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Using Windows with a Mouse

To use Windows efficiently on a desktop or notebook PC, you must master a few simple operations with your mouse or touchpad, such as pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping, and right-clicking. (If you have a touchscreen PC, you can perform many of these same operations with your finger—which we discuss later in this chapter.) When you’re using your mouse or touchpad in this fashion, you’re moving the onscreen cursor—that pointer thing that looks like a little arrow.

Pointing and Clicking

The most common mouse operation is pointing and clicking. Simply move your computer’s mouse or, on a notebook PC, drag your finger across the touchpad or other pointing device so that the cursor is pointing to the object you want to select, and then click the left mouse button once. Pointing and clicking is an effective way to select tiles, menu items, and the like.


In some instances, single-clicking doesn’t launch or open an item; it merely selects it. In these instances, you need to double-click an item to activate an operation. This involves pointing at something onscreen with the cursor and then clicking the left mouse button twice in rapid succession.


Here’s one of the secret keys to efficient Windows operation. When you select an item and then click the right mouse button, you often see a pop-up menu. This menu, when available, contains commands that directly relate to the selected object. So, for example, if you right-click a file icon, you see commands related to that file—copy, move, delete, and so forth.

Refer to your individual programs to see whether and how they use the right mouse button.

Dragging and Dropping

Dragging is a variation of clicking. To drag an object, point at it with the cursor and then press and hold down the left mouse button. Move the mouse without releasing the mouse button and drag the object to a new location. When you’re finished moving the object, release the mouse button to drop it onto the new location.

You can use dragging and dropping to move files from one location to another.

Mouse Over

When you position the cursor over an item without clicking your mouse, you mouse over that item. (This is sometimes called hovering.) Many operations require you to mouse over an item to display additional options or information.

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