A mouse typically controls the motion of a cursor in two dimensions in a graphical user interface (GUI). Clicking or hovering (stopping movement while the cursor is within the bounds of an area) can select files, programs or actions from a list of names, or (in graphical interfaces) through small images called "icons" and other elements (Dell XPS M1210 Battery) .
For example, a text file might be represented by a picture of a paper notebook, and clicking while the cursor hovers this icon might cause a text editing program to open the file in a window .
Users can also employ mice gesturally; meaning that a stylized motion of the mouse cursor itself, called a "gesture", can issue a command or map to a specific action. For example, in a drawing program, moving the mouse in a rapid "x" motion over a shape might delete the shape (Dell Studio XPS 1340 Battery) .
Gestural interfaces occur more rarely than plain pointing-and-clicking; and people often find them more difficult to use, because they require finer motor-control from the user. However, a few gestural conventions have become widespread, including the drag-and-drop gesture, in which (Dell Studio XPS 1640 Battery) :
The user presses the mouse button while the mouse cursor hovers over an interface object
The user moves the cursor to a different location while holding the button down
The user releases the mouse button
For example, a user might drag-and-drop a picture representing a file onto a picture of a trash can, thus instructing the system to delete the file (Dell Vostro 1710 Battery) .
Other uses of the mouse's input occur commonly in special application-domains. In interactive three-dimensional graphics, the mouse's motion often translates directly into changes in the virtual camera's orientation. For example, in the first-person shooter genre of games (see below), players usually employ the mouse to control the direction in which the virtual player's "head" faces (ASUS EEE PC900 battery) :
moving the mouse up will cause the player to look up, revealing the view above the player's head. A related function makes an image of an object rotate, so that all sides can be examined.
When mice have more than one button, software may assign different functions to each button (Dell RM791 battery) .
Often, the primary (leftmost in a right-handed configuration) button on the mouse will select items, and the secondary (rightmost in a right-handed) button will bring up a menu of alternative actions applicable to that item. For example, on platforms with more than one button, the Mozilla web browser will follow a link in response to a primary button click, will bring up a contextual menu of alternative actions for that link in response to a secondary-button click, and will often open the link in a new tab or window in response to a click with the tertiary (middle) mouse button (Sony VGP-BPS13 battery) .
Different ways of operating the mouse cause specific things to happen in the GUI:
Click: pressing and releasing a button.
(left) Single-click: clicking the main button.
(left) Double-click: clicking the button two times in quick succession counts as a different gesture than two separate single clicks.
(left) Triple-click: clicking the button three times in quick succession (sony vgp-bpl9 battery) .
Right-click: clicking the secondary button.
Middle-click: clicking the ternary button.
Drag: pressing and holding a button, then moving the mouse without releasing. (Use the command "drag with the right mouse button" instead of just "drag" when you instruct a user to drag an object while holding the right mouse button down instead of the more commonly used left mouse button (Sony VGP-BPL11 battery) .
Button chording (a.k.a. Rocker navigation).
Combination of right-click then left-click.
Combination of left-click then right-click or keyboard letter.
Combination of left or right-click and the mouse wheel (Sony VGP-BPL15 battery) .
Clicking while holding down a modifier key.
Standard semantic gestures include :
Menu traversal (Dell Inspiron E1505 battery )
Drag and drop
Some systems allow two or more mice to be used at once as input devices. 16-bit era home computers such as the Amiga used this to allow computer games with two players interacting on the same computer. The same idea is sometimes used in collaborative software, e.g. to simulate a whiteboard that multiple users can draw on without passing a single mouse around (Dell Latitude E6400 battery) .
Microsoft Windows, since Windows 98, has supported multiple simultaneous pointing devices. Because Windows only provides a single screen cursor, using more than one device at the same time generally results in seemingly random movements of the cursor. However, the advantage of this support lies not in simultaneous use, but in simultaneous availability for alternate use (HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery) :
for example, a laptop user editing a complex document might use a handheld mouse for drawing andmanipulation of graphics, but when editing a section of text, use a built-in trackpad to allow movement of the cursor while keeping his hands on the keyboard. Windows' multiple-device support means that the second device is available for use without having to disconnect or disable the first (Hp Pavilion dv3-1000 battery) .
As of 2009, Linux distributions and other operating systems that use X.Org, such as OpenSolaris and FreeBSD, support unlimited numbers of cursors and keyboards through Multi-Pointer X.
There have also been propositions of having a single operator use two mice simultaneously as a more sophisticated means of controlling various graphics and multimedia applications (Dell Precision M70 Battery) .
