MacMost Now 842: Using the Secondary Click

The secondary click is also known as a right click or control click. It is commonly used to access context menus and special software functions. You can determine how you create a secondary click by looking at the TrackPad and Mouse sections of System Preferences. But you can always use the Control key to change a primary click into a secondary one.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 842: Using the Secondary Click.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's take a look at secondary clicks.

So what is a secondary click? Well a secondary click you may know by a different name like right click or control click. Basically when you are using your pointing device, whether it is a trackpad or a mouse, you have your primary click and your secondary click, also known as left and right mouse button clicks back in the days when mice had distinctive buttons and one was on the left and one was on the right.

Now many Mac users may be used to only having one Mac button, especially if you have been using Macs for a long time. There was a period where Mac mice only had one button. So secondary clicks weren't the usual thing. Then the only way to do a secondary click was to hold the control key down. Not the command key but the control key down on your keyboard and click with the one button. You can still do that. It is the way that a lot of people, including myself, prefer to generate the secondary click.

There are a variety of ways to cause the secondary click. So let's look in System Preferences and under Hardware you can see both mouse and trackpad. Let's start with trackpad if you are using that on a Mac Book.

You see under Secondary Click here you can choose between one of three ways to generate it just using trackpad. You can click with two fingers, you can click in the bottom right or the bottom left corner to generate the secondary click. Now of course there is a fourth way which is to do a regular click but holding the control key down on your keyboard.

Now let's say you are using a mouse. Say you are using the standard wireless Apple mouse now. You also have the ability to set your secondary click. You can set it so that it clicks on the right side or the left side. So you can switch it back and forth. So the standard thing is on the right side.

Notice also on both the trackpad and the mouse I can turn off secondary click. So there is no way to actually do it with the mouse or the trackpad. You have to use the control key. You can always use the control key to generate the secondary click.

So what can you do with the secondary click. Well using it will in almost any case generate a context menu. So for instance if I click once on this file here in the Finder I simply am selecting the file. But if I'm doing the secondary click I get a context menu of all the different things I can do with that file.

The same for other things. For instance in the Dock I can click on any of these icons to run the app. But if I control click on it I get some other options of things that I can do with it.

Other apps will do other things. For instance most graphic apps will bring up a context menu depending upon what you have selected. But some 3D apps will actually do different things when you say secondary click and then move the mouse. Maybe they will rotate the screen rather than move the view of the screen.

So there is a lot of different things that you can do. But the important thing to realize is that when you say secondary click or right click or control click they all mean the same thing and there are various ways to get that.

Also get in the habit of using the secondary click to bring up a context menu. If you can't figure out how to do something with an object, like a file, a document, some text, whatever it is, think about maybe control clicking or secondary clicking on that object to see what commands come up in the context menu.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 3 Responses to “MacMost Now 842: Using the Secondary Click”

    6 years ago

    I think anyone who used Windows for years (mosr people I suspect) will beleive we’ve always had right-clicking, it’s only long-time Apple customers who enjoy CTRL+click.

    6 years ago

    Really enjoy your helpful tips and your web site.
    Thank you so much!

    6 years ago

    Just like my old Windows PC. Thanks for the tip.

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