold down the CRTL key on the keyboard and then move the scroll wheel you will be able to zoom in and out. It’s particularly useful, let’s say, when you are visiting a website that uses small fonts – you can just zoom in and get a readable size text that way.
Multiple Selection Lists
One of the built-in user interface modules of Windows (and also Mac, or other systems) is the multiple selection box. These allow the user to select a number of items at once from a list. An example of this is the list of emails in Outlook, or Windows Mail.
Sometimes it’s necessary, to do an operation (eg: delete) on a large number of items because doing it one-by-one is just not feasible. For example: you want to delete a couple hundred (or thousand) old emails. What you can do is: make sure your emails are sorted by date, then scroll down to the first item that you want to select, click on it (left-click) and then scroll down to the last one, hold down the Shift key and click on the last item. When you do that all the items from the first you selected to the last one will be highlighted (selected). So when you click the delete button all the highlighted ones will be gone. It could save a lot of time.
Now, in some cases you want to select multiple items from the list but they are not next to each other. That’s not a problem. In that case hold down the CTRL key and then click on the items that you want to select. Actually, this kind of click toggles the selection which means if an item was not selected then it becomes selected; and if it was selected then it will be “unselected”. So let’s say you want to delete a whole bunch of emails but keep a few specific ones then you can use the Shift method to select the large section and then while holding the CTRL down you can deselect the ones that you don’t want erased.
It’s worth noting the the selection using the Shift also works on text. Let’s say you want to select a text from a very long document: from the second paragraph of the first page to the 5th paragraph of the 12th page. This could be quite a frustrating experience if you try to do it with the “holding down the mouse button” method because the scrolling usually is too fast when you hit the top or bottom of the window. But, what you can do is to go to the first page. Click just right before the second paragraph, then scroll down to the 12th page, hold down the Shift key and click just right after the 5th paragraph. The text between these points will be selected, precisely.
Touchpads on laptops are basically a replacement for mouse. You can do pretty much the same actions with it. The scrolling is usually done by moving the finger on the right edge, or the bottom edge (vertical or horizontal scrolling). However, this function only works if the touchpad software is loaded and correctly configured, otherwise these areas will be just as any other part of the touchpad.
Touchpads also have a feature called tapping. It is the touching and then releasing of the finger on the touchpad without moving. It is generally turned on, and if no touchpad software is installed then it cannot be turned off. You can also simulate the held down left button using the tapping, it needs a bit of manual dexterity though. You would need to do two quick taps on the same spot and leave the finger pressed on the touchpad and move it around.
The newer, multi-touch pads have the following common features:
I hope you found this article useful and probably will save you some time and frustration in the future.
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