Common Actions You Can Do with a Mouse:A person's hand using a Computer Mouse


Pointing to an item on the screen means moving your mouse so the pointer appears to be touching the item. When you point to something, a small box often appears that describes the item. For example, when you point to the Recycle Bin on the desktop, a box appears with this information: "Contains the files and folders that you have deleted."

Screen shot of mouse pointing at Recycle Bin icon with tag description.

The pointer can change depending on what you're pointing to. For example, when you point to a link in your web browser, the pointer changes from an arrow to a hand with a pointing finger . Most mouse actions combine pointing with pressing one of the mouse buttons. There are four basic ways to use your mouse buttons: clicking, double-clicking, right-clicking, and dragging.

Pointing Practice:

Left mouse single click on the link to practice.

Mouse Practice-Learn How to Use the Mouse - Specific way to hold the mouse, clicking the mouse and moving objects with the mouse. - Moving - Moving the mouse.

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The wheel on the mouse allows you to scroll up or down a document that is being viewed.  The wheel is in between the two mouse buttons. If you place your finger on the wheel and pull your finger towards the bottom of the mouse, the window will scroll so you can see what is at the bottom.  Pushing the wheel towards the top of the mouse, the window will scroll so you can see what is at the top.

Scrolling Practice:

Left mouse single click on the link to practice. - Practice using the mouse on the Computer - How to use the mouse wheel to scroll.

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To click an item, point to the item on the screen, and then press and release the primary button (usually the left button).  This is called single-clicking or left-clicking.

Clicking is most often used to select (mark) an item or open a menu. Single-clicking puts focus on a specific item, so the PC knows which item you want to do something - such as opening it.

Example of Single-click the Outlook icon:

With the mouse, single-click (left mouse button) on the Outlook icon on your desktop. A white shadow will appear around the icon (see picture below). Focus is on Outlook and you can press the Enter key to open Outlook.

Screen shot of the Outlook icon selected by the mouse.

Single-click Practice:

Single-click on the link to practice. - Left clicking - How to Single-click the mouse.

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To double-click an item, point to the item on the screen, and then click twice quickly using the left mouse button. If the two clicks are spaced too far apart, they might be interpreted as two individual clicks rather than as one double-click.

Example of Double-click the Outlook icon:

Double-click is most often used to open items on your desktop. For example, you can start the Outlook program by double-click its icon on the desktop.

Outlook Icon

Double-click Practice:

Single-click on the link to practice. - Double Clicking - How to Double-click the mouse.

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Right-click is to press and release the right mouse button which usually displays a menu of actions that can be completed. Microsoft Office programs are so packed full of right-click menus that you may never need to use the ribbon again.

Example of Right-click in Outlook:

Microsoft Outlook also has lots of useful right-click menus. For instance, you can right-click the Inbox to create more folders in your folder list-an excellent way to organize and keep on top of your email messages. See below the menu displayed once you right-click the Inbox.

screen shot of right clicking the Inbox in Outlook

Example of Right-clicking Folders and Files in Windows Explorer

When you Right-click on a folder or a file in Windows Explorer, a menu appears giving you the available options (such as Open, Cut, Copy, Delete, Rename, Create Shortcut, etc.). As illustrated below, you can even click Send To to copy a folder or file directly to another location.  If you want to be able to open a folder or file quickly, right-click the folder or file and then click Create Shortcut. This creates a shortcut icon that you can move to wherever you want - like your desktop. 

Screen shot of Windows Explorer with right click menus

Right-clicking Practice:

Single-click on the link to practice. - Right Clicking - Right-clicking the mouse.

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There are several ways you can use the mouse to select text. You can drag across the text you want to select, double-click a word to select it, or use a combination of the mouse and the Shift or Ctrl keys.

The following table describes basic techniques for using the mouse to select text.

To select… Do this
A word Point to the word and double-click.
A paragraph Point anywhere in the paragraph and triple-click.
A group of words Point to the beginning of the text you want to select, press and hold the mouse button, and drag the pointer across the text. Release the mouse button to finish selecting the text.
Alternatively, place the insertion point at the beginning or end of the text, press and hold Shift, and click at the other end of the text.
A sentence Point anywhere in the sentence, press and hold Ctrl, and click.
Text you want to add to a selection To add to a selection, press and hold Shift, move the pointer to a new place beyond the current selection, and click.
To add specific selections, press and hold Ctrl, and drag to select the specific text you want to add.
Text you want to remove from a selection Press and hold Shift, move the pointer to a new place inside the current selection, and click.

Once you have selected the text, it will be highlighted. At that point a variety of manipulations of the text can occur, such as copy, cut, paste, and/or formatting (bold, italic, underline, font style and size). These can be accomplished by menu options, right-clicking and following the options on a specific menu or by Keyboard Shortcuts.

Selecting Practice:

Single-click on the link to practice. - Text Selection - Selecting text with the mouse.

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Click, Drag & Drop


Allows you to single-click on an object and drag and drop it to a new location.  Drag and drop can be used with images, such as the icons on your desktop or files & folders in Windows Explorer. 

  1. Single-click on the object to select it.
  2. Hold the left mouse button down.
  3. Drag the object to it's new location.
  4. Release the left mouse button to drop the object into the new location.

Click, Drag & Drop Practice:

Single-click on the link to practice. - Dragging and Dropping - How to Click, Drag & Drop with the mouse.

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Overall Mouse Skills Practice:

Single-click on the link to practice.

Mouse - practice on all mouse skills - Pointing, Clicking, Drag & Drop and Drawing with a mouse.