One of the things that I’ve noticed over the years is that it’s real easy to forget to pay attention to what the mouse is doing.

With everything else that happens on a typical computer it’s easy to get distracted by all the other “stuff” that’s going around the pointer and you end up missing clues that your mouse is trying to tell you.

A lot of people don’t realize just how precise and instrument the mouse really is. The very tip of the pointer, when pointed at objects just so, will often reveal clues that can be used to help you do whatever it is that you are trying to do. The secret is to pause at an object and see if something happens.

Many times objects on computer screens, like buttons icons and such, will respond not just when clicked, but often when the mouse just passes over. These “mouse-overs” can be the source of many a hint to help you on your way.

You may have noticed while browsing the Internet that some things on websites change as you move your mouse around. Sometimes a button will change color or a pictures title will appear if the mouse is held over it for long enough. If your mouse passes over a link, the pointer may change from an arrow to a pointing finger. In Windows programs, buttons, menus and controls often brighten as your mouse passes over them to give you a visual clue you are now pointing at a clickable control

There, again, the secret is to pass your mouse slowly over an object and pay attention in order to see anything.

The reason I keep harping on that is sometimes I work with someone who just can’t resist the urge to wiggle that mouse. Every time something’s loading or we’re trying to work out how to do something, he’s moving the mouse all over the screen. Many times we’ll be trying to work out a procedure but with that mouse flying all over, we can’t get any thinking done! But, as soon as the mouse stops, and we start pointing at things and pausing and start paying attention to our mouse, we start to make progress.

So, what are some of the clues to watch for when your pointer passes over something? Well, one of the things that you’ll likely see is your pointer will turn into a double-sided arrow. If you will notice, when the very tip of your pointer moves over the very edge of certain objects (like the edge of a window), the pointer will sometimes turn into a double sided arrow. This is your computer’s way of telling you that you can stretch whatever it is that you are currently pointing at. All you have to do is click and hold while it’s a double arrow and you should be able to change the size that object just by dragging the mouse.

In many Microsoft programs like Edge, XL and Word, holding your mouse over buttons and controls will often yield a small pop-up window with a short, two or three-word description of the control. The thing is, many times this little pop-up doesn’t appear for a second or so, so if you’re all over the place with the mouse, you just may miss it.

In things like word processors or email programs, you may notice the mouse turns into this oversized capital “I.” This pointer is called the “I Beam,” and its shape is specifically designed to get right between the letters. When your pointer turns into an I Beam, that’s your clue that the part of the screen you’re pointing at is for typing.

Yeah, there sure is a lot on a computer that can serve to distract you. One of the best ways to stay on track is to pay attention to what your mouse is pointing at, take it easy and follow your mouse. Many times the answers that you are looking for are right under your pointer.

Sean McCarthy fixes computers. He can be reached at 888-752-9049 or (No Hyphens!).

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