Afraid of Mice?

Here's a very basic lesson in using the mouse with any web browser. If you already know what point and click means, then you need not review this document.

How to hold the mouse

  • First off, don't hold the mouse, in the sense of picking it up and cradling it. It needs to be in contact with a flat smooth surface for it be of any use.
  • Reach for mouse with your right hand. Rest your palm on the mouse's back. Drape your thumb and pinkie finger on either side of the mouse. If you are left-handed please adjust your grip accordingly and note that a mouse can be set up for left-handed use though your ‘Control Panel.’
  • Now you're in a position to push the mouse around. We'll do a final fitting in step 4.

Moving the mouse

  • Look for the cursor, GIF of cursor, on the screen. If you have trouble locating the cursor, jiggle the mouse to and fro for a moment. Hold the mouse as described above, and while looking at the screen at the cursor, move your hand from right to left. Notice how the cursor moves from right to left (if it changes shape as it moves, pay it no mind for now.
  • Keep your eyes on the screen, and while resting your hand on the mouse. Move your hand closer to your body and then further away. Notice how the cursor moves up and down the screen.
  • If you're really new to using a mouse, you may wish to practice the two steps above, until you are comfortable making the cursor go where you want it to go.
  • Review Pick up the mouse. Now move it. Notice how the cursor is stationary. A mouse must roll along a flat surface if you want your cursor to move along with it. A flying mouse moves no cursor.
  • f you run out of room while moving your mouse from one edge of the screen to the other, remember you can pick up your mouse, backtrack while your mouse is aloft, bring it back down to a surface, and continue moving it in the desired direction.

Clicking with the mouse

  • The two buttons on the mouse are for "clicking."
  • The left mouse button will be doing most of the work. You'll want to keep your right index finger "on the trigger," by resting it on the left mouse button. Don't suspend your finger above the button; it may come down on the wrong mouse button with unexpected results. Most mice have a groove in the left mouse button which you should use as a guide. Keep your clicking finger here when not in use.
  • To click, bear down momentarily with your index finger on the left mouse button. You should hear a "click" as you depress the mouse. If you hear a separate click as the button cheers itself up, your click generally won't register. The button should be depressed for only an instant; the downward click and the upward click should merge into one sound.

The scroll bar

In between the two buttons on the mouse is a scroll wheel. This allows you to scroll up and down the page without clicking and holding mouse buttons to maneuver around the page.

Final fitting

Since every hand is different, you'll have to find the right position for your hand. People with smaller hands might rest their hand on the mouse, laying their finger on the primary mouse button; others with larger hands might arch their hand slightly over mouse, gently "standing" their index finger on the mouse button. The important thing is to find what's comfortable so you can relax and stop worrying about the mouse.

Using the mouse with a web browser

  • Web browsers (i.e., Firefox or Internet Explorer) rely on the mouse as the primary means of navigation. You need a mouse to point to links and the mouse button to follow these links.
  • Links can either be text or images. Imagemaps are special images that are divided into regions, clicking in one of which leads to a different destination. The map showing all Queens Library locations is one example of an imagemap. (Click here to view map.)
  • Text links are usually represented in a color different from plain text. This is the chief clue used to identify a link. For example, the previous point "Click here to view map" is an example of changing the text color to indicate a link.
  • The cursor also gives a clue about links. When the cursor passes over a link (text or image) it changes from a pointer to a hand showing you an index finger.

    Highlight of mouse cursor image

    Clicking the left mouse button achieves nothing but confusion while the cursor is still a pointer.

    However, when you see the finger, you can click and actually get somewhere.


  • While we're on the subject, the cursor turns into an hourglass after successful clicking as the web browser attempts to follow the link.

    It's the browser's way of telling you to be patient for a moment.

The Right Mouse Button

The right mouse button isn't completely useless. After you've mastered clicking with the left mouse button you might want to see what happens if you click the right mouse button. **

  • Clicking the right mouse button will produce a list of options in a pop-up menu. You can then select the option you prefer by clicking it.
  • The options include, at the least, back and forward. This is equivalent to clicking on the Back and Forward buttons below the menu bar in any web browser. If there's no going back (or forward), this option will be grayed out and not selectable.
  • If you click the right mouse button while the cursor is over a link, one option will be to open the link. Use this option to follow a link if you've clicked with the right mouse button by mistake.

** SPECIAL NOTE for In-Library users: PCs at the Queens Library do not have the capability of right mouse button use.

Need More Practice?

Try "Mousercise" published by the Central Kansas Library System at: http://www.ckls.org.

These guides are created and maintained by Queens Library's Cyber Center Staff.