Consider the lowly mouse. Even its name conjures up a small thing to be shooed away. In the early 1980’s, when people were mostly satisfied with their command lines, many pundits predicted that the mouse would only be a very temporary part of computing user interfaces. […]

Consider the lowly mouse. Even its name conjures up a small thing to be shooed away. In the early 1980’s, when people were mostly satisfied with their command lines, many pundits predicted that the mouse would only be a very temporary part of computing user interfaces. And yet, if you use a desktop computer all day, you probably spend more time with your mouse than with almost any person, right?

Here, I’m going to compile nine tips for energizing your mouse. Because it’s common for people to use mice without referring to any documentation, I’ve found that some people are very surprised by these tips.

Quickly Select Lines of Text and Paragraphs. Multiple mouse clicks in quick succession have different effects in different applications. First, go to a web page, place your cursor within a word, and click your left mouse button twice in quick succession. That probably selects the whole word. Now, put your cursor in the middle of another word and click the button three times in rapid succession. On a web page, this typically selects the whole line of text you’re in. Next, go into a document, such as a Microsoft Word file, put your cursor in the middle of a paragraph, and click three times in quick succession. This selects the whole paragraph. Hit Delete after a triple-mouse click and you’ve just ejected a paragraph as fast as possible.

Let’s Get Horizontal. If your mouse has a scroll wheel, it’s not just for vertical scrolling. For most mice with scroll wheels you can hold the Shift key down to scroll horizontally, or forward and backward, across web pages you’ve been viewing.

Use the Scroll Wheel in Productivity Applications. Many mouse users who have a scroll wheel use the wheel to quickly scroll up and down web pages, but very few use it in productivity applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Especially if you produce a lot of large documents, go into, say, Word or Excel and experiment with using the scroll wheel to move vertically and horizontally (see the tip above) around documents and spreadsheets. Especially if you work with large spreadsheets, this is very useful.

Increase the Size of Text and Graphics. Are your eyes tired at the end of the day? If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can easily use it to increase the size of text and graphics on a web page, in a spreadsheet, or in a document you’re looking at. To experiment with this, go to a web page, hold the Ctrl key down and lightly move your mouse’s scroll wheel down. The information on the page will increase in size. Hold the Ctrl key down and move the scroll wheel up to return to normal size. This tip is very useful when you’re giving presentations and people may not be able to see what you’re showing, or when you’re showing something on a laptop screen.

Mac Users: Scroll Through Your Applications. If you’re a Mac user, hold down the Command key and strike the Tab key to show the applications you’re running. Use the scroll wheel to go up and down to scroll through the applications left and right. Let go of the Command key when you’ve arrived at the application you want.

Who Needs the Scroll Wheel Anyway?
Did you know that clicking the scroll wheel on your mouse can give you a whole new kind of interface? To try this, go to a web page and put your cursor in the middle of it, then click your scroll wheel. Your cursor should change its form factor, and you should be able to scroll vertically and horizontally by simply moving the mouse around. Click the wheel again, or the mouse buttons, to return to normal mode. This also works in your productivity applications.

Open a New Tab in a Tabbed Browser. If you use a tabbed browser, click your scroll wheel once on a link to open it in a new tab.

Use Mouse Gestures. If you want to become a real mouse power user, I heartily recommend a completely free download you can get called StrokeIt. I wrote about this applet once before on this blog. It allows you to record mouse gestures (such as making the shape of an L) that you can attach commands to, including commands specific to any application you commonly use. It also comes with a nice library of pre-defined gestures for common applications. Try it, you’ll like it.

Upgrade to a Tres Cool Mouse. I swear by the Logitech MX Air mouse–the Lamborghini of mice. It costs a little under $150—fairly costly for a mouse—but it has ultra-sensitive motion sensors that let you wave it in the air for tasks like hyper-fast browser scrolling–even from across the room. Here’s a photo:

Do you have any good mouse tips or tips on good mice to buy?

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  1. links for 2007-09-14 | The Frugal Law Student Thursday, September 13, 2007

    [...] Nine Ways to Make Your Mouse Roar « Web Worker Daily This is an awesome post with ways to be more efficient with your mouse. Pretty awesome. [...]

  2. OMG! How can I possibly have been working with a mouse for so long and not known all of these?

    Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!

