We’ve been so used to using the left mouse button for almost everything on our computers that we often forget there’s a right mouse button also. If we have a scroll-wheel on our mouse, it usually functions as yet another button.
Especially if we’ve been using several versions of Windows over the years, we have learned how easy it is to left-click on a file or folder and drag it somewhere else. That somewhere else might be from a folder onto the desktop, from one folder to another folder, or even from one drive to another.
But, there’s only one big problem with using the left mouse button to click and drag. If your finger slips before you’re ready to release the button, you may not know where the file ended up.
This week, I answered a question from a person who had managed to make over 300 copies of picture files, apparently by using the left-click-and-drag method and having her finger slip.
If she had used the Right-click-and-drag method instead of Left-click-and-drag, she could have avoided the duplications that occurred when her mouse finger stutters.
With Right-click-and-drag, you always get a pop-up menu when you let go of the mouse button. The options are Copy, Move, Create Shortcut and Cancel.
When you use Left-click-and-drag, Windows does what it thinks best. If you are dragging to a different drive, Windows copies. If you stay on the same drive, it moves.
The problem comes with the finger stutter, whether you bumped the mouse or just accidentally let go. Once you’ve highlighted and moved the mouse, SOMETHING will happen — and that something depends on where your mouse is pointing.
* If the mouse pointer is over the same drive folder, you get another copy in that folder.
* If the mouse pointer is over a different folder on the same drive, Windows moves the original file. If it was an accident, you get the challenge of figuring out where you accidentally dropped the file.
* If the mouse pointer is over the icon for a folder on a different drive, Windows copies the file.
I prefer the right-click-and-drag, so the action is under my control, so I know exactly what Windows is going to do.
The right-click-and-drag method works in Windows Explorer, the Windows Desktop, and other parts of Windows. It also works within the Open and Save As dialog boxes in most programs, since they use standard Windows functions to implement those dialog boxes.
On the other hand, just because a program has a file and folder structure, that doesn’t mean that right-click-and-drag works in its internal functions. Take Outlook Express for example.
The Outlook Express programmers implemented the functions that they wanted in its internal interface. When you’re within Outlook Express, you can only use the functions it’s programmers implemented to handle their functions — it’s Outlook Express — it comes with Windows but it’s not Windows.
Similarly, many other programs don’t use right-click-and-drag — or even recognize a right-click — because their programmers chose not to use those Windows functions.