The little wheel on your mouse has been a standard feature on mice for nearly two decades, with Microsoft’s Intellimouse bringing it to the mainstream in 1996. But are you using it to its fullest potential? We’ve seen lots of folks use it for scrolling up and down documents, web pages, and spreadsheets, but there’s so much more that wheel (and the button underneath) can do.
Do note that some of these functions can be overridden by software and driver configurations, but these are the generally the defaults if you just plug in a scroll-wheel mouse and go.
- Ctrl+Scroll the Wheel to Zoom In/Out: This shortcut works in many programs (from your browser to your MS Office programs). Hold down the Ctrl key while rolling the wheel. Forward/Up will zoom in, backward/down will zoom out (in your browser, you can press “Ctrl-Zero” to reset back to the default 100% zoom level).
- Shift-Scroll to Scroll by Page: Hold down the shift key while scrolling to scroll a page-at-a-time.
- Click To Open Links in New Tab: What many people don’t realize is that the scroll wheel is also a button (henceforth referred to as your middle mouse button). In your web browser, click with the middle mouse button to open that link in a new tab. Beats right-clicking and selecting “Open In A New Tab.”
- Click to close tabs: You can click on an open browser tab with your middle mouse button to close the tab, without having to click on the small “X” on the tab.
- Click To Navigate: Click the middle button and you’ll see your mouse cursor change to directional arrows. Drag your mouse around on web pages, documents, etc… . It will navigate quickly around the document. If you click and then move your mouse one direction just a little bit, it will slowly scroll down the page. This is handy for reading long web pages.
Many apps have middle-button/wheel-specific tips and tricks. For example, AutoCad, Access, Adobe Creative Suite programs, many design/production programs in general, all have specific functions tied to the middle-button/wheel that will enhance productivity. Each web browser also has different ways it uses the unsung hero of the mouse.
You have a favorite mouse or mouse tip you use? Comment below.
Side-note: I still have an actively use my decades old Microsoft Intellimouse Optical and Intellimouse Explorer on a couple machines at home. Those mice are hard to kill.
Image Credit: Sandstein
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