Some Pointers on Using Your Mouse Pointer

April 1, 2009

Have you ever clicked on something and it didn’t take? Or double-clicked on something and nothing happened? Chances are, the reason is that you moved the mouse while you were clicking. If you move the mouse while clicking, or move it in between clicks when double-clicking, it won’t take. So be sure to keep the mouse still when clicking.


Did you know that you can access some very useful and convenient functions by right-clicking on some things? Right-click on a blank area of your Windows Desktop and choose “Properties” or “Personalize” depending on if you have XP or Vista, and you can change the display properties on your computer. Right-click on a file and you can choose “Cut”. Then right-click in another folder and choose “Paste”. You just moved a file from one folder to another. You can also copy a file that way.


Often in Windows, you see a list of things. It could be a list of e-mails, contacts, files, folders, or lots of other different types of things. You know how to do things with a single item. For example, you know how to delete one e-mail. You highlight that e-mail in the list of e-mail and then click the delete icon (usually an X in the toolbar) or hit the delete button on your keyboard. But did you know that there ways to select multiple items in Windows? Here are some examples of things you can do to save time.


If you want to select everything in a list, click once on any item in the list and then hit Ctrl-A (hold the Ctrl button down and hit the letter A) on your keyboard. This will select everything in the list.


To select certain items in a list, left-click on one item that you want. This will select that one item. To add other items to the selection, one by one, hold the Cntrl key down (on your keyboard) and click on the other items you want to add to the selection. Keep holding the Cntrl key down until you are done. If you select the wrong one accidentally, click on it again to deselect it (still holding the control key down). When you are done selecting all of the items you want, let up on the Cntrl key.


To quickly select items that are all next to each other, left-click on the item at the top of the list, scroll down to find the last item you want to include in the selection. Now hold the Shift key down and left-click on the last item you want to include in the selection. Windows will select everything between the first item you selected and the item you shift-clicked on.


You can also click in an area where there are no items and start dragging the mouse. As you move the mouse while holding down the button, a box will appear. You can change the size of the box by moving the mouse around. Any item that the box touches will be selected. When the items you want are all selected, let up on the mouse button and they will be selected. Note that this method does not work in as many programs as Cntrl-click and Shift-click does.


Once you have a list of items selected, then you can do something to all of them at the same time. What can you do? Well, it depends on what the items are and what program you are in, but in general, you can delete, copy, move, or change certain common properties.


For example, let’s say you want to delete all of the e-mails in your inbox that arrived before January 1st, 2009. Sort your inbox by date received (usually by clicking the column header). Now click on the top item in the list you want to delete. Scroll down to the last item you want to delete, hold down the shift-key, and click on the last item. Now hit the delete key on your keyboard.


In a similar example, let’s say you wanted to move a bunch of e-mails to a folder. Once selected, instead of hitting the delete key, just click on one of the selected e-mails and hold the button down and drag and drop the list on top of that folder.


There isn’t enough room in this article to go into every possible way you could use this, but you get the idea. Give it a try!


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