Do More With Your Middle Mouse Button

Most computer users do most of their clicking on the left side of the mouse. Many (though not all) make good use of the right button as well. And a handful leverage the middle button.

Middle button? I'm sure some of you are thinking, "My mouse doesn't have a middle button, just a scroll wheel." First lesson of the day: That wheel doubles as a button. If you don't believe me, just click it. (This is true on most mice, though there might be a few older models where the wheel is just a wheel.)

As some others of you know, you can click and hold that button, then move your mouse back and forth to scroll up and down in your Web browser. But for those who don't like that option, or just want more versatility from their mouse, allow me to introduce X-Mouse Button Control.

True to its name, this free utility affords considerable control over your mouse's buttons. For the purposes of today's tutorial, I'm going to focus solely on the middle one -- but once you learn to tweak that, you should have no trouble modifying your mouse's other buttons.

Once installed, X-Mouse intercepts clicks of any given button and performs a selected task. For example, you can program the middle button to go back a page in your browser; close the current window; cut or copy selected text; activate Windows 7's Flip 3D mode; lock your workstation; maximize the current window; and so on.

My favorite use for the middle mouse button: double-click. In other words, instead of having to manually double-click a desktop icon to launch a program or open a document, I just middle-click it.

Once you've made your selection from the drop-down list, simply click Apply to make it start working immediately.

This is really a handy utility, almost on par with my all-time favorite tool, WizMouse. If your middle mouse button is sitting idly by while your other buttons work overtime, I definitely recommend giving X-Mouse a try.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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