Main article: mouse button
Mouse buttons are microswitches which can be pressed ("clicked") in order to select or interact with an element of a graphical user interface.
The three-button scrollmouse has become the most commonly available design (Acer Aspire One battery) .
As of 2007 (and roughly since the late 1990s), users most commonly employ the second button to invoke a contextual menu in the computer's software user interface, which contains options specifically tailored to the interface element over which the mouse cursor currently sits . By default, the primary mouse button sits located on the left-hand side of the mouse, for the benefit of right-handed users; left-handed users can usually reverse this configuration via software (Hp 520 battery) .
The computer industry often measures mouse sensitivity in terms of counts per inch (CPI), commonly expressed less correctly as dots per inch (DPI) – the number of steps the mouse will report when it moves one inch. In early mice, this specification was called pulses per inch (ppi) (Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery) .
If the default mouse-tracking condition involves moving the cursor by one screen-pixel or dot on-screen per reported step, then the CPI does equate to DPI: dots of cursor motion per inch of mouse motion. The CPI or DPI as reported by manufacturers depends on how they make the mouse; the higher the CPI, the faster the cursor moves with mouse movement (Toshiba Satellite Pro M15 Battery) .
However, software can adjust the mouse sensitivity, making the cursor move faster or slower than its CPI. Current software can change the speed of the cursor dynamically, taking into account the mouse's absolute speed and the movement from the last stop-point. In most software[specify] this setting is named "speed", referring to "cursor precision" (Toshiba Satellite M65 battery) .
However, some software[specify] names this setting "acceleration", but this term is in fact incorrect. The mouse acceleration, in the majority of mouse software, refers to the setting allowing the user to modify the cursor acceleration: the change in speed of the cursor over time while the mouse movement is constant (Toshiba Satellite T4900 Battery) .
For simple software, when the mouse starts to move, the software will count the number of "counts" received from the mouse and will move the cursor across the screen by that number of pixels (or multiplied by a rate factor, typically less than 1). The cursor will move slowly on the screen, having a good precision (Toshiba PA3399U-2BRS battery) .
When the movement of the mouse passes the value set for "threshold", the software will start to move the cursor more quickly, with a greater rate factor. Usually, the user can set the value of the second rate factor by changing the "acceleration" setting.
Operating systems sometimes apply acceleration, referred to as "ballistics", to the motion reported by the mouse (Toshiba Satellite A200 Battery) .
For example, versions of Windows prior to Windows XP doubled reported values above a configurable threshold, and then optionally doubled them again above a second configurable threshold . These doublings applied separately in the X and Y directions, resulting in very nonlinear response (Toshiba Satellite 1200 Battery) .
Starting with Windows XP and for many OS versions for Apple Macintosh, computers use a ballistics calculation that compensates for screen-resolution in a slightly different way, which affects the way the mouse feels. Ballistics are further affected by the choice of driver software (Toshiba NB100 Battery) .
Main article: Mousepad
Engelbart's original mouse did not require a mousepad; the mouse had two large wheels which could roll on virtually any surface. However, most subsequent mechanical mice starting with the steel roller ball mouse have required a mousepad for optimal performance (Toshiba Satellite M300 Battery) .
The mousepad, the most common mouse accessory, appears most commonly in conjunction with mechanical mice, because in order to roll smoothly, the ball requires more friction than common desk surfaces usually provide. So-called "hard mousepads" for gamers or optical/laser mice also exist (Dell INSPIRON 1525 battery) .
Although most optical and laser mice do not require a pad, some users find that using a mousepad provides more comfort and less jitter of the cursor on the display. Whether to use a hard or soft mousepad with an optical mouse is largely a matter of personal preference. One exception occurs when the desk surface creates problems for the optical or laser tracking, for example, a transparent or reflective surface (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ280E Battery) .
Other cases may involve keeping desk or table surfaces free of scratches and deterioration; when the grain pattern on the surface causes inaccurate tracking of the cursor, or when the mouse-user desires a more comfortable mousing surface to work on and reduced collection of debris under the mouse (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ410 Battery) .
In the marketplace
Around 1981 Xerox included mice with its Xerox Star, based on the mouse used in the 1970s on the Alto computer at Xerox PARC. Sun Microsystems, Symbolics, Lisp Machines Inc., and Tektronix also shipped workstations with mice, starting in about 1981. Later, inspired by the Star, Apple Computer released the Apple Lisa, which also used a mouse (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ160 Battery) .
However, none of these products achieved large-scale success. Only with the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 did the mouse see widespread use.
