Can I Really Deal with Losing a Right-Click if I Go to Macs?
March 26, 2004 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I am considering a foray back toward my roots in the Macintosh world. The aluminum powerbooks really are quite nice looking but have only one mouse button. I dont know if I can make such a big step backwards. I won't often use an external mouse with a laptop, so that isn't a great option. Any other right click addicts make the switch and thrive?
posted by jester69 to Computers & Internet (23 answers total)
I did, it's not that hard... just hold down the ctrl key to get right click functionality...
posted by mhaw at 2:06 PM on March 26, 2004

A bunch of the logitech mice will plug right in and work with two buttons. Otherwise it's control-click. I moved from a thinkpad to an Ibook and haven't noticed anything too disruptive.
posted by mecran01 at 2:06 PM on March 26, 2004

It's also worth noting that on MacOS there are few actions that are only accessible via right-clicking (in fact, in properly designed apps, there should be none). I get the impression that it's much more common for Windows apps to put functionality in the right-click menu that can't be accessed any other way.

So on the Mac, right-clicking is handy for convenience, but not as essential a part of the interface as it is on Windows.

The standard posture on a Powerbook is: right hand on trackpad, left hand on modifier keys (control, command, shift, etc.). Works fine, it just may be a little getting used to.
posted by xil at 2:13 PM on March 26, 2004

someone should make a single button that emulates the right click and velcros onto the laptop. or not.
posted by mecran01 at 2:17 PM on March 26, 2004

The ctrl-click takes two hands, so, arguably, it's actually twice as hard. Back in the day, you used to be able to get the same right-click functionality by clicking and holding for a second. Does anyone know if this still works? It might be the most easily-learned substitute for another button.
posted by scarabic at 2:20 PM on March 26, 2004

You can also get a nifty app called SideTrack that really improves mousing on *books. You can assign a little-used button (like the little Enter key in the corner) as a right mouse button, or assign tapping in a corner of the pad. The best feature, though, is letting you use the edge of your trackpad as a virtual scroll wheel.
posted by zsazsa at 2:21 PM on March 26, 2004

As has been stated, you can ctrl-click, or plug in any USB two-button mouse, and it'll work fine.
posted by brownpau at 2:22 PM on March 26, 2004

A bluetooth "right click" button to attach to the *Book's mousing surface would be a funny product.
posted by blueshammer at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2004

i was incredibly annoyed by it when i first got my mac (among other OS curiousities that mac users seem to love but make me TEAR MY HAIR OUT because to someone brought up on PCs they are not only counter-intuitive, but seemed slower and clumsier) and used an external mouse for a long while.

Soon, however, I got sick of carrying the mouse around with me -- and yeah, I have to agree with everyone else. You can adapt to the ctrl click thing.

i would highly advise that you also look into DragThing, the install of which has made me stop cursing the (IMO) terribly fucking designed OSX Toolbar (because I no longer use it at all) and instead, smiling at how awesome my custom desktop looks. Additionally, it has greatly increased the efficiency I can work at without an external mouse.

don't be fooled by the screenshots -- DragThing can look very slick (here's my [nsfw, pdf] desktop -- the toolbars at either side are both made with DragThing; the one on the right auto-hides and is used for launching programs, the ones on the left have shortcuts to my folders, show currently opened programs, and float over windows. Also, DragThing lets you put the trash back on the desktop, which I've done just for the novelty.) -- I have no clue why they've put up such UGLY screenshots. It certainly doesn't sell people on their product.
posted by fishfucker at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2004

scarabic is right: the click-and-hold routine works just fine. Or at least, it works on my desktop with a single-button mouse, and I don't see any reason why it would work differently on a Powerbook.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:58 PM on March 26, 2004

I haven't used a PowerBook recently, prefering the oomph of the desktop Mac, but I was under the impression that they do have two buttons on the trackpad. The trackpad itself (tap to click) and a separate physical button. One of them must be able to be mapped to a right-click, no?
posted by kindall at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2004

It took me all of 5 minutes to adapt to the ctrl-click needed on my Powerbook. I ended up cancelling the order for a bluetooth mouse since I didn't need it. I've never looked back. If anything, I'll use a WinXP system and wonder why ctrl-click isn't bringing up the contextual menu.

