assigning back button on mouse on a Mac?
June 1, 2005 5:51 PM   Subscribe

On a Windows machine, both Firefox and IE by default map mouse button 4 (the "thumb" button) to the "back" command. How can this be done properly on a Macintosh? The usual answers like "use USB Overdrive-X or the Intellimouse driver software" have serious problems associated with them.

I have a MS Intellimouse, which has 5 buttons (left, scroll, right,
thumb1, thumb2).

Macintosh OS X 10.4 recognizes the two thumb buttons as "button 4" and
"button 5", without me installing any 3rd-party mouse drivers. I am
currently mapping "shift-button4" to Expose All Windows, and that
works just fine (and is quite useful!).

What I'd really like, though, is to be able to press button 4 in
Safari and have it do the "back" action, like it does in Windows.

I have tried several ways of doing this already. Both USB Overdrive-X
and the MS Intellimouse 5 driver seem to be doing a somewhat nasty
kludge of just mapping keystrokes - thus, the fact that I have my
option/command keys swapped confuses them (I have a PC keyboard). Even
when I fixed that problem by telling it to send option-[ instead of
command-[, it still doesn't work quite right: if the focus is in a
text box, pressing the button on the mouse causes it to move the
cursor to the beginning of the text box, rather than going to the
previous page!

Also, it seems that neither of these solutions allow me to keep the
shift-button4 Expose shortcut - they both interfere with OS X's native
handling of the mouse.

Is there any sane, correct, native way of telling Safari to map
button4 to the 'back' command? It really seems like there should be a
way to do this without installing third-party drivers, considering the
OS recognizes and can use all the buttons on the mouse for its own
posted by dmd to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Are you sure you're telling it to use [ and not left-arrow? In previous versions of Safari, command-[ and command-left-arrow were basically synonymous, but in the version that comes with Tiger, command-left-arrow has taken on the text control behavior you've observed. Just thought you should double check that, as I'm still stuck on using command-left arrow and it bites my in the butt every single day.

I'm also not sure why you can't have Exposé settings applied to another mouse button; Exposé is mapped to F7 by default, so could you have the mouse button emulate pressing F7?

(Did you try asking on Apple's support forums? A lot of people seem to miss them when scanning Apple's website, but they're a great resource with thousands of participants.)
posted by bcwinters at 8:05 PM on June 1, 2005

Yeah, you've got the button mapped to Command-Left Arrow rather than Command-[ (or the driver's doing that because it was convenient and used to work). Be sure it's [. It works fine for me.

USB Overdrive (and Microsoft's mouse driver, which is USB Overdrive with a different UI) don't support mapping of mouse buttons with modifiers to different actions, unfortunately, which is what you really need if you want to overload multiple functions into one mouse button.
posted by kindall at 8:51 PM on June 1, 2005

So, yes, it looks like using Command-[ does the trick -- but now middle-clicking doesn't work. Apparently the Intellimouse driver doesn't let you map the wheel to itself.
posted by dmd at 9:29 PM on June 1, 2005

A hah, but USB Overdrive-X does.

So now at least I'm in a situation where I can go forward and back, and I can use expose with shift-button4 UNLESS I'm in Safari (in which case it does the "back" action - which is dangerous enough that maybe i should get myself out of the habit...)
posted by dmd at 9:49 PM on June 1, 2005

It looks like Overdrive-X disables the extra buttons on my keyboard.
posted by dmd at 10:27 AM on June 3, 2005

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