Pimp your right mouse button

Virtually everyone who is active on a computer does so with the help of a mouse. And unless you're working exclusively on a Mac, you'll be using the right mouse button regularly as well. And although we almost all use that button, there are still a lot of functions that not everyone knows about. Time to highlight the power of the right mouse button!

Tip 01: Alternative start menu

The Start menu is where you go in Windows when you want to start programs, open the Control Panel, view the Settings menu, and so on. The menu is practical, but also very extensive. It is therefore good to know that the right mouse button can conjure up a similar menu, but much more compact and equipped with shortcuts to the most important places in Windows. All you have to do is right click on the Start menu and the alternate menu will open. Once you've used it once, you'll find that you'll be accessing this menu more often than you might think.

Tip 02: Adjust tiles

When you open the regular Start menu (i.e. with the left mouse button) you see the tiles with which you open programs. Windows has arranged those tiles for you and given them the size it sees fit. But that doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to that classification. Thanks to the right mouse button, you have quite a bit of control over the appearance of this menu. When you right-click on a tile, you will see the option Resize. When you click on this, you can adjust the size to your liking. You also see the option More, this gives you much more control over what a tile does and can do.

Tip 03: On the taskbar

There are programs that we open only very occasionally in Windows, but there are also programs that we start almost every time we work in Windows. Think of your browser, Microsoft Word and so on. When you have started a program, it will appear in the taskbar and you can easily activate it wherever you are in Windows. When you close the program, the program disappears from the taskbar again and that's exactly what you don't want when you use the program often. After all, if you want to start it again, you will have to open the start menu again. Wouldn't it be helpful if the app just stayed on the taskbar? You just need to right click on the icon of the desired program on the taskbar and then choose Pin to taskbar. Once you have done this, the program will not disappear. If you regret that decision, repeat this action and choose Unpin from taskbar.

You can open recent files even before you start the program

Tip 04: Recent files

We'll stay in the Start menu for a while, because there's another very handy function that you can activate using your right mouse button. Let's say you use Microsoft Word regularly and you recently worked on a document that you now want to continue working on. What you then probably do is start Word (so you can do that faster with the help of tip 3) and then search for the file among your recent files. But that can be done much faster. When you right-click on the icon of the program you want to launch in the Start menu (or on the taskbar), you'll immediately see a list of files you've recently opened in that program. That way you can start the program, while the correct file is opened immediately. It doesn't get more efficient than this. Incidentally, this also works for your browser, even if it concerns pages that you have recently visited.

Tip 05: Organize windows

In an ideal world, of course, we only use one program at a time. In reality it is something different. For example, you often have a browser open to find something on the internet, your e-mail program to read and write e-mails and also other programs that you are working with. You can of course open all those programs one by one, but it can also be very practical to divide all programs as a mosaic on the desktop, so that they do not overlap and you can see the contents of all these programs at the same time. Now you can of course start dragging them all by hand and scaling them bigger and smaller, but firstly that is a hell of a job and secondly it is not necessary at all. The right mouse button makes it possible: all you have to do is right click on the taskbar and then choose Show windows side by side. Windows will then scale and shift all windows so that they are all neatly spaced across your desktop. When you close a window, simply repeat this step so that the windows are redistributed.

Tip 06: With/no toolbars

Another useful right-click function is to control the elements shown on the lower taskbar. At first glance, that bar looks like a whole, but in reality it is a bar that is filled with all kinds of toolbars. When you right-click on the taskbar and then click Toolbars, then you will see the parts that are (can) be shown in Windows and of which you can indicate whether you want to see them or not. This way you can easily make the taskbar a bit quieter and adapt it to the things you actually use. By right-clicking on the taskbar and choosing Taskbar Settings you can also specify that you want the taskbar to automatically disappear from view when you're not using it (whether that's useful or annoying, depends on your preferences). In this Taskbar Settings you can adjust the taskbar much further to your liking. Consider the location of the taskbar: it can just as easily be displayed on the side or top of the screen, but you can also indicate, for example, that you do not want the windows from one program (for example Word documents) to be combined in one taskbar icon.

