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 are in will change the action performed when clicking the mouse button.
Note: A laptop touchpad typically has two buttons, which act just like the two buttons on a 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
- Single-click (pressing and releasing the mouse button) performs an action, if you clicked on a button, icon, file menu, or other object. For a mouse with two or more buttons, the single-click is defaulted to the left mouse button, which is why it may also be referred to as left-clicking the mouse.
- Click-and-drag (pressing and holding the mouse button and moving the mouse while you continue to hold the mouse button) is used to highlight or select text (drag-select) or more than one object.
- Double-click (pressing the button two times fast) opens or executes a program or opens a file.
- Right-click (pressing the alternate mouse button, often the right one) will perform a special action. For example, in Microsoft Windows, right-clicking the mouse button brings up a menu with additional options for whatever was clicked.
- Middle-click (pressing the middle button on a three-button mouse or using the mouse wheel as a button) will perform any pre-programmed option setup through the mouse settings or a function setup through the program. For example, in most Internet browsers, using the mouse wheel as a button on a link opens that link in a new tab.
- Shift click (Click, holding down the Shift key, and clicking again) to highlight text, icons, or other objects. See our Shift click page for further information, instructions, and interactive examples.
- Ctrl click (Click, holding down the Ctrl key, and clicking again) to select multiple files or folders. See our How to select or highlight multiple files and folders page for further information and instructions.
How to click without a mouse
Using a keyboard, you can also perform the same action as a click by pressing either the Spacebar key or the Enter key on the keyboard. For example, if you press Tab repeatedly to navigate through each of 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.