Click and hold doesn't work on my Powerbook --except in Netscape.
posted by birdherder at 3:36 PM on March 26, 2004

One of them must be able to be mapped to a right-click, no?

No. Not natively, anyway.
posted by jjg at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2004

jester, for what it's worth, PowerBooks are due for an update soon so you may want to hold off for a bit.
posted by anathema at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2004

anathema -- do you know when? I've been considering buying as well.
posted by namespan at 6:20 PM on March 26, 2004

Nobody knows when they're going to be updated. Some people think it ought to be soon, since they were last updated in September, but that's just a guess. Last year people expected Powerbook updates in May, but they had to wait until September. Either you're comfortable with the possibility of waiting several months, or, if you need it now, buy it now.

I always found control-clicking easy enough on Apple laptops; the trackpad button is close enough to the control keys that it can be done one-handed. (But then I have really big hands.)
posted by mcwetboy at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2004

I mostly use Windows, but sometimes Macs, also. While it seems frustrating when something doesn't work "the way it should" - I've found that overwhelmingly the way something works on a Mac is more natural and intuitive. It sometimes takes a little bit to "unlearn" the way I've trained my brain to work on Windows, but since Macs work so naturally, it's a very easy and quick process. Then you start wondering why certain PC functions were designed the way they were.
As someone mentioned, even though PowerBooks don't have the right button - there is very little you need to right-click for anyway - sort of how the left-click button doesn't do much in Windows.
posted by sixdifferentways at 8:58 PM on March 26, 2004

As someone mentioned, even though PowerBooks don't have the right button - there is very little you need to right-click for anyway - sort of how the left-click button doesn't do much in Windows.

I realize we're talking matters of opinion here, so take this for what it's worth, but I'm a huge Mac fan and I still miss right clicking when I come back to my Powerbook trackpad. I miss how in Windows you can nearly always copy something by selecting it and then right clicking on it for copy especially... and fewer Mac applications seem aware in this way. I'd love to see a right mouse button for the laptops. My Mac desktops already have them.
posted by weston at 10:26 PM on March 26, 2004

To expand on what Kindall and Scarabic noted, I recently discovered that on my powerbook with that annoying touch-to-click thingee enabled (Hate it. Carpal.), if I hold the button on the trackpad down with my thumb while touch-clicking on the trackpad with my index finger I get a right click from the mouse.

It's more complicated than a two-button mouse, but a good deal easier than ctrl-clicking. If you get a chance, I'd recommend trying it out on somebody else's computer.
posted by stet at 11:33 PM on March 26, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks much for all the tips. FWIW right click is not only a windows habit. Most unices (unixes?) use the right click and even a center click as an integral part of the windowing environment. I have a lot to mull over. Fortunately (unfortunately?), I'm kind of cheap and it will probably be a while before I make my mind up. As I said in the original post though, I really won't use an external mouse with a laptop. It just seems so wrong somehow.
posted by jester69 at 5:25 AM on March 27, 2004

if I hold the button on the trackpad down with my thumb while touch-clicking on the trackpad with my index finger I get a right click from the mouse.

Stet, are you sure about that? It doesn't work on my ibook. It seems to work in Firefox, but only because holding down the mouse button eventually brings up a contextual menu whether you tap the trackpad or not.
posted by teg at 3:29 PM on March 27, 2004

consider this another vote for sidetrack. i've got the trackpad on my ibook mapped to let a tap on the trackpad act as a right click and the right side of my mouse to act as a scroll wheel. you may have to muck with the sensitivity a bit, but after you've got it dialed in it's a brilliant add-on.
posted by boogah at 3:42 PM on March 27, 2004

zsazsa, i just grabbed the latest sidetrack. you say that one can map a key to r-click? i'm not seeing that anywhere. you can map a corner tap to a keystroke, but that definately isn't the same thing...
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 5:02 PM on March 27, 2004

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