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- This Week's Free Computer Tip -

107 - Right Click – The Underused Tool

Of all the basic tools we have in Windows, the right click might be the most underused and most frequently overlooked tool. It shouldn’t be. Many of the best features of Windows are found with a right click. It is also one of the easiest tools to use, since it doesn’t require that you memorize anything!

Here’s why. I have previously talked about not liking to use context sensitive menus. Right click is the exception because context sensitivity makes sense in this case. When you are typing a word processing document, as I am doing right now, and you stop and highlight a few words of the text, the word processor has a pretty good idea about what you might be preparing to do next. Maybe you want to “cut” those words out of your document and later, “paste” them into another sentence. Or, maybe you want to just “copy” those words, to repeat them in another sentence. Perhaps you want to change those words to be a “Bold” type, for emphasis. Well, when you right click on the highlighted text, the menu that pops open contains those choices, and a few more. Context sensitivity means figuring out what you are likely to do next, and giving you those choices at the appropriate time.

The reason why there is no need to memorize what’s in these menus is that they are different for each circumstance. If you have spell-check turned on, and you misspell a word, MS Word will put a red squiggly line under it. When you right click on the misspelled word, the menu which pops open contains suggestions as to how to correctly spell the word. It also allows you to take other actions which may be appropriate, such as adding this word to your dictionary, as you might want to do if the word is an industry term and correctly spelled. The point is that all the choices will be related to what you might want to do when encountering a new word.

Other examples include:
When you right click on text in a Word table, you get choices about “deleting cells”, “inserting cells”, “aligning text in a cell”. It KNOWS you’re in a table, so you get table oriented choices.

When you right click on file or files you have selected in Windows Explorer, your choices will include such things as “Open”, “Add to a Zip File”, “Rename”, or “Create Shortcut”, all file related actions.

So here’s what you want to know about right click -

Whenever you are doing something and you need more information, or you need to take some common action, just TRY a right click. The worst thing that will happen is that it won’t be enabled for that particular circumstance. More times then not though, a menu of likely actions will pop right up. If what you are looking for isn’t there, fine. There’s nothing lost. You just don’t use it. Click somewhere else and the menu closes. No problem.

Some closing thoughts -

Your reward for reading this far is a big wish for the Happiest of Holidays, and a big "Thank You" for joining me on this new venture. I hope you are finding these bulletins to be useful. I realize that some weeks, you will already know about the topic. Even so, there still may be a technique in my explanation that will give you useful ideas about how to get more out of your computer. Your feedback is always welcome.

I know we all get wrapped up in the details of our lives but I would like to add a thought about perspective here. I know as well as you that computer problems can be frustrating. However, in the grand scheme of things, there are much bigger concerns in life than our computers. Frankly, if we are all worrying about computer problems at this time next year, it will have been a good year. That will mean that war was averted after all and that the nation is doing better with the economy, healthcare, business ethics and who knows what else. As this year comes to a close, our thoughts need to be with our leaders. They will need all the strength, humility, wisdom, and compassion they can muster, if they are to guide us safely through these next months. So, here’s to them, and here’s my wish: May we all be concerned about the truly little things a year from now!

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