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Jan's Working with Windows:

   Using a Mouse

Logitech mouse with scroll wheelBefore you can explore Windows much, you must know how to use your mouse. Your mouse is a pointing device. You use it to point to things on the computer screen. Other pointing devices like touch pads and game controllers are described in the lesson Computer Basics: Input: Pointing Devices.

A mouse has at least two buttons - left and right. Most have a middle button or a scroll wheel between the left and right buttons. Some mice have several other buttons that can be programmed for special functions, especially for games.

The normal shape for the mouse pointer is an arrow: Pointer: Normal select


What You Do with a Mouse

Move the pointer Moving the mouse around moves the mouse pointer/cursor on the screen.
Click Press a mouse button and release it. Usually the left button.
Double-click Press a mouse button twice quickly.
Right click Press the right mouse button and release it.
Drag Hold a mouse button down while moving the mouse. Usually what the mouse pointer was over on the screen will move or be highlighted when you drag.
Scroll Rolling the wheel that some mice have will move the document up and down in the current window.

Practice Mouse Skills

Refresh your window to get back to the original layout in the practice area below. Watch carefully how you click. Things may move!

  • Move your mouse pointer over each image in the frame. After a brief pause, a screen tip appears.

  • Click on the cars. Something changes. Click on other images. Do they all change?

  • Double-click the fish. Another change. Double-click other images. Which ones change?

  • Right click on a picture. Right click in the frame but not on a picture. You get two different context menus.

  • Drag the scrollbar at the right of the images down. More of the page comes into view.

  • Drag the images around. Can you get them into a single stack... with even edges? What other arrangements can you create?

  • If you mouse has a scroll wheel, put the mouse over the framed area. Rotate your scroll wheel. You can move the images up and down in the frame just like the scrollbar did. When you reach the top or bottom of the framed document, rotating the wheel any more makes the whole page move.

To reset the images, refresh the page by clicking the Refresh button of your browser or by pressing the F5 key on the keyboard.

These images are the options for card backs from Solitaire in WinXP.

Tip It's physical! To use your mouse comfortably you must practice, practice, practice. This is a physical skill which uses muscles in your hand and forearm and even the chest that you may not have used before in quite this way. You should expect some soreness when you first start or when you have an unusually long or intense session with your mouse.  You can develop serious problems like carpel tunnel syndrome if you do not have the proper physical setup for your keyboard and mouse. A touch screen, like a tablet computer or smart phone, can be just as bad for your body after a long session.


List of cursor shapesPointer Shapes

The shape of the pointer changes depending on where it is and what is happening. The term cursor is used for the shape that shows where your typing will appear. You can position the cursor by clicking in a spot in a document. So the pointer and cursor work together, but are not quite the same thing.

The hand shape Cursor-hand shape usually means that the pointer is over a link, like on a web page.

Since pointer shapes can be customized in the Mouse dialog (see Control Mouse later), your own pointer shapes may look quite different or even be animated. For example, the following animated shapes are used in pointer schemes that come with WinXP for the shape Working In Background:

        Pointer: animated drum  Pointer: animated wristwatch on arm Pointer: animated horse   Pointer: animated dinosaur