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Mouse & Keyboard (101)

Keyboards near bottom near bottom

Generally speaking, neither the Mouse nor the keyboard are manufacturer specific, i.e., a USB style mouse or keyboard from Dell would work with a HP, ASUS, etc.


A computer's mouse movement is translated by the computer's Operating System, which presents that location to the user as the familiar pointer.  If you really want to know more about the mouse and its development, see this article.  If you're looking for a gaming mouse, see this article.

Like anything these days, there are too many models and types to discuss in any detail, so on with the basics...

Aside: Which is the active window?  We often have two windows open next to each other (image) and we work between the two.  But sometimes we are in a hurry or simply not thinking and we (attempt to) scroll down one page when the other is still the active window. So as much as we would like to have a mouse that follows our eyes or thoughts, it's simply not the case (yet).  Please tell us we're not alone doing that. :-D

2 window


PC (vs. Mac) mice (or mouses if you like) have at least two buttons for left and right clicking.  Most mice plug into a USB connection.  Older computers used the PS2 connection.  See ports

Assuming you're right handed, the left mouse button is the common control, but don't ignore the right button
It offers a world of options depending on the application and context.

Many mice also have a wheel which is used to scroll up and down on long pages, very handy.  But most also have a (terrible) feature that when the wheel is depressed (clicked), it locks the scroll system on and you can quickly zoom up and down the page (sometimes too quickly).  mouse lock

If there is software is installed for the mouse, you may be able to turn that "feature" off, but there is no such option in the Control Panel's mouse options.  See below.

Clicking vs. Double clicking

Most know the difference but since this is Computers 101...

single click single normal* mouse click (* see left vs. right)
 vs. double
double clickdouble click double normal* mouse click (*-see left vs. right)
: Assuming your computer has the default settings, shortcuts on the Desktop and files in folders require a double click to activate/open.  While single click sounds good, we feel it's too easy to forget and open something twice, and it's a real challenge to do things like selecting multiple files in the Windows File Explorer. These are (almost) always single 
single click single click
 click regardless of your Window settings:

Win 10 taskbar

Also, once you click (or double click) something, it should open and if not there's a problem.  Clicking over and over does not make the application open any quicker.

Laptop mouse


Laptop mouse (touchpads) typically have hotspot or special areas that act as a regular mouse wheel allowing you to scroll up and down a page.  If present, it is the right edge of the pad (right of the white line we out over the image).  But that can be somewhat frustrating if you are mousing around and inadvertently slide over that area as you will have unexpected mouse or page movement.

Many newer laptops do not have separate mouse buttons instead the left and right buttons are the lower part of the main pad (below on left & right of the green lines we put over the image).  Again, if mousing around and you inadvertently hit that area, you may activate a "click" resulting in accidental movement or worse, accidental cut, copy, paste or another potentially disastrous operation.


mouse pad

Most mouse pads recognize clicks and double clicks anywhere on the pad.  If you lift your finger and quickly retouch the pad, that movement may be translated as a click or double click.  

Problems (see also wireless below)

The surface a mouse is on can be problematic, especially for laser mice.  Glass or reflective surfaces will give the laser incorrect feedback as to the mouse location.  If the mouse seems erratic, try using a mouse pad.

And that is a real laser, don't be gazing into it...


The now obsolete ball type mouse has rollers and wheels that can become plugged with lint.  If the mouse is jumping around or uncontrollable, remove the ball cover and ball then clean the lint from the rollers.

Like the laser mouse, a ball mouse needs a good surface as well.


If the mouse seems jerky and you have eliminated the above possibilities, you very well could have an Operating System issue where as the OS is (too) busy doing something else.  If it is too busy, it then applies your mouse movements when the CPU catches up, hence the pointer seems to jump instead of having a smooth movement. 


Wireless mice or is that mouses?  :-)

Wireless mice are great but there can be issues. 

Mouse options

Windows 10 settings > Devices have a few mouse settings but mostly for visual like the size and color of the pointer.

Some computers manufacturers offer mouse software with even more settings and options, but if it's not already loaded on your computer, be sure you download from the actual manufacturer, i.e., don't do an Internet search as you'll probably end up with crapware!

In the Control Panel you will find Mouse which offers a variety of settings and defaults you can change.  Depending on the mouse and mouse software installed, there may be many more settings not addressed here. 

Left handed?  Initially when you open Mouse from the Control Panel you have the option to "switch" the buttons.

right click

As mentioned, if you have problems controlling the mouse, changing the Double click (above) and/or Motion (below) speeds may very well solve any problems you may be having. 

mouse settings

Even in this generic mouse settings, there are many other options available under Pointers and Wheel.  Some good, some not so good.  One option we find not so good is the "Snap To" option.  With that turned on, it seems way to easy to accidently accept or cancel an operation, especially when you're in a hurry to do something...

Also look at the Windows Control Panel > Ease of Access Center for other possibly helpful settings.  


Not a lot to say about keyboards so we'll just point out some special keys but see also Keyboard hints on using the Ctrl and Alt keys, learning Shortcut keys and using keyboard instead of the mouse (often quicker).

In the Control Panel > Keyboard (depending on the keyboard detected), there are a few options and settings available, e.g., cursor blink speed, key repeat speed, etc., but the defaults are typically just fine.

There are slight variations between keyboards but more so for laptops (discussed shortly).


The top row of Function keys have special uses dictated by the current operation.  function

So for example you are simply at the Desktop, the operating system dictates the Function key operation, if you are in a word processing application, that dictates their operation, too many to address here.  But one very helpful Function key is the F1 key.  Try it any/everywhere...

Lower left are the Ctrl, Windows and Alt keys.  Ctrl and Alt discussed elsewhere but the Windows key is of interest now. Window

The Window key itself will open the Start menu but in combination with various other keys can make some operations quicker.  There are a lot more, but just a few examples:

Note: Even though you may be in an application and that app is the active window, the keyboard's Window key still applies only to the Operating System (not the app).

Upper right (but varies on laptops) are the PrintScrn, Scroll lock and Pause/Break keys.  These are really relics from the early days of computing but have found their way into some uses today.  Consult your application's manual for any possible usage. scroll

Cursor Control keys act as the mouse, i.e., you can move the cursor/pointer around but there is a little more to them.   Using the Ctrl and cursor controls (arrows), use can jump back and forth between words.  Add the Shift key (Ctrl+Shift+arrow) and you will be selecting (highlighting) text with extreme accuracy.


10-Key is just that, numbers 0-9 with math operation keys and (another) Enter key. 

But depending if the NumLock is on or not, the 10-key can act as cursor controls.  NumLock off, you have cursor control, on you have numbers.

Unfortunately for many, manufacturers still have the NumLock (on/off) key just above the 7 instead of up and away from fat fingers.  We wish we had a buck (inflation) for every time we hit the NumLock instead of the 7 :-D

If you have numbers in a password and can't seem to log on, check that NumLock key!

Note:  Laptops rarely have individual cursor control keys due to space limitation so.

Depending on the current operation and application, the Context Menu key opens pop-up menus.  This is the keyboard equivalent of a right clickExamples here. context




Due to space limitations, laptop keyboards have the Fn key (typically found lower left), adds a potential 70+ key combinations (to the 101 standard keyboard).

Fn key

There is no industry standard for Laptop keyboard layout!  We really wish there would be.  Example: The Fn key's associated key for turning the Wireless on/off is the Function F9 key in the above image, but is the Function F8 key on many (but not all) Dell laptops.  (And to add insult, not all Icons are standard).

So if you have a laptop, you just need to look at the various Fn combinations...