The Amazing Mouse eBook
Learn 300+ powerful ways to use the mouse efficiently with
MS Office. Save at least 10 minutes & reduce the risk of arthritis!
PDF format, 2 MB
Learn 300+ powerful ways to use the mouse efficiently with
MS Office. Save at least 10 minutes & reduce the risk of arthritis!
PDF format, 2 MB
Here is a sneak preview of Chapter 1: When NOT to use the mouse. Trust me, knowing when NOT to use the mouse is just as important as knowing WHEN and HOW to use it effectively 🙂
If you are doing serious and important work, you must use mouse. Yes, I know that there are lots of alternatives. Pros like keyboard shortcuts, newer generation likes touch and stylus. By all means use all of them. But the humble mouse does have some unique benefits to offer.
Trust me, you will save at least ten minutes every day. It will also do some good for your wrists because it will make your mouse usage more efficient and less stressful, and therefore reduces the risk of arthritis.
While removing breathing sounds, I needed to double click hundreds of times on the timeline. That is cumbersome. So I used a spare button on the mouse to map it as a double click button in a single click – saving my joints from lot of damage! Read on how it was done. This article is only for frequent users of Camtasia.
The Learning for EVERYONE is that in some cases, for specific application, you can make special use of mouse by customizing its button actions.
The question in your mind is WHY rather than HOW! Read on and find out. Best of both worlds. Estimated reading time 4 min Continue reading Extreme Efficiency: Use Mouse and Trackball together
So far I have written 139 articles. There are thousands of features yet to be covered. There is another skill you need to learn – the ability to learn to learn!
In this article, I will demonstrate a simple method of learning. Usually, learning requires reading help files, books or visiting web sites. This method just uses mouse Right Click. Read on and find out how powerful this method is…
Yes. Mouse is a LEARNING device. Of course, originally it was intended to be a navigation tool – it still is. But if you use it smartly, you can learn a lot about the software you are using.
There are two ways to do this. Observe the mouse cursor and Right click.
The cursor shape changes often. It changes for a purpose. It is trying to tell you that its behavior has changed. The question is that are you noticing it?
The idea is simple – notice the change in cursor shape and try to find out what changed. That is how you learn. We do notice some of these shapes like the pointing hand and the four headed arrow. But there are more.
Here are some very useful examples of how observing the cursor shape helps you learn new things.
In case of classic mode (blue border) Pivot Tables, the drag drop area shrinks when the data is small. We often end up dragging a field and dropping it in the wrong area. View this 10 second video to learn from the smart mouse cursor. (No audio)
While editing long tables, it is often necessary to select a single cell. If the cell contains lot of data and it spills over to more than one page, selecting it becomes very difficult.
Watch this 12 second video to know how easy this activity becomes if you observe the mouse cursor. (No audio)
Tweaking complex animation requires you to adjust the order of animation, timing and duration. This is usually done by repeatedly opening the Effect Options – Timing dialog.
If you observe the mouse cursor in the animation pane entries, the delay, duration and start position can be adjusted very easily. Watch this 10 second video to learn how.
Usually, right clicking on any object or area reveals a menu. This menu is very special. It helps you learn a tool or software quickly and easily.
What is so special about it? This menu shows options which are guaranteed to be relevant in the context of the place you right clicked on. That is why, it is called “Context Menu”.
The options shown in the context menu may be available inside the traditional menus as well. But these options may be scattered across different tabs and toolbars. Right click menu consolidates relevant options and shows these in one place.
Therefore, you simply have to right click on every object, notice each option, think a little about it, try it out if the meaning is not obvious… and you start learning immediately.
This is a simple but very powerful technique. Try this for a few days and let me know the feedback.
Important areas to right click in…
Right click at various places within the table to discover more features.
Right click within Tables and Pivot Tables (Row and Data area separately) to learn about many new features. Pivot Table Data area has an option called Show Values As… which is the most powerful feature of Pivot Table.
Finally, let us put both items together. When cursor shape changes – its behavior changes – its context changes … therefore, the right click menu also changes.
Changing cursor is inviting you to explore more by opening the right click menu … accept the invitation and learn more.
