Mouse basics


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Mouse basics

a close up of a hand using a computer mouse

What's coming up

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 so you don't hurt your wrist and, of course, how to use a mouse.

Start activity
a computer mouse from three different angles

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 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 analogue mouse has a ball underneath. This type of mouse needs to rest on a mouse mat to move smoothly.

an analogue computer mouse
a digital computer mouse

The digital mouse uses a red laser instead of a ball. Usually, this type of mouse does not need a mouse mat.

Some mouse types don't need a cable; a mouse without a cable is known as a wireless mouse.

a wireless computer mouse
a typical computer mouse

Computer mice come in all different shapes and sizes, but they all do the same thing.

The correct way to hold a mouse

When you use a mouse, it's important to avoid straining your wrist, arm or shoulder.

Sit with your arm at your side, bent at the elbow. You should be able to reach the mouse without extending your arm.

Rest your wrist on the desk, or mouse mat, with the palm of your hand on the back side of the mouse.

A comfortable position to hold a computer mouse at a desk
A hand resting comfortably on a computer mouse

The correct way to hold a mouse

Hold the mouse gently between your thumb and last two fingers. Lightly rest your index finger on the left button and your middle finger on the right button.

Make sure your wrist is not bent up or down. You may need to adjust the height of your seat to make sure your wrist is straight.

Let's practise

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.

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A changing cursor

The cursor 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.


When selecting an item such as a program, you 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.

a close up of hands on a computer mouse and keyboard


Well done, you've come to the end of the Mouse basics activity.

You've learnt 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 start by looking at some of the other things you can do using the left mouse button.