Using the Computer Mouse

One Click, Two Click, Left Click, Right Click


History of Computer Mice

The computer mouse dates back to the Stanford Research Institute. The mouse was invented by Doug Engelbart in 1964.

The mouse design presented the perfect pointing device for the Graphical User Interface (GUI) developed at Xerox PARC for an Office System that was never patented. The single button mouse and the GUI were implemented by Apple computer in the Lisa computer. This was a marketing flop, but led to the highly successful Macintosh computer line.

When Microsoft developed their first GUI called Windows, they too implemented a mouse, but with two buttons.

On the Macintosh there in no confusion over Mouse Click as only one button is present, but two are really needed. Apple chose to use the combination of holding down the Control (Ctl) key on the keyboard while clicking the mouse. Microsoft's two button mouse eliminated the double keying but introduced confusion over when to Right Click and when to Left Click.


One Button Mouse              Two Button Mouse          Three Button Mouse

One Button Mouse  Two Button Mouse  Three Button Mouse


The Modern Windows Mouse

Today's Windows mouse has three buttons, as shown above (Right). The third button is a roller that scrolls vertically. If you have a three button mouse, play with the middle button.

Most will scroll if you move them forward and backward and will cause a double click when pressed.


Double Click

Double click always applies to the Left mouse button.

If you double click on a desktop icon, whatever program is represented by that icon will start running. This is the most common use for a Double Click.

In many Word Processing programs like Microsoft Word double clicking on any word will select the entire word.


Single Left Mouse Click

A single left mouse click selects whatever the mouse is sitting on or pointing at.

For example, if you go to a web site like, notice the words in blue to the left of the logo. When you move your mouse over these words, it changes from an arrow to a hand with the index finger extended. If you Single Left Click on any word that item will be selected and you will go to that page. On a web site this is known as a navigation menu.

Go to and find the other spots on our home page that will take you to another place. There are three besides the navigation. C4S


On an icon, the program represented by that icon will be selected and nothing more. If you hold down the Left Mouse Button on a desktop icon, you can drag that icon somewhere else on your desktop. Simply release the Left Mouse Button wherever you want the icon placed.

In a word processor you can select a word or a group of words and move them around in the document.

Here we have created a four line document with Wordpad, a word processor found on every Windows computer and highlighted the second line by holding down the Left Mouse Button. Then dragging it to after the third line.

Wordpad Select When we release the Left Mouse Button we get this: Wordpad Move

As you have seen a Single Left Mouse Click is useful in selection and moving text.

It is most useful after a Right Mouse Click.


Right Mouse Click


A Single Right Mouse Click brings up a secondary menu with additional selections.

Right Mouse Click





Here we have Right Mouse Clicked on Fall 2009 Registration.

This gives us a secondary menu with additional options of other things we can do.

None of these are particularly interesting, but look at what we get when we Right Mouse Click on a picture like the one on our C4S homepage.




Image Right Click






We can do some interesting things.

We can save the image, copy the image or even set the image as our desktop background.

For additional information see our C4S Computer Help on Desktop Pictures.






Many other functions have a Right Mouse Click menu with additional options. If you're using an Apple, with a single button mouse, a right mouse click is accomplished by holding down Control key on the keyboard and pressing the mouse button.

Left Mouse Click on the option you want.


Mouse Click Speed


We all have different hand reflex speeds. As we get older most of our reflexes slow a bit.

If you find that you cannot Double Click in a way that Windows understands and when you double click, nothing happens, you have a couple choices.

First you can try Double Clicking a little faster or slower.

Personal Computers are personal because they behave according to your wishes. You can adjust the Double Click mouse speed on your computer in the Control Panel.

To open the Control Panel in Windows XP, click on Start normally in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Then click Control Panel on the right side of the Start Menu.



Then look for the Mouse icon Mouse icon

And Double Click on it.

Control Panel


This takes you to the Mouse Properties menu.

The Double Click Speed is the second item.

Move the slider to increase or decrease the double click speed.

You can judge if it matches your natural double click speed by double clicking on the folder on the right side. mouse10.png 36x39

If your hand reflex matches the Windows Double Click Speed, the folder will open.

If it does not open, adjust the slider until it does.

Mouse Properties


When you are happy with the Double Click Speed click the Apply and Save buttons at the bottom.

Your computer mouse Double Click Speed now matches your reflexes.


Also remember that when you are not sure, Right Mouse Click to see your options.