Please read the previous two articles first. In this article we continue to explore the mouse usage scenarios further. In this article, I am using an abbreviated writing styles – using minimal words, reducing long paragraphs… making it short, sweet and to the point. Let me know if you like this style.
Common activity. Usually used for Copy Paste operations.
Press the RIGHT mouse button while dragging and dropping … and see what happens.
You get a set of menus to choose from. Read the menus and then enjoy.
You will discover many options you always wanted…
Explanation: When you drag drop using left mouse – the default action happens.
Who decides the default action? The vendor who created the software.
But the default is chosen based upon what most users want in that situation.
Default is fine. But more actions may be possible. These are exposed to you when you perform RIGHT DRAG DROP
Here is a common place… go to Excel, type a number and drag it down (regular left drag)
It repeats the number. But try a RIGHT drag and see the options…
Sometimes you start dragging something and change your mind. How to cancel the operation without any damage?
Think a little – guess … ESC key.
Common scenario. you are composing a mail. you want to attach a file… you open Windows Explorer… find the file – drag the file …. now there is a problem if you cant see the mail window
That is when we try to copy and paste. No need to do so.
Drag from one window, take the cursor to the Outlook icon on the taskbar..
Even if there are multiple Outlook windows shown it is ok…
Move cursor on the thumbnail or name of the desired window and ..
WAIT THERE FOR FEW SECONDS
Now the window will automatically come in front… move the mouse and then complete the drag drop]
If you use multiple monitors, you can drag-drop items across the monitors. This is useful when you have a laptop and an external monitor / LCD screen attached.
Depending upon where the external monitor is physically kept in relation to your laptop, your mouse cursor can move from edge of your screen to the external desktop. This is configured using Display Properties – Settings tab. This tab will show two monitors. If monitor 2 is physically on the left side of base laptop, then you can move the monitor 2 icon accordingly.
Once this is configured, the laptop mouse cursor will move over to the external monitor from the LEFT edge.
If monitor 2 was configured to be on the right side of the laptop screen, the mouse cursor will spillover from the RIGHT edge of laptop screen.
You can even arrange the second monitor above or below the main laptop screen. This configuration is often done when your external monitor is physically installed above your work table to save space.
This is very important. It changes to show many useful things during drag drop… Observe it and try to decipher the meaning…
Best example to illustrate this is drag dropping fields into a Pivot Table (Classic mode only – blue border pivots).
When you start dragging a field and move to the Excel sheet, cursor is like this
when you are over row, column or data area it changes dynamically.
Observe it and you will never make the mistake of dragging a field to the wrong area in Pivot table!
Used for scrolling vertically.
Press CTRL key and move the wheel – ZOOM in and out the document. Practice it a little.
If you just move the scroll wheel while the cursor is over the RIBBON (Office 2007 onwards), it changes the selected menu (Tab) very quickly.
If you don’t use a mouse with your laptop, this feature can still work if you have a touch pad with right margin configured for scrolling.
Most newer models of mice have a horizontal scroll facility, called the “Tilt Wheel”. This is often ignored and we never end up using it.
Here are some common uses of horizontal scrolling.
2. Large browser pages. Some browser pages are very wide and therefore horizontal scrolling is necessary
3. PowerPoint / Word document with large Zoom level
4. Photographs / images which are too large for your screen
5. Any document which needs Panning functionality.
Tilt wheel may not be supported by all software applications.
This is a very useful tool.
Just position the mouse cursor anywhere on the ribbon and use Scroll Wheel. It shuffles the ribbon tabs – try it NOW.
Mouse has limited number of buttons.
But combining it with keyboard keys (Shift, Alt, Ctrl) makes it more versatile and useful.
Generally while working with shapes / objects/ files if you press Ctrl key while dragging, it usually means COPY the object. To indicate the copy operation, the mouse cursor typically shows a PLUS sign. If you don’t see the plus sign, it means a MOVE operation!
This works with file drag drop as well. The default action is reversed by pressing CTRL key while dragging a file. If you are dragging a file from one folder to another on the SAME drive – default action is MOVE. Across drives, default action is COPY. So be careful while pressing CTRL key while dragging files.
