The mouse that you are using to read this article was invented by Douglas C. Engelbart and first demonstrated in public in 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco to one thousand of the world’s leading computer scientists. It wasn’t commercially adopted until the late 80s when Apple included a mouse to control the graphical user interface on the Macintosh computer. Microsoft quickly followed when Windows 95 was released.
Your lowly mouse. You use it every day yet take it for granted.
The last couple months I have been talking about some of the changes taking place with computer monitors. I received the following question from a subscriber.
“The thing I like least about multiple monitors is losing my cursor. Any suggestions for how to keep track of it? It seems to scamper away to a different monitor. Seems like a dumb question but it gives me trouble.”
Fortunately, the answer is yes; you can control how your mouse operates by opening and understanding the mouse properties dialog box.
Every operating system, Apple or Windows, has the capability of setting mouse properties. How you access the properties and options available to you are determined by what type and version operating system you’re currently using.
In Windows 10, merely type “mouse properties” into the search bar. This dialog box allows you to access the mouse properties setup window. Again, the specifics included in the mouse properties setup will depend on the computer hardware, graphics card, and operating system installed on your system. So, what you see here may look slightly different on your system.
On my system, the following options are available.
- Switch primary and secondary buttons: This allows you to choose which button, left or right, you use as the primary button. The most common is the left button.
- Double-click speed: This allows you to set how fast the double-click will open a file or folder.
- Turn on click lock: This allows you to highlight or drag without holding down the mouse button. You use it by briefly pressing the mouse button, then drag the file or folder where you want. To release, click the mouse button again. I find this to be more of an irritant than a help, so I do not enable this option.
The pointers tab allows you to select the look and feel for the mouse pointer on your system. As I was researching this article, I decided to change the look of my mouse pointer from white to black. The black seems to stand out on the monitor better for me. Just choose the scheme that you like best. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always change it later.
Enable pointer shadow: This option puts a shadow behind the mouse pointer. The shadow creates a visual enhancement that allows you to find the pointer on your screen more easily.
- Motion: Selecting a pointer speed will allow you to gauge how fast the mouse moves across your monitor. I recommend you test different settings to see what works best for you.
- Snap To: Snap To will automatically move the pointer to the default button in a dialog box. For example, if the dialog box is asking you to confirm an action by clicking “OK,” the mouse will automatically move to that button and all you do is click to confirm.
- Visibility: Three different setting options are available. Display pointer trails creates trails on your monitor when you move your mouse. This just makes it easier to locate your cursor. Hide pointer while typing does what it says. When you start typing, your mouse pointer will not be visible. Simply move the mouse to make it visible again. Show location pointer when I press the CTRL key will display concentric circles where the pointer is physically located on your monitor making it very easy to find it. I do recommend you experiment with this setting.
This tab allows you to set how many lines of the screen will move at a time when you roll the wheel on your mouse. If your mouse has the capability of tilting to the left or right, you can also change that setting.
If you have a laptop, you can also change the setting for a TouchPad or TrackPoint (for a Lenovo laptop like mine).
While I still use many keyboard shortcuts as I can, the mouse is the best option for many tasks and activities.
What other tips and tricks do you use to make your computing experience better?