Not only does the wheel on the mouse go round and round but it CLICKS down too! I really like having three buttons on my mouse. I use the third button all the time! Do you?
My favorite use of the middle button (i.e. clicking down on the wheel) is to open a link on a webpage in a new tab. What’s cool about having it open a new tab is that you can go to the article and then easily come back to the page that launched you there. Sure you could use the back button, but if you’re like me, one article takes you to another and another and you are several steps away from a single back step by the time you are done.
Two sites where I often am clicking away with my middle button are ActiveRain and Google. So you start your morning on the ActiveRain home page? How many of those featured articles do you read? I start at the home page and then “click, click, click, click, click” along with my middle button on the articles there to create a reading list. Now I can start reading the first article while the other pages are loading in the background and when I’m ready to switch, they are instantly ready having been already loaded for me (no waiting!)
Google is the other place where my middle button gets used frequently. Your Google search turns up a long list of results. On a more difficult topic, which article is going to be the one you want? It’s going to take several click-throughs to find it. I click the page links with my middle button so I can easily get back to my search results list.
Just as a side note, as an alternative, you can Ctrl+Click a link (clicking with the regular left button on the mouse) to also open a link in a new tab (Macs Command+click).
Besides scrolling up or down a page with the mouse wheel, it can alse be used to zoom the magnification when looking at a web page or viewing a document in MS Word or Excel. Hold down the Ctrl key while you roll the wheel and it will zoom in and zoom out!
My other favorite use of holding down Ctrl and rolling is in a folder view. When you are looking at photos for instance you can use this technique to very dynamically size the icons to be bigger thumbnails and easier to see by using Ctrl when you roll the wheel.
By the way, this thumbnail wheel feature is available only in Windows Vista and newer (Win7/Win8). XP users have one thumbnail size and that’s it. I really like the interface updates in the newer versions of windows and the small things like this are very important to me (for you windows XP holdouts, it is really time to get that new computer now!! :)
Now get out there and start using that multipurpose wheel!
originally posted at Craig's Classroom Tech Blog