A few years back when I came back into The Fold, I was immediately aware of the lack of usable ‘right click’ on Macs. Sure, CTRL + Click does the job and brings up the contextual menu when needed, but I’m spoiled and want an actual […]

A few years back when I came back into The Fold, I was immediately aware of the lack of usable ‘right click’ on Macs. Sure, CTRL + Click does the job and brings up the contextual menu when needed, but I’m spoiled and want an actual right click solution. I quickly found SideTrack from Raging Menace, and it’s the cat’s meow – I continue to use it on my less than a year old PowerBook.

If you’re not familiar with SideTrack, here’s a quick rundown:
– allows you to assign hotkeys to the corners of your trackpad
– allows vertical and horizontal scrolling
– allows tapping the trackpad to function as a CTRL + Click. Bingo!

I personally prefer the tap action for a right click. It fulfills my need and it’s super quick and easy to access. (It drives everyone NUTS when they use my PowerBook, and keep brushing the trackpad and getting contextual menus all over, but not my problem…) So yeah, I dig it.

Now with the release of the MacBook, it appears Apple is making their own option available. Keep 2 fingers on the trackpad when you click, and BAM! Right click contextual menu at your service. (I have not yet tried this myself.) It’s different enough from my current way of working that I wonder how easily I’d be able to convert myself. But the idea is good, and it doesn’t require 2 hands, as the CTRL + Click method does.

So our right click options continue to grow. I appreciate that Apple is making an effort to build it in. But for now, SideTrack is doing me just fine. How do you right click? What’s your preferred software/method for accessing the contextual menus on your system?

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  1. Two finger click, using iscroll2. (still worked after tiger upgrade)

  2. I also use sidetrack, but I have a tap-corner for the right click (Bottom Left). It stays out of other people’s way, and is nice and convenient.

    I also use two other corners for navigating webpages in Camino/firefox. All it takes is a little optimization of how big to make the tap areas.

    Accidental tap clicks on the main track pad drive me into a blind rage – i find it better to keep the majority of the track pad tap-free.

  3. Nick Santilli Thursday, May 18, 2006

    CrzyMike –
    Good idea putting the right click in the corner.

    I’ve got my corners mapped to previoustrack/nexttrack, and play/pause for itunes. and then the 4th corner brings up dashboard (so I can check the weather and hockey scores…)

  4. More tricks from Apple Computer that 99% of users will never know about. Apple just needs to buckle down and add a REAL right-click button! That’s what EVERYBODY wants! Everyone, including long-time Mac users but especially Windows switchers, all use contextual menus on a regular basis.

  5. Nick Santilli Thursday, May 18, 2006

    True enough Scott. I’d love to see 2 buttons built in – but wonder if it’s a way to differentiate a bit more between Apple hardware and the competition… Seems like a flimsy reason, but it’s possible.

    On the other hand, I kind of enjoy all the hidden gems that Apple puts into their products. It’s kinda fun to find them out and start utilizing them once you’re settled into a decent workflow on your system.

    And you never know if throwing that 2 finger on trackpad/click functionality at a switcher, or computer newb may confuse and frighten them. They’re out there, and it’s experiences like that which could turn people away for good, if presented to them before they’re ready. I’m just thinking here… In the end, I’m totally with you on 2 buttons though.

  6. The problem Apple faces with adding Right-clicking isn’t the demand, it’s the kids. Kids from about 6 years and younger have an extremely difficult time with two button mice.

    In order to do it properly, a mouse (input device, to tag it properly) would need to offer both. The mouse/trackpad button should be configurable so it operates in 1 and 2 button mode, like the Mighty Mouse does. If anything should happen, it’s that Apple invents a trackpad version of the MM.

  7. “immediately aware of the lack of usable ‘right click’ on Macs.”

    Obviously, you’re talking about laptops and only using the trackpad and built in button.

    Unless, you don’t know that Mac desktops and laptops work perfectly well with a multi-button mouse attached.

    Either way, it’s very sloppy writing.

    All these solutions sound great. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of innovation or flexibility.

    Seems to me Apple Laptops have an elegant one button design that supports innovation and flexibility.

    I’d rather have all the internal invisible support than more buttons, levers, and doodads.

  8. Nick Santilli Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Todd, nice idea – I could totally see a one button look on an apple notebook, that functioned as 2 buttons…. I like it!

    arcsine – sorry I didn’t spell it out. Yes, I’m obviously talking about Apple notebooks. I didn’t refer to external pointing devices (or “multi-button mouse”) because they – as you pointed out – already support dual button clicks (more than dual button if you want to get technical, though it’s beyond the scope of this post).
    I in fact use a Logitech MX1000 Laser mouse when at home and at my desk – and I use the various 10 buttons for these and many other different functions – but again, that wasn’t quite the point I was trying to get at.

    I gotta go grab a napkin, it’s getting sloppy around here. ;)

  9. I just checked out the MacBook earlier today and the two finger right-click thing is pretty sweet. All in all the MacBook is pretty nice and I love the way the matte black finish felt under my hands (not enough to justify the price difference though). Reminded me of the satin finish photo paper I used to use to print black and white photos on (when I say print I mean in a darkroom in this case).

  10. Ugh. I wish Apple would implement the two finger right-click on the MacBook Pro as well. The two finger scroll made me forget about my external mouse. But to right-click with a single hand as well … that would be the cat’s meow.

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