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Customise the Windows mouse hover behaviour

Position the mouse pointer over certain items on the screen and hold it still for a second or so and it may trigger a pop-up tooltip box, a thumbnail or something similar. Try moving the mouse over icons in the taskbar and you will see pop-up thumbnails and tooltips in Windows 7 and Vista. If you have problems holding the mouse still enough, you can adjust the sensitivity and allow it to trigger the tooltip or thumbnail even if the mouse moves a little. If the tooltip or thumbnail takes too long to appear and you would like it to be displayed faster, you can easily reduce the delay. You just need to customise the mouse hover behaviour.

Although there are some useful settings in the Mouse app in the Control Panel, there aren't any controls that allow the hover behaviour to be adjusted. It can only be done from the registry. Click Start and enter regedit to open the registry editor. In the left-hand pane expand the keys (they look like folders) and select HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse.

On the right are the values stored in this registry key. MouseHoverHeight and MouseHoverWidth are the number of pixels the mouse is allowed to move while being hovered. In other words you can jiggle it a few pixels up, down or side to side, but not too much. You can double click these two registry values and increase them to make the mouse less sensitive to movement. Try 5 or 6. It might not sound like much of a difference, but it does help.

The other value of interest is MouseHoverTime and this is the time that Windows waits before showing the tooltip, thumbnail or whatever it is supposed to do. The default is 400, which is 400 millseconds or 0.4 of a second. Change it to 300 or 200 to make Windows respond faster. If pop-up tooltips and thunbnnails irritate you though, you could increase the time and a value of 10000 is 10 seconds. You won't hover the mouse this long on anything, so it effectively turns off the hover behaviour. It's your choice.

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