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Uncreative Labs How Tos:
Helping Newbies Become Users

How to Use the Mouse

--By: Matt Brault

Picture of an IBM Mouse Underside of the mouse

This How-to guide assumes the reader has no experience with the mouse at all.


Usually an arrow, the cursor moves when you move the mouse.

Press a button down and release it. Note: Click usually refers to a Left Click unless specified otherwise. (Such as right click or double click.)

Left Click:
Press the left button down and release it. (Click with the left button.)

Right Click:
Press the right button down and release it. (Click with the right button.)

Double Click:
Press the left button down and release it twice in quick succession. (Quickly click two times.)

Move the mouse cursor over an item. (It's like pointing your finger at something.)

Click on the item.

Select and item, and while holding the mouse button down, move the mouse. Release the item by letting up on the mouse button.

Drag the cursor to select something (like text.)


The mouse should be oriented flat on the top of your desk/table, with the mouse ball touching the desk/table. The cord should be pointed "up" or straight away from the person using the mouse. When you move the mouse straight away from you, the mouse cursor should move up on screen. When you move the mouse to the right, the cursor should go to the right, and so on...

See the image on the upper left for a picture.

Mouse Pad

A mouse pad is simply a cloth covered pad for the mouse to rest and/or move on. It's primary purpose is to provide a good surface for the mouse ball to make contact with, so the mouse moves smoothly.

A user should have a mouse pad, even if the mouse moves fine on the desk/table. A mouse takes room to operate properly, and the mouse pad reminds you of the space allocated to the mouse. On some surfaces (plywood), a mouse pad is necessary for the mouse to move properly.

Control Panel Options

Mouse Properties Screen Mouse Pointers Pointer Options

In the control panel, there are several options for helping various users use the mouse. The screen shots above are taken from Windows XP with the Classic style enabled.

Mouse Properties Screen
This is the first screen you see when you get in to the properties. On it are:

Button Configuration
Right Handed or Lefthanded: Select this based on what side your mouse is on. I've found it's easier to click with my index finger when I use the mouse with either hand.

Double Click Speed
This is how fast you want the system to respond to clicks between double clicks. If you set this to minimum, you may have trouble with false double clicks. If you set this to maximum, you may not be able to double click. If you're having trouble double clicking, try adjusting the slider and double click on the icon.

Click Lock
This allows you to click, move the mouse like you're holding the button down, and click again to release the hold.

Mouse Pointers Screen

This allows you to define a series of pointers to use. If you have multiple people using the computer, or just like changing your pointers, this makes it easy.

This allows you to change your pointers. Click on what you want to change, then click on Browse... Select your new pointer, then click OK. When you click the ok button or Apply, the cursor will change to what you selected. To change back to the default, simply select the item you want to return to default, and click on use default.

Enable Pointer Shadow
This enables a shadow under your mouse cursor. Since I have a custom cursor, I have this disabled. (Creating custom cursors is out of the scope of this guide.)

Other Mouse-like Devices

There are other devices that act like a mouse or as a mouse. The most common of these devices now is a touch pad. The second most common is a track ball, with the third and most hated device being a touch point.

A touch pad (or track pad) is a 2-3 inch square that is often on laptops. You use your finger to move the mouse cursor, and the buttons below to click. These are most often found on modern laptops. (Where they become a pain when typing. HP allows you to turn the touch pad off on their laptops when you don't need it.)

A track ball is almost like an inverted mouse. The difference is the mouse ball is exposed so it can be easily turned by human hands. Some track balls are easier to use than others, my Dad's Compaq laptop had one integrated below the keyboard, and it was difficult to use. My Texas Instruments laptop of the same era had one that attached to the side of the computer and was really easy to use.

A touch point is called by many "the eraser thingy." I've only used one enough to know I don't like it. Many users were unable to get it to work properly.

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