Tip 07: Screen Settings

The following tips revolve around the things you can do with the right mouse button in Windows Explorer, but before we list those possibilities, let's give you one more helpful tip about what you can do with the right mouse button in the Windows interface. In addition to right-clicking on the start menu and taskbar, you can also right-click on (an empty spot on) the Windows desktop. When you do this, you can perform actions such as sorting (and determining the appearance) of the icons on your desktop, but it also provides you with a shortcut to adjust the display settings. When you right click on an empty space on the desktop and choose Display Settings, then you get useful options, such as switching the night mode on and off, adjusting the resolution, adjusting the size of text (below the icons), but also for setting up a second screen, for example. Of course you can also find all these options via the Control Panel, but this way all options are directly under the button and that is just a bit faster.

Tip 08: Rotate images

The right-click menu is also known as the context menu and the reason for this is that the menu adapts to the context in which it is activated. You've noticed that in the previous steps (each right-click led to a different menu) and in Windows Explorer it goes one step further, because the contents of the menu are determined by the software you have installed. For that reason, you will see options in our screenshots that you may not have on your computer and that's okay. The options we'll cover for File Explorer are the ones everyone has, because they're part of Windows' basic configuration.

We'll skip the absolute basics (copy and paste), but there are also many other interesting options. For example, did you know that you can rotate an image without opening it? All you have to do is right-click on the image of your choice and select in the right-click menu for Turn clockwise or Turn left. When you view the files in icon mode, you see the effect of your action directly in the thumbnail. Extra handy: this also works if you select multiple images at the same time.

Tip 09: File Versions

Errors you make in Windows files can usually be reversed. But first you have to tell Windows that you want to take advantage of that option. You do this by clicking on the Start menu and Institutions to choose. Choose now Update and Security and then before backup. Then indicate that you want to make automatic backups of your files. Now when something goes wrong with a file in the future (for example, you save a Word document and you find out two days later that the older version was better), simply navigate to this file in Windows Explorer and click on it with the right mouse button. Then choose Restore previous versions and choose the version that corresponds to the date you want to restore. And voilà, your old file is restored.

Tip 10: Share files

Whether it's files you're working on, or photos or videos you'd like to show someone; there will be times when you want to share files with others. You can then start your e-mail program, compose an e-mail, add the file as an attachment and then send it, but it can also be a lot more efficient. When you navigate to the file in Windows Explorer and right click on it, you will see an option called Copy to. When you click on this, you will see a list of options to which you can copy the file. If you use services like Dropbox or OneDrive, you will also see these options in between, which is of course useful for sharing. But you will also have the option here E-mail recipient between see. If you click on this, your standard mail program will open, with this file added directly as an attachment. That saves you a few mouse clicks. If the option of your choice is not in the list, click on To share in the right-click menu instead of on Copy to. In this list you will find some other options.

Tip 11: Compress

It is often thought that you need to install an external program like WinZip, WinRAR or 7Zip in order to compress and decompress files. But this technology is just part of Windows, albeit very well hidden. It would have been more convenient if the compress option would also be directly in the right-click menu, but unfortunately this function is a step further away. Select the files you want to compress and right click on your selection. Now choose the option again Copy to (as illogical as that may seem) and click Compressed (zipped) folder. Windows will combine the files into a compressed zip file without further prompting.

Tip 12: Shortcuts

Shortcuts are useful ways to give yourself quick access to files and folders in Windows that you use often. For example, you can add a shortcut to the left pane in Windows Explorer, or to the desktop or taskbar, so you can quickly access whatever you want. Such a shortcut is also made very quickly with the right mouse button. Right click on the file or folder you want quick access to and choose Create shortcut. The shortcut that is created will be given the name of the original, plus the word shortcut. If you don't like that, you can fix it by right-clicking on the shortcut and choosing Renaming. When you are happy with your shortcut, you can simply drag it to the taskbar, so that from now on you only need one mouse click to open the file or folder of your choice.

13 Click Different

Finally, a few handy click options. To call up the right-click menu on a laptop with a touchpad, you can touch the surface with two fingers. If you use a separate (modern) mouse, there are even more options. For example, you can close a tab by clicking on it with the scroll wheel (so don't scroll but really press it). There are also mice that have many more buttons that you can assign functions to, such as going back through your history, undoing an action or scrolling super fast to the end of a page.

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