27 September 2014

Clickity click! The days of double-clicks are long gone

I thought of writing this blog post when I saw my efficient colleague Sheshabhargavan double-clicking away at super-speed on his PC :-) 

Remember the time you first handled a mouse? Most of us would, as we were quite old by the time we started using a computer (unlike today's generation, who wouldn't remember using a mouse at age two. Well, now they have touch-screens. Who needs a mouse?)

For us, it was an interesting process, clicking some item and our mentor/friend telling us "click it once more...no no...click it twice, quickly. It's a double-click"....and we learnt the amazing way of opening a folder shown on the GUI of Windows 95. T'was much easier and better looking than typing cd directoryName at the MS-DOS command prompt (of course as programmers now, we prefer the Linux terminal more than the GUI, but that's a different story).

With the advent of Windows XP, along with the much better start menu, came the feature of single clicks. Many people found it a boon, but many others simply refused to adopt it, because if for example, a dialog box opened up for them to select a few files in the dialog box with the mouse...

...the act of single-clicking a file, would select the file and the dialog box would disappear. It wouldn't give them the chance to select multiple files. Little did they know, that they could select multiple files by keeping the Ctrl key pressed during file selection.

Why single click?

Reason 1. You're putting lesser strain on your muscles. Try it right now. Do a single click and see how much more relaxed your forearm muscles are, than when you have to tense your muscles to do two clicks in quick succession. Quicker trip to RSI, I guess. Ever tried using the mouse with your other hand?
These would be the muscles involved (Images are from Wikipedia. If any medical people find this info could be made more correct, please let me know)

The extensor indicis:

The extensor carpi radialis:
The extensor digitorum:

Reason 2:  Using keyboard shortcuts are much faster, most of the time. For example, using Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V is faster for copy-paste than right clicking and selecting menu options. You can even navigate through Windows Explorer using the tab key and the keyboard arrows. Then use the letter keys to reach filenames beginning with that letter. Also try pressing F11 to make your browser go to full-screen (press it again to get it back). Prepare to be surprised at the number of shortcuts available. There's an even better comparison of keyboard shortcuts for various operating systems, on Wikipedia.

Reason 3: This one is trivial, but you'd basically increase the life of your mouse button if 1/3 of your clicks are eliminated. Every device/machine goes through a fatigue test. Which means, that your mouse has very likely been tested for how many clicks it will be able to sustain.

Shifting from double clicks to single clicks
In XP, the setting is here. For Windows Vista, 7 and 8, it's here. In folder options, selecting the "underline icon titles only when I point at them" option makes your icons look neater.

Bonus info

By the way, did you know that your mouse has a middle button too? Yes, the mouse scroll wheel is also a button. Press it downward and see. This button can be used to activate a nice mouse-move scroll feature in browsers.

Don't click it

Also, some really innovative people at the institute for interactive research, created don't click it, in a Flash interface, where you can operate the menus without having to click them. A challenge from me - try using the website menus without (apart from the first necessary click) clicking on it a single time. It's fun! :-)

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