A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 23: Mouse and Keyboard tricks

Last week, I wrote about some things that I had learned to do with Google. Two of the things that I learned then involved mouse/keyboard shortcuts, mainly within Chrome, rather than on the Google site itself. One of the things that I was most excited to learn was the CTRL + left click to open up links in a new tab instead of the same window. For a while it was very helpful, that is until I learned of an easier way. Today, I decided to see what other tips and tricks there are with just the mouse and keyboard.

Opening links in a new tab (with only the mouse)

While using the CTRL + left click to open up links in a tab is easier than having to right click and select ‘Open in a new tab’, you can also achieve the same effect with just the mouse. Well, most modern mouses* that is. Most people already know that the scroller wheel on the mouse is a great way to navigate up and down webpages, documents, etc., and you may even know that the scroller wheel is a button. Turns out that when you click the scroller wheel/button on a link in a web browser, it opens up the link a new tab.

You can also click on any open tab with the scroller wheel to close it.

*Oxford Dictionaries says that the plural of a computer mouse can be either mice or mouse.

Column selection

You can select text in a text document by dragging your mouse over the text you want to select. You can also use the SHIFT + left mouse button to select text from one point to another. I think this is something that many people already know about. The problem is, when you want to select text it always selects the whole line.

What if you only want to select the first part of each line, as if it were in a column. Well, you can do that too. Press ALT + left mouse button to activate the feature, and you’ll be able to select text as if it were in a column (once you’ve started to drag, you can stop pressing the ALT key).


ALT select

Copying (not moving) files from one location to another

If you drag a file from one folder to another on your computer it will automatically move it (so long as it’s on the same drive), removing it from the original folder. Sometimes that’s what you want to do, but other times what if you want to leave the original file in it’s place and make a copy? You can of course right click, copy, and paste (the CTRL+C/CTRL+V keyboard shortcuts also work). You can also, however, use a combination of the keyboard and mouse to do the same. Just press hold the CTRL key and drag with the left mouse button and it will automatically make a copy in the new location rather than just moving the file.

Moving (not copying) files from one location to another

The trick above described moving files from one place to another on the same drive on your computer (e.g. between two folders on your C:/ drive).

If you want to drag files from one location to another when both locations are not on the same drive, for example from a USB flash drive to your computer’s hard drive, then it will automatically copy the files and not remove them from the original location, essentially the opposite of the situation described above. But what if this time you want to move the files and not copy  them? Well, it’s pretty much the same, except instead of the CTRL key, press the SHIFT key and drag with the left mouse button to move the files from one drive to another.

Right click and drag to copy or move a file

If the above two methods are all too much, there is one more way that you can quite easily move files and decide whether to move them or copy them. This time, don’t press any keys on the keyboard. Then rather than dragging with the left mouse button, simply drag the file from one location to the next with the right mouse button. This won’t copy/move the file immediately, but will give you a pop-up menu, so you can choose whether to copy, move or make a shortcut.

right drag


I don’t know whether these keyboard/mouse tricks are useful for anyone else, or how much time they do actually save—we must be talking fractions of seconds—but they’re exactly the type of thing that I like to know.


  • Press the scroller wheel on your mouse to open links in a new tab
  • Press ALT + left mouse button to select text in a column in documents, such as Word
  • Press CTRL + left mouse and drag to copy files from one location to another on the same drive.
  • Press SHIFT + left mouse and drag to move files from one location to another between two different drives.
  • Right click and drag a file from one location to another to get a menu giving you the option to move, copy or create a shortcut of the file before actually moving it.

Featured image courtesy of Erik Charlton on Flickr,


2 comments on “Day 23: Mouse and Keyboard tricks

  1. Tesal K. Sangma
    January 25, 2015

    I really love your blog! The information in this post has made my work a lot easier. Thanks for enlightening me! Really look up to you as a model technologically sound English teacher. 🙂


    • David Harbinson
      January 26, 2015

      Hi Tesal, thanks for your comment. I’m glad it’s helped to make your work easier. It’s helped me a lot too. I’m really enjoying trying to learn new things every day.

      Liked by 1 person

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