One of the most basic moves one needs to master in order to get anything done on a PC is the "click." Sounds simple and obvious, doesn't it? Well, it is, but as many new computer users are finding, it's not necessarily simple. There are a few things that need to be kept in mind in order to master that one basic action.
A frequently asked question is: "How do I know whether to click or double-click?"
My answer is: "Easy! Click once, and if nothing happens, then double-click."
If that seems self-explanatory, it is. Just think about it; if clicking twice gives you a different result than when you click once, and you aren't sure which is which, then start off with a single click first. That's important, because double-clicking will often open a new window or launch a program or typically do something more drastic than a single click. In fact, the results of double-clicking will often cover the icon you were working with.
The single click has its place. When you click once, you should notice that your target object (whatever it is that you just clicked) will often turn blue (or whatever color your computer is set at). This change in color indicates to you that this particular icon is now highlighted or "selected." In other words, when you single click an icon and it turns a different color, you have focused the computer's attention at that particular object.
Then, once something is selected, the computer knows that whatever you ask it to do next should be done to the object that's highlighted.
What kind of things can you do to a selected object? You can copy it by pressing the control (ctrl) key and the "c" key on the keyboard simultaneously. You could press the "Enter" key (which gives you the same results as if you double-clicked). You could also delete the item or rename it if you clicked on the name. There are lots of uses for the single click; the important thing to remember is that's how you make sure the computer is "looking" at the same thing you are.
As for the double-click, when you double-click an icon, it's absolutely essential that the mouse be kept completely still for both clicks. If you are trying to double-click an icon that's in close proximity to a folder icon and you double-click while the mouse is still moving, you run the risk of dragging the target icon and dropping it into the folder and moving it to another location on the computer. That can be a real puzzle to figure out where the icon went - it just disappears!
Many people who have trouble double-clicking hold the mouse with their wrist suspended in the air and a death-grip on the mouse. You don't have to grip it that tightly; just let it sit on the mouse pad. Rest the heel of your hand on the mouse pad and just push the mouse around with your fingertips. Once you loosen your grip, you'll find that the mouse will stay put.
If you still have problems with the pointer wandering around when you are trying to click, you may want to consider a trackball. A trackball is like a mouse that's been flipped over on its back. You roll the ball around with your fingertips, and the base is stationary. Unlike a mouse, where the buttons go along for the ride, the buttons of a trackball are built into the non-moving base. So, when you click a trackball, keep your fingers off the ball and click the button. That usually ends the "wandering clicker syndrome."
Sean McCarthy fixes computers. He can be reached at (888) 752-9049 or help@ComputeThisOnline.com (no hyphens).