What does the right-click do?

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One of the services I offer is personal computer instruction – one-on-one computer tutoring on whatever you want to learn (I can even do this remotely if you are not in the Tampa Bay area).

Recently I was with a client, and she said that someone told her that when using her computer, always remember to NEVER click on the right-side mouse button.  This is bad advice!  The right click can do some cool things.  Let’s see what it does.

right click

Here is my general rule: if you’re not sure what to do or how to do something, try right-clicking.  The right click will often bring up a menu of options, and it just might lead you in the right direction.

Here are a few places that you can use the right mouse button:

You can right-click on the Windows logo (formerly known as the Start button):

right click on start button

As you can see, this gives you the option to open Windows Explorer (that’s the same as doing a regular click on “Computer”).  But you also see that an option here is “Properties” – try that.  The Properties menu will let you do all kinds of stuff that has to do with your taskbars and toolbars.

You can right click in an open area of your desktop (not on one of the icons):

right click on your desktop

Wow – tons of options on that one.  “Personalize” is where you will find screen saver options, wallpapers, Windows themes, icons and more.  “Gadgets” are lots of cool toys you can put on your desktop (clocks, puzzles, weather, news feeds, lots more).  “View” lets you arrange the icons on the desktop various ways, or even not show them at all.  “New” means you can create a new folder, a new text document, or a few other things.  You might have other options on your menu depending on what programs you have installed.

You can right-click on a program icon (or shortcut):

right click on an icon

We have even more options on this one.  Some of these are pretty obvious, but feel free to explore.  You can scan the file with your antivirus or antispyware program (this is handy if you just downloaded something and you want to check it before you run it).  You can add it to your online backup selection (that’s what Mozy is).  You can pin that icon to your Start menu or your taskbar, so you can always get to it easily.  You can cut it, copy it, rename it or even delete it.

You can also right click on any icon in your System Tray:

right click system tray icons

This is the group of icons in the lower right corner of your screen.  Each one represents a program that is running, so you can right click on any of them and usually you will have at least the option to exit the program or to set your preferences for that particular application.

Or you can right click on the taskbar (that’s the bar running across the bottom of your screen):

right click on the taskbar

This one gives you options to set your preferences on how the various windows are displayed – on top of each other, side by side, cascading, whatever you like.  You can experiment with that and see what you like.  You can also click on Properties and see what other features you want to try out.

As you can see, the right mouse button holds a lot of opportunities for making changes or getting the computer to do what you want it to do.  And these examples are only the tip of the iceberg – your right mouse button will offer choices on just about anything.  Give it a try!

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Fred Patrick
November 28th, 2011

Except in SP3/ IE7. With so many still using Win SP3 less and less info is being presented to them from many sites plus magazines etc.Unless it`s an advertising gimic to up date to newer browsers. In one of Kim Komando`s emails there was a download that I did which caused several computer problems because she hadn`t mentioned what browser her download referred to. Yahoo is constantly asking to renew browser when going to their email. SP3 w/IE7 works well for me with appropriate security installed and working. In the meantime when win SP3 dies I`ll go to the next best thing.Always looking forward to your pc tips. F Patrick

Scott Johnson
November 28th, 2011

I assume you are referring to Windows XP. Upgrading to the newer browser is not a gimmick – XP is the least secure of any of the browsers that are still seeing substantial use. IE7 is also much less secure than IE9. There is a reason all of these different sources encourage you to upgrade out of XP to the newer browsers – security, and efficient operation. It’s much better to stay safe than wait until XP “dies”.