Usually, to increase the size of a picture or shape, you drag from the corner. However, this disturbs the alignment of the picture because it grows in size in the direction you drag. If you press Ctrl key while dragging from any corner, resize happens, but without disturbing the center position.
This is very useful for resizing pictures after pasting in PowerPoint.
Pasted object is automatically put in the center – usually.
Exception… if you copy an object from one slide and paste it into another slide, it is pasted in the ORIGINAL position – not the center of the slide. Nice touch … someone thought about our convenience!
We have covered this above.
To select items (like a shape) we usually click on them. To select text / data we click and then drag.
But what if we want to some items and skip some items?
That is when CTRL key is useful.
Here is an example:
Click on the first file to select it, then keep pressing CTRL key and click on rest of the files. When you finish selection, release the CTRL key
Similar concept works in Excel if you want to select multiple ranges.
Very useful for selecting many things which are far away from each other.
Windows Explorer – want to select from fifth file to the last file…
Click the fifth file…. use scroll bar to move to the last file…
Press SHIFT key .. keep it pressed and then click on the last file
Now release the SHIFT key.
It can also be used with CTRL key to select combination of continuous and discontinuous object selections. Difficult to describe – try it out.
In MS Office (up to version 2003) Pressing Alt key makes all menus and visible toolbars customizable (without opening the Tools – Customize dialog)
While pressing ALT key you can drag any menu item and move it to another place. If you want to COPY it, you need to press CTRL key as well.
This feature DOES NOT work from Office 2007 onwards. In newer versions, right click on the desired toolbar button and choose Add To Quick Access Toolbar (see this blog post for details).
We will discuss how to use mouse to learn new features, while you work… This is a completely new (and originally unintended) use of mouse!
Every Windows mouse has at least two buttons. Usually there is a mouse wheel as well – for scrolling. But nowadays there can be many more buttons available.
This is the one I use. Microsoft Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000. In my opinion, the best mouse ever created (across vendors, not just Microsoft). This one is Bluetooth, has a tilt wheel (for horizontal scrolling, very good for Excel), Zoom button, PowerPoint draw button.
But that is just the beginning… When you turn it around, it becomes a presenter…
with next / previous slide, Volume up down, Play pause (for media center or WM player) and finally has a built-in laser pointer.
Unfortunately, this model is discontinued long back, but I have my own stock
Left button (for a right handed person) is the default button. A left handed person can configure Right button as the default.
The answer: use both … depending upon what is more convenient at that point of time.
If you are typing text and then you want to highlight it, keyboard shortcuts are preferred.
If you were scrolling and reading a document using mouse wheel and now you want to highlight some part of it, then use mouse because your hand was already holding the mouse.
The key thing is to maintain your flow. If you are busy typing something and then just to click on the OK button you move your hand all the way from keyboard to mouse … it disturbs your concentration and thought process.
If you have additional buttons (for example, mouse wheel is also a clickable button), then you can customize the action. Go to Control Panel – Mouse – Customize and you will be surprised to see so many options…
Here is what can be done using a button click : Back, Forward, Next window / Previous Window, Autoscroll, Cut, copy or paste, Undo / Redo, Digital Ink On/Off, Instant viewer, Alt, Shift or Ctrl keys, New, Open, Close documents, Double click, Exit program, Gaming toggle, Magnifier, Show / Hide Desktop, Zoom in / out, Precision booster, Start … a program, Keystroke…
I find the Instant Viewer to be very good. This shows you all open applications on the desktop – allowing you to choose the desired one quickly. This is faster than Alt – Tab or Taskbar.
For technical presentations, you need to explain the UI, Code, Dialogs, configuration options and so on. Regular PPTs have large font. But these elements are never seen properly by the audience. Therefore the full screen Magnifier (included since Vista) is a very good tool to map to an extra mouse button.
Using Magnifier correctly: When you invoke it, the Magnifier window appears on screen. If you try to get rid of it, the window converts into a lens and that lens remains on the screen. This disturbs your presentation.
Solution: Click on the lens to show the magnifier window again and click Minimize button on the window.
Precision booster, key combinations and Macros can be very useful for gamers. Special gaming mice offer even more sophistication.
Yes there is more!
