One of the first skills I like to work with students on is how to use the mouse and the keyboard. Though many of us make use of these items every day, a lot of us don’t know many of the cool things we can do with them.
Let’s start with a caveat
There are distinct differences between a mouse/keyboard combination on a Macintosh Computer versus a Windows machine. I’ll make note of any differences in the article
- Take a look around and see if you have a keypad. The keypad is the square extension on many keyboards that has a traditional 10-key input for numbers similar to an out-of-date adding machine. Though available for both Mac and Windows, many laptops lack the keypad.
- Cautionary note: be sure the number lock key is pressed. Many people use numbers in their passwords and consistently type their passwords using the keypad. The problem arises when you assume the number lock key is pressed. Failing to do so will give you different results, and if you’re typing into a password field, your login will fail. When typing passwords it is best to use the number keys at the top of a normal keyboard.
- The mouse is very sensitive, and is growing more so as developers add special touch sensors to the devices. Being aware of what you click and where you click will help you to get the results you expect.
- The manufacturers of all computers assume that you are right handed. They also assume that you keep the mouse to the right of the keyboard. When you are asked to left-click or right-click the mouse, they are referring to which side of the top of the mouse you click. Did you lefties know that you can reverse this perceived bias in your favor? See the tip below, but just remember that all instructions are now mirrored. So when someone using a right-handed mouse right clicks, you’re going to left click.
- Click on System Preferences in your Dock or Finder.
- Locate the Hardware section (bold text), and click on the Mouse button
- Click on the Point & Click tab at the top of the window
- Locate the drop down arrow beside “Secondary Click, Click on right side” and click on it.
- Choose Click on left side from the drop down menu.
- Close the Mouse window
- Windows 8:
- Hover your mouse in the lower right or upper right corner of the screen to expose the Charms Bar.
- Click on the Settings icon.
- Click on Control Panel
- Click on Hardware and Sound
- In the Devices and Printers group, click the Mouse hyperlink.
- On the Buttons tab, put a check mark beside “Switch primary and secondary buttons”
- Click on Okay
- Close the Control Panel window.
Math on the Keyboard
One of my favorite classes to teach is Microsoft Excel Formulas and Functions. All of the math symbols are available on the keyboard, and some of them are on the keypad, too. Here’s a little table of some of the most common ones.
|Math Function||Keyboard Location||On Keypad|
|Addition||shift + = (results in “+”)||yes|
|Subtraction||hyphen (results in “-“)||yes|
|Multiplication||shift + 8 (results in “*”)||yes|
|Division||Forward Slash (results in “/”)||yes|
|Percentage||shift + 5 (results in “%”)||no|
|Greater Than||Shift + . (results in “>”)||no|
|Less Than||Shift + , (results in “<“)||no|