Where the Heck Are the Mouse Buttons on My MacBook? - dummies

Where the Heck Are the Mouse Buttons on My MacBook?

By Mark L. Chambers

El Capitan takes a visual approach to everything on your MacBook. The OS X Desktop is designed for point-and-click convenience, because the trackpad is your primary navigational tool while you’re using your Mac laptop.

You move your finger over the surface of the trackpad, and the pointer follows like an obedient pup. The faster you move your finger, the farther the pointer goes. When your pointer is over the desired item, you tap it (or click it, if you prefer the more familiar term), it opens, you do your thing, and life is good.

Never use any object other than your finger on the trackpad! That means no pencils (no, not even the eraser end), pens, or chopsticks; they can damage your trackpad in no time.

If you’ve grazed on the other side of the fence — if you’re one of Those Who Were Once Windows Users — you’re probably accustomed to using a mouse with at least two buttons. This brings up the nagging question: “Where the heck are the buttons?”

In a nutshell, the buttons simply ain’t there if you’re using your Mac laptop’s trackpad. The entire surface of the trackpad can act as both buttons. To customize how the trackpad operates, click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, and then click the Trackpad icon. From the Point & Click pane, for example, you can

  • Select the Tap to Click check box: Now, when you tap once quickly anywhere on the trackpad, your Mac laptop counts that as a click. Tap twice quickly, and your MacBook recognizes that as a double-click.

  • Select the Secondary Click check box: A single tap with two fingers displays the right-click menu.

  • Select the Look Up & Data Detectors check box: If your Mac laptop is equipped with a Force Touch Trackpad, you can choose how Force Click operates (along with the Force Click and Haptic Feedback check box, which provides physical feedback from the trackpad). Note that these two checkboxes will not appear if your MacBook has an older trackpad.

  • Enable the Look Up check box: Tap the trackpad with three fingers to look up a selected word in the Dictionary.

  • Enable the Three Finger Drag check box: (Sounds like a dance from the ‘60s, doesn’t it?) By using three fingers, you can drag around windows on your Desktop to reposition them.

  • Adjust your tracking speed and Force Click pressure: Click and drag the Tracking speed slider to speed up or slow down the rate at which the pointer moves. The Click pressure slider controls how hard you must press to activate Force Click.

Apple has done a great job of illustrating each gesture available from the Trackpad pane in System Preferences. A short video clip shows you both the gesture itself and the effect of that gesture within OS X.

If you can afford a USB or wireless Bluetooth mouse or trackball for your laptop, buy it.

If you tap the trackpad with two fingertips (or click the right mouse button on a USB mouse), El Capitan performs the same default function that a right-click does in Windows. Namely, with a right-click on most items — icons, documents, even your Desktop — you get a shortcut menu of commands specific to that item.

Check out a typical convenient right-click menu in a Finder window.

Welcome to your shortcut menu!
Welcome to your shortcut menu!

Visit the Mouse pane in System Preferences to configure your mouse, as well.