For Seniors: How to Use the Computer Mouse

With a computer, you use both a keyboard and a mouse to enter text and give commands to the computer. Though you may have used a keyboard of some type, a mouse may be new to you, and frankly, it takes a little getting used to.

In effect, when you move your mouse around on your desk (or in some models, roll a ball on top of the mouse), a corresponding mouse pointer moves around your computer screen. You control the actions of that pointer by using the right and left buttons on the mouse.

Here are the main functions of a mouse and how to control them:

  • Clicking: When people say “click,” they mean “press and release the left mouse button.” Clicking has a variety of uses. You can click while in a document to move the insertion point, a little line that indicates where your next action will take place. For example, you might click in front of a word you already typed and then type another word to appear before it in a letter.

    Clicking is also used in various windows to select check boxes or radio buttons (also called option buttons) to turn features on or off or to select an object such as a picture or table in your document.

  • Right-clicking: If you click the right mouse button, Windows displays a shortcut menu that is specific to the item you clicked. For example, if you right-click a picture, the menu that appears gives you options for working with the picture. If you right-click the Windows desktop, the menu that appears lets you choose commands that display a different view or change desktop properties.

  • Clicking and dragging: To click and drag, you press and continue to hold down the left mouse button and then move (drag) the mouse to another location. For example, you can click in a document and drag your mouse up, down, right, or left to highlight contents of your document.

    This highlighted text is selected, meaning that any action you perform, such as pressing the Delete key on your keyboard or clicking a button for bold formatting, is performed on the selected text.

  • Scrolling: Many mouse models have a wheel in the center that you can roll up or down to scroll through a document or Web site on your screen. Just roll the wheel down to move through pages going forward or scroll up to move backward in your document.

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