Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Basic right-click tips

As a mouse user, you’ve probably noticed that there’s more than one way to click it. There’s the primary click that you do with your index finger, and there’s a secondary click that you do with one of your outer fingers. This is known as the right-click. (Why? Because right-handers rule. It’s a left-click for left-handers.)

Check out the video, "How to shortcut your shortcuts with a click" to see exactly what we’re talking about. A right-click brings up a handy menu of shortcuts right in the place where you need them.
Maybe you’ve seen some of these menus but haven’t taken much notice, or you haven’t realized how pervasive—and how useful—they are. The items on the lists change depending on where you are and what you’re doing. They’ll give you speed and convenience without the need to memorize keyboar
d shortcuts.

You’ll see these right-click menus in Windows 7Windows VistaWindows XP, and in most of the programs you use. Here are a few of our favorites, just to get you started.

Right-clicks in Microsoft Office programs

Microsoft Office programs are so packed full of right-click menus that you may never need to use the ribbon again. Give it a try.
In a Microsoft Word table, right-click and you’ll be able to do all sorts of table formatting, directly from the shortcut menu. For example, you can insert and delete rows, columns, and cells, add borders and shading, and adjust the width of the table.
Screen shot of Word doc with shortcut menu
Likewise, in Microsoft Excel, you can format cells with a right-click. The exact commands you see on the menu depend on where you click in the spreadsheet. For example, you can easily filter or sort a list from a right-click.
Screen shot of Excel spreadsheet with shortcut menu
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 .
Screen shot of Outlook tabs with shortcut menu

Right-clicks with files

I use both the CTRL+C and CTRL+V keyboard shortcuts and the right-click menus to copy selected text from one place to another in a document. But it took me a while to notice that this also works on files. For example, I can right-click a file in a folder and then click CutCopyDelete, or Rename. I can even click Send To to copy a file directly to another location.
Screen shot of documents library with shortcut menu
If I want to be able to open a file or program quickly, I right-click the file or program and then click Create Shortcut. This creates a shortcut icon that I can move to wherever I want.
And here’s a handy way I use to open a folder that’s been compressed. I right-click the folder name, point to Extract All (Windows 7 only) or Open With, and then click an option for extracting the files. In fact, I can’t remember how to do it any other way!
Screen snip of Documents library with shortcut menu for compressed folder

Right-clicks with pictures

When you double-click a photo on your computer, it opens in a program, such asWindows Live Photo Gallery, that is your default program for opening pictures. If you want to open a photo in another program (for example, if you want to edit it inMicrosoft Paint), simply right-click the picture icon, click Open With, and then click the program you want to use to open the file.
You can download Photo Gallery for free: Paint is included with Windows 7 and Vista.
Screen shot of Pictures library with shortcut menu
You can also print the picture right from this menu, without even opening the file.
And speaking of pictures, if you see a picture you like on a webpage, you can right-click the photo and print it or save it to your computer.
Screen shot of webpage with shortcut menu

Right-clicks with the taskbar and desktop

Sometimes, during a multitasking session on my computer, I lose control of the number of windows I have open. I regain control by right-clicking the taskbar and then choosing an arrangement for displaying the open windows on the desktop so that I can see them.
Screen snip of taskbar shortcut menu
Likewise, if I have lots of files open for a particular program, I click the program icon in the taskbar and then click Close all Windows to close all the files I have open in that program at once.
Screen shot of program icon shortcut menu
Finally, I should point out that right-clicks aren’t only for use with documents and files. For example, every once in a while I get the urge to change the background on my desktop. So I right-click anywhere on the desktop and click Personalize(Windows 7 or Windows Vista) or Properties (Windows XP), click Next Desktop Background, and then choose a new photo.
Desktop background photograph with shortcut menu
These examples give you some ideas for why you might want to use the right-click menus yourself. You’ll understand their usefulness more fully if you give right-clicking a try while you’re working and see what’s on the menu.

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