For example, in case of Excel you may want wheel button to scroll but in PowerPoint you want that same button to be a Zoom In / Out button. This type of customization is called Application Specific Settings. Explore this for applications you use commonly.
Imagine how much thought has gone into a simple, taken for granted thingy called mouse! Just to make our lives easier.
We know single click and double click. But there is more.
|Application||Effect of double click|
|Word||Double click selects the word at cursor. Triple click selects the entire paragraph.|
|Office||Format Painter double click allows you to pick formatting once and then apply it to many different areas / objects|
|Office||Double clicking on some specific buttons allows you to do repetitive actions. This is called Locking the mode.
· Till version 2003, in PowerPoint, double clicking on any drawing shape button allows you to draw the shape repeatedly
· 2007 onwards, you right click on the shape and choose Lock Drawing Mode
|Excel||Double clicking in a cell allows you to view and edit the formula (if present)|
|PowerPoint||Double clicking a shape or picture or vide brings up the relevant Ribbon tab.|
|Chart elements||Since Office 2010, if you double click on any chart element, its customization dialog appears.|
|Any file based object||Double clicking executes the default action.
For Word and Excel objects default action is Open. For a movie / sound object the default action is Play.
|Pivot Table||Double clicking in row or column area brings up the drill down dialog.
Double clicking in data area creates a new sheet and shows you all the rows from raw data which contributed to that value. Very useful to find out lineage (underlying raw data) behind summarized reports.
Do NOT double click on the Grand Total, it will create a new sheet with all the raw data copied! (This is actually very useful in a specific situation, but we will cover that some other time)
Sounds funny? But it is true and it is very useful in day-to-day work.
While customizing charts, we need to format a particular series or marker or data label. We want it to stand out from the rest. How do we do it?
Depending upon which version of Office you are using, Double Clicking the item of interest will have different results.
Before Office 2010, double click had no impact. Single click on any element selects the entire series. From 2010 onwards, double click will open the format dialog / task pane for that element.
What we want is to select a single item – not the series. That is where SLOW double click comes into picture. This works in ALL VERSIONS of Office.
Click on the element – let it select the whole series. Wait for 2 seconds. Now click on the element you want to want to customize. Now the single element is selected.
Try it immediately …
Yes this is possible in Word. (I don’t know of any other examples of Triple Click for Office. If you know any, I would love to hear from you)
Press Ctrl key and click anywhere in the paragraph to select the SENTENCE – a very smart and useful feature in Word.
Many useful variations you must know…
Usually we drag the mouse to select text. However, if the text is very lengthy, there is another method available. 3 steps…
Very useful while selecting large chapters in Word or Selecting long tables in Browser. Of course, if you use Styles, you DON’T need to select large blocks of data EVER AGAIN in Word (will explain some other time).
The same concept applies to Excel as well. If you have a large block of data, click in the first cell, scroll to the last row and column and then SHIFT-CLICk.
This takes you to the LAST CELL in Excel. This is the cross section of the last row and last column used in that sheet. If your worksheet contains just one large block of data, you can know the last row by pressing CTRL-END quickly.
However, CTRL A is a faster way of selecting large amount of data in Excel. Click anywhere inside the data block and type CTRL A.
This is also done in a similar way. Click in the beginning, move to end and SHIFT-CLICK.
If you want to remove some selected items, use CTRL-CLICK.
You need a different approach to select multiple drawing objects, shapes, images etc in PowerPoint (and other programs).
There is much more to write about : Drag Drop, Keyboard along with Mouse, Right Click…
I know it is becoming a very long topic. However, the feedback has been very encouraging and it is useful on daily basis. So I will do justice to this important, yet ignored topic by covering it in detail.
Do post your comments…
We have been using a mouse for decades.
Now there is apparent competition from various touch devices.
So, why waste time reading this?
Trust me, you will save at least 10 minutes every day. Most of us don’t use the humble mouse efficiently even now. Initially, you will have to unlearn some bad habits.
There is much more. Read on.
Just moving the mouse over specific places is useful … (it is called mouse “hover”)
Here are some useful examples:
Often we get confused with too many toolbar buttons. If you cannot understand what a particular toolbar button does, you can just hover on it for a second. It shows you short help and also explains the concept using a diagram in some cases.
