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How to Use Your Computer Mouse

The computer’s mouse controls a graphical mouse pointer or mouse cursor on the screen. When you move the mouse around by rolling it on your desk, the pointer on the screen moves in a similar manner. Roll the mouse left, and the pointer moves left; roll it in circles, and the pointer mimics that action.

Here are some of the more basic mouse operations:

  • Point: When you’re told to “point the mouse,” you move the mouse on the desktop, which moves the mouse pointer on the screen to point at something interesting (or not).

  • Click: A click is a press of the mouse button — one press and release of the main button, the one on the left. This action makes a clicking sound, which is where this maneuver gets its name.

    Clicking is often done to select something or to identify a specific location on the screen.

  • Right-click: This action is the same as a click, although the right mouse button is used.

  • Double-click: This one works just like the single click, although you click twice in the same spot — usually, rather rapidly.

    This is most commonly done in Windows to open something, such as an icon. Both clicks must be on (or near) the same spot for the double-click to work.

  • Drag: The drag operation is done to graphically pick up something on the screen and move it. To do that, you point the mouse at the thing you want to drag, press and hold the mouse’s button (which “picks up” the object), and then move the mouse to another location. When you move the mouse (and keep the button down), the object moves. To release, or drop, the object, release the mouse button.

  • Right-drag: This action is the same as a drag, but the mouse’s right button is used.

Many of these basic mouse operations can be combined with keys on the keyboard. For example, Shift-click means holding down the Shift key on the keyboard while clicking the mouse.

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