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Most people use a mouse to control a desktop computer.
In this activity, you'll find out what a mouse is, how to hold a mouse comfortably and, of course, how to use a mouse.Start activity
What is a mouse?
The mouse is a great tool for telling your computer what to do by choosing things on the screen.
Most mice (sometimes called computer mouses) have a left and a right button, and a scroll-wheel between them. For most of the tasks you perform with the mouse, you use the left button.
Different types of mouse
There are many different types of computer mouse.
The older analogue or mechanical mouse has a small rubber ball underneath that rolls around as the mouse is being moved. This type of mouse needs to rest on a mouse mat to move smoothly.
The digital mouse
The more modern digital mouse uses a laser to sense movement instead of a ball. Usually, this type of mouse does not need a mouse mat but you might find it easier to use with a mat.
You can get a digital mouse with a cable that connects it to your computer, and is known as a wired mouse. A mouse without a cable is known as a wireless mouse.
Connecting your wired mouse
If you have a mouse with a cable, you will need to connect it to your computer before you use it. To connect your mouse, plug the end of the cable into a special socket, called a USB port, found in the back or side of your computer.
Connecting your wireless mouse
A wireless mouse can be more challenging to connect to your computer because it needs to use special software known as Bluetooth.
Bluetooth is a way for smart devices and computers to communicate with each other over very short distances without the use of cables. This means that if you move your wireless mouse more than a few metres away from your computer, it will lose its connection.
We will cover Bluetooth connectivity in later topics, so for now, follow the instructions that came with your mouse to connect it to your computer.
Using your mouse
It is important that you hold your mouse so that you are comfortable and not at risk of straining your arm, wrist or hand. You should be able to hold and use your mouse with minimal effort so that it comfortably glides across the surface of your desk or mouse mat.
Preparing to use your mouse
Use the following steps as a guide on how to hold your mouse:
- Place your mouse on the desk so that you can reach it without stretching your arm
- Your forearm should be parallel to the floor with your elbow bent
- Your wrist should gently rest on the desk
- Place your thumb on one side of the mouse and your last two fingers on the other side of the mouse
- This leaves your index finger and middle finger free to rest on the back of the mouse and click the left and right mouse buttons or use the scroll wheel.
Have a go at holding the mouse the way you've just been shown. Move it around on the desk or the mouse mat and look at the screen while you do this. What's happening?
You should see the pointer on the screen moving as you move the mouse. This pointer is called the cursor and it moves in the same direction as your mouse.
A changing cursor
It takes a little bit of practise to move the mouse in slow, controlled movements, but the more you use it, the more familiar it becomes.
The cursor also changes shape according to what it's hovering over on the screen. On the next slide, you can watch a video to see this in action. Click the Continue button to see the video.
Mouse basics: A changing cursor
This demonstration video is approximately 33 seconds in duration. It demonstrates how the mouse pointer, or cursor, changes shape, depending on what it is pointing at.
Once the video starts, the intro panel fades and we see the screen is split into two parts. On the left-hand side is an animation of a web page about the ABC. On the right-hand side, there is text displayed, which is the script for the voiceover track.
Voiceover: "When the cursor is moving around the screen with no active links, you'll see an arrow head."
The left-hand panel shows a mouse pointer, or cursor, moving around the page. The cursor is shaped like a black arrow head, indicating it has not passed over any links. We watch as the cursor moves down over a link called Brisbane and we note that it changes shape to a small hand icon.
Voiceover: "When the cursor is over an active link, you will see a hand with a pointing finger."
The left-hand panel now shows the cursor move off the Brisbane link and change back to a black arrow head. It then moves up the page to a text field, where the cursor changes once again, this time to an I-beam, which looks like a capital letter I.
Voiceover: "When the cursor is over an area where you can enter text, the shape changes again. This shape is called an I-beam."
By using your mouse to guide the cursor around the screen, you are able to select objects on the screen and perform tasks.
For example, to select an object on the screen, move your cursor until it's over the top of the target and press down once on the left mouse button. This is called clicking.
On the next slide, you can watch a video to see this in action. Click the Continue button to see the video.
Mouse basics: Clicking
This demonstration video is approximately 40 seconds in duration. It demonstrates how to select objects by clicking on them with your mouse.
Once the video starts, the intro panel fades and we see the screen is split into two parts. On the left-hand side is an animation of a Windows computer screen displaying an array of program icons. On the right-hand side, there is text displayed, which is the script for the voiceover track.
Voiceover: "When you click on an item to select it, a check box may appear or the item may have a box appear around it. This is so the item is now different from the other items on the screen. This is called highlighting."
The left-hand panel shows the mouse cursor hover over a folder called Videos - Shortcut and click once on it to highlight it. The selected item also shows a small checkbox with a tick inside it.
Voiceover: "By pressing the Ctrl key and clicking the left mouse button at the same time, you can select more than one item."
The left-hand panel updates to show a keyboard, with the location of the Ctrl keys highlighted in pink. The panel updates once again to show the mouse cursor selecting a second folder, called Downloads - shortcut and clicking on it to highlight it also. There are now two folders selected on the screen.
Voiceover: "This is especially useful for selecting multiple photographs or documents at once."
The left-hand panel updates again to show a third folder and a program app being selected.
You've completed the Mouse basics activity.
You've learned what a mouse is, how to hold a mouse safely and how to select more than one item at the same time.
In the next activity, The click factor, we'll look at some of the other things you can do using the left mouse button.