Is your mouse acting too “hair-trigger”? Check the Mouse settings in your operating system

On Saturday, I had been asked by a friend to help her out with her laptop computer and there were problems with her Outlook email client. After a bit of troubleshooting, I had found that I was single-clicking to open emails rather than doublie-clicking. She also mentioned that she was having similar problems with other applications on the same computer.

But what I had done was to check what is happening every time one double-clicks with the mouse by visiting the Mouse item in Windows XP’s Control Panel. The setup was a laptop which was also being used with a wireless mouse. So I selected the “Other Hardware” option which would pertain to the wireless mouse and adjusted the “double-click” speed for that mouse.

This is a problem that can happen with some mice and trackballs especially as they implement switches that have an increased rate of “contact bounce”, thus causing this false “double-click” behaviour.

Adjusting the double-click speed

Windows users should go to the Mouse option in the Control Panel then try double-clicking on the folder icon in that dialog box. MacOS users should go to {Apple]-System Preferences, then click on “Mouse“. Then try double-clicking on the display image in that dialog box.

Windows mouse control panel

Mouse Control Panel dialog - Windows 7

Adjust the slider towards “Fast” if the folder opens and closes in one click and towards “Slow” if double-clicking doesn’t cause it to open. Then click OK or Apply to confirm the setting.

This may be a trial-and-error routine as you get the mouse or other pointing device working properly for you. In some cases, you may have to select the device you are using or use its software if you are maintaining two or more devices on the same computer. A common example of this may be when most of you use an external mouse with your laptop computer; or some of you may use two different pointing devices for different purposes such as a trackball and a mouse.

The best practice to do is to play around with this dialog box for your pointing device when you install a new device or acquire a new computer and revisit it to make sure that the double-click speed matches your needs properly.

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