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Fundamentals of Using a Window: The Mouse

 

Mouse Position

Mouse

The mouse is one of several pieces of hardware you will be using when interacting with the computer. It works by its pointing on the screen and your judging whether it is pointing or resting on the right item.

A mouse is primarily made of three parts: the buttons, the handling area, and the rolling object. By default, a mouse has two buttons: left and right. Most mice nowadays are also equipped with a wheel on top:

 

Author Note

You will usually see the expression "by default" in computer books and web sites. The expression "by default" means "if everything is not (yet) changed from the original or normal settings".

To use the mouse, the first decision you make is to know which of your two hands you will be using to handle the mouse. By default, the mouse is configured to work for the right hand. If you are left-handed, the settings can be changed to suit your needs.

Practical Learning: Introducing the Mouse

  1. (This lesson continues from the previous and we assume that your computer is turned on)
    To find out if you are left or right handed, right-now (assuming both of your hands are free and fine), without thinking, touch the top of your head. If you used your left hand, you are likely left-handed. If you used your right hand, you are likely right-handed.
    If you are right handed, you can continue the lessons.
    If you are left-handed, you may need to first configure your mouse. If you are in a classroom, your teacher can do that for you (Start -> Control Panel; Mouse; Switch Primary And Secondary Buttons:
     

    OK).

  2. If you are right-handed, position the mouse on the right of the keyboard
    If you are left-handed, position the mouse to the left of the keyboard
  3. If you are right-handed, place your right index finger on the left mouse button
    If you are left-handed, place your left index finger on the right mouse button
  4. If you are right-handed, place your (right) middle finger on the right mouse button
    If you are left-handed, place your (left) middle finger on the left mouse button
  5. If you are right-handed, place your right thumb on the left side of the mouse
    If you are left-handed, place your left thumb on the right side of the mouse
  6. If you are right-handed, place your right pinky and ring fingers on the right side of the mouse
    If you are left-handed, place your left pinky and ring fingers on the left side of the mouse

 

Mouse Cursors

After positioning the mouse to the desired position, the next thing you must do is to locate its presence on the screen. Most of the time, and after a while of practice, you will be more concerned with where your mouse is on the screen as opposed to where your fingers are. This means that the position of the mouse on the screen is very important and you should know it at all times (unless an application, such as a screen saver, is meant to hide it).

To make the position of the mouse known, the computer draws a small picture on the screen. This picture is called a mouse cursor or simply, a cursor.

Author Note

From now on, the word "cursor" always refers to the mouse, always. When we refer to the keyboard, we will use another word but we will never use the word "cursor" when referring to the keyboard. In the same way, the word we will use for the keyboard's presence will never be used for the mouse. Once again, when we use cursor, we mean the mouse.

The most used cursor displays as an arrow pointing to the North-West (in some scenarios of word processing, it will point to the North-East). Because there are various types of operations you will usually be asked to perform, there are other types of cursors. To support the most regular assignments, the computer comes with its own set of cursors:

Mouse Properties

As mentioned already, the most regularly used cursor is the one with the up-left pointing arrow. The primary object that defines what cursor to use is the computer. In some cases, when performing an assignment, the mouse cursor may change also depending on what you are doing. A programmer (a person who creates a computer program) also is highly in charge of deciding what cursor to display and when. Besides the above cursors, many programs you will use also have their own cursors, in addition to, or instead of, the above.

Mouse Operations: Move

Not all mice function the same, nor do they use the same mechanical functionality, but all accomplish the same purpose. Many mice have a ball in the bottom section; that ball rolls when the mouse moves. Some mice, such as trackballs, have their ball on top and/or they don't exhibit buttons; you would have to grab the ball to do what you want:

Trackball

Many of the new mice don't use a ball at all: they use a type of light beam to provide the same functionality as the ball. Laptop computers (notebooks) use another process to simulate the mouse. They are usually equipped with a small flat area/surface, or, sometimes, a short stick.

One of the actions you can perform with the mouse is to move it. To do this, if you are using a regular mouse, you can physically but slightly push the mouse on the table. If you are using a trackball, you can roll the ball. If you are using a laptop, you can position a finger on the pad, press and hold the finger, then move the pressed finger.

When the mouse rests on certain items on the desktop or on some buttons of some programs, a short word or sentence appears: that's a tool tip.

Practical Learning: Moving the Mouse

  1. Position the mouse on an empty area of the desktop. You see the mouse pointer also called the mouse cursor or simply the cursor
  2. To see a tool tip, position (only position) the mouse on the Recycle Bin icon and see the sentence that appears:
     
 
From now on, unless specified otherwise, the word "Mouse" refers to the mouse pointer or cursor on the screen. For example, if we write, "Position the mouse on Mamma", we mean, "Position or place the mouse cursor on the item identified as Mamma". This means that the word mouse will not anymore refer to the mouse on the table or the pad on the laptop. Unless specified otherwise, the word mouse means the cursor on the screen.
 

Mouse Operations: Click

The mouse is the object you will use the most when interacting with the computer. The mouse is primarily used in one of four actions.

