The Input Options in Blender’s User Preferences

By Jason van Gumster

The settings and controls in the Input options of Blender’s User Preferences editor have the greatest influence over how you interact with Blender. As the figure shows, this section is extensive.

The Input options in User Preferences.
The Input options in User Preferences.

The largest part of this section — the event editor on the right side — is all about event maps. However, the left-side column has quite a few useful settings as well:

  • Presets: Blender ships with a small assortment of application interaction presets — a fancy way of saying hotkey and mouse configurations. In addition to the default preset, Blender also ships with a few presets that match the interaction styles of other popular 3D programs. You can use this datablock-like menu to choose an existing preset, create a new one, or delete a preset you never want to use.

  • Emulate 3 Button Mouse: Blender was designed to be used with a three-button mouse. However, not all computers have three-button mice, and some artists prefer to work with drawing tablets that don’t have an easily accessible middle mouse button. Enabling this option helps these users compensate by using Alt+left-click to do what is normally done with the middle-click.

  • Continuous Grab: Continuous Grab is a cool feature that allows you to continue moving an object even after your mouse cursor has reached the edge of the editor. Continuous Grab is very useful and enabled by default, but it doesn’t work as nicely for users working with a tablet interface, so you can disable it here if you need to.

  • Select With: Blender’s default behavior is to select objects with the right mouse button. However people migrating to Blender from other programs may be more comfortable selecting with the left mouse button. This control lets you switch between the two. A word of warning: Setting this value to Left disables the Emulate 3 Button Mouse feature.

  • Emulate Numpad: This setting is a very handy option for laptop users. As you see in the next section, Blender makes use of the numeric keypad for quick access to top, front, side, and camera views in the 3D View. Unfortunately, most laptop users don’t have an easily accessible numeric keypad on their keyboards.

    As a workaround, the Emulate Numpad option uses the number keys at the top of the keyboard to have the functionality that the corresponding numpad numbers have. This control in User Preferences disables the normal layer-switching functionality that the number keys at the top of the keyboard normally perform, but the ability to quickly change views tends to be more valuable to users than the ability to quickly change layers.

  • Orbit Style: By default, Blender uses the Turntable setting. However, some users have difficulty navigating to a particular part of their scenes or models when using Turntable setting. For them, the Trackball setting may be more comfortable.

    The difference between the two settings may seem subtle to a new user, but if you’re used to one orbit style, it can be very disorienting to try working in the other.

  • Invert Zoom Direction: Similar to the Orbit Style option, some people are more comfortable scrolling forward to zoom out and back to zoom in. This setting gives users that option.