Click is a term used to describe the action of pressing a mouse button (usually the left mouse button, if the mouse has two buttons) one or more times. Depending on the computer you are using or the software program you're in changes the action performed when clicking the mouse button.
A laptop touchpad has two buttons that act like the two buttons on a desktop computer mouse.
Below are the general ways to click a computer mouse and the actions they perform. As mentioned above, these actions may change depending on the program you are using.
Types of mouse clicks and mouse click options
Pressing and releasing the mouse button performs an action if you clicked on a button, icon, file menu, or another object. For example, when you single-click a hyperlink in a browser, that link is opened. With a mouse with two or more buttons, the single-click defaults to the left mouse button, which may also be known as left-clicking.
For right-handed users, the left-click is done with the index finger on the right hand.
Pressing the default mouse button twice quickly opens or executes a program or opens a file. For example, while in Microsoft Windows or most other operating systems double-clicking a program icon opens that program. If you have an icon to a web browser on your desktop, you would have double-clicked that icon to open the browser.
Not all areas of Windows and other operating systems require a double-click to open a program. For example, icons that are in the Windows Taskbar only require a single click. If you're not sure if a single or double-click is required, try a single click first; if the object remains highlighted and doesn't open, try double-clicking.
When dealing with text, double-clicking text selects the full word that was clicked.
See our double-click page for further information about double-clicking and examples of double-clicking text.
Clicking, holding down the mouse button, and moving the mouse) is used to highlight or drag-select text or objects. For example, in the animated image below, we're clicking and dragging the mouse cursor to highlight all text in the first sentence.
Pressing the button three times quickly selects a paragraph of text, as shown in the animated picture above.
Tripple-clicking in the top-left portion of the document area when the mouse is pointer is an arrow highlights the entire document. Keep in mind this tip doesn't work if you're clicking in the header.
Pressing the alternate mouse button, which is often the right mouse button, to perform a special action. For example, in Microsoft Windows, right-clicking the mouse button brings up the right-click menu with additional options for whatever was clicked. In Microsoft Word, right-clicking in the word processor would give you opens like the ability to cut and copy text.
For right-handed users, the right-click is done with the middle finger on the right hand.
Pressing the middle button on a three-button mouse or using the mouse wheel as a button performs a pre-programmed option. This option may be configured in your operating system mouse settings, or sometimes in the program you are running. For example, in most Internet browsers, using the mouse wheel as a button on a link opens that link in a new tab.
The function of Ctrl+click varies on where and how it's being used. It can select multiple files or objects, open links in a new tab, and open hyperlinks. See our Ctrl+click for further information, instructions, and examples.
Doing a single-click, holding down the Shift key, and clicking again somewhere else on text highlights all text, icons, or another set of objects between the two clicks. See our Shift-click page for further information, instructions, and interactive examples.
Which finger should I use to click?
The index finger on the right hand is used for what is referred to as a selective click. However, those who are left-handed may reverse the order of the keys mouse keys to ensure they have the same functionality.
How to click without a mouse
Using a keyboard, you can also perform the same action as a click by pressing either the spacebar or the Enter on the keyboard. For example, pressing Tab repeatedly lets you navigate through the links on this page, you can press Enter on the keyboard to follow the currently highlighted link.
If you need to right-click with a keyboard, see our right-click page for further information and examples.
Why won't my mouse click?
This issue usually arises when the mouse needs a driver update, new batteries, or is faulty.
- How to install and update a computer driver.
- Mouse and touchpad help and support.
- Mouse not detected or working in Windows.
How do I click on a smartphone or tablet?
A smartphone, tablet, and any device that uses a touch screen does not use a mouse and therefore cannot "click." However, generally speaking, most actions that tell you to "click" are the same as a "tap." For example, you could click or tap any of the links on this page to open them.