Originally published in The Clarion | August 29, 2012
Following up from last week’s article about keyboard shortcuts in navigating the Web, this week we will look at a few things that can be done with the mouse when browsing. I must admit that most users are much more familiar and fluent with using the mouse while browsing, especially compared to using keyboard shortcuts. Because of this, and the fact that I’m the complete opposite in that I prefer using the keyboard, odds are good that many of you out there will not only be very familiar with these tips but probably have many that I don’t even know about. As I mentioned when I began this series of articles, my goal is to help the novice user who is not familiar with the Web or even computers for that matter. Hopefully we’ll do some good.
While the computer mouse has been around for decades, some more modern alterations to the typical mouse have really made using computers and specifically browsing the Web a breeze. In my opinion, the addition of a third button/scroll wheel is one of the best things designers could have done with the mouse. Most operating systems allow for customizing the mouse, from switching it to left-hand instead of right to the speed of the pointer to what functions the third button provides. In browsing websites, I have found it so much easier to use the scroll wheel to navigate up and down within a page instead of using the scroll bar on the right side of the browser window. Clicking the up and down arrows on the right side navigation pane or dragging the bar up and down was always quite cumbersome; being able to simply spin the scroll wheel has really simplified things.
Another mouse feature that I imagine many people aren’t familiar with or don’t use regularly is the right mouse button (or left for those of us who like to switch things up). Depending on where your pointer is within a browser window, clicking the right mouse button typically provides you with a menu of options. For example, if you right-click on an image within a website, you will almost always be presented with a menu that includes things like ‘Save Image As’ or ‘Open Image in New Tab/Window’. You can see where this feature could come in handy. Clicking within the browser window in other places will give you a menu of options including ‘Back’, ‘Forward’, ‘Reload’, ‘Save As’ and ‘Print’. Becoming fluent with this menu can help speed up browsing in your day-to-day use of the Web.
One last feature of the third mouse button is one I use probably more than any other. With tabbed browser windows, I have found it very handy to third-button click on hyperlinks which will open that link in a new tab, retaining the page I currently am currently viewing. I personally use this feature countless times every day while browsing and honestly don’t know what I would do without it.