Nine Ways to Make Your Mouse Roar

42 Comments

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?

42 Comments

dennis

Damn! Paying 150$ for a mouse is inmoral!

There is no argument paying so much money on a peace of electronized plastic!

Keep your periphery as redundant an therefore robust as possible. Thats the true science of the next generation in times of climate change and ecological abusement.

Choose a cable mouse for 20 Bucks, that will fit ergonomically your needs.

  • Green eco footprint because less electronics compared to wireless mouses.
    You know how much water is spend on a simple peace of silizium-chip?)

  • cheaper investment, less emotional stress when you have to exchange or buy a new one

  • no trouble with extra drivers

Cable mouses are more reliable/secure because:
– no ultra-short but annoying waiting lags for radio transitions
– no annoying lags because of wake-up time from bluetooth sleep modes
– no trouble with recharging batteries, because there are no batteries at all
– less vulnerable because you can keep bluetooth turned off

Dont believe the hype!

Laura Alumbaugh

Wow! I can’t believe what I learned from this. I especially like the tip on using the scroll wheel to click on a link and open a page in a new tab in your browser.

Thanks for this great post!

CryoSilver

I’d suggest getting a gaming mouse for people who use them for hours on end. They tend to have higher sensitivity, and so you move you wrist less, and therefore, less wrist strain at the end of the day. Many gaming mice also have additional buttons that can be hotkeyed to frequently used functions: forward and back, open new tab, etc.

I use a Razer Lachesis, but that’s a little excessive for some people and is in fact impossible for my family to use due to it’s incredible touchiness. A Razer Diamondback is a good entry-level gaming mouse

James Smith, João Pessoa, Brazil

Even better is a trackball. I’ve been using one for over 20 years and find I can be more precise and versatile than with any mouse, and I’ve had plenty of those, too.

With a trackball, bigger is better. The larger the ball, the more precision you can have and the faster you can navigate. Currently, I’m using a CH products DT225 model with four programmable buttons. It also has a set of DIP switches on the bottom that can be set for even more complex functions. After two years of daily use, it’s as tight and precise as the day it was new. The ball is about the size of a tennis ball. I’d like one even larger but this does work very well.

Kingsington also makes a nice trackball and I have had good experiences with them, too.

WILL

hey james

I also have a DT225 TRACKBALL, and I CHANGE THE DIP SWITCHES AT THE BASE OF THE TRACKBALL, NOW UNIT DO NOT WORK AND I CAN´T FIND ANY GUIDE TO SET THEM BACK TO OPERATIONAL STATE, CAN YOU HELP ME ? Thank you !!

Paul Barrow

How about no mouse at all? I much prefer the track pad on my Macbook to any mouse ever and would buy an external for my desktop if I could find one. Two fingers is scroll up and down, three fingers is end and home scroll and two finger tap is right click (used for browser back). Simplicity is beautiful.

Glenn Gillette

If you were using a Fingerworks keyboard, as I have for years, you would’ve had all this *years ago*. Too bad Apple took Fingerworks out of the game by shutting them down & putting all their technology into the iPhone. I’m hoping Apple will start shipping gesturing keyboards too.

Jim C.

I could never get horizontal scrolling to work with my mouse. It’s the one I got from Dell, the control panel says it’s “HID compliant”, and the driver is Microsoft’s. There are also Firefox variables that supposedly control that, but I’ve fiddled with them with no success. Any ideas?

Serene and Not Herd

Firefox users can alternately download the Mouse Gestures add-on for increased versatility. It takes some learning, but also allows you to create your own or edit existing Gestures.

Manu

My favorite tip: If you use save username feature in FF, double-click the left-mouse button in a username field to display list of all the usernames that you have for that site. For example, if you and your wife both have a GMAIL account, double clicking in the user field in GMAIL will display a list of both usernames, you need to click the one you want to use.

Problems with the tips you’ve mentioned:

a. Double clicking in quick succession within a word in Firefox , not only selects the word, but also the space e that comes after the word. his can be a problem if you store all your user names and passwords in your gmail and copy them and directly paste them into login area of the website you are trying to sign nto.

Fix: In Firefox, go to about:config page and search for the layout.word_select.eat_space_to_next_word preference. Set it’s valse to False by double-clicking it.

b. The increase/decrease shortcut doesn’t apply to graphics, at least not on webpages. The shortcut that you’ve given works in Firefox only. In IE it’s the opposite. Clrt + scroll down; Decreases size and Crrl + scroll up: increases the font size.

Henning

Help!
My mouse is lying on the back, holding the bowl and the buttons up straight towards heaven!!!
Can I still use it or is my Mouse dead? Help me please!

AL

Here’s a little tip to actually reduce your mouse usage:

Get a sweet little app called PTFB. It can auto-click buttons for you. Say, for instance, an annoying dialog that comes up every time you boot your Windows. I find this app indispensable!

Charles Wilson

The mouse wheel click to open a page in a new tab is freshly new to me.

I went on to try the control key with wheel. It sizes the font (which I already know and is really useful).

Shift key with the wheel goes to the previous and next page in the browers history.

Alternate and wheel allow scrolling the page on a slower scale and wheel alone.

Hope this is helpful.

Dave

Reggie and his Pen Tablet = Me and my Logitech Marble Mouse, a 4-button trackball.

I swear, if you try one of these suckers out, you’ll never want to look at another mouse. I just wore one out after 6 years (well, not really…a paddle switch got slightly sticky, so I bought another one for about $20 Cdn. The old one’s fixed and resting while the new one carries the load). Tiny footprint on the desktop, amazing precision, less cleaning/maintenance than a mouse, but my favorite trick is to turn the speed down as low as possible in Control Panel and use it to achieve a degree of control in PhotoShop that mouse users can only dream of.

social search

cool tips, thanks, I will use them for sure.

you know what’s missing …

the copy on select and paste on middle click for the whole windows system.

I’ve seen dragking and some other tweaks, but nothing really useful.
please let us know if you find something :) (you can even email me if it’s worth the look)

thanks for the post

newmote

what Stevie ANNIE just said .. ho (sp) my goodness .. all that mouse stuff works and here i’ve been for years using the arrow keys.

sean

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

IgwanaRob

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.)

Jan

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

Reggie

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.

Andrew White

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.

stevieannie

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

Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!

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