The Macintosh design, commercially successful and technically influential, led many other vendors to begin producing mice or including them with their other computer products (in 1985, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Windows 1.0, and GEOS for the Commodore 64). The widespread adoption of graphical user interfaces in the software of the 1980s and 1990s made mice all but indispensable for controlling computers (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ38M Battery) .
In November 2008, Logitech built their billionth mouse .
Englebart's mouse did use a mouse pad. In 1968, Jack Kelley, from the Herman Miller Research Division located in Ann Arbor, MI, designed a portable console for computer input, that could be used in a variety locations. The console also attached to an office chair which Englebart used in his presentation to the 1968 Fall Computer Conference in San Francisco. The console consisted of a keyboard and two platforms for the usage of the "mouse". These platforms, surfaces with naugahide (vinyl) were the first pads designed specifically for mouse operation (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ21m Battery) .
Use in gaming
Mice often function as an interface for PC-based computer games and sometimes for video game consoles.
Due to the cursor-like nature of the crosshairs in first-person shooters (FPS), a combination of mouse and keyboard provides a popular way to play FPS games. Players use the X-axis of the mouse for looking (or turning) left and right, leaving the Y-axis for looking up and down (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ18m Battery) .
The left button usually controls primary fire. Many gamers prefer this primarily in FPS games over a gamepad or joypad because it allows them to look around easily, quickly and accurately. If the game supports multiple fire-modes, the right button often provides secondary fire from the selected weapon. The right button may also provide bonus options for a particular weapon, such as allowing access to the scope of a sniper rifle or allowing the mounting of a bayonet or silencer (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ11m Battery) .
Gamers can use a scroll wheel for changing weapons, or for controlling scope-zoom magnification. On most FPS games, programming may also assign more functions to additional buttons on mice with more than three controls. A keyboard usually controls movement (for example, WASD, for moving forward, left, backward and right, respectively) and other functions such as changing posture (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ11z Battery) .
Since the mouse serves for aiming, a mouse that tracks movement accurately and with less lag (latency) will give a player an advantage over players with less accurate or slower mice.
An early technique of players, circle strafing, saw a player continuously strafing while aiming and shooting at an opponent by walking in circle around the opponent with the opponent at the center of the circle (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ11l Battery) .
Players could achieve this by holding down a key for strafing while continuously aiming the mouse towards the opponent.
Games using mice for input have such a degree of popularity that many manufacturers, such as Logitech, Cyber Snipa, Razer USA Ltd and SteelSeries, make peripherals such as mice and keyboards specifically for gaming. Such mice may feature adjustable weights, high-resolution optical or laser components, additional buttons, ergonomic shape, and other features such as adjustable DPI (SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31z Battery) .
Many games, such as first- or third-person shooters, have a setting named "invert mouse" or similar (not to be confused with "button inversion", sometimes performed by left-handed users) which allows the user to look downward by moving the mouse forward and upward by moving the mouse backward (the opposite of non-inverted movement) (Dell Studio 1555 Battery) .
This control system resembles that of aircraft control sticks, where pulling back causes pitch up and pushing forward causes pitch down; computer joysticks also typically emulate this control-configuration.
After id Software's Doom, the game that popularized FPS games but which did not support vertical aiming with a mouse (the y-axis served for forward/backward movement), competitor 3D Realms' Duke Nukem 3D became one of the first games that supported using the mouse to aim up and down (Dell Vostro 1720 Battery) .
This and other games using the Build engine had an option to invert the Y-axis. The "invert" feature actually made the mouse behave in a manner that users now regard as non-inverted (by default, moving mouse forward resulted in looking down). Soon after, id Software released Quake, which introduced the invert feature as users now know it. Other games using the Quake engine have come on the market following this standard, likely due to the overall popularity of Quake (Dell Vostro 1500 Battery) .
In 1988 the educational video game system, the VTech Socrates, featured a wireless mouse with an attached mouse pad as an optional controller used for some games. In the early 1990s the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game system featured a mouse in addition to its controllers. The Mario Paint game in particular used the mouse's capabilities, as did its successor on the Nintendo 64. Sega released official mice for their Genesis/Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast consoles (Dell Latitude D830 Battery) .
NEC sold official mice for its PC Engine and PC-FX consoles. Sony Computer Entertainment released an official mouse product for the PlayStation console, and included one along with the Linux for PlayStation 2 kit. However, users can attach virtually any USB mouse to the PlayStation 2 console. In addition the PlayStation 3 also fully supports USB mice. Recently the Wii also has this latest development added on in a recent software update (Dell Latitude D620 Battery) .
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