Here is an example from Word – Home Tab – Paragraph group… hover the mouse on that small arrow.
That small arrow is called Dialog Launcher. Click on it to open the full dialog related to the menu group (in this case Paragraph).
Tooltips can also illustrate concepts. For example, Trace Dependents is very useful for auditing Excel files. But most people don’t know how to use it. The tooltip explains it visually.
Excel – Formulas – Formula Auditing group – Trace Dependents (hover mouse here)
Sometimes you use a particular toolbar button for performing some common action. But there could be a simpler keyboard shortcut for the same action.
But you would never know about the shortcut because you always use the mouse to click on the toolbar button.
Remember. The most commonly used buttons are Ok and Cancel. Usually you can choose OK button from keyboard by pressing ENTER and choose Cancel using Escape key.
Clicking on OK / Cancel using mouse( while otherwise working on the keyboard) is the commonest misuse of mouse!
Just remember. Ok = Enter key. Cancel / Close = Esc key.
To select Landscape, type Alt S (Word – Page Setup Dialog)
If you don’t see these underlined characters, just press Alt key. It will now display underlined character shortcuts if available.
While working with dialogs / objects we often need to move to the next item / textbox / button / shape etc. Many of us use Mouse to do this. Using keyboard is faster in most cases.
This works with PowerPoint objects, Excel cells, Word table cells and items in dialogs.
I get this question often. I was trying to find a comprehensive answer to this question… but my son Zeus came up with an elegant solution.
Try single click first. If it does not work, try double click!
|Start programs using Desktop icons||Double click|
|Open a file||Double click|
|Choose a toolbar button||Single click|
|Choose a menu item||Single click|
|Start programs from Start – Programs||Single click|
Office 2007 helps us choose from available options in a simple, easy to use way.
Remember how often you have applied some background color to a slide and then wanted to changed it, you had to use UNDO and lots of trial and error?
Now all this trouble has ended. In any situation where you have multiple visual options to choose from, you just need to move your mouse cursor over the options (styles, colors, fonts, special effects). The effect will then be applied automatically… but temporarily. If you like the option, then you can click on the desired item. If you don’t like it, just move the cursor outside the area. Simple and effective!
Such live dropdown areas are called Galleries in Office.
Try this… Open any Word Document, click inside any paragraph and choose Home tab, Styles Gallery (open the dropdown). Move mouse the mouse cursor over various styles and see what happens to the paragraph.
This is available in many places across Office tools. Here are some important ones.
|Word||Home tab – Styles|
|Word, Excel, PowerPoint||Table Tools – Design – Table Styles|
|Word, Excel, PowerPoint||Picture Tools – Picture Styles (this tab appears in the ribbon only when you click on a picture)|
|Excel||Home – Conditional Formatting|
|PowerPoint||Design – to quickly change the template|
|PowerPoint||Animations and Transitions|
|All Office products||Design / Page Layout tab – Themes|
|SmartArt||SmartArt Layouts, Colors, Styles|
This is a revolutionary feature, added in Office 2010 onwards.
When you copy paste anywhere within Office, you can see a small icon that appears. This feature is there for many years. Most of us hate that icon because it is irritating. We have never explored why it appears uninvited. But trust me it has many useful options. It shows you Paste Special options, without going to Paste Special.
When you click this button, various pasting options are shown as icons.
At this stage you still don’t know which option is the right one for you. No problem, just hover the mouse over the each icon. You can see (temporarily) how the particular paste option will work if you choose it. Try all options quickly and choose the one you want. This prevents lot of trial and error and wastage of time.
It is usually more efficient to handle this with keyboard.
As though this was not enough, there is a new way introduced since 2010. Copy from source. Go to the destination but DO NOT paste. Instead, Right Click. In the right click menu, you will see all the paste options. Now preview them using mouse hover and choose the one you want.
Can you now begin to notice and appreciate how much effort Microsoft has put in to make our life easier! We must reciprocate by exploring stuff and using it to our advantage.
I thought this will be a small blog post. But when I started writing, I realized there is so much to share. I had to split the content. Will post the next part very soon.
Do post your comments here.