How to Right Click On Your Mac

If you are new to the Mac and have been using Windows, you may be wondering how you Right-Click on a Mac? Right-Clicking on Windows brings up context menus and you can do the same on your Mac by using either the Control key on your keyboard when you click, or by configuring your trackpad or mouse to recognize a secondary click.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: How to Right Click On Your Mac.

Hi, this is Gary with On this episode let me show you how you can right click on your Mac.

One of the most common questions people have about Macs, particularly people that have switched from Windows, is how do you right click on a Mac. So on Windows, traditionally, mice have had two buttons; a left button and a right button. The left button is the normal button for clicking things. The right button brings up what's called a context menu with extra functions on the item that you're clicking. Sometimes the only way to perform these functions is by right clicking on them.

However, Macs for a long time didn't even have a right button. For a short time there were mice with right buttons. Now we mostly have trackpads that don't have any buttons. You just kind of click the entire trackpad. So how do you bring up these context menus or how do you right click?

It's actually pretty easy and there are several ways to do it.

Now the best and definitely the most straightforward way to right click on a Mac is to use the Control key on your keyboard when you click on your trackpad or mouse. So, I'm talking about the Control key here, not the Command key. The one on your keyboard that actually has the word control on it. You don't use that for too much else. Its primary purpose is for exactly this. To bring up a context menu or right click.

So, for instance, I'm going to click on this file here and I'm going to hold the Control key down on my keyboard when I do it. You can see it brings up the context menu. Now this way works no matter how you have your settings, no matter how the Mac's configured. It's pretty much universal and it's very easy to use. Some people even refer to it, instead of right clicking, as Control clicking. I do that myself. Refer to bringing up the context menu as Control clicking.

It works in a whole variety of ways. For instance, on the Finder there I've Control clicked on a file. In image editing apps I can Control click on elements to bring up special functions. In Pages, for instance, I can have something selected here. Control click on it and bring up the context menu. In the Browser it is very useful and I use it all the time. For instance if I want to click on a link I Control click on it and you can see all sorts of functions that come up when I Control click rather than click on that item.

But let's say you want a solution that doesn't require you to use the keyboard to right click. Well, you can go into System Preferences and you'll either have Mouse or Trackpad settings or both. I've got both hooked up to my MacPro here. If you're using a MacBook then you probably just have Trackpad.

If you go into Trackpad here you can look at Secondary click, enable that, and select between three options; Click with two fingers, bottom right corner, bottom left corner. I find two fingers to be the most natural, the one that makes the most sense. Now you see without touching my keyboard I can tap with two fingers on my trackpad to bring up the context menu. It works the same as Control click using two fingers on the trackpad.

Now if you've got a mouse, depending upon your mouse's capability, you'll see different things here. If you have a third party mouse you may have a completely different type of control panel for it. But in this case there are separate things that you can assign to the left and right sides of the mouse. So I've assigned the primary button for regular clicking to the left side and secondary button, control clicking, to the right side. So now I can do this with the mouse as well.

So that is how you right click on a Mac. If you're used to doing that on Windows then you're just going to want to switch over to doing it the Mac. The way it works is very similar with the same type of functions that come up.

If you're a Mac user that hasn't been using Control clicking then you want to look into using it because just about every app and everything you do on your Mac is enhanced by accessing these context menus.

Comments: 2 Responses to “How to Right Click On Your Mac”

    3 years ago

    Hi Gary, My ctrl button doesn’t have any effect (2011 MBP) and the trackpad trick likewise :-(

    3 years ago

    Peter: So when you Control+Click on a file in the Finder, the context menu doesn’t appear? Remember, it is Control, NOT Command.

Comments Closed.