The Power of the Right-Click

How to Make Better Use of the Right-Click

Learn how to use the right-click to become a better PC user. Find out the many ways to make using a computer faster and easier with these right-click tips.

Of course you know that the computer mouse has a right button as well as a left but you may not know how powerful the right button actually is. There is an extensive set of features available in Windows from a right-click. Unfortunately, many PC users that I encounter rarely use a right-click, thereby missing out on a whole assortment of functions that would make their computing life easier.

In many ways, the right-click is far more powerful and versatile than the left. From the right-click one can manage files, obtain system information, open numerous software applications and do a whole variety of things.

This page begins the discussion in a series that describes some of the many functions of the right-click. They will help a PC user make better use of Windows. The other pages are listed on the left side.

What is the difference between the left-click and the right-click?

The basic difference is that the left-click carries out some specific action while the right-click presents a menu of possibilities for action. The left-click action is predefined whereas the right-click provides choices. The table below makes this clearer:

Table I. Explanation of various mouse actions within Windows
Mouse button Action Function
Left Single-click Selects something, usually a file, as a target for some action to come next. On some systems, the setting is changed to make the single-click the same as on the Internet.
Left Double-click Causes an action to be carried out, such as opening a file. Note: The Internet is different. For example, clicking once on a link in a browser is sufficient to open the link.
Right Single-click Brings up a list of possible actions for an object. Any actions on the list must be clicked again (right or left) before they actually occur.
Right Double-click Has no separate meaning

Right-click drag-and-drop

One of my favorite examples of the difference between the right and left-click is the common operation for moving or copying objects where the mouse is used to drag the object from one place and then drop it in a new location. Most people use the left-click for this operation but the right-click can also be used for drag-and-drop and is more versatile.

Drag and drop

When you drag and drop a file with the left-click, the result varies. A shortcut may be created or the file may be copied or it may be moved. It depends on the circumstances. That is fine, if you remember which action takes place when. Instead, I prefer to use the right-click to drag and drop. In this case you first get a context menu like the one shown on the left above. This allows you to then choose the operation that you had in mind.

The Context or Shortcut menu

The choices available in a right-click action are presented in a window called a context menu. It is also sometimes called a shortcut menu. The terms are interchangeable but I prefer the name "context menu"

How to make the context menu work for you is explored in the following articles on this site:

Read these articles and you will be a better and savvier PC user.