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University of VictoriaIntroduction to IT English
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Using the Mouse

You can do many things on your computer using only your mouse.

Here are some words that describe:

  • things you see on the screen, and
  • actions you do with the mouse.


Each software program appears inside its own box, called a window. You can have more than one window on your screen at a time.

Window screen capture


Windows float over the desktop. You can save files and folders on the desktop to make them easy to find.

Desktop screen capture


When you move the mouse, the cursor points at different things on the screen.

Cursor screen capture


When you press the main button on your mouse, you click whatever is underneath the cursor. Clicking something means you want to activate or choose it. (Your mouse’s main button is usually on the left.)


An icon is a small picture that represents a software program. You can sometimes click an icon to start a software program.

Icon screen capture


A button is a small picture that represents a software command. You click the button to use that command. Some buttons have words on them.

Buttons screen capture


A toolbar is a row of buttons.

Toolbar screen capture


A menu lists different things your software can do. Click the menu name to make the choices appear, then click the choice you want.

Menu  screen capture

Dialogue box

A dialog box offers many choices at once. When you have made all your choices, press the OK button.

Dialogue Box  screen capture


When you drag something, you move it from one place on your screen to another.

To drag an item, click it, but do not lift your finger from the mouse button. Then move the mouse until the item is where you want it. Lift your finger from the mouse button. The item will move.


Large documents and pictures often do not fit inside a window. You scroll the document to see parts that are hidden. To scroll, click the arrows at the end of the scroll bar.

Some mice have wheels that let you scroll.

Scroll  screen capture


Some icons need to be double-clicked to be activated. To double-click something, move your cursor over it, then quickly click the mouse button twice.

Context Menu

If you click something with your second mouse button, a content menu may appear. The context menu lists things you could do to the item you clicked.

Opening a context menu is sometimes called right-clicking.

Context Menu  screen capture