Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Mouse Has Two Buttons!

I'm almost embarrassed to tell this story! Again, Mac users will be shaking their heads.

Since I got my new Mac, I've been cursing the lack of a "right-click". I've gotten really accustomed to using this on Windows. It was especially bad when I was running Windows under Parallels. I kept thinking that Apple really needed to drop their old obsession with one-button mice.

I tried using the configuration where holding down the mouse button is eventually treated as a right click. But if the delay was too short I kept getting it by mistake, and if it was too long I got impatient. I could use CTRL+SHIFT+click but that seemed pretty awkward.

I knew my "Mighty Mouse" (who picks these names?) had an "extra" button if you pressed on the little scroll-ball since I annoyingly kept triggering it by mistake and bringing up the dashboard widgets. I wondered if I could re-configure this to be a control/right click.

When I went into the mouse settings, lo and behold there was a setting for clicking on the right hand side of the mouse! My Mighty Mouse does have left and right buttons! That's the problem with overly slick, seamless designs - there are no "affordances" to let you discover their capabilities.

I pull down the choices for the right button but there is no choice for CTRL+click. Strange. But there is a choice for "secondary button" - I wonder what that does? I try it and it seems to do the trick. And it works in Windows under Parallels. Problem solved!

This was a good lesson. It's so easy to make fun of stupid users. We're always amazed when we observe someone using our software in such awkward ways - why don't they do it the "right" way. Or getting complaints from customers about missing features when it's right there in front of them! Obviously, if I had looked at the specs or looked more carefully at the settings I would have solved this a lot sooner. But if I can fall into this trap, with umpteen years of experience in the business, it's hard to blame someone who has little or no experience.

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