Tech Savvy Tips and Tricks: Mouse Shortcuts

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Lesson 15: Mouse Shortcuts

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Mouse and trackpad shortcuts

Your mouse can be used for more than just clicking on buttons and web links. When working with text or using your web browser, it has a lot of extra capabilities that can help you save time. By using double-clicks, triple-clicks, the right button, and the scroll wheel, you can quickly select text, display menus, and change views.

showing a mouse

If you are new to using a mouse, you can go to our Mouse Tutorial for instruction and practice.

A laptop has a mouse built-in called a trackpad (also known as a touchpad). Similar to the mouse, it has the ability to double-click and triple-click, but right-clicking and scrolling is different. We'll continue to mention how a trackpad works differently throughout the lesson.

showing a laptop's trackpad or touchpad

Double-clicking

You probably already double-click with the left button on a mouse or two clicks on a trackpad to open files and applications, but you can also double-click to perform other tasks. When working with text in a word processor or email, double-clicking a word automatically selects the word. You can then copy, delete, or add formatting to the text.

selecting a word in Microsoft Word

Triple-clicking

Many people don't realize that triple-clicking with the left button on a mouse or three clicks on a trackpad is a useful shortcut for making selections in many situations.

  • In many word processing applications, you can triple-click on a paragraph to automatically select the entire paragraph.
    triple-clicking to select a paragraph in Microsoft Word
  • You can also select a URL (for example, in your web browser's address bar) by triple-clicking it. If you want, you can then use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C (Windows) or Command+C (Mac) to copy the URL.
    selecting a URL in Microsoft Edge

Right-clicking

In many applications, right-clicking displays a contextual menu. For a mouse, you'll click the right button, but for a trackpad, it'll be the right side of the trackpad . Depending on what you've selected and where you click, the options on the menu will be relevant to the context you're in.

  • You can right-click your desktop to change your background or other view options, such as the arrangement of files and applications.
    right-clicking the desktop in Windows
  • When you right-click in a word processor (like Microsoft Word), formatting options appear. When combined with double-clicking or triple-clicking to select text, you can quickly format words and paragraphs as desired.
    right-clicking in Microsoft Word to show formatting options
  • In your web browser, selecting a word and right-clicking it will allow you to search for the word (for example, in Google).
    searching a word in Microsoft Bing

If you are using a Mac computer and your mouse is not right click-enabled, Ctrl+click is usually the same as right-clicking. This also works for laptops with trackpads.

Scroll wheel

A mouse has a scroll wheel while a trackpad doesn't. For a trackpad, you'll need to use two fingers to swiped up or down to scroll. You may find scrolling useful in some applications (like with your web browser).

  • You can press the scroll wheel, like a mouse button, to select a link and open it in new browser tab. This shortcut is not available on trackpads instead you'll have to right-click to open a new browser tab.opening a new tab with a scroll wheel
  • Some websites and applications (like Google Maps) allow you to zoom in and out by scrolling up and down.
    scrolling in Google Maps to zooom in or out

Open a word processor (like Microsoft Word), and try using mouse and trackpad shortcuts to perform the following tasks:

  1. Type two to three sentences. Select a word in your document, and change its formatting to bold.
  2. Select the entire paragraph, and change its formatting to a different color.
  3. Open your web browser. In the address bar, enter the URL of your choice. Select a word on the webpage and search for it.
  4. Go to Bing Maps. Type your location in the search bar, then press Enter. Using your scroll wheel, zoom in and out of your location on the map.
  5. Triple-click the URL to select it. Try using keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste the URL into your document. If you need to review how to perform shortcuts with your keyboard, go to our Keyboard Shortcuts lesson.

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