When asked to click, this request always refers to the left mouse button. To perform this action:

  1. Place your index finger (if you are right-handed, this refers to the right hand index finger; if you are left-handed, this refers to the left hand index finger) on the left mouse button
  2. Press the index finger once on the button and release the finger. What you see on the item clicked depends on the type of item. We will view most types of behaviors that occur when the mouse is clicked on an item

Practical Learning: Clicking the Mouse 

  1. Position the mouse on an empty area of the desktop and make sure the mouse pointer is not touching anything else:
     
  2. Place your index finger on the left mouse button and press the mouse button once. This action is called Click 
  3. Notice that nothing happens
  4. Move the mouse and position its cursor on Recycle Bin
  5. Then press the mouse button again once
  6. After clicking, notice that the Recycle Bin icon becomes highlighted. This is also referred to as "selected"
  7. Position the mouse on another item such as Internet Explorer. Then click once
  8. Notice that Recycle Bin is not selected anymore but the new item is now selected or highlighted
  9. Position the mouse on an empty area on the desktop and click
  10. Notice that the previous item that was selected got deselected and now nothing is selected
From now on, unless specified otherwise, if you are asked to CLICK, position the mouse cursor on the item you are asked to CLICK (we will always state or indicate what item you need to click). Then press the left mouse button once.
Remember two things:
1. CLICK always refers to the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON
2. CLICK always means press the left mouse button ONCE
 

Mouse Operations: Double-Click

Another regular action you will perform using the mouse consists of pressing one of its buttons twice, very fast. This action is referred to as Double-Click. To perform this action:

  1. You position the mouse on an item
  2. Then you apply two very fast strokes on the left mouse button. What happens as a result depends on the item on which you performed the action. It may open something. It may select another. Or it may not do anything at all

Practical Learning: Double-Clicking

  1. Position the mouse cursor on Recycle Bin
  2. Then press the left mouse button twice, very fast.
    A rectangular object called a window should open. It it doesn't, repeat the action until a rectangular object displays. Here is an example:
     
  3. To perform double-clicking again, position the mouse cursor on the most upper-left small picture on the rectangular object:
     
  4. Then double-click again
  5. Notice that the rectangular window has disappeared
From now on, unless specified otherwise, if you are asked to DOUBLE-CLICK:
1. Position the mouse cursor on the item you are asked to DOUBLE-CLICK (you will always be indicated what you need to double-click)
2. Then press the left mouse button twice and very fast

Remember two things. Unless indicated otherwise:
1. DOUBLE-CLICK always refers to the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON
2. DOUBLE-CLICK always means press the left mouse button TWICE VERY FAST

 

Mouse Operations: Drag

An action that has become popular with the use of the computer now consists of clicking somewhere and moving the mouse while the clicked button is still held down. This action is referred as Dragging. To perform this action:

  1. You position the mouse where indicated (the person or the document asking you to drag will always tell you where to start the action)
  2. Then click and hold your mouse down
  3. While you are still holding the mouse on the item, move the mouse in the indicated direction (you will always be told where to move the mouse)
  4. Once you get to the desired location, release the mouse. That would be the end of the dragging action.

What happens, when you drag, depends on the item you were dragging, whether an item was selected when you were dragging, and what button was pressed when you were dragging.

Practical Learning: Dragging

  1. Position the mouse on Recycle Bin
  2. Click once and hold your mouse button down
  3. While the mouse is still down, move it in the right direction until Recycle Bin is positioned somewhere in the middle center of the desktop
  4. Then release the mouse
  5. Once again, position the mouse on another icon, such as Internet Explorer
  6. Click and hold the mouse button down
  7. While the mouse button is still down and the item is selected, move the mouse right and down until the item is not positioned where it was
  8. Then release the mouse
  9. In the same way, click and hold the mouse on another item, such as My Documents
  10. Drag, right, up, down, and left
  11. Then release the mouse.
    Here is an example (there is a 100% guaranty that your desktop doesn't look like the following picture but that's not important; the following picture only serves as an indication):

 

A Messy Desktop

 

From now on, unless specified otherwise, if you are asked to DRAG
  1. Position the mouse cursor on the item or the word indicated (you will always be indicated where to start and what to drag)
  2. Then press the left mouse button once and hold it down
  3. Then move the mouse in the direction indicated (the direction, left, right, up, or down will always be given to you)
  4. Once you get to the specified location, item, or word, release the mouse.

Remember this. Unless indicated otherwise: DRAG always refers to the LEFT MOUSE BUTTON. Sometimes you will be asked to RIGHT-DRAG an item. In this case, perform the same dragging operation but with the right mouse button.

 

Mouse Operations: Right-Click

We saw already that the mouse was equipped with two buttons. This is not intended to make it fancy. Each button has a distinct role. Just like the left mouse button, the right mouse button can be clicked. It can also be double-clicked. It can even be involved in a dragging operation. Clicking the right mouse button of the mouse is referred to as Right-Click. What happens when you click with the right mouse button depends on the item that was clicked and/or sometimes whether the item was selected.

To perform the right-click action:

  1. You position the mouse on the indicated item or word (you will always be indicated what to right-click)
  2. Then press the right mouse button once and release it

Practical Learning: Right-Clicking

  1. Position the mouse pointer on an unoccupied area on the desktop
  2. Position the middle finger (of the hand that is using the mouse) on the right button of the mouse and press it once
  3. Notice that a series of words, referred to as a menu, appears:
     
  4. Position the mouse on the Taskbar. Then click the right mouse button with your middle finger
  5. Notice that a different series of words appears
  6. Position the mouse on Recycle Bin and right-click:
     
  7. Notice the series of words that appears
  8. Click somewhere else to deselect Recycle Bin
  9. Position the mouse on Recycle Bin again and hold your mouse down
  10. While the right mouse button is still held down on Recycle Bin, move the mouse in the right direction to drag
  11. When the item gets to the right section of the desktop, release the mouse:
     
  12. Notice a different series of words
  13. Click an unoccupied area on the desktop
Some applications, namely programs used to manipulate text (they are called word processors), allow you to triple-click.

 

 

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