  3. Don’t forget that you can reassign mouse buttons to common tasks. I never use the forward and back buttons on my mouse, so I use them to launch Expose under Mac OS X.

    My favourite mouse is the Logitech G3. Yes, its a gaming mouse, and yes, its costly. I got mine for about CDN$50 with a rebate. However if you’re good with four buttons and a scroll wheel, few mice feel as good in your hand as this one. Very well made.

    Also, tip for cleaning the slippery pads on your mouse: grab a sheet of paper from your recycling bin, flip it to the unprinted side. Press your mouse down on it hard, and slide the paper out from underneath it by the top (near the wire, if you have one.) The paper will trap all the hand gunk the tape picks up.

  4. Increase Your Productivity with the Click of a Mouse « Matt’s Cuppa Friday, September 14, 2007

    [...] by telecommatt on September 14th, 2007 Nine Ways to Make Your Mouse Roar « Web Worker Daily if you use a desktop computer all day, you probably spend more time with your mouse than with [...]

  5. Nice post. I almost always use a Pen Tablet instead of a mouse, but occasionally find myself at someone elses computer. Good to have some shortcuts for that situation. I do highly recommend switching to a pen tablet though. After a couple of weeks time getting used to it I can hardly function without it. Our company noticed a dramatic increase in productivity about a month after we switched to Wacom tablets. If you’re a Photoshop user words cannot describe how amazing pen tablets are. From application specific customizable pop-up menus to the pure speed involved once you get the hang of it, I can’t emphasize it enough … try a tablet.

  6. In a tabbed browser, click middle mouse button to close a tab, or click right and left button at the same time.

  7. Scarcity Illusion, Traffic Delays, Last.fm, & Excel Tips « GigaOM Friday, September 14, 2007

    [...] Nine ways to make your mouse roar. (WebWorkerDaily) [...]

  8. Scarcity Illusion, Traffic Delays, Last.fm, & Excel Tips at aoortic! dot com Sunday, September 16, 2007

    [...] Nine ways to make your mouse roar. (WebWorkerDaily) [...]

  9. I use several Logitech MX series mice (one MX500, and a few MX700 wireless). Using the software I re-map the extra buttons:

    Cruise up —> Keystroke [Home]
    Cruise down —> Keystroke [End]
    Recall Application —> Keystroke [F5] (Refresh)

    All the buttons are easy to press with your middle finger that is resting on the wheel without ever having to move your finger and those simple re-mapped functions are used so often in both websites and documents (going to the bottom of an article to comment, back to the top for navigation, refreshing a page after making changes, etc.)

  10. On mouse buying advice: Get the most comfortable thing for you. I love most all Logitechs. My desktop mouse is a G5, my laptop mouse is a MX510. I also have a MX700 and a bit older bluetooth wireless desktop. These are all the same shape mouse. I love it. Get whatever works for you, also look at trackballs. Can be useful if you do a ton of mousing and some people like to game with them. On my audio editing computer I use a kensington pro trackball, kind of pricey ($100) but worth it IMO. Razer also has some nice stuff but they never fit my hand. GET A NICE KEYBOARD! I love my Enermax laptop style switch keyboard (it’s aluminum too, and it’s anodized black AND it has blue LEDs and USB ports and audio in / out. This was the best investment I have ever made for ergonomics. It’s almost flat ala the new iMac boards and is really comfortable. I also like my Virtually Indestructible Keyboard, the full size one. That stays with my laptop along with the mx510. My logi bluetooth desktop keyboard is similar to the enermax one, has a nice seperate numpad with multimedia controls but I kind of don’t like the software to make it run nicely, plus it doesn’t work great with linux. Remember, the three things you spend the MOST time with are 1. your keyboard (esp. *nix users like myself) 2. your mouse 3. YOUR MONITOR. Don’t you owe your eyes more? Get a nice crisp Samsung 19″ or so and save the money you would have spent on new glasses. Seriously, only cheap out on a monitor if it’s for backup on a headless server or something. Get a good LCD, use ClearType or equivalent font in *nix. Also important are smaller things like a nice mouse pad (I like my Steelpad 4d) and a nice chair and desk, along with a well though out monitor position so you can sit at the optimum 135* angle or closer to it than the 90* most chairs are set up for. Combine all this with a nice stereo and maybe a logitech squeezebox and some earl grey loose leaf tea and you won’t believe how much more you will get done.

    Just my $1.02

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